It’s The Ideal Time To Buy Dot ME Domains

Jul. 31

In my last post, I really enjoyed discussing dot co domain names. It seems like dot co is on fire right now and everyone has at least a few in their portfolio. I’m thrilled that I picked up a handful myself. Today, however, I’d like to shift gears and talk about another great TLD, dot me. I’m going to make the argument today that it’s the absolute perfect time to register dot me domain names, more so than any other TLD on the market!

Dot ME Was The Hot Topic of July, 2008

Dot ME Domains

It was on July 19, 2008 that I registered my first dot me domain. In the weeks that followed, I accumulated many great dot me names such as DRIP.me (I’m a big fan of DRIP investing, or dividend reinvestment plans). It made perfect sense: Dot me was all over the press and it was a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor. Really, July 2008 was just like July 2010! However, it was all about dot me at the time and now it’s all about dot co.

Very quickly, however, most of the best dot me domains got registered. The folks at the dot me registry did such a great job promoting their TLD that all the top domains were gone pretty much as soon as August, 2008 rolled around. July 2010 sure reminds me of July 2008. If you see a great dot co, register it now! Otherwise, it will be gone.

Dot ME Domains Are Dropping Like Crazy

Here’s the craziest part of July 2010! With all the hype around dot co, people are forgetting that it’s been two full years since dot me had its big debut. What does two years mean, you ask? It means the first dot me domains that were registered are starting to drop! We’re in a rough economy right now and people may not have the funds to renew their dot me domains. Moreover, many of the early investors in dot me may have been hoping for a quick sale that they never got. One thing is for sure: Dot me domains are dropping and I’m absolutely amazed at some of the names I have been able to pick up over the last week.

I mentioned above that I picked up DRIP.me back in 2008 because I’m a fan of DRIP investing (dividend reinvestment plans). Well, just last week I picked up Dividend.me as a hand registration on GoDaddy. I was absolutely shocked that I got this domain (49,500 exact searches/month and 1,500,000 phrase searches/month) in addition to a few others that are even better. Each and every day, I continue to find great dot me domains that I’m able to hand register because they dropped. I’m honestly having better luck with dot me than dot co because there’s little hype around dot me right now, creating the investment opportunity of a lifetime. If you thought you missed the boat back in 2008, it’s now your time to get the dot me domains you really want!

Why I’m a Huge Fan of Dot ME

In my last post, I discussed many reasons why dot co is an amazing TLD. Today, I’d like the make the case that dot me is just as powerful as dot co, in its own unique way. First and foremost, dot me is personal. So many domains have that amazing personal tone when you add "me" as the TLD. Let’s look at the two examples discussed above, DRIP.me and Dividend.me. Both of these have such a nice ring to them. They’re personal. They’re user-centric. They’re domains that create a connection!

I’m also a huge fan of dot me because it’s cheap right now. On GoDaddy, dot me domains have historically cost around $19.99/year (about $10/year cheaper than dot co). However, GoDaddy has a promotion right now for just $8.99! Your first year is only $8.99 and every year thereafter is at the regular price. In my opinion, this deal is too good to pass up.

Another reason I’m more excited about dot me than ever: Dot me domains are selling in the aftermarket. Dot me is still new enough that only time will tell if it has longevity on the secondary market. Preliminary indications, however, are really promising. Want proof? Just check out ccTLDInvestors.com – dot me domains are showing up in the weekly ccTLD sales stats consistently (at high prices)!

Last, I’m a fan of dot me because it’s a domain that works organically! Over the last year, I have developed four of my dot me domains into several-page minisites. Even though it’s the ccTLD (country code top level domain) of Montenegro, dot me has been marketed as a big gTLD (global top level domain). Google has validated this marketing model and is ranking great .me sites in its US organic results. My dot me sites have been real winners! So, what are you waiting for? Time to go scour GoDaddy for some awesome dot me opportunities!

Image of URL Bar © iStockPhoto – tiridifilm

Dot CO Domain Names Rock

Jul. 27

If you’ve been reading PPC Ian for a while, you know I’m a huge fan of domain names and domain name development. So far this year, I’ve set a new record in terms of number of domains registered! I’ve been mostly focusing on dot com, dot net, dot org, dot me, and now dot co. Moreover, I’ve developed at least 18 domains so far this year. In short, I’ve caught the domaining bug and can’t get enough of this stuff. Today, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss dot co and why it’s the perfect time to register your do co domains!

Dot CO, The Next Big Domain Extension

Dot CO

So you may be thinking, what the heck is dot co? Dot co is actually the country code top level domain (ccTLD) for Colombia. However, it’s being marketed as the next big global top level domain (gTLD). Just think about it: When you hear dot co, do you think of Colombia? Or, do you think about such concepts as: company, corporation, commerce, commercial? I personally think of the latter and so do the folks behind dot co and domainers worldwide. In fact, over 100,000 dot co domains were registered within the first half hour of this new TLD going live! Another great data point: Overstock.com bought o.co for $350,000. Can you believe it?

It’s Your Chance To Buy The Domain You Really Want

If you’ve ever tried to register a domain name, I’m sure you’ve run into the same problem as myself: Most of the great ones are taken! These days, if you want a great generic dot com, dot net, or dot org, you’re going to have to go to the aftermarket. I actually went to the aftermarket earlier this year to register IJL.net. You may wish to read about my experience buying domains on Sedo, one of the top places to buy premium aftermarket domains.

Now, let’s say you want to build a big portfolio or simply don’t have the big bucks to shell out for that perfect domain name. This is exactly where dot co steps in. In my opinion, most end users (especially those coming from PPC and SEO) aren’t really going to care whether you have a dot com or dot co domain. Dot co in the end user’s eyes is about as close to dot com as you can get! So, go ahead and register that domain name. You’ll finally be able to get the name you want.

Dot CO Is Great For PPC and SEO (Maybe Not So Much For Branding)

So I know what you’re thinking. How can I build a big brand around dot co? Most users are only familiar with dot com and will try to go to my site, but enter dot com and end up elsewhere. I’m totally with you and am not going to argue. If you’re trying to build a big brand, it’s all about dot com.

However, let’s say you don’t care about building a huge brand. Rather, you’re trying to build a direct business that gets most of its traffic from PPC and SEO. In this case, I’m all about dot co! In other words, whether you have a dot co or dot com, I don’t think your PPC click through rate will differ much. In terms of SEO, I also expect dot co to thrive. Why? I’ve built out four dot me (another great ccTLD being marketed as a gTLD) sites this year and all are doing very well organically. In terms of SEO, I expect dot co to follow in dot me’s footsteps.

Dot CO Is Not Cheap

So, where can you register dot co and how much does it cost? Registration is very simple. I recommend going with GoDaddy, one of my favorite registrars. In terms of pricing, you’re looking at 29.99/year which is very expensive in the world of domains. For the same price, I could buy three dot coms instead! As such, I have been relatively conservative in my dot co strategy. I only register dot co domains that have at least 20,000 exact match searches based on Google’s Keyword Tool External. Otherwise, the domain must have some serious special meaning for me to shell out that much money. While this may not seem like too much money when you’re registering one domain, it can really add up when you’re trying to build a large portfolio.

Interested in learning more about domain names? I also highly recommend my article about ccTLD domain names in PPC. One of my sub-goals this year: Buying as many great ccTLD domain names as possible. In addition to dot co and dot me, I’m also focusing on dot in, dot mx, dot es, and others!

SEM Software – Four Amazing Tools

Jul. 21

I’m a tremendous fan of pay per click automation. I just wrote a FREE 12 page whitepaper all about buying the right search marketing software platform. I highly recommend checking it out!

Last Friday, I also wrote all about portfolio theory versus margin maximization bidding models. Today, I’m super excited to continue the SEM automation trend and discuss four of the most popular SEM software tools. Specifically, I’m going to introduce Marin Software, Kenshoo, Efficient Frontier, and ClickEquations. While there are pros and cons with all tools, I’m really going to focus on some of the high level pros of each tool today. At the end of today’s post, I’m hoping you go away with four great tools that you can evaluate for your organization’s SEM program.

Marin Software – The Industry Leader

One Plus One

I’m starting with Marin Software because it’s one of my favorite SEM software tools of all time. In fact, I had the pleasure of recently interviewing Matt Lawson from Marin Software (one of my favorite posts on PPC Ian). Following are a few of my favorite things about Marin:

  • As the largest search marketing application, Marin has over 180 customers and $1 billion in annual paid search spend. This figure is absolutely amazing! More than anything, more spend equals more features (and better features). Marin clearly has the client base to support best of breed innovation.
    • Just one recent example: Marin now supports Facebook Ads. (I’m a big believer in the future of Facebook and also recommend checking out my review of Jonathan Volk’s Facebook Ads book.)
  • Marin Software has the best account management team, period. I personally know several of the account managers at Marin and give them my highest recommendation. Marin hires the top dogs of the corporate pay per click industry, account managers that can truly add value to your program. It’s actually quite funny: The best campaign managers I know all end up joining Marin!
  • As you know from my last post, I’m a huge fan of the margin maximization bidding model. Marin offers a no-nonsense (anti-black box) bidding model that absolutely delivers. In my opinion, it’s the best bidding engine out there.
  • Marin’s user interface is amazing and polished. If you’re going to be in one application all day, you want one that’s easy to use, visually appealing, and powerful, right? You get all of these benefits with Marin. They truly put the user first.
Kenshoo – Intelligent Campaign Automation

Kenshoo is another one of my favorite search marketing applications. It’s actually really crazy: About a year ago, I visited an office warming party at Kenshoo’s new San Francisco office and had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Mike Moritz, one of the top venture capitalists in the world. Over the last year and a half, I’ve really gotten to know the Kenshoo team and give them my top recommendation. Following are just a of my favorite things about Kenshoo:

  • Kenshoo is new! Let’s face it: The search engine marketing industry has matured. I’ve been doing this stuff for over 6 years now and can hardly believe it. The beauty of Kenshoo is it’s a brand new application so its code base is fresh, innovative, and fast.
  • As you may know, I earned my BS in Computer Science from Stanford University back in 2004. Recently, I spoke all about online marketing at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. I love technology and innovation. Kenshoo is all about innovation. Their roots are in technology and they think and build innovation like true engineers.
  • If you’re in product shopping, Kenshoo offers amazing crawling technology that will spider your site and link your SEM campaigns into the various nodes of your site. This technology can do some really great stuff such as keeping prices in your ad copy up to date with current prices on your site, and so much more.
Efficient Frontier – Optimized Performance Marketing

Next I’m looking forward to discussing some of my favorite aspects of Efficient Frontier. Efficient Frontier is a little different than Marin Software and Kenshoo in that it’s more of an agency package. Marin Software and Kenshoo enable internal SEM teams to better manage their campaigns. Efficient Frontier, however, not only offers an amazing software solution but also combines it with the leverage of agency resources. If you’re looking to leverage one of the most amazing bidding models out there while outsourcing your campaign management, Efficient Frontier is an excellent option. Following are a few highlights:

  • Efficient Frontier offers the premier portfolio theory based bidding model around. As I discussed in my last post, there are two really great bidding models for the corporate setting: portfolio theory and also margin maximization. If you’re under a budget (especially a strict one), I’d definitely encourage you to investigate portfolio theory.
  • How many people work on your team? Do you plan to hire more? Let’s face it: There are many situations where you simply don’t have the ability to hire more team members, but you need more scale. Now, it’s my firm belief that any of the tools in this post will help you in that situation, they all offer scale. However, there’s nothing like the power of outsourcing and agency assistance for maximum leverage.
  • Efficient Frontier is the leader in algorithmic bidding. They employ some of the most amazing PhDs in the industry and can truly take your bidding to the next level.
ClickEquations – The First Intelligent Paid Search Solution

I’m going to close out today with ClickEquations. ClickEquations is a newer paid search application that has taken the industry by storm. I’m going to write a bit less about ClickEquations simply because I don’t know as much about it. However, that definitely doesn’t mean there is anything less valuable with this tool. Following are some of my favorite things about ClickEquations:

  • The management team at ClickEquations truly gets it. At SMX Advanced Seattle, I had the pleasure of hearing Craig Danuloff, President and Founder of ClickEquations, talk about Quality score. He presented a quality score whitepaper that is truly the best I’ve seen on the topic. I highly recommend checking it out! After reading this whitepaper, I’m convinced you will be a fan of ClickEquations too!
  • ClickEquations has a superb team. At multiple conferences, I’ve heard Alex Cohen (Digital Alex) speak on behalf of his employer, ClickEquations. This guy always hits the ball out of the park and makes a great name for his company. It’s people like this that truly inspire confidence.
  • I’m a big fan of the ClickEquations Blog. The blog makes a great name for the company and I can’t wait to learn more about this great SEM tool.

Image of One Plus One © iStockPhoto – topshotUK

Portfolio Theory Versus Margin Maximization

Jul. 16

Have you checked out my SEM Automation Buyer’s Guide yet? I highly recommend it! You’ll get 12 FREE pages of information about buying the perfect SEM software for your company. I’ve been at the forefront of SEM technology for the last six years and share my proprietary methodology for choosing the perfect platform.

Two Very Popular SEM Bidding Models

Math Formulas

Today, I’d like to stay on the topic of SEM automation and specifically discuss two very popular bidding strategies: portfolio theory and margin maximization. I’m a tremendous fan of bidding automation. It’s really the only way to go when you manage hundreds of thousands if not millions of keywords. Of course, you’ll always want to involve human judgment (and supervision), especially on high volume keywords, but a solid bidding model will become your organization’s SEM backbone. At the end of this post, you will walk away with two things:

  1. An understanding of the differences between portfolio theory and margin maximization.
  2. An understanding of which model makes the most sense for your particular business model.
What is Portfolio Theory?

Portfolio theory based bidding models involve a parameter (or parameters) you’re trying to maximize given certain constraints. Typically, you’ll find portfolio models set up to maximize volume of conversions within a budget constraint. You’ll often have a cost per acquisition constraint as well, whereby the algorithm stops short of the budget if your overall CPA is running too high.

Within your portfolio, different keywords will end up running at very different CPAs (cost per acquisition). You may have some running at extremely high margins with others even running at a negative margin. It’s all really a function of the CPA/volume tradeoff. In those cases where the algorithm can drive significantly more volume at slightly higher CPAs, it will go for it. In cases where higher CPAs drive relatively less incremental volume, the algorithm will decide to go for margin. At the end of the day, the algorithm does its best to make intelligent tradeoffs so the overall portfolio’s volume is maximized within the constraints.

In my opinion, portfolio based bidding models are absolutely awesome! They tend to break down a bit when you have an unlimited budget, although elements of the portfolio theory can still help you out in that scenario (more on this later). The most well known portfolio software out there: Efficient Frontier.

What is Margin Maximization?

So now we’ll move onto margin maximization. Over the course of my SEM career, I’ve worked mostly at companies that have had unlimited budgets. That’s right! As long as the CPA is at or below the target, I have been free to drive as many conversions as possible. It’s precisely in these types of situations that a margin maximization model thrives.

What is margin maximization? It’s simple: The model basically maximizes your margin (typically percentage margin) on a keyword level. If you have enough statistically significant data on a keyword level, it’s easy to just bid 1 – margin percentage target (while also adjusting upward to take into account slack, the delta between your bid and actual CPC). What if you don’t have enough statistically significant data on a keyword level? The best margin maximization models will forecast your keyword level revenue per visitor based on closely related keywords.

The primary benefit of margin maximization: You can rest at night knowing that you are never losing money on any keywords (as long as your forecasted keyword values are accurate). One of the downsides of margin maximization: You can sometimes leave volume on the table. If you simply take a lower percentage margin on certain keywords, you may be able to drive significantly more volume. There are a few tricks in getting around this downside, however. The first involves experimenting with different percentage margins in an effort to optimize your dollar margin. The second involves experimentation on a keyword level to allow a few loss leaders in your campaign. The margin maximization platform that I’m most familiar with (and highly recommend): Marin Software.

Which SEM Bidding Model Do I Prefer?

So what’s my preference: Portfolio theory or margin maximization? It’s really a function of my constraints. If I have a budget constraint, I’m a portfolio theory guy all the way. If I have unlimited budget, I’m all for margin maximization.

Let me tell you however, even in the second case (unlimited budget), I’m a fan of a hybrid approach. I’ll manage most keywords to a strict margin percentage. However, I will experiment placing my the best keywords (Google.com only, exact match only, category leaders) at higher bids. In cases where I can drive significantly more volume at a lower percentage margin, I’ll sometimes make the tradeoff, especially if my organization needs the volume. In terms of making up the percentage margin for the overall portfolio, I’ll often rely on my trademark terms because they run at such high margins.

So I’ve mentioned Efficient Frontier and Marin Software. What are some other great SEM applications? I recommend checking out Kenshoo and ClickEquations. In a future post, I’m looking forward to discussing some of these SEM applications and more!

Image of Math Equations © iStockPhoto – enot-poloskun

SEM Automation Buyer’s Guide Whitepaper

Jul. 12

Hey Everyone,
Today is an exciting day! I’m officially launching PPC Ian’s Whitepaper Series. Today, you’ll have the opportunity to download my FREE 12 page whitepaper all about buying SEM automation software. I’m launching my SEM Automation Buyer’s Guide, the culmination of years of very hard work in the SEM technology arena. Want to download my free whitepaper? Read on! Instructions follow at the end of this post, it’s easy…

SEM Automation Software

SEM Automation Buyer's Guide

There’s no doubt about it! I’m the biggest fan of SEM automation software. Over the years, I’ve had the huge pleasure of building several in-house automation tools. I functioned in a product management role to build scalable campaign management technologies. The benefit in all of this: I learned exactly what it takes to succeed in the world of search marketing software!

Later in my career, I quickly noticed that the solutions available on the market evolved tremendously. Today, they’re far more cost effective, practical, and advanced compared to the in-house route. These day’s I’m a big proponent of buying instead of building, and was directly responsible for buying a major SEM platform at one of my recent companies. (You may wish to check out my recent video on the build vs. buy decision). The crazy part of all of this: I’m not the only one who has arrived at this conclusion! This year alone, I’ve coached at least 10 different corporate SEM teams in their SEM software audit. It seems like everyone is in the process of evaluating SEM software right now!

My Whitepaper Will Help You Buy The Right Search Marketing Software

So this all brings me to the topic of my whitepaper. When it comes to SEM software, I’ve really seen it all and done it all! I have added huge value to numerous SEM teams this year, coaching them through their buy decision. However, I’d like to scale even more and help even more search marketing teams. As such, I created an incredibly comprehensive resource for those of you evaluating SEM automation software. In 12 pages, I share my proprietary framework for completing an unbiased audit of the major SEM applications out there, arriving at the perfect decision for you and your company. Regardless of your current situation, I highly encourage you to download and read my FREE whitepaper. It will save hours of work while taking your career to the next level. If you really want to stand out as a leader in your organization and make the right software decision, my whitepaper is definitely worth your time!



PPC Ian Whitepaper Series – Sign Up Now!

The really exciting part of this all? My SEM Automation Buyer’s Guide is the first whitepaper of many. My eBook highlighting my Top 5 SEM Career Tips has been a huge success. It even landed one PPC Ian reader several job offers. As a result, I decided to launch my whitepaper series. Download my first whitepaper and you’ll automatically receive all future whitepapers directly to your email inbox. Moreover, you’ll periodically receive PPC Ian updates. It’s easy! Simply enter your first name and email and you’ll receive my whitepaper in just a few minutes. Already on my email newsletter list? My whitepaper list is actually new so you’ll want to sign up again!

Thanks so much for your support! I can’t wait to hear what you think about my new whitepaper!

Sincerely,
PPC Ian (Ian Lopuch)