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Five Steps to reboot your Business Mojo

Loss of business mojo happens to all of us from time to time. As business owners, it can sometimes be hard to maintain enthusiasm and drive all the time towards our work.

Five Steps to reboot your Business MojoSometimes it feels like we have lost our motivation and are just going through the motions in order to get things done. We feel no real urge to seek out and try new things (like marketing tactics). If this sounds familiar to you, then maybe your Business Mojo might just need a reboot!

If you are looking for some help so get things going again, here five quick tips that I personally have found useful to get inspired and back on track.

1. Get out and Exercise!

This might seem a bit of a strange tip in a business and marketing blog, however I find my focus for the day is sharper after some form of morning exercise. A simple 30 minute walk or jog can do the trick and the best thing is you can kill two birds with one stone by exercising to some…

2. Podcasts!

There are literally thousands to choose from. The best way to find the podcasts bested suited to you is to have a look on iTunes (for the Apple fans) and BeyondPod (for the Android users among us). Podcast One is another source for all kinds of podcasts from all types of genres.

A great podcast can expose you to a world outside the business that you generally work in and, just by listening to some success stories and the experiences of others, you might just find that missing spark you are looking for.

3. Reading

Once again, for those seeking external motivation from the best in the business, there is an abundance of great books that can get you inspired. Several great books that I can whole-heartedly recommend include:

  • Pour your heart into it – The Starbucks Story by Howard Schultz
  • Like a Virgin by Richard Branson
  • The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
  • Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

I must confess that I have read a couple of these more than once just to try and squeeze every possible gem out of them! They are all written by people who have created their own huge success stories and it help me to think – “there’s nothing to stop me being one too!”

4. Talk to other like-minded business people.

Seeking and talking biz with like-minded business owners can be a very powerful experience. But first you need to seek out an appropriate network. You could join your local Chamber of Commerce, start your own networking group or just talk to friends who work in similar industries (or maybe completely different). If you feel a little isolated and don’t know where to start, get online and join a forum.

5. Sit back and reflect

Sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day of our businesses and we lose sight of what we have achieved and how far we have come. Take some time out and think about when you started your business. What were your goals? Why did you start?

Look at your past achievements and the work you have done. I love to go back and look at sites that I created 10 years ago and see just how bad they are! Of course, they didn’t look too bad back then but the progress since has made all of them look positively antiquated.

Guaranteed, if you look at the progress and successes of your business from where you have come from, you will start to see a clearer way forward and gain some of the motivation you think you have lost. You haven’t lost it – it’s still there, just hidden from view.

Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced Bread

In small towns across North Queensland (and elsewhere I’m sure), there is evidence of an economic downturn on every main street.

Online StoresMany small shop fronts are sitting empty with no real outlook to opening again anytime soon. The factors behind this situation are many and varied but one of the most common blames is put directly onto the rise of online shopping.

If your business sells products of any shape or form, whether they are toasters, cars or even houses, there is absolutely no reason why you should miss out on a cut of the market by not having your very own ecommerce store. It doesn’t matter if you are a huge conglomerate with hundreds of stores nationwide or the local dress shop marketing your own fashions, everyone can have a slice of the pie if they are clever and utilise the power of the web.

There is a huge recompense to having an online store that most business owners don’t recognise, and these advantages can’t be achieved through a regular bricks and mortar store.

An online store has no landlord!

Not a single cent is paid in rent for your online store. The only costs you will incur, other than the original design of your site, is the monthly/yearly charge for your web server, the domain name and charges from outside agencies such as PayPal and/or your bank.

When you compare this to the cost of leasing a shop, you can guess who comes out in front. Talking to local business owners in my home town has shown me that the cost of a lease is one of the biggest factors forcing businesses to close. There’s not enough custom through the front door to warrant the outlay. No such problem with an online shop.

Levels the playing field with the Big Guys

When you operate an online store, you can pretend to be as big or small as you want. Many small online operators like to push the “smaller” operation approach as this can help to give you that personal touch missing from one of the larger stores. However, stores like Harvey Norman are trying to cash in on this notion by utilising a chat system that pops up at the bottom of the shop screen. Once again, the small business owner can compete with this through the use of a very simple plug in like ClickDesk or LiveChat.

Open for Business 24/7

An online store means that you can make a sale – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even when you are asleep, your site can be making for you. Imagine logging on at work each morning (during the business week, of course) and seeing a whole backlog of purchases that were made and paid for even while the physical offices of your business were shut! The advantages of this should be whole apparent – you can’t do this with a bricks and mortar store. Once again, you can compete with the big guys – on their level.

Customer Interaction

An Ecommerce store can also be integrated with a healthy Social Media campaign allowing the store to “converse” with customers and potential customers in a friendly environment. Any problems or questions about products and services can be solved with no awkward or sometimes aggravated face to face contact. Tips and tricks can be passed on almost immediately to patrons with no wait time (depending on the level of customer service available) – business owners can answer issues from the luxury of their armchairs at home if they want.

An ideal example of this customer interaction can be seen in full use by Blackmilk Clothing on both their Facebook pages and website. Happy customers can be seen happily conversing with the Blackmilk team and showing off their latest purchases on the pages of the site. In return, the Blackmilk team gets instant feedback and direction, straight from the people wearing their gear.

Final Note

An online store can add an extra line of revenue to a business and it doesn’t even have to be the end of the physical shop front. Caravans Plus in Queanbeyan operate both with an offer in their ecommerce checkout that allows customers to order online and pickup in person, a perfect setup for the grey nomad travelling through that part of the world. No freight!

If you are interested in creating an online store, get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design and have a chat about what is possible for your business. We can create ecommerce stores for all types of businesses, large and small.

 

“Be x Do = Have” – A Simple Algorithm for Website Success

The classic life algorithm “BE x DO = HAVE” has probably appeared in countless blog posts before. But who has sat down and worked out their Website strategy using this simple mathematical problem as a basis?

BE x DO = HAVEI have known of Brad Sugars, the founder of ActionCOACH, since he was a Senior leader at my high school in Brisbane and have watched his business coaching “empire” grow with interest. Whilst not a great fan of his business tactics and holding no affiliation to his brand, I have found nuggets of very useful information and advice in his YouTube videos. On his own site, Brad used to have a link to a free video seminar from his “Business is Booming” tour. In the three-hour long video, Brad took the audience through the various reasons why businesses should keep striving through the global financial crisis which was in full swing at the time. I spent a couple of nights watching the video and taking notes so that I could apply them to my own work at Tropical Coast Web Design.

One of the points that Brad raised in the video is the paradigm “BE x DO = HAVE”. Using an example from the video, a simple use of the math could be “BE Awesome x DO Awesome = HAVE Awesome”. Pretty straight forward until you realise that most people live this particular algorithm backwards, thinking that they must HAVE something before they can BE something.

I got to thinking to thinking – if this can be so easily applied to one’s life, can it be applied to the success of your Website? It may not be as simple as Brad Sugar’s application but read on…

If you are a business supplying a product or a service, the result of creating your Website must be to “HAVE more business”. That’s the final desired result. How do we get there?

The first part of the algorithm is not about the Website – it’s about your business. To effectively use a Website to generate business, you must have a product or service that would benefit from online sales. The local doctor probably doesn’t need a Website to sell his services. On the other hand, your local florist could make a lot more sales simply by getting online. You need to research your market and find out what your clients and potential clients want.

BE a worthy online business.

Once you have done the research on your clients, now comes the hard part. Do you have site that will satisfy their requirements? Sit down with your web designer and plan out a strategy – Who is your target market? How do they shop? What do they look for first in a site? What is their preferred method for purchasing? Will the aesthetics of the site appeal to them? How do we get them to keep coming back? This is where a good relationship with your web designer is very important. They need to understand where you are coming from and what you hope to achieve with your site.

DO create a site that works for you.

However, working with your web designer is only half the task. Once the reigns of your site have been handed over to you, there is still a lot of work to do. Start by reading back through our blog archive. There are literally dozens of tips that will help you to develop and continue to grow a site that works for you rather than sitting stagnant on the world wide web. If the site is not working for you, it’s not worth having – so turn it around!

Finally, keeping those two elements (BE and DO) in mind throughout the whole process, you can arrive at the desired result.

BE a worthy online business x DO create a site that works for you = HAVE more business.

This may be a little different to the way that Brad Sugars describes it, but the principle is the same. It is a very simple algorithm however it makes common sense for any small business owner who wants a site that generates leads and sales.

Five Home Page “Tricks” to lower your Bounce Rate.

Information Overload = High Bounce Rate = Poor Website Performance

Five "Tricks" to lower your Bounce Rate.In numerous blogs, books and forums, small business owners are told from the very beginnings of their online forays that content marketing is a must for a successful website. Any solid marketing advice will say “You must create FAQs, blog posts, videos, podcasts, Facebook feeds, how-to sheets, free e-books, Tweets and Pins for your site to REALLY connect with your target audience.” This is good advice, after all, Google loves fresh content and so do those visitors who return to your site.

But there is inherent danger with all this information – having been told to create it, some website owners get carried away. And, unfortunately, your website visitors may not appreciate this content as much as you do – especially if it is displayed to them all at once.

By this I mean, displaying it all on the very first page of a website – also known as the landing page.

If you overwhelm your visitors as soon as they arrive on your site, you may find that this overload of information result in a “Bounce Rate”*. 

The key to solving this problem is to remember this simple point at all times: your site visitors have arrived at your site seeking only one of two things, information and engagement. Think back to any site that you have ever visited – you have sought out those sites out to either find out more about the business and their services/products or, engage them in further conversation (which can take many forms) to potentially make a purchase.

So how do we avoid information overload on key pages of your website?

Try to keep information in line with the five basics of a good home page:

1. A catching headline that includes your keywords.

If you are a plumber in Innisfail, use a title liked “Professional Plumbing Services – Innisfail.” Keep Google happy by staying under its preferred title length which is 70 characters.

2. A solid sub headline paragraph (or two) that briefly describes who you are and what you do.

Visitors love a story so you could also talk about what you can do for them but don’t get use jargon, remember to apply the K.I.S.S.* principle here.

3. Display your immediate contact information in the top right hand corner of the page.

If you want people to ring you, show the phone number in a large font. If you prefer emails, show the email address. Remember to keep it all mobile friendly by ensuring that both of these can be clicked/tapped.

4. Make your Call to Action very clear.

In most cases, this is what you prospective customers will be looking for so make it STAND OUT! Don’t make customers search for your latest deals or booking forms, make them so obvious that a blind person could find them.

5. Everyone loves a good slideshow (that’s why every site these days has one).

But don’t just use it to display pretty pictures – make it part of your marketing plan. Make it part of your HOOK* to immediately engage your visitors.

Get those things right on the front page and everything else is superfluous – put the extra information on other pages. Use your navigation effectively and your visitors can find it if they want to dig further.

With the advent of Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, there is the ability to create a multitude of cascading pages for your website so there is no excuse for not using this to your advantage.

Keep the front page of your small business site clean and simple using the five items above and monitor your Google Analytics. Done effectively, you will watch that bounce rate drop away as your prospective customers come and, most importantly, stay.

* the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

* K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Stupid

* a hook, which is a short phrase or jingle designed to entice a customer to purchase a product or sign up for a service.

Four Steps to Successful Email Marketing

While Social Media for small business continues to be a rave topic in marketing forums around the world, statistics indicate that, although annoying to some, email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools that a business can use to engage with its customers.

Succcessful Email MarketingYour Inbox is irrevocable proof of this – how many items of marketing did you receive this morning?

Although some will never be opened, the humble email can still be an effective way of reaching out to your customers. But, as with anything, there is a right way and a wrong way. Here’s our four top tips to help you create an effective (and legal*) email marketing strategy for your business:

Step 1: Grow your database

Before you start any email marketing campaign, you need legitimate* emails in your database to use. Gathering these addresses is quite easy if you have an established website. You can use the popular method of the pop-up window or simply have a newsletter subscription somewhere on your home page. MailChimp has plugins that work directly through the WordPress framework and integrate with their newsletter systems, saving the hassle of collecting email addresses and adding them manually to your campaigns.

Whatever method you use, remember to always declare why you are gathering the addresses and what can be expected in return (see value point below).

Step 2: Remember the Mobile Users

Due to the unstoppable growth of smart phones, more emails than ever before are being viewed on a mobile device. In fact, up to 75% of email opens* could be via mobile depending on your industry. To cater for this audience, ensure that your emails are mobile optimised – easy to read on a small screen, low on data usage and concise in their information.

* http://www.emailmonday.com/mobile-email-usage-statistics

Step 3: Be aware of the SPAM Act 2003

To keep your email marketing within the lines of the law, you must ensure that any emails you send comply with three main points – Consent, Identity and Unsubscribe.

Consent – The receiver of your emails must be made fully aware at the time they subscribe exactly what they will be receiving in return. Consent can also be in the form of an existing relationship with the receiver i.e. they are already a customer.

Identity – Marketing emails must identify who is sending the emails and their contact information.

Unsubscribe – Each email must include an Unsubscribe option so that consent can be retracted at any time.

Learn more: http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam

Step 4: Offer Value

The secret behind any email campaign that wants to grow and be effective to offer subscribers VALUE in what they receive. Value can come in multitude of forms. You can reply with a free eBook, a newsletter filled with tricks and tips or keep them up to date with the latest industry news. If you are advertising products or services, butter up the receiving party with a discount voucher for their next purchase.

Everyone loves getting something for free and your subscribers are more likely to stick around.

Remember, what may work for one business may not necessarily work for yours. As with any marketing, try out all your ideas but be sure to MEASURE the response. Don’t spend hours of your precious small business time barking up the wrong tree only to find out that you aren’t getting a decent return from your efforts. Make a note of what works and what doesn’t, fine-tuning along the way. This approach will lead to an effective email strategy that will grow your business without eating away at your marketing budget or your valuable time.

What exactly is a Sales Funnel?

A Sales Funnel is essentially the journey that businesses lead prospective customers through when they purchase products or services.

Most small businesses probably have a sales funnel process without even realising it. The real power and benefits of the funnel come from documenting and tracking it’s various phases allowing business owners to effectively tailor their marketing efforts. This ensures conversion and advocacy at the end of the journey.

The Sales Funnel

The primary goal of any sales funnel must be to move prospects from one phase to the next until they are ready to purchase from your business and become paying customers.

Unfortunately, a sales funnel is not like a real-life funnel where everything that goes in comes out the other end. Wouldn’t that be nice? Every prospect who enters your business leaves as a customer, in which case, the shape would no longer be a funnel – it would be a cylinder!

But the real world is slightly different.

The sales process always begins with many potential customers and ends with fewer who actually make a purchase. The sales funnel tracks these potential customers from the very first time they hear about your business, right through to the moment they buy from you and even beyond.

It is important to note at this stage that you CAN design your sales funnel to suit your own needs. The sales process differs from business to business depending on your own individual business requirements so feel free to add levels and details as you need them – it is your business that will benefit from accurate tracking and changes during the sales journey.

A little research on the internet will show that some sales funnels have many levels however the sales funnel that I will be working with has been modified for my own requirements for two main reasons:

1. Simplicity
Why over complicate things from the beginning? My sales funnel is a work in progress and I can add to it over time if I find that I need to.

2. The Advocacy Phase
A lot of my work is attained via my existing clients and I want to explore that avenue of marketing in order to continue to grow it.

Over the next four blog posts, I will go through each of the phases in my modified sales funnel – Awareness, Consideration, Conversion and Advocacy.

Note: The content of each of the next four blogs comes from a workshop I delivered to the Cassowary Coast Business Women’s Network. If you or your organisation are interested in my services as a guest speaker for your business network, please get in touch via g.provians@rustymangodesign.com.au

10 Effective Ways to create Awareness of Your Business

10 Effective Ways to generate Awareness of Your BusinessOver the next few weeks in the Rusty Mango blog, we’ll be examining the various levels that comprise an effective sales funnel for your business and its brand. In this post, we’ll examine the top-most level – Awareness.

In the initial moments where a customer becomes aware of your business and what it has to offer, the all-important lead generation process begins to take place. Any leads created here are vitally important as they “pull” the customer into the system for nurturing further down the funnel.

Here’s some “tools” that you can use to generate awareness of your business:

Facebook Ads

Advertising on the #1 social media platform, Facebook, is great for targeting the exact audience you want as you can use the Facebook Ad tool to select the personal traits and interests of potential customers. With a budgeting level that you specify, it is also cost effective for any growing business.

Networking

Build trust and awareness of your business by joining your local Chamber of Commerce, offering your services to non-profit organisations and participating in community groups such as Rotary and Lions. Get your name out there!

Traditional Advertising – Radio and Print

If your target audience is likely to read your local newspapers and listen to local radio, don’t hesitate to use these traditional methods to promote your brand. Be sure to track any results (from marketing point to customer) to ensure that your marketing budget is not being wasted.

Social Media

Be visible on at least two social media platforms to cast a broad net over your target audience online. As a guide, Facebook is great for “business to consumer” promotions, LinkedIn works for “Business To Business” awareness and Instagram (owned by Facebook) is emerging as a powerful tool for all audience levels.

Content Marketing

The most authoritative way to establish trust and industry leadership is through the creation of powerful content for your website. Blog posts, videos, podcasts and demonstrations can quickly prove that you know your industry and what your clientele needs from you.

Direct Mail

If you can determine a specific market that is screaming out for your services or products, why not physically contact them with a direct mail campaign, specifically designed for that market alone.

Good SEO on Website

Make your potential customers aware of your business through the application of good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) practices on your website. Ensure that you are “loved” by Google through using effective key words and descriptions on your site along with fresh content and quality inbound links.

Google AdWords

Along with effective SEO practices, you can also engage Google with a paid, structured AdWords campaign designed to target your specific customer demographic.

Partnerships

Partnership programs work with businesses that complement each other and can be done in a very subtle, effective way. For example, a mechanic, upon the completion of a routine service, could leave a small promotion flyer on the dashboard from the local Car Detailer. The detailer could do the exact same in return.

Referral Programs

Join with other local businesses to create a referral program where businesses refer their client base onto the services of others in return for discounts or other reciprocal arrangements.

There are literally dozens of ways that you can make your target audience aware of your business and the products and services it has to offer. The trick is decided which methods are going to be the most effective in gaining the attention of your ideal client.

In the next couple of blog posts, we’ll take a couple of steps back and look at how you can determine who is your ideal client as well as how you can create a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) to make your business stand out of the crowd.

Four Steps to a Successful Email Marketing Strategy

Four Steps to a Successful Email Marketing StrategyWhile Social Media for small business continues to be a rave topic in marketing forums around the world, statistics indicate that, although annoying to some, email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools that a business can use to engage with its customers. Your Inbox is irrevocable proof of this – how many items of marketing did you receive this morning?

Although some will never be opened, the humble email can still be an effective way of reaching out to your customers. But, as with anything, there is a right way and a wrong way. Here’s our four top tips to help you create an effective (and legal*) email marketing strategy for your business:

Grow your database 

Before you start any email marketing campaign, you need legitimate* emails in your database to use. Gathering these addresses is quite easy if you have an established website. You can use the popular method of the pop-up window or simply have a newsletter subscription somewhere on your home page. MailChimp has plugins that work directly through the WordPress framework and integrate with their newsletter systems, saving the hassle of collecting email addresses and adding them manually to your campaigns.

Whatever method you use, remember to always declare why you are gathering the addresses and what can be expected in return (see value point below).

Remember the Mobile Users

Due to the unstoppable growth of smart phones, more emails than ever before are being viewed on a mobile device. In fact, up to 75% of email opens* could be via mobile depending on your industry. To cater for this audience, ensure that your emails are mobile optimised – easy to read on a small screen, low on data usage and concise in their information.

http://www.emailmonday.com/mobile-email-usage-statistics

Four Steps to a Successful Email Marketing StrategyBe aware of the SPAM Act 2003

To keep your email marketing within the lines of the law, you must ensure that any emails you send comply with three main points  – Consent, Identity and Unsubscribe.

Consent – The receiver of your emails must be made fully aware at the time they subscribe exactly what they will be receiving in return. Consent can also be in the form of an existing relationship with the receiver i.e. they are already a customer.

Identity – Marketing emails must identify who is sending the emails and their contact information.

Unsubscribe – Each email must include an Unsubscribe option so that consent can be retracted at any time.

Learn more: http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam

Offer Value

The  secret behind any email campaign that wants to grow and be effective to offer subscribers VALUE in what they receive. Value can come in multitude of forms. You can reply with a free eBook, a newsletter filled with tricks and tips or keep them up to date with the latest industry news. If you are advertising products or services, butter up the receiving party with a discount voucher for their next purchase.

Everyone loves getting something for free and your subscribers are more likely to stick around.

Remember, what may work for one business may not necessarily work for yours. As with any marketing, try out all your ideas but be sure to MEASURE the response. Don’t spend hours of your precious small business time barking up the wrong tree only to find out that you aren’t getting a decent return from your efforts. Make a note of what works and what doesn’t, fine-tuning along the way. This approach will lead to an effective email strategy that will grow your business without eating away at your marketing budget or your valuable time.

 

Five Simple Reasons your Small Business should have a BLOG

Unless you have been living under a rock and using smoke signals to promote your business, you are probably aware of the term “Blog”. For the rock-dwellers, a Blog is a regular website article, typically written by an individual and written in an informal or conversational style.

The simple Blog has become a powerful marketing tool and it is one of the most effective tools that a business can use to engage with their customers. Used correctly, a Blog enables direct communication with prospects and allows the sharing of relevant information with current clients.

Here’s five simple reasons why your small business needs to start blogging:

Five Simple Reasons your Small Business should have a BLOGTo provide your customers with helpful content.

Gone are the days where a website simply existed to tell customers where you are and what you do. With a wealth of information available at our fingertips, we expect more from the business sites that we choose to visit.

Reward your site visitors with value by providing helpful tips on using your products/services, examples of how other customers have benefited through a relationship with your business or discussing news articles that are relevant to the industry in which you operate.

Visitors are much more likely to return to your site if they know that fresh information awaits them on each visit.

A Blog gives your Business a Voice.

Through the voice of a blog, a small business operator can show that the business is run by real people who care about what they do. You can use blog posts to provide insights into the business or to introduce the employees who make the business what it is. You can tell your customers WHY you’re in business, HOW you have helped others and WHAT you can do to help them.

Be sure to use your own “voice” when writing blog posts – I read all my posts out loud as I type them to ensure that they “sound” like me.

Create a Two-Way Conversation 

Enable comments on your blog to encourage interaction with your site visitors. If you are concerned about the type of comments that will be left by visitors, systems can be put in place to allow moderation of comments before they are posted.

Reply quickly to all comments and open a channel of discussion. Demonstrate that you are an expert in your industry and your business is worth the site visitor’s attention.

Search Engines LOVE Blogs

The GoogleBot looks for websites that have valuable, helpful content as part of its search ranking system and rewards relevant content with improved positions in search results. Your Blog content, when written correctly, is perfect for fulfilling this requirement as it ticks the boxes for being fresh, relevant AND helpful.

Five Simple Reasons your Small Business should have a BLOGBlogging will Inspire your Business life

Once you get into a routine of Blogging, you’ll start to see new ideas all around you. Not just for your blog, but for all aspects of your business life. Talking with workmates, watching TV, eating in a restaurant, and just walking the dog – you’ll be surprised where ideas will begin to spring from.

Remember this quote from David Allen of GTD* fame – “Your brain is for having ideas, not storing them”.  Write down ideas, straight away. My idea-writing medium of choice – the extra sticky Post-It note, stuck to my monitor.

One hidden advantage to Blog writing that I have found is the strengthening of my ability to effectively write and speak, not just about my industry but in all forms of communication. My language usage has been “awakened” through weekly blog writing and I feel comfortable communicating on forums, emails, customer letters, meetings with clients and speaking with family/friends.

Blog writing is not hard nor time-consuming – simply set aside a small piece of time and get going. I usually write the first draft of a blog in 25 minutes using a Pomodoro timer and then leave that piece for a couple of days. I’ll then take another look to polish before posting online (which usually takes another 25 minutes).

The most important thing is to start and be consistent – the benefits of a Blog will surprise you.

* GTD = “Getting Things Done” by David Allen

How Domain Hijacking can cripple your website

Recently a client of Rusty Mango Design went through the unfortunate experience of having their .com.au domain name “stolen” from underneath their feet. Whilst the domain hijacking was done through legitimate means, the registrant who acquired it had no right to the name itself and it caused disruption as my client’s customers could not access their website for many weeks.

Domain Hijacking sounds like a criminal activity but the actual definition can go both ways.

Wikipedia describes Domain Hijacking as “the act of changing the registration of a domain name without the permission of its original registrant, or by abuse of privileges on domain hosting and registrar software systems, a cybercrime.”

In the case of our client, their domain name had simply lapsed in payment. In Australia, lack of payment doesn’t mean that the name is immediately available for anyone to buy. Even after the due payment for renewal has passed, the business still has 14 days to “pay up” and reacquire their .com.au domain name.

During this 14-day period though, the domain name will appear on the Australian Domain Authority’s (AudA) website as pending expiry and this is where those dubious businesses can swoop it and attempt a hijack. They can set up a domain backorder account through legit means such as GoDaddy and CrazyDomains.  If the payment isn’t forthcoming from the original registrant, the backorder will immediately purchase the domain as soon as it becomes available.

What can you do?

Fortunately, in Australia, our .com.au domains are protected to a certain degree. To register a particular domain, it must have a clear or exact link to the business who is registering it. For example, Rusty Mango Design, who specialise in website design, cannot register a domain name for deckfurniture.com.au – it has nothing to do with our business and, if picked up by the AuDA, we would receive a rap over the knuckles and lose the name with no refund.

It’s important to note that this does not apply to regular .com domain names – that is why it is so important to register the Australian .com.au domains.

Domain HijackIn the case of my client, the domain name was taken and used by a business not related to anything in the domain name itself. At my suggestion, my client quickly contacted the AuDA about the hijacking issue, a brief investigation was undertaken and the domain was released for re-purchase. Rusty Mango Design purchased the domain back on behalf of our client and we were back in business.

The downside was that their business website was out of action for over a month – a long time, especially if you are an online retailer.

To prevent your domain name being taken, be sure that you have automatic payment renewal set up through your domain register and credit card details are current and not likely to expire soon. Your domain register will email you in advance when renewal is upcoming so also check that your registered email address is correct.

Rusty Mango Design registers domain names on behalf of our clients and take care of any automated payments ensuring that domains remain in the hands of their rightful owners.

Domain Hijacking is not the end of the world. If you do have a legitimate claim to the domain name – get in touch with the AuDa and they will investigate the issue on your behalf.

But as always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 

Tropical Coast Web Design