Driving Domain Buyers to Your Auction, Part I: Research


We’ve all sent domains to auction on various platforms and been disappointed with the result. Was it the domain? Was it the effort put in? Could anything else be done? Oh, the humanity!

The answer is a resounding “yes” to all of the above. In this three-part series I’m going to spell out how to effectively drive more traffic to your domain auctions with cold emails. The more exposure your domain gets, the greater chance someone will bid on your auctions, which leads to more potential buyers.

  1. Identifying Good Domains – Some domains are just plain unsellable to end-users or other domainers at auction — no matter what. If you’re new to buying domain names or have a ton of unsold names, you might benefit from reading the previous article I wrote on Flippa, reading Morgan Linton’s Domain Investing Handbook, or asking questions on NamePros.
  2. Decide on Brokering – If you have premium domain names and are looking to outsource the entire process, Flippa’s brokers will do the heavy lifting and only charge 15-20% of the sale price. If you rather try and grind these out yourself or don’t have a broker-worthy domain, read-on.
  3. Track Your Data – There’s an old saying that neatness is next to godliness (which makes Excel a titan). Recording all of your outreach data is essential for streamlining and perfecting this process. Protip: include duplicate conditional formatting that will alert you of duplicate contact info. Here is what’s germane for future use:
    • Repeat Sales – If the prospect purchased or showed interest in more than one of your domains.
    • Email Addresses – Any and all email addresses relating to the prospect. Include the initial addresses found via their WHOIS, their website, and anything they responded with.
    • Phone – Same process outlined for email addresses.
    • Name – Your contact’s full personal name and company name.
    • Time Contacted – Date and time you contacted this prospect.
    • Auction – Name of the domain and auction (if it goes to auction more than once) you’re promoting to them.
    • Prospect’s Domain – You don’t want to confuse their website with yours.
    • Origin – How you found the prospect. Analyze this data to focus your efforts through your best performing sources.
    • Responded – Compare this against their contact time, your chosen email structure, and its origin to analyze and refine your outreach strategy.
    • Interest – Also compare against everything mentioned in the responded section. Examine the origins of interested prospects and the email used to contact them.
  4. Search Engine Prospects – If you’ve always wanted a mythical universal web company that generates leads for you, you’re in luck. There’s a plethora of options with the advent of search engines, social media and various alternate TLDs. A simple search using these platforms will yield prospects for you to contact. I briefly touched on this topic in my previous article on Flippa and Morgan goes into fantastic detail in his Domain Investing Handbook. First, remove the TLD from your domain. If your domain is more than two words, separate them with a space (if it’s more than three words, you may want to re-read #1). Enter these words in quotes into the search engine and they will yield two types of data:
    • Results – Only use results that are individuals or businesses using the exact words in your domain to list their service, product or brand. Don’t use results that only include one of your words, are completely unrelated to the category of domain, or appear difficult to contact (foreign language, blatant typos, government agencies, law firms, etc.). Visit their site and search for their contact info. If you can’t locate it, it’s possible that they don’t want to be contacted (or they need a better web designer). An alternative is looking up their WHOIS info using Domain Tools and messaging the contact on record.
    • Advertisers – This is your bread and butter. Record all of them as these companies are paying to be featured in the search you just typed. You can even mention this when you’re contacting them as a bonus. Use the same method I described above to contact these advertisers. Hint: If their ad also doesn’t promote both of your keywords, they’re most likely not interested.
    • Decision-Makers – Aim for the key decision maker in an organization and be mindful of gatekeepers. Try to move up the food chain via introduction if you don’t believe someone has the appropriate authority to bid on domains.
  5. Social Media Prospects – Review all of the important social media sites to see if anyone has a similar screen name to your domain: Twitter, Google +, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Tumblr, and more. It’s best to contact these prospects through their respective mediums via private message.
  6. Similar Domains and TLDs Prospects – Search for domains that are very similar to yours that contain more words, dashes, are singular instead of plural or vice-versa. Remember to also check for those who own the alternate TLD of your domain and its similar counterparts.
  7. Lead Lists – Disregard any ideas that involve purchasing or using lists of emails that you have not created unless you’re using a broker and it’s their personal network.

I’m sure I haven’t covered all lead research and tracking tactics so I would love to see comments with any of your own findings! Remember to keep an eye out for new ways of finding leads by reading popular blogs and even this NamePros thread or Morgan’s previous posts on selling to end users.

Stay tuned for Part II of this article where I will address the strategy behind composing your email.

Edward Zeiden

Edward Zeiden

Domain enthusiast and entrepreneur, Edward Zeiden, has been in the tech industry for several years. After co-founding the startup, NameLayer (subsequently acquired by Techstars) he pursued a career in