Need New Socks?

BlacksocksLori Rosen is the managing partner of Blacksocks US, overseeing all of North American operations for the Swiss-based company.  She found the site when she was searching for a site that sold women’s stockings since she despised that repetitive task.  Instead she fell upon Blacksocks while on a business meeting in Europe and immediately pursued taking over the business here.

Mike:  Where did Blacksocks originate?

Lori:  Blacksocks was founded by a Swiss entrepreneur, Samy Liechti, in 1999, when he found himself with two different color socks on at a Japanese tea ceremony with business executives.  There are 4 full time employees  in Switzerland.  The socks are manufactured at a second generation factory in Milan, Italy and shipped from a warehouse in Switzerland.  In the US, there are three part-time employees.

Mike:  How has the name Blacksocks.com impacted your business?  What is it you were looking for in a domain name?

Lori:  Blacksocks is a perfect domain for the site. It’s intuitive, says exactly what it is and in 1999 it was available.  It’s had a very positive impact on our business.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Lori:  Blacksocks receives 500,000 visits a year worldwide and 3X the amount of page views.  Right now about 10% of the traffic is from the US and Canada.

Mike:  How do you market your site?

Lori: We run a number of marketing programs, starting with a robust Google and Bing/Yahoo ad words campaign; an active public relations program reaching lifestyle, business, fashion, and general interest outlets, including print, digital and broadcast interviews; banner ads in select media outlets; and voucher giveaways at charity events. In Switzerland we just did our first Groupon program and we expect to do something similar in 2011 for Blacksocks US.

Mike:  Did you have another domain for your site before this one?  Do you own other domains?

Lori:  We own Blacksocksclub, but right now it’s not active.  Blacksocks is the only domain name we use.

Domain Names

Mike:  What has been your biggest challenge as far as running an ecommerce business?

Lori:  The biggest challenge is the obvious one: getting customers. When consumers read about Blacksocks, their response is favorable, but it’s rare to have an immediate need to buy socks.  It is also not an impulse item. So we have to continue to get the name out over and over and hope that when consumers are ready to replenish their supply they think of us.

Mike:  Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point?  Have you ever received any unsolicited offers?

Lori:  No and no!  This business is way too much fun to sell. In the US and Canada the market is in its infancy stage.  Blacksocks is a great concept; it fulfills a very basic need; mostly everyone wears socks (black or otherwise) and it’s both fun and challenging to grow the business. Earlier this year we added grey and navy to our line, just in the calf style.  We also carry a very limited, high end line of men’s undershirts and underwear.  Customers are already asking for colors in the over the calf size-we have a long way to go and the market is wide open. We will definitely get to the other side soon.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Lori:  When Blacksocks first started there was only 6% of consumer online and a fraction of those actually purchased products.  Today the numbers are reversed, but that also means much more competition.  One of the hallmarks of the business is personal service and right now I answer every email personally sent.  I hope to continue to that for the near and not so near future.   Finally, I’d like to offer a voucher to your readers.  The first 20 people to email me will receive a voucher code to test the service.  They can email me at lori@blacksock.com.

Domain Sales Email – From a Domainer to a Domainer

I like to share some of the domain sales emails I receive.  The thought is that there just might be something you can gain from some of these as examples of what to do, or what not to do, in your own emails.  This particular email looks to have been sent knowing that I am a domain owner as well.  I don’t typically try to target domain owners in sales emails.  I think there are better venues for that.  I tend to reserve emails more for end user sales.  Maybe I would if I had a business relationship with another domainer and thought that they may truly have an interest in a domain, but not out of the blue.

The major piece I feel this email lacks is that it doesn’t indicate at all why I might be interested in this domain.  Are there high monthly searches, do I have a similar domain, is this my niche, etc.  The email should not point out the main reason for contact as “I am selling this domain,” but instead, why it will benefit the person you are contacting.

Good afternoon,

I am contacting your company because I am selling the following domain name:

www.radioelectronics.net

Please let me know if you would be interested in this domain.

Thanks, and best regards,

Sergei Shevchenko

Domain Owner

xxxx@gmail.com
www.radioelectronics.net

Microscopes.com, RangeFinders.com and RadarGuns.com

Optics PlanetOpticsPlanet, Inc. is one of the world’s leading online retailers, operating targeted stores specializing in sport optics, tactical  and military gear, binoculars, scientific products, microscopes, telescopes, rifle scopes and eyewear.  Founded in 1999, OpticsPlanet, Inc. has been recognized by both Inc. Magazine  and Internet Retailer Magazine  as a leading E-commerce company. As one of the fastest growing retailers on the Internet, OpticsPlanet, Inc. has a state-of-the-art customer service and fulfillment center located just outside of Chicago in Northbrook, Illinois.   Alessandro Minnocci gave me a sneak peek into the company.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on the company?

Alessandro: Our parent company, OpticsPlanet ( just celebrated our 10th Anniversary. Our sister stores have been online anywhere from seven years to just a few months. Across all stores, we employ almost 300 people at our offices in Northbrook, IL which is about 20 miles north of Chicago.

Mike:  OpticsPlanet has some great keyword domains such as microscopes.com, rangefinders.com, and radarguns.com.  Did you purchase these names from others or are you the original registrant?  If you purchased them, can you share the process you went through?  Will you share the price you paid?

Alessandro: We acquired the domains you mentioned, along with a few others. Due to the contracts involved, I can’t share information on the process or the price paid unfortunately. We have also registered domains ourselves, and will definitely continue to do so in the future when prudent.  Here is a press release from when we acquired rangefinders.com.

Mike:  Does OpticsPlanet partner with domain owners to develop sites, or is the company’s interest in developing its own names?

Alessandro: We primarily develop our own names and stores, but we have partnered with domain owners before. Our in-house consulting firm, USIQ, offers a service called Fulfillment by eCentria (FBE) where we handle all the ecommerce aspects of running the online enterprise, including designing and running the website, fulfillment of orders, customer service and more. USIQ is also extremely flexible, in that it is willing to offer services to meet the needs of any domain owner: marketing, development, operations, or any combination of the above.

Mike:  Has the company ever sold any domains or developed sites?

Alessandro: We only buy domains. We have never sold a domain or a developed site.

Mike:  What is the volume of traffic that your sites receive? Do you know what percentage comes from direct (type-in) navigation?

Alessandro: Across our exact-match domain properties, we bring in over 100,000 visits a month, and each site brings in 10-20% of its traffic through direct navigation.

Mike:  What type of marketing do you do for your sites?

Alessandro: We engage in extensive SEO efforts, both on-site optimization and off-site link building. We also engage in limited PPC campaigns for the sites from time to time, and are now expanding into social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) for each of the sites. One of the major benefits of owning an exact match domain is how Google treats exact match domains in their SERPs, but Google changes its algorithm constantly. Our SEO efforts are designed to ensure each site ranks well even if there is any change to the search algorithms.

Mike:  What advice do you have for individuals or businesses on choosing the right domain name?

Alessandro: If you can get an exact match domain matching a search query with significant volume at an affordable price, I highly recommend it. It doesn’t make sense for every person because the costs of acquiring one of those domains can be steep, but with the introduction of .co domains more are available than ever. Having a domain without any keyword in it, in my opinion, is a bad decision for most people. If you can’t acquire widgets.com, look at bestwidgets.com or buywidgets.com or widgetstore.com, or even acmewidgets.com. It not only helps you rank in SERPs, but it also helps people recall your site.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Alessandro: We of course don’t limit ourselves to only exact match domains. Our flagship store is OpticsPlanet.com, and we also run stores on the domains TacticalStore.com, EyewearPlanet.com, LabPlanet.com and more stores that utilize a keyword in the domain name but aren’t exact match. We also recently launched an invitation-only shopping site called Dvor.com. Dvor isn’t a keyword in and of itself, but there’s always value in short, memorable domain names (contrary to my above advice!) For sure though, not having an exact match domain makes all your other marketing efforts more important as you lose some ranking benefits in Google and obviously don’t pick up as much type-in traffic.

Thank you for taking the time to interview me Mike, and I look forward to speaking with you again!

Over 50,000 views a month before the service even launched

Phone.com

Ari Rabban is the CEO and Co-founder of Phone.com, along with Co-founder Mike Mann, who is no stranger to great domain names.  Ari took some time to discuss the domain and the business the domain supports.

Mike: Can you give me some background information on yourself?

Ari:  I have been involved in the Voice over IP business and IP communications in general since the early days of the industry. Previously served as vice president of corporate development and marketing for VocalTec Communications, the VoIP market pioneer and developer of the first internet phone. I also served as president of two subsidiaries that were ultimately spun out: Surf&Call Solutions, one of the initial voice-enhanced e-commerce solutions companies, and Truly Global Inc., a web based communications service. Rabban joined VocalTec from Lucent Technologies. I Have an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University as well as a law degree and bachelors in economics from Tel Aviv University. Live in NJ with my wife and daughters.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?  How long you’ve been in business, number of employees, how long you’ve had your site online, etc.

Ari:  Phone.com launched about three years ago and offers advanced phone and other communication services to small businesses with a special emphasize on the business needs and price constraints of businesses with between one and 5 employees.  The company is growing month over month since its launch and now has approximately 30 employees.

Mike:  How are individuals and small businesses leveraging the service of Phone.com?  How is the service making life easier and more efficient for them?

Ari:  Small business owners (including sole proprietors) many times settle for a landline and their cell phone as their “Business Phone System”. They cannot afford purchasing a business phone system or any other business like solution. They often have no separation between their private phone calls  and business calls. No ability to transfer calls between two partners or to an employee in the business and other than their basic voicemail message can’t record and information for their customers or clients. Phone.com change all that. For what we like to say can be “under $1 a day” you can get a business phone service that can let you record your welcome greetings, forward calls to extensions, have a dial by name directory, music (or your own message) on hold, transfer calls between employees and also get many other services that “regular” phone systems don’t have: voicemail sent to your email, faxes sent to your email, conferencing call numbers, and the ability to choose who, when and where you want your phone to ring. Finally: when you want to dial a customer from your cell phone you can choose what caller ID they see. Best way to keep your cell phone number private.

Mike:  Has owning the specific keyword domain, Phone.com, impacted your business?

Ari:  Of course. Phone.com is a premium domain and arguably the best domain in the telecom industry.  One word domain names are easy to remember and help to find us on the web and help us create great name recognition.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Ari:  we do not disclose traffic information but we  can say that even before we launched our service we had over 50,000 views a month and we have been growing traffic ever since. What is more important however is the value of those viewers. If they were looking for free ringtones to download or some iPhone apps than they might not find it at www.phone.com.


Mike:  Does Phone.com leverage any online marketing strategies such as SEO or paid advertisements?

Ari:  Yes. We believe every business with an online presence that does not view their website as “brochure-ware” must be engaged in various online marketing campaigns.  Even small businesses with domain names that are less powerful than domains such as Phone.com can enjoy some search success if they take the time to learn and implement various SEO strategies. SEO is really vague because it includes many different things. Adding fresh content to your site, being linked and linking your site appropriately to other relevant sites, tagging key phrases and so much more but with the right focus you can find your niche.

Paid advertising is different: it requires an advertising budget. However, the tools that exist to measure success make it much more efficient than “traditional” advertising. At Phone.com we work with many online marketing affiliates and websites that promote our service and share in our success.

Mike:  Did the company have another domain for your site before this one?

Ari:  No. We actually launched the service as Phone.com.

Mike:  Did you purchase the name from someone else that owned it?  If so, what was the process you went through?

Ari:  Yes. Phone.com was an idle URL that was owned by a publicly traded B2B company that in the 90s operated as Phone.com.

SEO Writer Takes a Chance with .CO

SEO Content Writer

Renee Mirabito is a Copy and Content Writer. She is 27 years old and lives with her husband and two dogs in Melbourne, Australia. She has a BA in Literature, and an MA in Writing. When not working, she can be found out cycling, or just having fun with friends. Also, an avid traveler, she’s been lucky enough to see a much of Europe, Asia, and of course, Australia. She’s launching a new site at seocontentwriter.co.

Mike:  Tell me about your business.

Renee:  Growing up, I always wanted to write. When I was still at university, a teacher suggested I try and get some writing work online to build up a portfolio. Things really took off, and by the time I graduated I had a strong enough client base for it to be my full-time job. I was also having a lot of fun, and the work suited me well. When I started, I had no idea what search engine optimization was, but I learned plenty on the job. By the time I had enough experience to get the job I initially wanted in Journalism, I’d already fallen in love with online writing. While I still do some feature writing for magazines, most of my work is for websites and blogs. I launched my website in 2009, but didn’t really put a lot of time into it until the beginning of 2010 when I started writing full-time. I’m really happy with how it is looking now, and with the increase in hits I’ve had over the last twelve months.

Mike:  As an SEO article writer, what type of results have you delivered to your clients?  How has this helped them in search engine rankings?

Renee:  It’s really satisfying when a client calls me up and says, ‘Hey, I’ve just Googled myself, and I’m number three now. This stuff you talk about works!’ A lot of people are really surprised by the results you can get just by changing your web copy. Probably one of the best results achieved was for a real estate business. Over the course of six months the company went from #68 to number #9 for one keyword, and from #27 to #11 for another. A lot of the businesses I work with have spent money on sponsored search results, and been really impressed at being able to achieve organic results for a lower outlay.

Mike:  How are you expecting this domain to have an impact on your business?

Renee:  My goal for seocontentwriter.co is to drive traffic to my main site. My main site is flash, while I love its look, it can make climbing the Google ranks that little bit harder. Also, I felt that a blog was the best way to keep putting fresh content online. Content is king, but I think a blog is the best way to achieve this, rather than constantly changing the copy of a main site. I’ve had the name registered for a while now, and have mostly been playing around with formats and ideas. In the new year I plan to build it up as a really useful resource for small businesses, who don’t have big budgets for their online marketing.

Mike:  Any concerns about it being a .CO?  Do you feel that a .CO can rank as well as a .COM?

Renee:  Initially I had reservations about a .co domain, but some of the pre-release prices paid encouraged me to go ahead with the idea. A .co definitely has the potential to rank as well as a .com, in my opinion. I think that their performance is really going to depend on how people treat them. If they are regarded as a local domain then that is what they will become. If they’re sought after, and regarded in the same light as a .com, then they will rank the same way. When I chose my domain, it was a bit of a gamble. Ultimately I decided getting the keywords I wanted in the domain name was more important than having my ideal TLD.

Mike:  What advice have you given clients regarding the selection of a domain name?

Renee:  Having multiple domain names is a great way of improving your SEO. Whether you want to set up a blog, or simply point domains at your existing site, it’s a very cost effective way of improving your traffic. For local businesses, I’ll always advice they purchase their trading name, as well as a keyword domain, such as ‘sydneylocksmiths.com.au’.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you recommend to your clients?

Renee:  Most of my clients are small businesses, who don’t have a massive budget for their online marketing. While many businesses have websites, they don’t pay a lot of attention to SEO in their copy. Beyond making a company look more professional, a few changes to copy can help a site to rank a lot better. I really encourage all of my clients to build up their content with information that is helpful to visitors. It’s also essential to keep offering new content all the time. Of course, Google loves this, but you also give your visitors a reason to keep coming back.