Domaining, Programming

Domain Lead Generator #1 – The Manual Process

This is the 1st post of a series. If you haven’t read the intro yet : Here it is

Here’s what my job was – when I had to do all of it manually.

1. Confirm domain name ownership.

The first step was to find the domain I wanted to sell. I’d pull up our team’s spreadsheet and make sure that no one else had taken it up already. Also, a lot of these domain names are publicly listed, so I’d check the WHOIS info and confirm that it belongs to us and hasn’t been sold yet.

2. Generate keywords

Next, I’d think up a list of 5-10 keywords that would generate search results related to the domain name. For example, if the domain name I had to sell was “UsedCars.net” – I’d make a list like this :

Used Cars
Used Cars for sale
Pre Owned Cars
Used Cars buying guide
Used Cars for sale by owner

3. Google Search

I’d search for each keyword on google, and go through 10 pages of search results. From these search results, I’d extract the domain names that I thought were suitable. Continuing the above example, I’d get a list of around 200 domain names like this :

carfax.com
carsales.com.au
autotrader.co.uk
autotrader.com
cars.com
.... and so on

4. WHOIS Searches

Once I had the domains list, I’d do WHOIS searches on each domain name, and store the email IDs obtained. This was the most time-consuming step of all. And to make it all worse, GoDaddy stopped providing complete WHOIS info to third-party sites and now requires that you search using their site only and enter a captcha for every search you do. Read more about the change here.

5. Bulk-Email (Commonly known as ‘Spamming’ ;))

Once I had the final e-mail list, I’d use MailMerge to send everyone an e-mail saying that the domain is for sale.

6. Wait

Initially I was surprised when I got almost 25 replies within minutes of sending my first e-mail. But later I realized that all of those were auto-responders. 😀

Why the ‘manual process’ was so hard :

1. Time consuming.
At maximum efficiency, one domain would usually take me almost 2 hours to complete.
2. Boring.
Copy-Paste, Copy-Paste. And those captchas that would pop up in between.
3. Mistakes.
Sometimes email-IDs would be too long and I’d make mistakes typing them if they couldn’t be copied, like on whois.com and who.is. Especially the ones with private registrations that’d have email IDs like “12hakcj23h49sk388@privatedomainregistration.org”.

In the next post, I describe the tool that the company introduced to automate this process.

Next Post : Domain Lead Generator #2 – The Automated Process

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