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Top 10 Reasons Your Domain Name Won’t Sell

By on January 10, 2011

The vast majority of domain names currently offered for sale will not exchange hands this year. A massive amount of virtual real estate has been claimed on over 200 country code and generic top level domain extensions. The landscape is about to get much bigger with the introduction of new generic TLDs in late 2011.

[Image: Rick Audet, Sir Millard Mulch, October 17, 2006 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution]

How will your domain name stand out in a crowd of billions?

Here are ten reasons why your domain name won’t sell with recommendations for what not to do when marketing. I will cover how to overcome some barriers to a successful sale and some ways of breaking the ice with potential buyers.

1. Asking price is inflated. An unrealistic asking price is probably the most common reason for failing to sell a domain name. DomainConsultant recently published a detailed domain pricing guide featuring solid formulas for valuation that should prove useful to those selling premium quality domain names. Research similar keyword sales through NameBio, DNSalePrice and DNJournal to make a comparisons and avoid being laughed at.

2. Identity or legitimacy is in question. Security and fraud is always a major concern when dealing with digital goods. Are you able to offer a reputable escrow service to facilitate a secure sale and ownership transfer? You should always conduct business professionally with a clear understanding of who is selling the domain. This can be accomplished by personal email correspondence, displaying your business or personal website and phone number and having a non-private Whois registration data on your domains.

3. Not accepting offers. With no option to submit an offer available, a buyer will assume you are not willing to negotiate.  A contact form or email address will do the job. You can also mention in the sales copy that reasonable offers are welcome and will be considered. This can be a great way to bring in leads who may be interested in the domain at a later date.

4. No description of domain value. I think it is very important to share the potential of your domain to those interested. In my beginner’s guide to selling domains, I point out in the first two steps that sellers should visualize potential. Write how the domain could be used as a business or service or how it could be monetized. The vision makes it easier for a buyer to justify his purchase and for you to justify the asking price.

5. Has no value to begin with. As the video above demonstrates, the reality is that a domain registration fee does not guarantee there will be any resale value. If the words in your domain don’t make much sense, such as combinations that are never used in spoken English or made up words, then there is a chance your domain has no value at all. While it is possible to register interesting and desirable brand names, most quirky domain names have no intrinsic value and draw little interest from buyers.

6. Lack of supporting data. Last year I wrote about using domain stats and media when advertising your domain for sales. This includes data such as domain age, search results numbers, term popularity, traffic and other important metrics of the keywords in your domains. This information is important to buyers and instills confidence that your domain is a good investment. You can find a wealth of pertinent information from Estibot, the Google AdWords keyword tool and other SEO tools.

7. Wrong time to sell. In one of my earlier and personal favorite articles here on DotSauce, I describe some tips for investing in domains. One particular tip reminds domainers that you shouldn’t sell your fruit until it’s ripe. Domains are always increasing in value and the future looks bright. It may be time to hold on to a particular name and wait for the world to catch up to the latest trends. This is particularly relevant for future concepts, emerging technologies and predictive domaining.

8. Marketing to the wrong audiences. On the internet we tend to migrate within circles of like-minded people on forums, social networks and website communities. Sometimes the best thing to do is break out of your comfort zone and dive into unexplored websites that are relevant to your domain name. The lists below show examples of the options in targeting resellers or potential end user sales.

End User Potential

9. Poor marketing practices. It’s a great idea to get the word out about your domain for sale to many people, but sometimes it can go overboard. You don’t want to be considered a spammer as you will lose business and credibility immediately. Learn to write clean, readable and compelling sales copy without the hype. Overuse of words like “premium,” or “generic,” dollar signs, CAPS and exclamation points are all things to avoid. Make sure the important domain details are the focus.

10. Better domains available for less. Those interested in purchasing a domain for their business or personal use may have some keyword ideas in mind and will be shopping around. If you haven’t properly valuated your domains then there is a chance another seller will undercut your name for a more reasonable price. Be sure to check out the competition on any marketplace or sales venue to remain competitive.

Successful domain sales comes down to having a quality, desirable domain name and investing time into learning the best practices in marketing, communication and negotiations. I hope you are able to use what insight you have gained to make better sales and marketing decisions and steer clear of any obstacles that may be turning buyers away.


About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.