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.