Driving Domain Buyers to Your Auction, Part II: Composition


[This is Part 2 of 3 in an ongoing series addressing how to effectively promote your domain auction via cold emailing. You can read the previous article here]

Before writing any emails, remember that you’re contacting these people out of the blue. Do not assume they’re interested in your domain, don’t waste their time, and above all, write concisely to them as you would any prospective buyer. I’ve been on both sides of this exchange so I know what I would and would not like to see in email structure:

  1. From – Most people believe that the subject line is your first impression, but the “From” field leaves a lasting effect whether it’s subconscious or not.
    1. Full Name – Display your full name. Suspicion usually arises if you only give your first name or a vague company name.
    2. Email Address – While most people won’t be examining this at first glance, it will definitely come into consideration later. Custom domain email addresses with your first name in the title are the most trustworthy, but not necessarily required. If you’re going to use a free email address, use your full name without numbers. No one is going to open an email from soccerfann85@sbcglobal.net. It’s also wise to create an email address used solely for marketing your domains. You always run the risk of having your address added to a blacklist or spam database when contacting strangers, regardless of the quantity or content.
  2. To – The “To” field is where all your research from Part 1 shines.
    1. Use “To” and “Cc” – If have more than one email address to contact for the same lead, include only one in the “To” field and the rest in “Cc.”
    2. Counterproductive Tactics – Here are some major examples of what not to do:
      1. Bcc Everyone – Not only do I disagree with mass unwarranted solicitation using a template and the Bcc field, but it’s a likely way to have your emails bounce, go to spam, and violate your email provider’s spam policy.
      2. Contacting Multiple Addresses –  If you decide to separately contact all of the emails you have for a single lead, you run the risk of emailing the same person multiple times or generally annoying the entire company.
  3. Subject Line – One of the largest impacts on open rates is the subject line. Carefully crafting an effective one will take time and deliberation.
    1. Relevance – Inserting just your domain’s keywords into the subject line is the most succinct way of having the user open it. I personally prefer to insert the domain and then the words “at Auction” to be more transparent that I am, in fact, selling something.
    2. Length – You’ll most likely read articles around the internet boasting the perfect amount of words in an email subject to maximize open rates. These are largely untrue as MailChimp has uncovered. A simple, but effective strategy is to compose your subject line to be easily read on mobile devices. Truncation will occur at varying lengths depending on the OS and manufacturer, but the safe zone is 24-30 characters. If you follow my instructions I outlined in the “Relevance” section, you’ll most likely be in the clear. If your domain by itself won’t fit into this range, you might want to reevaluate how you buy domains and get a copy of Morgan’s Domain Investing Handbook as fast as possible.
    3. Counterproductive Tactics – Here are some major examples of what not to do:
      1. Capitalization – Refrain from using all caps unless you want to convey that you’re digitally bipolar or spamming the reader. This goes for exclamation points as well.
      2. Free – Don’t use this four letter word. It’s misleading in this context and has been proven to decrease open rates in certain industries. Additionally, “Help” and “Reminder” will also negatively impact your open rates.
      3. Customer Names – Don’t address them by their personal or company name in the subject.
      4. Mysterious Expiring Subject – Vague statements starting with “Time is Running Out” or “You only have until June 1st” are huge faux pas.
  4. Greeting – Mazel tov! Someone has decided that your message is not spam and by opening it, shows they are interested in the domain (or their toddler/cat/pug has their phone). Start the email off with a friendly, but not overly informal greeting and their name like, “Hello John,” but not as familiar with a “Hey.”
  5. Body – Now comes the difficult part: the pitch.
    1. Brevity – Keep it at a few brief sentences.
    2. Font – Don’t use any uncommon fonts, anything too large or too small, or stray from the default black color. Verdana and Sans Serif are two safe bets.
    3. Imperative Details – Include only necessary info since your auction should contain all pertinent data. Necessary info is just the name of the domain, the auction link and when it ends. If there’s something specific about about the domain or why a prospect should buy it, try including it.
    4. Colloquialisms and Metaphors – Don’t use them.
    5. Outline – Your email should include the following:
      1. State why you’re contacting them.
      2. Include the auction’s imperative details.
      3. Let them know you can answer any questions if they’re interested.
  6. Signature – If all else has gone smoothly, this is where you stick the landing by including the following info: full name, phone number, and physical address. Remember that they already have your website (if you used a custom domain) and email. Also, while presenting a website might help your validity as a seller, it will ultimately detract from the main goal of getting them over to the auction. If you’re wary of putting personal information in an email, you should reconsider contacting people as it’s required by the CAN-SPAM Act. If this is make or break for you, do one of the following:
    1. Alternate Contact Info – Get a free Google number, or pay for a temporary disposable number for a brief time (the Burner and Hushed apps are two that I have personally used). It’s worth the investment if you’re selling more than a few domains at a time.
      Create a new free email address if you don’t want to give out your personal one.
      PO boxes come cheap these days and are also worth the investment if you’re planning on doing this for the long haul.
    2. Broker – Consider hiring someone (like Flippa’s experienced brokers) that has an established network and is willing to cold-contact prospects on your behalf. You can read more about this here.
  7. CAN-SPAM Act – Review and comply with all its guidelines. It’s imperative to include a method for the receiver to opt out of your messages or mention that they won’t be receiving any future emails from you if they don’t respond. If you use an email delivery service, they will include the opt out message for you, otherwise you’ll have to devise and insert your own short message post signature.

If you’re interested in reading more about different email samples, researching leads, or strategically buying domains, try searching the largest domain forum on the internet or picking up Morgan’s acclaimed eBook. I would love to see any comments with your own discoveries and strategies while emailing prospects!

Stay tuned for Part III of this article where I will address the strategy behind contacting prospects.

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