Irish hosting and domain names company Blacknight is running an awareness campaign with the IE domain Registry to encourage Irish SMEs to register and use .IE names.
The campaign features online and print advertising, and for the first time, a national radio advertising campaign on RTÉ Radio 1.
In March the IE Domain Registry relaxed its rules for registration, making it simpler and easier to register a .IE name.
Now, applicants no longer need to give their reasons for requesting a particular domain name. All that is required is that they can show a connection to Ireland, for example, citizenship, or residency for individuals.
Companies registered in Ireland are eligible, but so too are foreign businesses, if they show evidence of a trading relationship with Ireland.
One benefit of the simpler registration regime is that it’s not necessary to demonstrate the Irish connection each time you register a domain name. Once you’ve successfully established your credentials with a previous domain registration, a domain registrar can simply wave you through.
The change has led to a surge in registrations of .IE domain names, and as the largest registrar of .IE names, the Carlow-based company has seen the lion’s share. March broke the record for the highest ever number of .IE domains registered: 6,764, with Blacknight registering almost 1 in 3 of those.
The easing of restrictions has certainly been a factor in the growth of .IE registrations, admits Michele Neylon, Blacknight’s CEO. But it also reflects a growing awareness of the value of a good domain name, for branding and marketing.
“Consumers and businesses are always on the lookout for signals to help them make a purchasing decision”, says Neylon, “and a well-chosen domain name can convey multiple signals”.
The most important signal is trust, he says, citing a 2017 IE Domain Registry (IEDR) survey of 1,000 consumers which found that 64% have little to no trust in businesses that use free email addresses like Gmail and Eircom*.
By contrast, 77% said they trust companies that use professional email addresses, and consumers have four times more trust in a company that has a website (65%) versus one that does not (17%).
While these signals also apply to other top-level domains as well as .IE, there is an additional advantage for businesses who are targetting the Irish market.
“Put simply, Irish people recognise the Irishness of a .IE domain name. It tells them that this business is Irish, or if it is an international business, that it has purposefully registered a .IE name in order to engage with Irish customers”.
As a home-grown company employing over 40 people in Carlow, Wexford and Dublin, Blacknight has a keen sense of its Irishness, he says. And after 15 years in business, the company has more .IE domains under management than any other registrar.
That’s a reflection of a deliberate strategy focussed on customer service as well as industry leadership, explains Neylon.
“Internet technology is complicated – we know that. That’s why we put staff on the phone to answer customers’ questions and advise them on how to get the most out of it. At the same time, we are an advocate for customers at an industry level, internationally at ICANN, for example, and in Ireland on IEDR’s Policy Advisory Committee.
“We’ve worked hard to be the dot-IE experts!”
That’s the message of the new advertising campaign, which sees Blacknight advertise on national radio for the first time. The ad is currently running on RTÉ Radio One, and there will be a follow-up campaign on 2FM. The company is also advertising in The Sunday Business Post and online, and sponsoring a range of business and community events in the coming months.