ZFBot did it! How I doubled my Sedo sale money with a simple email

Nobody likes competition. Especially the guy who receives an email that clearly states just that.

A few weeks ago I received an offer at Sedo for a financial term, a dot net that I registered “by hand” in 2003. As the story goes, I hold domains until the Rapture occurs and since I am not a Catholic, this might take a full lifetime.

But back to the domain – a two-word compound term that returns 700k results in Google.

The domain was at Parked.com due to its higher PPC for financial terms, but I had also listed it for sale on Sedo. As with most Sedo offers these days, the negotiation started in the low hundreds. I was dealing with an aggressive US buyer that left me with little room to raise my asking price.

The final offer was closer to my expected price but still, I felt I was being short-changed. Don’t get me wrong, $1500 is still good money for a domain I spent $8 to register and another $50 in renewals over the years. But why not expand its potential, if I could?

After all, the sale of 360.org a year and a half ago taught me that if you don’t ask, you don’t receive.

So I sent the domain to auction on Sedo, with the final offer I had received being the reserve.

What I did next was a first for me.

Personally, I am sensitive about receiving emails from companies or individuals that I haven’t solicited. However, in this line of business, a legitimate contact of a person or company related to the product or service on offer, might lead to a potential sale.

I crafted an email that announced the domain name and the fact that it was in a live auction that the recipient could participate in. Then, I searched ZFBot a great tool for domainers – looking for domains that matched mine – either starting with or ending with the exact string. Once I had these domains, I extracted their contact information from the WHOIS using DRT – Domain Research Tool.

It’s important to mention at this point that ZFBot can narrow down your target recipients by sorting the domains according to their parking status: in my case, I wanted to avoid contacting any domain owners that simply had parked domains instead of legitimate companies.

I double-checked every email to ensure there was no junk, “do not contact” or WHOIS shield emails; then proceeded with contacting them – a total of 50 or so – with a description of what I had to offer: the opportunity to obtain the keyword domain most closely related to their business.

I made sure that I explained what was on auction, where and when the auction would end. As part of the sales pitch I described the importance of generics and keyword domains, using simple words. When you sell to an end-user, you don’t simply sell them technology and gimmicks; you are offering them an extension of what they already have.

The only thing I did not foresee was the fact that I sent the email right before a long holiday weekend; Monday was a holiday and that took away a day from the remaining days of the auction as most recipients’ businesses were closed!

Twenty-four hours before the auction end I followed up with another similar but shorter email, announcing the ending of the opportunity and its imminent closing; in doing so I used a bit of a provocative subject: In 24 hours new competition is born.

With a few hours remaining, two new bidders started bidding up along with the original offer. The auction was extended several times, as bidder #3 battled with bidder #1 – all the way to a very nice $3350. I’m definitely happy with the outcome and especially with the fact that the buyer is a person from the term’s industry who will put the domain to good use.

Had I attempted to sell the domain via cold calling, I’d probably be given the runaround. But since nobody likes their competition to get an advantage with an asset that’s being openly auctioned, the domain sold at an end-user price.

Comments

  1. A little extra work often pays off and this is an example of it!

    I use ZFBot from time to time and it really is a great free tool. Really helpful for what you explained.

    Congrats on the sale!

  2. Thank you Jamie. It was minimal effort for doubling the money πŸ˜€ While it might not work for every domain, it’s worth experimenting.

  3. thanks for the info – going to try this on a couple domains that I’d like to sell. I’ll let you know how it turns out! πŸ˜‰

  4. That’s a nice resource… never knew about it but can see why I should.

  5. Nancy – it’s good to have options and to explore different methods. This one worked for me πŸ™‚

    Elliot – ZFBot has been around for a while – it’s the domainer killer app of last year. πŸ™‚

  6. First off, congrats on the nice sale

    Pretty new to the domain game, but I have a couple of questions…

    1) How can you have a domain at parked.com and sedo at the same time? Doesn’t the DNS allow for one “host” only?

    2) How do you send a domain to auction at Sedo?

    Thanks

  7. Hi AB – thank you.

    You can add a domain to Sedo’s marketplace. Once it’s there, you can change the DNS to point it elsewhere, e.g. Parked. Obviously, the initial offer was made via a search in the Sedo database.

    About your 2nd question: you can send a domain to auction at Sedo at any point that you have an offer.

    The options are: sell, counter-offer, send to auction or cancel the transaction. Once you send it to auction, two things happen: the last offer becomes the reserve and in that sense you secure that amount as the minimum.

  8. It’s hit or miss. I did something similar, though not to quite as many domain owners, when I got a fairly low offer for WholesaleSportsCards(.)com via Sedo. Got them as high as I could through the rather frustrating offer/counter offer interface and eventually let it go to auction. I reached out to promote the auction but it didn’t get another bid. Win some… lose some. But I’d say “don’t let it go to auction unless you are okay with selling it at that price.”

    Grats on the sale!

  9. Wow, thanks for the response, more than I was expecting.

    One more question, but it’s more of an opinion really. When you get a offer on one of your domains, is it better to sell right there or send it to auction?

    Obviously sending it to auction sounds better but do buyers ever get insulted that you’ve pretty much said…”Ok, thanks for guaranteeing me $Xxx, but I’ll see what else is out there first before I settle with you.”

  10. Andrew – it really depends on the domain and the type of “email list” you’re contacting. The closer you are to an end-user from the product’s standpoint, the better. It’s pointless pitching a product-related domain to domainers πŸ˜€ You need to contact those that will seize the opportunity to get the domain while it’s being auctioned. While Sedo can be frustrating at times, they are an established platform and brand with worldwide recognition. I am sure that if the platform were e.g. eBay, less bids would come in as people don’t necessarily trust a generic auction platform with large sums of money; they need the security of an escrow.

  11. AB – it’s all part of the negotiation game. If you feel confident that you can get more via an auction, you are only “wasting” time until the transaction completes. The bidder is bound to his offer via the Sedo contract, so you can’t lose him; not without them risking legal consequences. When a bidder places an offer, they agree to the terms and conditions, one of which is that they are aware that the seller might send the domain to auction.

  12. Thanks Acro, I really appreciate it

  13. Nice work – I’ve never had much luck sending end user emails but this is a good example of how it can work to generate a nice sale. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Acro – yeah, I specifically targeted businesses in the space, not domainers. My use of “domain owners” was misleading in that regard. I guess I bring it up as an issue because if you were going to bother to contact end users anyway, you could have had just as much (if not more) success just working out a deal with them directly.

  15. Andrew – the problem with direct contact under the pretext of a sale is that they know you are selling something to them and thus are less inclined to consider buying. When the domain is in auction, however, in particular with an offer that will result in a sale regardless, the potential buyer considers competition as the “enemy”; thus making offers they would not make otherwise. In an auction, they not only get the domain, they get the “glory” of having eliminated the competition that is obviously bidding along πŸ˜€

  16. SuretyBonds.net ? I have been looking all day for the “domain”! LOL (feel free to delete if you do not wish to make it public)

  17. Ya see!? I told you it would work for you… I have many stories like that. Just contact the people/companies that it makes sense to contact – in a professional and straight forward way. And you’ll be surprised how many bites you’ll get. I’ve turned more than a few hand reg’d domains into several thousand dollar returns this way. That’s why I built zfbot in the first place. To quickly narrow down on the right people/companies.

  18. Haha, Jamie that was good sleuthing on your part πŸ˜€ Yep, that’s it.

    Ken, once again many thanks for offering such a great tool. ZFBot is indispensable.

  19. This experience recounting is clearly the most helpful (to me) article I have read in the past
    10 days… Thank you for sharing your experiences.
    Links to the TOOLS ??

    The Sedo Marketplace / dns switch / to parked.com
    idea is – SUPER interesting and will be of use to
    me TODAY… Thank you again for your generousity in
    sharing your experiences…

    I’ll go post a link to this – on FB…
    and Twitter.com/DomainBELL

    ~Patricia Kaehler – DomainBELL

  20. Excellent information Theo. By far, the best post on the subject I have ever read. Thanks.

    P.S. Any way I could get permission to reprint the article on my blog, with a link and credit to you of course?

  21. Nice article. It’s the most descriptive I’ve seen online. Cold calling has never gotten me anywhere. Even a company I sold a doman to before asked for my email, and never returned my calls and any of the e-mails.

    Because they never respected me, I registered the .co that they snoozed on. I’ll make sure I put work into developing the domain. All these companies have to do is say yes or no. When they ask for a list, and then ignore you afterward, the cold calling process is worthless.

    E-mails and a few sales sites have been rather effective. Sedo format has never worked. I sold two domains there, but it was in result of me advertising the domains. They rejected all the roulette domains I wanted to have featured on the main landing page. But, I then see similar domains selling in their auctions. They mentioned it was a copyright issue.

    I’m proactive enough to make a sale. I don’t think it benefits me when I spend significant time trying to move a domain. I’ll try your technique. I will first need an offer to push the domain into the marketplace. Your technique works if the domain is already in some kind of auction.

  22. Hi,

    I would be interested in seeing the emails you crafted that were compelling enough to get people to get off their butts and bid.

    Thanks
    Rod

  23. I take it a step further. Since I’m accustomed to dealing with/speaking to C level executives on a daily basis in my day job, I do further digging to get those people’s email addresses. It’s not difficult to find the email address of a companies CIO.

    From that point forward, you just have to know how to deal with them. It’s all about making them understand that the domain you are looking to sell to them is going to increase their companies exposure and ultimately their bottom line. As long as you don’t come across as pushy, lacking knowledge or simply out for yourself, executives typically will give you a few minutes of their time to make your case.

  24. Thank you all for the feedback, I appreciate it.

    The bottom line: innovate, use the tools of the trade and whenever possible step outside of the box.

  25. Hi All,

    Thanks Acro for sharing.

    I am pretty new to this exciting game. I will start using Zfbot for the same purpose. This is really cool advice.
    PS: is true that parking with Sedo sucks. I will avoid the place in the future.

  26. Interesting stuff, Acro. Have been trying, without luck, to contact DRT to find out if their system requirements can support mac. Can you, or anyone else, tell me? Would appreciate it. Thanks

  27. Jerry, DRT is for Windows only, unfortunately.

  28. ok – i finally got some spare time to look at my code behind zfbot and I added some indexes and changed some things… performance should be much better … especially for the ENDING queries. Lemme know …

  29. Ken – results come up very fast now, in particular the ending queries as you mentioned. Whatever you did, it works. Great optimization to a great tool πŸ™‚

  30. what DRT would u recommend for mac users? thanks

  31. Peter – I’m not familiar with the mac range of software, sorry.

  32. Most of the time the minimum effort pays the most! Great job Acro

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