One way in which I do my marketing for DogWalker.com is handing out magnets with the brand logo on them. I purchase my magnets from Magnets.com, and it is likely because of the domain name that I initially chose to do business with the company a couple of years ago.
Magnets.com was originally founded in 1997, moving from a traditional promotional product model to a growth oriented, enterprise level Web enabled one. The company has seen tremendous growth, including a 35% growth rate from 2009 to 2010. The company recently acquired CustomizedStickers.com, and coupled with its growth, this had led to a threefold increase in staff in a year. The company has also been awarded a number of local and industry accolades.
Erwin Metius is the President of Magnets.com and CustomizedStickers.com, and he was nice enough to reply to my request for an interview, which I believe you will find very interesting. Feel free to post any questions you may have.
ES: When was Magnets.com acquired, how much did the domain name cost, and how was it acquired (hand registered, private sale, auction…etc).
EM: The domain and business Magnets.com was launched in 1997. We acquired the domain, business, and all its entities from the Torrance, CA based owners in a 2005 private sale for an undisclosed sum.
ES: How does owning the category defining Magnets.com help the company in terms of marketing, consumer awareness, and trust?
EM: The domain has provided numerous quantitative and qualitative advantages for the business. For example, from an online marketing standpoint the domain name (and its long history) helps our organic ranking across both short and long tail KWs alike. As ranking well certainly doesn’t occur on its own, even with a strong domain, we have invested heavily in SEO as the majority of new customers learn about and order via organic searches.
From an awareness and even memory standpoint the domain helps tremendously -a large number of orders come from direct traffic, both repeat and more surprisingly new customers, with the latter being much higher compared to our other domains listed below.
ES: Does the company purchase longer tail domain names to help with SEO – such as CustomMagnets.com, BusinessMagnets.com…etc? Does it own or operate complementary domain names? If so, how does the company go about its acquisitions?
EM: We do have a few other magnet related domains (www.MediaMagnetics.com, www.ResellerMagnets.com, and the newly relaunched www.AmericanBusinessCardMagnets.com) not exclusively for SEO purposes but rather as part of our strategic plan to create dynamic microsites that ultimately will point to and act as a supplement to the primary Web site (Magnets.com). Certainly not identical, but similar to DrugStore.com and their numerous microsites.
From an acquisition standpoint, and this certainly holds true with our newly acquired sister site www.CustomizedStickers.com, we evaluate numerous data points including but not limited to the company’s revenue, overall market size, client portrait, SEO and ranking data, Web technologies, and how well the new business fits within our portfolio. Looking at Customized Stickers through a Magnets.com lens, the business and production methodologies certainly fit together, the customers not identical but a nice extension of where we were looking to grow, and the SEO and other marketing areas strongly align with what we’ve done successfully with Magnets.com.
ES: What has your experience been like with search engines with Magnets.com?
EM: Being an online business with strong visibility, we are –for better or worse- at the mercy of the major search engines and their constant tweaking. As a whole, they have been a huge asset to the business, giving us a tremendous amount of not just national but worldwide visibility across many of their offerings. Of course, we have and will continue to invest in SEO, implementing best practices (including rich snippets) to not only maintain but grow our visibility.
ES: What are some of the challenges of owning a name like Magnets.com rather than a unique brand?
EM: Another advantage, the domain is our brand, succinctly detailing what exactly it is we do, what we’re about, and who we are. Accordingly we use it to our benefit.
From a challenge standpoint, the Web site -not surprisingly- receives a large amount of traffic from the organic KW ‘magnets’, but it’s far from our highest converting KW. Trying to understand the ‘why’ we developed and fielded a comprehensive survey which showed that while these visitors were indeed searching and planning to buy magnets, they were looking for magnets that we didn’t sell –mainly industrial magnets, rare earth magnets, jewelry magnets, and health magnets (such as bracelets). This opens a potential opportunity to be all things magnets related. However, the huge challenge is how to market across a wide variety of highly divergent verticals and buyers and avoid alienating current customers.
Thank you to Mr. Metius for taking the time to answer my questions!