John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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Selling Domains : Auctions Aren’t TheAnswer

In the domain industry, the auction is the place to get the best price for your domain. You read that just about everywhere. Auction, auction, auction. But the auction is not always the best answer. We need some more options.

Every week it seems I hear someone say they submitted X domains to “the auction” and none were accepted. So what then? The domain marketplaces are saturated with domains available for purchase. Frankly speaking, the user interfaces of the aftermarket marketplaces leave a lot to be desired. Even those marketplaces like to push the domains into an auction as soon as anyone expresses interest, making domain acquisition seem ever more elusive for the non-professional domainer (“this domain is available for a starting price of $1000“, but it has a secret reserve of $4500. Been there, done that).

I have learned that a “buy this domain” or “this domain may be available for purchase” link on the home page does work, for the same reasons direct traffic converts well: the clicker of that link has a qualified interest in the domain. The challenge is getting the domain home page (or even just the name) in front of the not-yet-qualified potential buyer. Sure some buyer’s want a specific domain that you have parked. But most just need a “good domain” for their web site project.

If domainers really want to see liquidity in the domain aftermarket, they need to lose some of the ego that is currently micro-managing the aftermarket domain sales. Have some guts and put those “not-really-generic” and “not-really-as-brandable-as-you-originally-thought” domains up for sale with no reserve. Set a price and sell, instead of set a price and fish for a higher price, reserving an option to bail at any time with no accountability. You’re not fooling anyone. People are simply not considering your domains to be available. Really. They understand you don’t really want to sell. They aren’t even looking anymore, because of the way you’ve proven the domains aren’t actually for sale.

My neighbor has a black ’66 Chevelle SS 396 4 speed. Is it for sale? Sure… offer him enough money and he’ll sell it. But he doesn’t drive it around with a FOR SALE sign on it, because he’s not willing to part with it for the current market value. Isn’t everyone’s car technically “for sale” at a high enough price? But if we all drove around with FOR SALE signs on our cars, wouldn’t that just about void any real market for car buying?

That’s what the current domain aftermarket looks like. I hate to be the one to break it to you domainers, but the domains aren’t selling because their not worth the asking price. If the aftermarket’s want to function for buyers who want domains (and I know plenty of buyers who want domains), they need to separate the domains available “for sale” from those available “if the price is right”. Someone should do this. We need more options.

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3 Responses to “Selling Domains : Auctions Aren’t TheAnswer

  1. Matt Says:

    Hi,
    So what would you say the best sites are right now & how could they be improved? I am interested in creating a market for just this purpose & would like some examples. I read the PDF report at http://www.aftermarketdomains.com/ & think this could be done.

    Thanks,
    Matt

  2. Dan Says:

    Hi,

    All very good points. I have posted a few times on different domain blogs…that the domain industry as a whole…has “put the cart before the horse”… with the current domain auction structure & conventions etc…

    Best,
    Dan

  3. Stuart Says:

    Whenever we’ve sold domains it’s usually been through one or two guys who do a little domain broking on the side. These have been friends that we’ve known but are there people who do full time domain broking – i.e. matching up interested parties (as opposed to auctioning) – out there?