Domain Emails – Getting Past the Gatekeeper


Last week, I talked a bit about domain sales emails and I promised to tell you two ways to get past the gatekeeper when sending to end users.  That is, how to improve your chances of getting someone to look at your email, listen to you or otherwise improve the chances of getting a little bit further with your unsolicited sales pitch.  What I’m about to tell you is nothing new.  In fact, you already know this stuff, I’m sure of it.  You just need to keep them in mind when you’re looking to make a sale.

Method #1 – Spend more time on the subject line of your email than on the email itself.

It’s no surprise that the subject of your email can make or break the chances of getting the email opened.  I delete the majority of emails based on subject alone.  If your subject comes across as a pitch, has poor grammar, is irrelevant to the reader or is just plain boring, then it’s going to the trash folder.

“Use a subject line that would make YOU want to open it,” is the advice Mike Evans of  Mike provided me with the following example.

Which one of these would you open: “Get a FREE Website Audit!” or “Found a broken link”?

“If you were a regular person on their site and found a broken link, the last one is a subject line you might actually use. So when I write subjects, I try to think like the type of person that they would be interested to receive an email from.”

Apply that rule to your domain emails.  How you craft that subject is up to you and will vary from end user to end user and their particular needs.  I can’t write the magic words for you that will work in every situation.  It’s going to take some thought on your part based on the domain name and the research you have done on those you are targeting.


Method #2 – Don’t send the email.

That’s a strange one, right?  How are you going to make the sale if you don’t send out the email to begin with.  Try taking an old fashioned approach.  Pick up the phone.  This gives you immediate connection with no chance of being deleted.  Sure, you could get hung up on, but you have more opportunity to build some immediate rapport.

You wouldn’t open this conversation with the same words you would use in an email.  This is a more personal, relationship building approach.  Open with something they can relate to.  “I was in your club last weekend with some friends and we had a great time.”  Maybe complement the waitstaff.  Then mention how you could possibly help the club out because you own this great domain name.  You are more likely to be listened to.

Don’t follow my script.  Be yourself.  Say what you are comfortable saying but don’t make it all about you.


Good luck with your sales and let me know what works well for you!


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Domainer Emails

Domain Email

Let’s face it.  NO ONE likes to get unsolicited emails.  It’s no different than receiving an unsolicited call on you cell phone or landline (yeah, I still have a land line, I blame my wife).  It just seems rude.  When I see a junk email in my inbox, I typically delete it before even opening it.  This is the modern day version of not getting past the receptionist.  It’s a huge challenge for marketers and if you’re a domainer that sends out emails, it’s a huge barrier for you too.


I’ve been on the receiving end of domainer spam, and I am not a fan.  I don’t suggest sending out emails to every domainer you have ever heard of asking them if they want to buy your domain.  There are platforms for that and domainers know where to find them.  Don’t harass them to buy your domain.  If they are interested, they will find it.

It’s even worse when you own and some one emails you to with or to see if you would like to buy it because it’s close to the better name you already own.  Domainers know better.  Stop doing this.  Not a good way to make friends in the industry.


End Users

I’ve been talking about domainer to domainer sales, but lets shift to domainer to end user sales.  I am not opposed to sending emails to potential buyers that are a good fit for a domain name.  Again, I do not recommend spamming every business email address you can collect, but do a little research.  For example, if it’s a keyword domain name, narrow down to those end user businesses that sell the product or service you are targeting.  Look to see who is paying on the search engines for add placement for those key words that match your domain.  Look for print advertisements and billboards for companies that match your domain.  Look for companies that have a marketing budget and are spending online.  Be smart about where you spend your time and effort.  Don’t cast a wide net and hope for the best.

But even with a finely honed, well researched list of businesses to contact, you still need to get past the gatekeeper, or in this case, the delete button.  Monday I will talk about two ways to do just that.


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This shop gets about 50,000 uniques per month


Max Robinson, marketing manager of   The company was founded in 2002 selling Scottish crafts, gifts and goods.  Max’s talked to me about this global business and the decision behind the name and TLD that was chosen.

Mike: Before we dig in, tell me a little bit about your business.

Max: Scotland Shop is an online store for Scottish gifts, mainly consisting of specialist tartans. The business delivers globally, and was founded with the intention of supporting the development of the local rural economy by working with local designers. Although Scotland Shop does have a loyal following, having a strong organic presence is very important for the business as there are many competitors out there who offer similar products.


Mike: Your domain targets the keywords “Scotland Shop”. What is the significance of those words and what are people looking for when they search this phrase?

Max: We’ve found that people searching online for ‘Scotland Shop’ are generally looking for a shop that sells Scottish products, and are usually looking for a gift. You’ll even notice that many of our competitors will target the same phrase for this reason. There is clear buyer intent. Having this brand name also allows the business to appear for similar searches that people are carrying out, including searches like ‘Scottish shop’, which gets even more monthly searches.


Mike: What type of traffic numbers do you see on your site per month?

Max: Around 50,000 unique visitors per month, with a large percentage of that traffic coming from organic search (through Google), so it’s a very important channel for us.


Mike: You’re based in Scotland and chose a dot com name. Why not a  .scot or

Max: The site uses a .com because the business operates globally. If we were to use a then it would be near impossible to have any kind of visibility on Google in countries like the U.S, and most of the searches for ‘Scotland shop’ or ‘Scottish shop’ do tend to come from overseas rather than from within the U.K.


Mike: Being a company that services both Europe and the USA, what have you found to be the most effective means of marketing the site?

Max: The main thing we do to ensure that our site appeals to people across the world is to serve them content in their native language. However, the site still feels very Scottish when you explore it, which is an important part of the customer journey and is the main reason why people across the world want to shop with us.


Mike: In your about us page, you mention 5 websites. Are those five distinct sites your run? If so, what are they?

Max: We previously had 5 different websites (with each site targeting a different country), but now we simply provide different content for each nationality on our main .com site. This is beneficial as every time you create a new site to target a country (e.g .fr), you’re starting from scratch and it will likely take a while to have any organic visibility, whereas by simply creating new content on your existing site, you can piggyback off the existing authority and trust that the .com has, which generally means faster and better results.


Mike: You started the business in 2002. Talk about the lessons you have learned from running an online business.

Max:  The most important aspect of Scotland Shop has been to balance the ‘Scottish’ness’ while also ensuring that it felt accessible to anyone from any background. This has taken time to establish, but is something that has helped differentiate the business from competitors, many of whom either feel overly Scottish (therefore alienating certain people), or not Scottish enough.


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Michael Castello – How Domaining Has Changed


I always value the opinions and experience of those who have done great things in the domain industry.  Hearing and learning from their experiences is a great way to save time and improve your chances for success.  It’s been years since I last asked the Castello brothers, founders of CCIN, for insight on the domain industry.  Years have gone by and Michael Castello recently gave me his views on the industry of today, how things have change and what opportunities lie ahead.


Sully: How has the industry changed since you began? What’s better, what is not?

Michael: When I started in 1994 the industry was non-existent. Most people believed the internet was a fad. There were some that believed the internet was going to be a virtual place for everyone to dwell in. With that thought, there had to be some insight into future technologies that were not available at the time. 23 years later, virtual reality has advanced along with the broadband that would be needed to deliver it. We now have far greater access to mechanical and electrical devices that are cost effective. With a greater public need, comes innovation and the money and investment needed to make those realities for the masses available.

I believe true destiny cannot be circumvented, only delayed. I feel just as strongly about personal empowerment with domain names as I did in the early 90s. There is so much opportunity for humankind with the evolving web, likewise there is the propensity of those, with power and money, to try to control that momentum. Several have taken control of that available technology like, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. While many see these tech titans as beneficial to their immediate livelihoods, the sacrifice for that control is undermining to the overall freedoms we should be preserving for our future growth into the web. There is a kind of technological communism taking hold which aligns those freedoms to be manifest in just a few companies. In my opinion, they wield it in unfair business practices. We may be happy with user friendly apps, cheaper prices and delivery, free traffic data, free analytics, free google maps, free translators, free music, but at what cost? Many small businesses and entrepreneurs are finding it too high of a hurdle to create a business without having a cost-effective return.

How can a business compete with a company like Amazon that can sell millions of items for billions of penny profits while it takes a smaller company thousands of quarters to survive? The answer is, they can’t.  America’s 26th President, Teddy Roosevelt, saw the heavy burden that the industrial titans of that era brought upon the working class and used the Sherman Anti-Trust laws to offer relief. I’m sure in the late 1800’s many people appreciated what Rockefeller offered America with oil, Carnegie with steel, Vanderbilt with his railroad, JP Morgan with banking and Edison with electricity. But at some point, they controlled such vast power and money that something and someone had to bring back balance to that burgeoning capitalistic system. I can see the same parallels of abuse with the growth and propagation of the today’s web and technology.


Sully: What is your opinion of the new TLDs. Do they add value to the industry or is it just additional clutter?


Michael: in 2014, I wrote this sentence in my Call to Action article on Rick Schwartz’s blog:

Domain Industry Call to Action

“The new gTLDs are here, and I have resigned myself to them while seeing a silver-lining, which I believe is going to be very helpful to our industry.”

I feel there is no way around the fact that when you produce a lot of something, it devalues it. For the new gTLDs to produce a similar phenomenon as .com, ICANN would have to allow for every word to become an extension, and further, each of those extensions would have to be developed and advertised to the tune of trillions of dollars. Most people, when they hear or see the .com extension, understand that its definition means “on the internet”. That is truly revolutionary and linguistic in its global banding and marketing. Any method that tries to reteach the masses that .com is something else, and a new (dot)something is better, is just not going to work and will be very confusing. The money, development and infrastructure of that logic, is just not there, nor it will be.

For the new nTLDs to succeed, there needs to be greater understanding that there is a hierarchy in the way people find each other. In terms of domain names, .com is the gold standard and global. The other extensions DO have a place in smaller circles. Those circles or niches have a lot more control over their believers in the Some of the new extensions will be successful. But until it is understood that a niche domain name can then elevate to a greater extension, there will be confusion. As an example; worked very well in Germany and parts of Europe. As the company grew, it wanted greater reach for its business and acquired They still use both extensions. It works, and there is simple clarity.

The fact that ICANN is allowing for thousands of new extensions makes them important. How valuable, is up to the public.  They may not always propagate across software, email or browsers, but the fact anyone can type into a URL and reach a location; that is fantastic.


Sully: Back in 2010 I asked you the follow, and this was your answer. What is your reaction to that today?

Sully 2010: What is your vision of the internet and domaining industry in the next 5 – 10 years? What will it look like in 10 years from now?

MAC 2010 – Well, I lose in either way I express this. In ten years the world will probably look nothing like is does now. These are historical times. The upside is that everyone will be trying to survive using the most basic and effective means available to them. The internet will be much more like a virtual world with communities and niches that benefit those of like-mindedness. There will also be consolidation amongst those that moved early in the game foreseeing those social impulses that will emerge from people’s needs and empowerment. Domaining and the development therein is what will help empower many people and businesses alike.

Michael:   The world is far different than 2010 and the next year will be even crazier. When I wrote;

“There will also be consolidation amongst those that moved early in the game foreseeing those social impulses that will emerge from people’s needs and empowerment.” You only have to look at where Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook were 10 years ago and see that is now a reality.

When I wrote; “The upside is that everyone will be trying to survive using the most basic and effective means available to them.” Many who were thriving in the early 2000s are either dissolved, acquired or waging an attractional war to survive. Many more people are living week to week.

The caveat to my statement is this; The world has changed a great deal. Back in 2008 at NYC TRAFFIC, I spoke about the coming storm and that a great domain was your safe harbor. America has added 10 trillion to its debt since then, more then all debt combined since its creation. Since 2012, America has more debt than its Gross Domestic Product.

That is one hell of a problem. The larger corporations may find that their underbelly is exposed to a collapse of consumer confidence. They need a stable consumer base to thrive. That may be an opportunity for those that need less to succeed.

I see the potential collapse of many country/state economies, a distrust among its citizens, and a sense of anarchy. If “all hell breaks loose” most people will be relying more on the internet than ever before. The ARPnet (the internet) was built to withstand nuclear war. It has a way of rerouting around a problem area to get information to its destination. That works well for the future. The Internet will survive and thrive and we will eventually immerse more into it for economic survival and our entertainment. Gaming will become a larger part of reality and virtual reality. It could take 5 years or 50 years, but it is going to happen.


Sully: Have you attended any domain conferences recently? Why or why not?

Michael:  OK, I’ll say it. I just don’t have as much passion with the business as I have had in the past. I’ve wanted others to replicate the successes I’ve had. I found over the years that people will do what they want anyways. I don’t need to speak at a conference to achieve that. Articles like this one will live on into the future. I’ve offered several articles, from the past in this article that I could just as well have written today. I find that people want to create their own success and legacy. Success is measured on an individual basis.

My happiness is in creating and selling domain names and businesses. When I sold last year, I was ecstatic to see the way it was being used and advertised in national campaigns. had the impact and reach that I had always felt it did. That is the best way to teach of a domain name’s effectiveness and success. That is reality.

At one of the conferences, I had a gentleman come to me as asked me for domain advice. He had paid $40k on the new extensions and his renewals were coming up. He couldn’t afford another $40k. He had not sold one domain name. He was in his 70s and all I could think of is why he was spending so much so late in life. Much of the business is not only investing in quality but also in being able to afford to hold on for many years. I didn’t like having to give him the advice I did.  It was painful but was also a lesson-learned on the reality of risk in this business.

The conferences these days seem to be more about the new extensions. No doubt, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent promoting them. I have not bought one. I really don’t have much to offer at these gatherings.


Sully: What advice would you give to someone new to the domain industry today?


Michael:  In 2006, I wrote this.

“The domain name market is still a gold mine! Get a second mortgage, sell the family jewelry! If you can find a premium name that relates to your business for less than $100,000, buy it! With an hour’s work a day you could have an imprint on that market in two years. Be the master of your own universe.”

I still believe that today. Building a website that you enjoy with a source of income is still attainable. Create unique content daily, and offer what others can’t. That usually entails putting your time and energy into creating something of value. Your time, thought and energy are valuable and you have an endless amount of it. Convert it into something that is yours, and control your destiny.

A .com great name will retain and grow in value-that’s a no-brainer. Build a successful business on top of it. The sky is the limit. I see very little risk in a single word domain like or I paid $100,000 for back in 2002. It was after the .com bust, but for me it was not a risk. I already had almost a decade of making money from domain names. $100k is a lot of money but many of us would buy a nice car or house for as much or more. Imagine buying a house that pays for itself. That is unique.


The new extensions are a market within a market. There is value but also risk. When I started in this business, domain names were free. A lot has changed since then but the fundamental strategies of success are still in place. Learn for those that have made a living from domain names. I can name ten people off the top of my head that are very successful in the domain name arena, and they most likely would give you their advice and attention if you asked for it. Listen to them.


Anyone can buy a domain name, that doesn’t make you a successful entrepreneur until you and your family can live off that domain name year after year.

Follow up on my experience with Efty

Here is a follow up on my experience with Efty, the domain management platform.  Shortly after interviewing Doron, I started my free trial on the site.  I added just one domain name to my account there.  It was a hand registered name that I purchased within the past year, and admittedly, it was a pretty good name.  There are at least two books that share the same title and it’s a name I’m considering using to launch another blog.  The interesting point is, within a week, I received a serious inquiry, generated by my Efty landing page, from one of the book authors that shares the name.

She was very interested in the name.  We went back and forth a few times and I had a minimum value in mind that we just couldn’t agree on.  It’s a name that I decided I wasn’t going to let go of easily because I have a vision for it.  Will I ever act on that vision?  I don’t know, but I see more value in it than I was being offered.  The deal didn’t happen.  But it gave me some excitement around the potential for Efty.

Based on my single experience with one name (and a good name at that), I decided to add about 50 other hand registered names to Efty.  I went in knowing that the first name I listed was the best of the lot, but I wanted to see what type of results I got with even more names listed.  I quickly added the names and went about my business.  About three weeks passed with no activity.  I wasn’t surprised or disappointed.   I wasn’t expecting miracles.

Then I received another offer sent via my landing page for a domain I hand registered just three months earlier.  It was a name I registered based on an idea I was kicking around with some friends.  One I wasn’t as attached to.  After some back and forth, we agreed on $1,500.  The buyer paid me through PayPal and I transferred the domain through GoDaddy.  Transaction took all of 30 minutes to complete.

Another week goes by and a new offer comes in on a name I registered a couple years back.  I’m still in negotiations on this name so I won’t go into too much detail.  The offer came in through my Efty landing page.

My luck has pretty good in the short time that I’ve been using Efty.  The service paid for itself, and then some, with that first sale.  It’s easy to use, easy to update, and has some great features.  In fact I’m not even using all of the features yet.   I attribute the activity to the visually pleasing landing pages that allow for communication between the buyer and seller.  There are no annoying links to suggested sites based on your domain name.  It’s clean and simple.

I’ll continue to report on my progress with Efty over the coming months.  If you have any experiences to share, please leave a comment to share with the rest of us.


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