At NYU, I was taught that Direct Marketing is a one on one communication with a consumer where the reaction (or lack of) can be tracked, and a return on investment can be calculated. Direct marketers use specific calls to action to encourage consumers to respond, providing a trackable and measurable result.
Generic domain names that are parked at companies like Fabulous or SmartName provide the perfect direct marketing test bed. You have a trackable medium (using web analytics), with a call to action in the form of related links of enticing offers. If a visitor clicks through, that’s the response, and the revenue generated from the click is part of the return on the investment. If there isn’t a click-through, the domain owner knows the content wasn’t of interest to the visitor.
Using web analytics, the domain owner can determine whether the advertising links are relevant to what consumers want when they navigate to his site. He has the ability to test many different variables (keywords, images, colors, layout…etc), which is also a hallmark of direct marketing. I seem to remember a mantra of “test everything.” Using some parking programs (like Trafficz), the owner can even write content to offer information that may also invite the consumer to click through and/or return.
Parked domain names can be a great precursor to development. Before investing thousands of dollars into a domain name, the owner can see what visitors want and what isn’t of interest. Using my Customs.com as an example, based on the CTR and clicks, I can determine whether people are looking for customs clearance information, customs lawyers, custom cars, or possibly even Halloween costumes due to a typo. Based on the analysis I’ve done, it’s pretty clear that they are looking to find passport, travel, and other information associated with customs clearance and requirements.