Most companies brand and market many different offerings, so there will be times when you may question if it's better to use a stand-alone domain name that is off-brand, include the brand name in the domain name with another or specific keywords or essentially a “URL” with additional terms added to a main brand domain name.
I know the above may have sounded a bit confusing, so let me break that down with a real-life example; the goal is to easily direct those seeing the ad to the specific offering you are marketing.
During Super Bowl LIV, the brand ADT ran an ad. The ad was promoting its products and services, but a contest named Pass The Protection was also displayed using: ADT.com/PassTheProtection
- ADT is the company's brand name
- com is the company's main brand domain name
- /PassTheProtection is what makes the “URL” with the domain name
So, the burning question is…. Well, you have options you may not have thought about. The great thing about domain names is they provide you with options. To help with some of those options, I thought I’d talk about them.
The options with the ADT example.
Off-brand, direct message
By using a domain name that doesn’t include your brand name, you are making it shorter and easier to remember. The message will ring true to the consumer as they are hearing and seeing the term used in the ad. PassTheProtection.com makes perfect sense when heard in the context of the Pass The Protection ad. It will also be fairly easy for word of mouth advertising, as the term is pretty easy to remember after simply hearing it once.
By using what is called a 301 redirect, you can direct anybody that types in PassTheProtection.com to the longer URL/specific page for the promotion: adt.com/passtheprotection. This can be a simple 301 redirect performed at the registrar or a bit more technical option, a server-side redirect which gives you many more options if done correctly, like search engine ranking, a title and meta description in the search engine, redirect, and even analytics.
This option may require you to register or purchase a domain name from its current owner. You would need to decide the importance of the message, its short-term and long-term use, and how memorable you want to make it for the consumer.
I have seen larger corporations spend up to mid-five figures on long term use marketing domain names, similar to Ford Motor Company's use of GoFurther.com and similar domains/prices I highlighted here.
The URL (what they used)
In this case, ADT used its main brand name domain name ADT.com and created a specific page on its main web, which resulted in the URL /passtheprotection. To arrive at that, one needs to type the full location: adt.com/passtheprotection but you are also forcing viewers to remember all that as well. The tailing slash ("/") is a distraction and adds to what needs to be done for the action:
Explaining the “backslash” always seems sloppy to me personally, visually and audibly. In this situation, after the backslash still held 3 words to remember which is asking a lot.
PassTheProtection.com is 4 elements to remember. Pass, The, Protection and .com. I personally find it easier to remember the 3-word domain name than the URL with the 6 parts.
Using this option does not require any additional costs in regard to a domain name.
The branded specific option is really what it states. The domain name would include the brand name, in this case, ADT, as well as the specific message of the ad: Pass The Protection. In total, it would look like ADTPassTheProtection.com
This option is 5 elements for the consumer to remember, so it puts that amount in the middle of the 3 mentioned options in this case.
Pro Tip: Capitalize keywords to make them easier to separate. For example, passtheprotection looks like a mess. PassTheProtection makes it easier to read and separate keywords.
The main message in the ad becomes important keywords on the internet. Your first goal is to get the consumer to your site directly. This is when the user types directly into their web browser: adt.com/passtheprotection and hits enter. Zero competition and directly to you.
If you present a complicated situation for the user and they forget one piece of the puzzle you presented, it’s much more likely that they will not act at all or visit a search engine to find it. When this happens, the chances of competition increase due to other ads potentially being displayed for the keywords used to find what they were looking for. That’s not a good thing!
Although I did not include it as an option above, I will mention it to advise not to do it. Sub-domains are used very rarely in ads but I think it’s a very bad idea in general. It includes using a word (or words if you really want to get crazy) and dot before your brand name domain: example.uniregistry.com or crazy.example.uniregistry.com
I hope this article has provided some help and opened up some options to use for your marketing needs. Domain names can be very powerful when used wisely.