Forwarding Traffic to an End User to Sell a Domain Name

I haven’t done this before, so it’s purely speculation, but if I wanted to sell a high-traffic category killer domain name to a large company, I might voluntarily forward the traffic to the company’s main website for a month to prove its worth. If I owned (and wanted to sell) a name like, I might consider forwarding the traffic from that name to (toolmaker owned by Sears).   Assuming traffic to the name was strong, I wouldn’t even have to tell them I was doing it, as they would see a spike in their traffic, and their web analytics would tell them it was coming from Since they are a manufacturer and distributor (via forward to, they would have the highest profit margin on tools, and a converted lead would be worth the most to them.
After seeing the Craftsman website and their redirect to Sears to make a purchase, I can tell the web marketing team at Sears must be fairly strong. Knowing this, I would imagine that they would be very intrigued if they saw a large unexpected spike in sales, and they would attempt to track why this spike occurred. I am sure they would be happily surprised to see forwarding to them (at no cost), and they would then be disappointed when the test was abruptly ended. Armed with the data from the test, they might be willing to make a strong offer for, since they would certainly have the data to justify a purchase.
Oftentimes, buying a category killer domain name means making a huge purchase without any hard data on the domain name. A buyer may be able to determine approximate traffic details, but they wouldn’t be able to get a great sense of who is visiting a domain name without actually having the data from the site, and they certainly wouldn’t be able to give a fair estimate on the traffic conversion. This makes it difficult for companies to spend hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars on category killer domain names. If they had the data, they may be more inclined to make an offer – or perhaps the domain name isn’t worth as much as we think it’s worth.
Boiled down, the value of a domain name is determined by the value it can bring to a company. Most companies doing business online use ROI (return on investment) calculations to determine how much to spend on a marketing campaign or expense. If we give these companies the opportunity to see what they are missing by not owning a category killer domain name, they might actually realize just how important a domain name is to their brand, and how valuable it could be in a competitor’s hand.
Again, I have no experience with this, but I would imagine it would be worth foregoing a month of PPC to do this test. Also it would be important to consult with a domain attorney (like Brett Lewis or John Berryhill) to ensure you are not putting your name at risk by potentially confusing consumers with the forward – obviously should be done before you start your campaign.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. Yes, you would definately want to check with an attorney first. Also, just forwarding the domain is not going to give them the full idea of what is worth to them. To them – “parking” the domain in this way is just a side benefit. The real value of the domain is for development, natural SEO, and as an additional, complimentary website. So in a way you could be selling your domain short by doing this. Great, they see $5,000 in extra sales from the domain. But let me develop it and that turns into $50,000 or even more per month. So you really need to convince them that the domain is not worth $5,000 a month, but $50,000 a month when properly developed and cared for.

  2. When you are dealing with, what we can call an “educated customer” (web literate customer would apply as well), you can probably do that on-purpose traffic forwarding to prove the domains value.
    Nevertheless, my experience has been in most cases, that many “uneducated -potential- customers”, have no clue of their traffic patterns on their web sites, so in the remote case they notice a traffic increase (actual case: their web server crashed by no being able to handle the high load), it has becomes extremely difficult to prove that the traffic and sales increase cause was indeed because of my traffic re-direction to their site.
    It may be worth the try but the advise would be to know your prospect before doing any free traffic experiments….specially on how “web literate” they are…

  3. I’ve done this a few times with non-commercial sites. Sometimes (just for fun) if I come across a site with a terrible domain, I’ll search for a better one just to prove one is available.
    I haven’t had a big sale this way yet since I usually do this just for a chuckle, but I have had a few small sales to blog owners for finding them “” when they were using “” or “”.
    Sometimes the .com they want is unavailable (or they think it is) when they start their blog and never check again to see if there first choice has become available.
    I do have one domain pointed at a commercial site, a non-us company that has gotten a lot of attention from the gadget community…they haven’t seemed to have noticed…yet.
    I plan on giving them the domain for cost, I just want to see how long it takes them to notice.

  4. The inherent problem being that the bigger the partner the less they will notice the traffic. I don’t think sears would notice if suddenly redirected all the traffic. Maybe the analytics guy would notice, but unfortunately the number probably wouldn’t be big enough to make it up the ladder to the guy making the decision.

  5. Don’t.
    While this may make sense on a certain level, you’re basically feeding atomic fuel to their legal department. In recent UDRP decisions, they’ve held the domain owner liable for even suggesting that the Complainant lease the name.
    By directing your traffic to them, you’re establishing ground (in some people’s minds) that they may be entitled to the name.

  6. Seems risky. However, I would appreciate, and I am sure others would too, advice, or opinions on simply prospecting domains to large corporations. Has anyone had luck by simply sending a letter to a large company’s VP of marketing or Acquisition Dept.? Just curious.

  7. JayB:
    Here are the three rules for sending a letter to a large company’s VP of Marketing or Acquisitions:
    1) Don’t
    2) See Rule #1
    3) See Rule #1
    If you send a letter, the VP is not going to start jumping up and down and shouting, “Wow! He’s got the name we need! Let’s start with a $25 million offer.”
    That only happens in the movies.
    What will happen is that the VP will immediately forward your letter to their legal department (and your letter will feature prominently in UDRP arbitration when they go after your name).
    My brother and I rarely sell names, but when we do it is only we are approached – and then very cautiously. We never solicit.

  8. Hi Jay,
    >Has anyone had luck by simply sending a letter to a
    >large company’s VP of marketing or Acquisition Dept.?
    I tried to sell a home improvement domain about 6 months ago, that I thought would interest a lot of companies. I put the domain up for auction on eBay, and then I got on the phone with 20 companies that I thought should have cared. I was reasonably persistent, spoke with people that I thought had the potential to be decision-makers, and contacted a range of different types of companies. I received exactly 0 bids from these companies.
    Perhaps my publicized reserve was too high, perhaps I didn’t describe the potential well enough, or perhaps I am as graceless on the phone as I am in person. Whatever the reason, I walked away pessimistic about the possibility of aggressively marketing domain names.

  9. David hit it right on the head. Don’t.
    Right now the vast majority of business owners and corporation do not have an appreciation for what domain names can do. Slowly but surely they will eventually come around.
    Uggg, you have no idea how many times I have tried to educate VP’s and Small owners about the value of domain names. Only one I’ve spoken with did not have a blank stare or a “thats interesting” remark when seeing what domains go for and why they go for those prices.
    The only smart ones are the ones that approach me and I still have to be cautious about not getting “baited” for UDRP arbs.
    Its funny, You ever notice that when you tell a love one the benefits of whatever and they don’t listen? If someone else tells them, they listen. Hopefully end users will have enough GOOD exposures from news coverages and headlines about domain names that they’ll get it. Some lawyers (not all) show their value to those that hire them, get the name through contentious fighting the hard way. They like the game. Its fun for them.
    In the meantime the best thing is to develop the hell out of your best names, generate revenues and simply wait.

  10. Elliot,
    One other thought. Perhaps I am missing something obvious, but I’m trying to figure out how you would forward all of the traffic, and simultaneously tell the recipient website that it originated from An http redirect won’t send a referer for your type-in traffic. If you simply have a landing page with a text link to, most of your visitors won’t click it.
    But, maybe I’m having a brain cramp, and there’s an obvious way to do this?

  11. BTW, I don’t park any of my names – Its all 404 not found.
    Now, more UDRP rulings are going for the complainant simply because they showed a name is parked no matter how generic the name is. There is more to it, but parking will cause problems…

  12. Might it not be better to set up a site, even a simple blog (with adsense and other highly targeted ads)?
    Better yet, develop the domain to the gills, which will get the attention of potential buyers.
    Then sell the domain along with the site (just like
    Checking with a lawyer before forwarding a link to a business is good, sound advice.
    Whoever has is sitting on a gold mine.

  13. Elliot,
    1. This could be considered a network attack by the receiving party and they could take action against you. 🙁
    2. Referral traffic can be faked, so there is little value in doing something like this because if the admins on the receiving end are worth their salt, they’d presume the spike in traffic was referral spam and not tell their bosses about it anyways.
    – Richard

  14. See redirect status below…301/302/307 would work, I’d prefer to use 302 as to not lose SEO rankings..
    * 300 multiple choices (e.g. offer different languages)
    * 301 moved permanently
    * 302 found (e.g. temporary redirect)
    * 303 see other (e.g. for results of cgi-scripts)
    * 307 temporary redirect

  15. I mentioned this on John’s site, and it probably bears repeating.. There is a ton of very valuable information on the valuation of domains that we can use to educate the end user, on this blog and the ones listed off to the right.
    With some creative copywriting we could have a nice brochure/ e-mail/ power point etc… to use to send out to prospects or news agencies etc…(references included of course).
    We are just going to have to get better about marketing the domain industry to the end users. When I was inventing full-time I used a PR company in Hollywood called Productivity. They had my invention in every trade magazine, consumer magazine and newspaper in the Country. We were featured on Good Morning America’s Gadget Guru etc… It was about 13 years ago and cost around $12,000. But money well spent….
    In my opinion, this is what the auction companies should be doing to promote the business, but in the absence of that, I guess it falls on our own shoulders to take the lead.
    If you have any weight in your community for any reason… try to get an interview with one of the business writers at the local paper or local business magazine and start educating and informing your own community first about the domain business.
    It will be interesting to see if we can make some strides in our own circles and work out from there. I will give it a go on my end this week and let everyone know if I have any success with it.

  16. Wow – tons of great advice in here. I had in prior attempts, tried to sell or even donate “typos’ to the potential new owner who would clearly benefit form the name.
    Only one major corp replied and then indicated that “no – we are not interested in those”. I presume the traffic did not warrant further discussions.
    I used to own and even wrote a letter to the lawfirm that acted as its Representative of Service, and to date still no reply even though I offered to possibly donate the name to them.
    They are not interested, and I think prefer the the exposure that comes with an UDRP arbitration when they go after your name.
    In my novice opinion, it will take leaders in this industry such as Rick Latonas, David Costello, and many more not mentioned here to keep out industry clean.
    David is right in saying that if you contact them, it provides them with leverage in thinking that somehow the name belongs to them.
    Can someone tell me how to redirect my domains to an error page or something that would represent good faith as opposed to parking.

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