Do you want to look more professional and drive more traffic to your online store on one of the big auction sites like eBay, Overstock, or Amazon, and earn some eBay affiliate commission at the same time? Registering for your own domain name is a good place to start. This may sound very basic at this point in the online shopping game, but if you haven’t done it yet, what are you waiting for. This is one of those things for small businesses that is easy, probably costs less than your lunch, and can have a real impact on customer perception and even make you some money like paying less for your listing fees.
I am not really talking about registering your own company name, I assume you have already done that if you are serious about your Internet store and marketing your company name. I am talking about not having to use that really long url address that these sites use, and in the process, making it easier for your customers to find you.
Normally when you setup shop, you are using the servers of the company you sign up with. Using eBay as an example, if you have an eBay store site, your url address is going to be something like http://stores.ebay.com/chipseo-marketing. Something hard to just tell someone, also a little less professional looking, and just hard to type in, bookmark, or even remember (especially for your customers).
Having your own domain name changes that. I just randomly picked one from eBay Stores above, so hopefully this store won’t mind a little publicity (they have some great feedback and have obviously been selling on eBay for a long time), but from the screen shot I can count 51 characters in the url not including the http:// part. I tried to do a search on eBay’s store search page for this store (see below) and it didn’t show up under the keywords for essential oils or 02 essential oils so it might be a little difficult to find by just using a keyword search for their products. The issue of getting your proper keywords available so people can search for them is a topic for another post, but getting a good domain name is a start.
You can do a quick search to see if a few domain names of your choice would be available. Most all hosting companies allow a search, some of the easier ones to use are GoDaddy, Hostway, or Networksolutions to check on the availability of a domain name. In the example above I found some good choices with just a few minutes of looking, and might be something like http://www.o2oils.com or even http://www.o2oil.com.
Often times today it is very hard to find a short domain name, especially in the 5 four to five character area but if you look, eventually you will find something that will work for you. If you get one and don’t like it, you can always add a new one later and then you have two addresses that will both point to your store.
eBay actually makes it a little easier to setup than some of the other sites if you already have an ebay store. You just log into your store and scroll to the bottom and click on the link for domain registration and follow the steps outlined on those pages. Even if you don’t have an eBay Store yet, they are easy to open (just click here to open an eBay store), or even if you are not on eBay at all it is easy to setup. Remember, you are not actually setting up an online store or a web page, this is going to be a forward (also called a 301 Moved Permanently in technical terms) where you type in the domain name and then it redirects users to your eBay store.
For example, this site has a permanent redirect domain url of http://www.auburnseo.com, mainly because the keyword for Auburn is used in my business and it might bring in more typed in traffic, but it still works the same way. Now, when I go to http://www.auburnseo.com my users will be directed hopefully to where they wanted to go in the first place. Some companies will also give you a code to append to the end of the forward address that will give you an affiliate payment of some kind, like a discount on the fees normally charged or a payment for referring other people. In the eBay case, they will give you 75% off your final value fees (FVF), called a Final Value Fee Credit. That is not bad at all. Imagine taking 75% off that FVF bill each month. We used this FVF credit for about a year and saved almost $10,000 in fees over the whole year. That is not an actual payment in cash handed to me, but what’s the difference if you are paying the fees that many are on eBay.
To receive the FVF credit, you just need to append the forward to address with ?refid=store which is what eBay uses to track the domain forward. That is not the domain name you just registered, it is the ebay store name. So in the example used above, it would be http://stores.ebay.com/chipseo-marketing?refid=store for the address you will use as a forward to your new domain name.
When you set up your custom domain name on the registrar’s site, eBay will prepopulate your Store’s URL as the destination that your domain should forward to. We will also include a code at the end of that URL (?refid=store) to track when a user enters your Store from outside of eBay. If the user purchases an item, you can earn a Store Referral Credit. For more information, see the eBay Stores section in the eBay Help Center.
The refid id tag is specific to eBay so it may or may not be something you will need to add on other store pages. It will be slightly different for each company so check and see if there is something special they do with their credits or affiliate programs. With eBay there is both, and nothing says you can only do just one domain name either.
You do want to do a few things to make this happen of course. Some of the steps involved are going to be:
- Choosing a domain name – there are some basic do’s and don’ts to this and I have an article I will post soon on the specifics to picking out a good domain name. In the mean time, here are a few pointers.
- Choose something easy to remember
- Spelled correctly
- As short a name as possible
- Avoid the dash “-” in the name if you can
- Use something that may combine your company name and shopping store
- Be careful not to use a copyrighted name
- Decide what registrar company you want to use – ebay recommends two different companies, Hostway and Network Solutions, but there are many many different companies you can use. They all do the same thing. If you are comfortable with using one of the two companies above then by all means go ahead, they are both fine companies. We used Hostway for our eBay forwards just because they were a little less expensive.
- Apply the forward to your new domain – this is usually just a matter of copy and paste into a text field in the user options for your domain
- Promote your new address – this is an important step. The way the FVF credit is given is if someone types in the address you just bought, so you need to USE it. Basically anywhere you want to promote your products and services.
- Put it in your email signature
- on your email invoices
- your paper invoices
- on a flyer or promo in your customers orders
- If you advertise in a magazine
- If you don’t want to mess with it, find someone who will set it up for you – services like this exist everywhere. I can and have setup domain names for people for a small fee or do the continued maintenance on them each month for a small monthly fee. Either way, it is not an expensive business decision to make.
You can do the same thing for affiliate programs you participate in as well. eBay has its own affiliate program where you can use an amended url just like above (but a little longer) and you get paid for each bid, and for each new ebay registration that comes from your link (eBay uses a company called Commission Junction to take care of the complexities of this task). This doesn’t have to be the same domain, you can one for each purpose and then you will be on your way to start looking for ways to track and rank your domains and affiliate commissions.
Using additional domain names in your business is simple to set up, affordable, and a great way to expand your reach beyond the basic store url you are given when you sign up.
[1-10]: Technical  | Cost  | Revenue  | Customer Service  | Time