Sunday, August 27, 2006

Direct Navigation

Matt Bentley recently wrote an article in MarketingProfs.com about direct navigation:
Simply put, direct navigation is when a user directly types a Web address into a browser.
Whatever your product or brand name, you can acquire a generic domain name conducive to direct navigation. Bentley gives several examples, including "books.com" redirecting to Barnes & Noble's site.

Bentley enumerates three ways you can exploit the fact that people use direct navigation:
  1. Redirect from the generic domain to your main site.
  2. Set up an informational or education portal at the generic domain that contains links to your main site.
  3. Use the generic domain as your brand.
Option 3 is simply a bad idea. Generic or descriptive names make poor brand names, as I have repeatedly mentioned.

Option 1 has its pros and cons. It does direct interested prospects to your site. But it does so at the price of distracting from the brand name. You want customers to remember your brand name. Allowing them to type a generic name instead gives them a crutch that makes it less likely they'll remember or bookmark your brand name.

I have recommended option 2 to clients. Option 2 has the benefits of option 1 (albeit with a little more burden on the prospect) without distracting from the brand.

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