Retail Domain Registrar vs. Corporate Domain Registrar

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GoDaddy and Uniregistry are retail domain name registrars.

They both provide general services to domain name owners and are both good and secure. Corporate domain name registrars are needed because businesses have different needs than your average domain name owner.

GoDaddy acquired corporate domain name registrar Brandsight when it acquired Uniregistry in March 2020 and has since rebranded Brandsight as GCD.com—GoDaddy Corporate Domains.

Does one registrar type really matter over the other? Yep, a lot actually!

Today I'll be talking about corporate domain name registrars and where things differ between a retail registrar and why it matters.

Security!

Priority #1 when your main asset is the one thing that is tied to systems, communication, and your sole presence online. Your main domain name. The vastly common overlooked link in an online business is the companies main domain name and this needs to change. Domains resolve your website, allow communication via email and is often tied to 3rd party services that allow your business to run the way it does. If this is disturbed, so is your business.

Who can access your domain name registrar account? Who manages your domain names, what is changed on them, who renews them, who updates credit card info and more?

What happens if your domain name expires? Someone changes DNS that wasn’t really sure what they were doing? The domain is transferred to a different account? Stolen? All nightmare scenarios really can and often do happen.

The first thing I’m doing for the security of my companies’ main domain name is having Registry Lock applied to it. This locks the domain at a registry level (Verisign for .com/.net domains) and prevents unintended expiration, DNS changes or ownership changes. It’s the equivalent of the secret service for your domain name and it’s what “the majority of the big businesses do”.

Registry lock requires a corporate domain name registrar in most cases and there is also a fee to do it (around $100 per domain). ALL totally worth it IMO! If your company is making six figures or more and it all revolves around your domain name, I’d be getting a registry lock placed on it pronto.

Corporate domain registrars will provide different user permissions, 2 factor authorization and similar related security features beyond what retail registrars do, so it controls who has access to all your domain names and what they can or cannot change. This matters for each domain, beyond the ones that are mission critical.

Based on what a corporate domain registrar can offer for domain security, it wins in my book over a retail registrar.

Troubling Data

I did a little research that helped spark this article. I have always felt that companies overlook the value and importance of their main domain names and I wanted to provide some data into this fact. Only about 10% of Unicorn valued companies that were listed in Crunchbase are using registry lock on their main domain names. ONLY 10%!

That is disturbing when you are talking about online only companies and 900 of the 1,000 are open to expiry, unauthorized ownership changes (domain theft is a big problem), unwanted DNS changes and more.

Of the approximate 1,000 domain names I looked at, 148 are registered with common corporate domain registrars. Of the 148, the majority are wisely registry locked.

The one thing clear to me, startup type companies are failing at protecting a vital asset to their companies and that needs to change! Keep in mind that not only does your main domain keep you online, there is a good chance that a large investment was made to simply acquire the brands main domain. That alone is worth protecting with secret service type operations to be sure its safe.

Okay, back to the benefits of a corporate domain name registrar vs. a retail registrar.

Monitoring!

GCD offers over 70 data points of DNS and domain name related monitoring services included with its service. This can give an instant insight into what may be causing an issue (domain expiration, DNS change, sub-domain configuration etc) and it’s also piece of mind. Monitoring and knowing what a large batch of domain names are using for MX records and being able to see what the SPF settings on a batch of domains can easily highlight a misconfigured asset as another example.

Although domain monitoring may seem like a small deal, when you have a large domain name portfolio of 1,000 or more domain names, the monitoring is a great addition to owning a lot of domain names. Corporate domain registrars also offer robust reporting options to fit domain data needs, something retail registrars lack.

Billing

Corporate domain name registrars allow for business style billing, with flexible 30-day billing that can be invoiced out in a vast range to best fit department purchases and more. This again doesn’t seem like a big deal until you are a business and accounts payable requires specific invoices, po’s and so on. Having the ability to do invoices every 30 days is a nice perk where retail registrars require payments on the spot for registrations, renewals and more.

Support

GoDaddy offers great support, some of the best and most knowledgeable I’ve dealt with in the domain industry. With that said, I know my rep manages A LOT of accounts and he’s not always available when I need him because of it.

With corporate domain name registrars, there is a dedicated representative that is solely assigned to the account, who only manages a few accounts. This rep will be dedicated to the account and very aware of the account, the domains in it and the activity and communication around it. When dealing with B2B this is common but not so when using a retail registrar as the account reps are not as dedicated to a specific account as they could be.

Along with support, comes the knowledge behind the service provider, which includes domain and portfolio consulting from the corporate registrar. A big time plus when domain names are not your main business but you have important questions regarding them. One of which may be how to acquire one, which corporate registrars will assist with also (most of the time for a small flat fee).

Support is important and when you have a dedicated account representative, that is very helpful because that rep's job is to be there for you and have your back.

TLD Coverage

When you own an international business or plan to go international at some point, it requires much more than just one domain name. Some countries are really only aware of the ccTLD related domains to them and it requires business owners to provide this easy and memorable fitting domain to them, while also staying on brand.

Corporate domain name registrars offer a vast range and often many more ccTLD and gTLD domain options in one place, other than retail registrars only offering mainly “popular” domain extensions. This allows for domain portfolio consolidation and centralizing ownership of these different domain names, while also maintaining the security importance of who has access to the domain names and what can be done with them.

This is a small but again big difference for a corporate registrar vs retail.

Cost

I have always had the impression that to use a corporate domain name registrar like GCD.com, you would need to spend some big bucks. In general, it’s really not expensive considering the security options, support and monitoring alone.

In general, domain registration costs are not much different than several other retail registrars. For the service to keep its doors open, there is a general number each account needs to contribute (sorry I can’t share the number specifically) but I was surprised it was as low as it is. If you own 300 domains and that is a mix of ccTLDs and TLDs it’s likely a good idea to speak with GCD.

Even if you are a startup and only own 10 domains, I’d pay the minimum required to get the security aspect of the service, without question! I understand a secure service with 2 factor authorization is nice but its not equal to registry lock! It’s not as good as the user permissions control, 30 day billing, professional advice, monitoring and the slew of other perks the corporate registrar has to offer.

If you are a business and you have domain names that you couldn’t live without for an hour, please consider speaking with a corporate domain name registrar. I’m a big fan of registry lock on your main domain name and any mission critical domains.

I’m not a fan of some of the existing corporate registrars, because I see them soak clients daily with useless brand/typo registrations, but I do know and have spoken with the leaders of GCD and I appreciate what they do. The costs were lower than I expected and easily IMO are worth the security aspect alone.

GCD has the newest platform of any corporate registrar and they are also now backed by GoDaddy, which increases the funding and resources available to them.

It is totally absurd that there are so many Unicorn companies that I know for certain would be in a world of hurt if something happened to their main domains, which almost all could have been prevented if Registry Lock was used. I think the main preventor is the fact that nearly all retail registrars do not offer registry lock as an option, so it’s important that startups and similar companies start taking domain security more seriously and use a corporate domain registrar like GCD.com!

Don’t become a target because you're not using registry lock or continue using a retail registrar that has been in the news constantly due to domain theft and ignore it until it becomes a problem for you.

Request a free demo from GCD.com today and see the benefits yourself. Having piece of mind your domain name assets deserve is something by itself that would allow me to sleep easier and it should be for you too!

The information contained in this blog is provided for general informational purposes about domains. It is not specific advice tailored to your situation and should not be treated as such.

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