In November 2008, FairWinds Partners, LLC (FairWinds) released a preliminary case study on the work it had done to revamp Verizon Communication’s (Verizon) domain name strategy. Now, in 2012, a new analysis of Verizon’s website analytics has revealed that this FairWinds-designed strategy has had an even bigger impact on Verizon’s business than FairWinds originally projected. FairWinds’ improvements on Verizon’s domain name strategy have led to annual results of:
- 321,000 additional confirmed sales
- 31 million additional Internet visitors, on average, to Verizon’s main websites over the last three years, or a total of 93.2 million visitors in the first 3 years
“The work we have done with FairWinds set us on the path to maintaining a lean, effective domain name portfolio, and our ongoing work continues to keep Verizon focused on domains that will have a positive impact on our bottom line,” said Sarah Deutsch, Vice President & Associate General Counsel of Verizon Communications. “This helps protect the Verizon brand and ensures that consumers are reaching genuine websites for Verizon’s products and services.”
CUTTING LOW QUALITY DOMAIN NAMES
The first step in rebuilding Verizon’s domain name strategy was to evaluate the strength of the company’s existing domain name portfolio. FairWinds and Verizon teamed up to examine each domain name in Verizon’s portfolio, asking: does this domain name help Verizon pursue its business goals and protect its brands online?
By considering every domain name, and measuring its strength in terms of traffic and other business considerations, the team identified a large group of domain names that could be cut from the portfolio. Now, every two years, Verizon saves hundreds of thousands of dollars in the equivalent of what the company would have had to otherwise pay to continually renew these superfluous domain names.
After determining which domain names to cut, Verizon worked with FairWinds to develop and implement an updated strategy that would ensure the maintenance of a healthy portfolio that would not contain unnecessary domain names. This established process of evaluating each potential new domain name from the perspective of whether or not it will add meaningful value to the company’s online strategy has enabled Verizon’s Intellectual Property (IP) team to register domain names in a strategic manner that drives revenue for Verizon.
In total, due to a leaner portfolio and also establishing more efficient registration fees, Verizon saves nearly $2 million every two years.
Verizon has monitored, and will continue to closely monitor, the remaining domain names in its portfolio, as well as the domain names it chose to cut. By regularly reevaluating the strength of its portfolio, Verizon’s IP team can ensure that each and every domain name continues to deliver a return on investment, or, if not, is eliminated.
RECOVERING HIGH QUALITY DOMAIN NAMES
Similarly, FairWinds also guided Verizon’s IP team in developing an improved, strategic approach to identifying and recovering cybersquatted domain names. By selectively targeting infringing domain names that are of strategic importance to Verizon’s brands, Verizon’s IP team has already experienced a remarkable level of success in recovering such valuable domain names while keeping enforcement costs at a minimum. According to FairWinds’ analysis, 66 percent of the traffic that was being diverted from Verizon’s main websites was being lost because of just 0.5 percent of the total number of existing domain names that were infringing on Verizon brands. Making such domain names an enforcement priority drove the return on investment higher by allowing Verizon’s IP team to achieve more results through fewer activities.
REDIRECTING TO BE MORE DIRECT
Upon completion of the portfolio evaluation, cutting the “fat,” and executing on prioritized domain name reclaim and enforcement, FairWinds and Verizon examined the content to which each of Verizon’s remaining domain names pointed. As in the initial stage, we investigated the value of each domain name, asking whether it was being used in a way that was significantly helping Verizon to pursue its business goals and protect its brands online. A domain name that resolves to relevant, expected content contributes a large amount of value to a brand, since it ensures that Internet users ultimately arrive at the content they were seeking in the first place. On a basic level, this is beneficial to Verizon because those Internet users are more likely to convert to sales and, because they are navigating directly to the domain name rather than clicking on an advertisement, which the company must pay for per click, they are less expensive to acquire. On a deeper, less tangible level, those Internet users will also undergo a more positive online experience, which ends up strengthening the brand’s overall reputation. When a domain name does not resolve to relevant, expected content, Internet users might think that the website is down and that, perhaps, the company is not properly maintaining its online presence.
Based on the initial traffic data available when FairWinds began this project, FairWinds and Verizon projected that, by simply providing relevant content on those domain names that 1) it already owned but that weren’t resolving properly, and 2) those that it had recovered from third parties, Verizon’s main websites would earn an additional 12 million new, organic visitors via direct navigation in 2008. According to a new analysis of the traffic figures for those redirected domain names, Verizon actually garnered 26.4 million new, organic visitors in 2010. This number further increased to 33 million visitors in 2011, and, given current traffic data and information, FairWinds expects that 33.8 million visitors will reach Verizon’s websites by way of these domain names in 2012.
When Internet users can navigate directly to Verizon websites by entering domain names in the address bar – rather than being diverted to a pay-per-click site and clicking on an advertisement, which costs the user time and Verizon money – Verizon is able to both protect its marketing spend and decrease its dependence on paid search in the form of click fees.
CONVERTING NEW VISITORS TO NEW SALES
In addition to delivering improved online experiences for Verizon’s audience, these domain names, which once diverted traffic or abruptly ended a user experience, have spurred new online sales. Upon tracking each Internet user that came in to Verizon’s websites through redirected domain names, FairWinds found that these visits resulted in 321,000 confirmed sales in a single year for Verizon. Given that many sales on Verizon’s websites are for services that recur over time and involve multi-year contracts, the true value of these sales is likely in the many millions of dollars.
Verizon remains a forward-thinking company dedicated to providing the best possible products and services to its audience. In this case, Verizon was able to prove that it is an industry leader in the online space by making strategic changes to its domain name strategy and portfolio. Verizon was ultimately able to harness the power of the Internet to meet its audience’s expectations in new ways. Working with FairWinds’ experts, Verizon has not only been able to better provide its audience with safer online experiences that deliver relevant content, but has been able to do so in a more cost-effective manner that has actually increased its revenue.