David Ciccarelli is the CEO and founder of Voices.com, a global network of over 25,000 voice actors in over 100 languages and currently serves more than 107,220 users online. Over 69,662 MP3 voice-over demos are listened to by 1,159,901 unique visitors, creating 6911 job opportunities on average, each and every month. David shares how the right domain makes all the difference.
Mike: Voices.com is an excellent, short, generic key word domain name. I think you have a treasure on your hands. Tell me how you came to acquired the name. Would you be willing to share the price?
David: We originally started our business as interactivevoices.com. The service was the same, an online marketplace where business people can search for, audition and hire professional voiceover talents. Each voice talent has their own profile which followed the format of http://username.interactivevoices.com. We found that this address was long and cumbersome to type. Plus, the original name implied that we only did interactive or new media type work when in fact our most popular recordings for voiceovers include those for business telephone system recordings as well as radio and television commercials.
So, I was on a quest to change the name. We thought of trendy names like Vox, Voxy, Voxio and then realized that the most obvious choice would simple be Voices.com for two reasons. First, it was just half of our old name which made us more memorable and the domain would be easier to type. Secondly, we broadened our market by reaching out into new areas like audiobook recordings and language translation services.
At the time, the name was being used for a medical journal that hadn’t been updated since 1999 so we asked our corporate lawyer to approach the owner. We negotiated a deal and the name was transferred to our registrar. The price you ask? Let’s just say it was in the high five figures.
Mike: Can you share your traffic statistics? Do you have any idea of what amount of visitors result from direct navigation?
David: We average about 1 Million visitors per month. About a third of those come from direct traffic.
Mike: How has owning the domain helped your business? Did you use a different name prior to acquiring Voices.com?
David: It’s been quite a wild ride. Since acquiring the name in 2006, our business have been transformed. First, the organization is perceived to be an authoritative website. At conferences, people often ask how we got the name and I share the story. This alone has created some positive word-of-mouth for us.
I also believe that a good name give prospective customers the confidence to do business with us because they feel we are *the* company to work with. The fact we’ve rounded out our service offering with free material including articles, blogs, podcasts and videos helps.
Mike: What type of marketing to you do for the site, if any? Is it a different strategy for attracting businesses than for attracting the voice talent that lists on the site?
David: We’re engaged in Google Adwords and currently bid on over 50,000 keywords across a number of micro-niches such as audiobooks, radio commercials and videogame production. Still, brand name searches yield the best results, but having “Voices.com” as the display URL has also proven to be positive.
As I mentioned, we also publish daily articles on Vox Daily, our company blog (http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily) that has several thousand subscribers. These articles are then shared on social networks such as Twitter and Digg.
Regarding SEO, we don’t do a whole lot. Rather, we’ve focused on creating content and sharing it with our customers. We have registered with Google Webmaster Tools and have Google Analytics set-up, so we keep an eye on website activity and have been pleased to see our referral from Google and Bing increase over the past few years.
An active community of over 4000 fans on Facebook is another way we engage with our customers.
We try to focus on those activities because historically, they’ve delivered the best results.
Mike: I’m curious, with such a great name, have you received any unsolicited offers?
David: Yes in fact. At least once a month I get an email offering anywhere from $300 to $50,000. I usually ask “I’m open to offers, what’s your bid?”, which results in either no response or something that is terribly low.
Mike: Clearly a domain name is an important factor to business success. What advice do you have for others when selecting a name? Is a premium name a safe bet?
David: Considering it’s done wonders for us and really put us on the map within our industry, I can confidently say that it’s well worth the investment. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying more in other forms of online advertising to make up for the fact you got a weak name. Spend the time and money researching keywords and find the absolute best name you can. You might be surprised to find a gem that’s not be utilized and the owner is willing to part with it for a fair sum.
I love this: “Spend the time and money researching keywords and find the absolute best name you can. You might be surprised to find a gem that’s not be utilized and the owner is willing to part with it for a fair sum.”
That’s quite a motivating comment for would be domain buyers 🙂
@Sri – I agree. Moving!
“Regarding SEO, we don’t do a whole lot.”
A quick look at the site confirms that statement, but while most are focusing on the benefits of owning a premium domain, the lack of SEO for the site makes no sense. While it doesn’t look like you are spending much on PPC, I would say an investment of $5k-20k could result in a traffic increase of 2-4 times. Currently only about 10% of your pages are considered “relevent” in Google, and good basic SEO should correct this problem.
While I would not recommend you making any changes since you are so well established with the domain, I often advise clients that they can use a doain like this to use as their company “identity” or they can treat it as a second business that can become larger than their existing one. If Voices.com was built as a portal site for all things voice, not only could your company be the largest advertiser (for free) but the site could earn income from all the other companies that would want to advertise on the site. No company gets 100% of all the business, so why not get paid when competitors do?
In my opinion, domains like Voices.com or toys.com should not be treated as a flashy, expensive sign you hang on the front of your building, but more like a bottomless gold mine not only providing more business, but direct income due to the value of the domain itself.