I saw a thread on NamePros asking about using (and paying a commission) for third party sales landing pages vs. your own landing page. As someone who uses his own landing pages (via Embrace.com), I want to suggest some of the advantages of using a third party.
For starters, I had to spend time and money creating my own landing page. Much of the design that went into it was based on observing other landing pages operated by other investors and companies. I tried my best to envision what was working and what I liked to add those elements to my landing page, but it was based on my own intuition. Setting this up and keeping it going probably cost low 4 figures including the website design that was needed.
With my smaller portfolio, I don’t really have the ability to do a statistically significant A/B test. I could theoretically test the design, colors, and other elements of the landing page, but unless there is an absolute clear winner, the test would likely not yield statistically significant results. In short, outside factors could totally screw up my testing and I could choose the wrong design. I would assume third party landing page companies do lots of testing and have much more experience seeing what works to induce offers and inquiries based on their inbound leads.
Before taking this a step further, I should also add that setting up this type of testing would take technical expertise beyond my own capabilities. I would need to hire someone to set this up for me, and I would most likely need to hire someone to make changes to the test. It could end up being a cost suck on an ongoing basis while I continue to make tweaks.
After getting the technical aspect set up, I would need to hire a freelancer to help design the landing page tests. If I hire someone with specific expertise in landing page designs and lead generation, it would almost certainly be substantially more expensive than hiring a designer to implement my own design vision. Should I take the less expensive route, I would be building a form with my own preconceived notions and biases, and that might lead to wasting money focusing on the wrong elements.
People who believe the design of the landing page is not really important when compared to the quality of landing pages will still have to maintain their landing page design and upkeep with platform and plugin updates. Hosting fees may also be a consideration, especially for people with larger portfolios that get traffic. Having a toll free number can be expensive depending on the lead volume.
Choosing a third party service may cost more when sales are closed if there is a commission (depending on the service), but it eliminates the need for potentially costly development, hosting, and/or technical expertise that is typically required on an ongoing basis.
I have not tested this myself obviously, but I would imagine most third party landing page providers also do a good job of tracking inbound leads. I had to set up my own database for this, which cost a few hundred dollars, and there are no bells and whistles. Some domain investors would likely be happy to exchange privacy around deals for a platform that offers better tracking of leads and inquiries.
So why do I choose to use my own landing pages? There are a few reasons. For one, I like to keep my business private. I don’t want third parties (beyond escrow, attorney, and registrar providers) to know what domain names I am buying and selling, nor do I want them to see the offers I receive and/or negotiate. Now that I have my landing pages up and running, there is not a whole lot that needs to be done beyond standard updates – unless I test a new design. I also think the quality of domain names is more important than the landing page design. The ongoing cost is relatively low now, so there is less incentive for me to use a third party service.
For someone who does not have his or her own landing pages designed and hosted, there are some advantages to using a third party, particularly for people who don’t have the technical or development background to implement this. Paying a commission on a deal that came through the domain name itself seems wasteful, but not having to worry about landing page designs, upkeep, uptime, and everything else that goes with a do-it yourself landing page may be worth it to some people.