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India’s Internet Domain market only has 4mn domain names to boast of: GoDaddy

In an interaction with Dataquest, Rajiv Sodhi, Vice President and Managing Director at GoDaddy India and Australia shared his views on the latest Internet trends that are shaping the domain industry today and why there is a need for every trader to own a domain name. Excerpts

What are some of the main challenges that GoDaddy is taking in perspective for the India market?
Despite the increase in internet penetration, the domain penetration in India remains low leading to our number one challenge – lack of ‘awareness’. Most people in India are saddled from the ‘Not-for-me’ syndrome, and that the Internet is only meant for big brands or firms and they are not big enough to need a website. According to a recent survey conducted by Redshift and GoDaddy, 19% of small business believe the process is beyond their technical expertise. They think that buying a domain name, setting up a website, moving to social media and all are very complex.

Secondly, India is a ‘Do-it-for-me (DIFM)’ country, wherein the customers seek help of the professionals unlike western countries, which are more in the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) mode. In India, we ensure a 24/7 free customer care service for our customers to help them along the way.

Thirdly, a majority of small businesses in India still do not take the concept of building an online identity and branding seriously. They think that their business is either too small to warrant a website or they do not have a clear understanding of what an effective online presence can do for their small business. Hence, with our robust market strategy we are working to educate small business owners about the importance of having an online presence.

Where does GoDaddy currently stand in India and what is your go-to-market strategy to establish the brand and reach out to more customers?
India is a priority and strategic market for GoDaddy and has been the bedrock of our international expansion. When we decided to take GoDaddy beyond the U.S. boundaries, India was the first country we chose to enter because of India’s Internet use and economic growth rates.  Initially, it took India 10 years to reach 100 million Internet users and then the pace increased drastically and today, according to the latest Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB Report, India has over 400 million Internet users. India is second largest connected country in the world and have just overtaken USA. It’s interesting to see how the large part of Internet growth is driven by rural and tier 2-tier 3 towns, which is primarily driven by mobile devices.

Today, GoDaddy enjoys strong leadership position in India. GoDaddy is the number one registrar for .IN domain names with over 33 percent of the total market share according to National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI). GoDaddy India website traffic grew 23% (Q1 2015 vs Q1 2014). Our India website is ranked #50 on Alexa. GoDaddy India customer care call volume grew 53% (Q1 2015 vs. Q1 2014). We get over 3,000 calls per day at the India customer care center. This is a testimony to the fact that there is an increased level of interest among Indian consumers to create a digital presence for their businesses using GoDaddy and its related services.

Our go-to-market strategy for India is driven by the unique challenges the market presents. We follow a three-prolonged approach focusing on:

-Educating small businesses about the power and reach of Internet and how it could help their small business expand and grow
-Continuing to build easy to use and affordable products and services for the Indian market
-Providing high quality customer service through our 24/7, local customer care centre located in Hyderabad

In addition to this, we are also working towards creating a robust partner and web designers and developers ecosystem to help us reach out to the customer and making the internet relevant to them. This is critical given India’s position as a ‘Do-It-For-Me’ market.

What are the latest Internet trends that are shaping the domain industry today?
The domain name industry in India is making significant progress as the culture of domain name buying for personal and professional use gains traction. That said, it is still at nascent stage with only 4 mn domain names and even lesser websites registered in India. Looking at domain name penetration relative to the Internet population of a country, India stands at just about two percent in comparison to a more mature market like the U.S. (where domain name penetration is upwards of 20 percent), although we believe this is set to grow with the huge market of 52 million SMBs in India.

Also, with new breed of emerging entrepreneurs coming in who are typically young people and understand the importance of being online and take it very seriously. As a result, they first book their domain name even if they don’t build a website immediately.

Another trend that is surfacing the industry is the use of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). With over 100 million domain names already in use, finding an unused name that is unique to one’s business can be difficult. However, new gTLDs, including the likes of .photography, .guru and .shiksha are giving the ability to create a relevant name that better defines their websites, brand, business, group or organization.

Why is there a need for every trader/small business or an individual to own domain name?
Finding new customers through traditional marketing is time consuming and more than often requires big ticket spends which is the most difficult entity to invest for startups/new businesses. On the other hand, the digital platform makes it easy to kick start marketing efforts with something as easy and off the shelf such as a domain name and a website. This is like having an address online and your own ‘real estate’ in the form of a compelling and effective website. You want it to be able for your customers to find you and at the same time, one can use a variety of tools, databases and smart search strategy to proactively target customers. Specific domain names of gTLDs as we call them, allow more specific targeting with domain name extensions such as .IN (based on your location) and .PHOTOGRAPHY (based on your business or service).

Owning a domain name helps to ensure a more level playing field for small businesses and future entrepreneurs to compete with some of the largest organizations in the world while eliminating barriers around cost and infrastructure, with our affordable and relevant business services to help small businesses manage their business online

Why do you think small businesses should choose a website over social media or eCommerce platforms to establish their businesses?
Today, the Internet is an integral part of a consumer’s buying behavior with almost every potential customer searching for products or services online. GoDaddy believes that by establishing an online presence, small businesses can expand their reach to a global audience, increase brand awareness, operate around the clock, and potentially increase sales.

Having a website is crucial for small business owners for a number of reasons. Primarily, it’s an opportunity to directly connect with their present and potential customers. It also helps to create and control your web presence, and to take advantage of search engines.

Building a separate web presence with a website is an opportunity to differentiate yourself and stand out from your competition while developing your unique brand identity. Even if you have been on a social media or eCommerce platform to sell your products, a website can help you retain a unique identity and gain more credibility without the loop of commissions in a very cost effective manner.   It can be helpful for your customers to integrate your social media together with your website to offer a coordinated experience for your brand online.

GoDaddy is focused on educating small business owners on the real-world benefits of establishing an identity on the Internet. We guide our customers through a step-by-step process of running their business online and bringing them up to speed with market developments.

Can you highlight the opportunities for SMBs in India with increase in Internet penetration?
The future of SMBs in India is full of possibilities with regard to the transformation in the way India shops and trades. The Indian eCommerce industry has enabled SMBs to add scale to their businesses and establish their unique identities in the market.
Changing the way we shop, the Indian eCommerce market is expected to cross the $100-bn mark over the next five years as compared to the present $17 bn valuation. Today, more than 80% of Indian shoppers choose the online shopping route as they get to reach more sellers and select from thousands of options available online. Continuing the trend, the eCommerce sector is estimated to see a 72% jump in the average annual spend on online purchases per individual in 2016. This unprecedented growth in eCommerce market brings along significant advantages for small businesses such as increased revenues, improved market reach, access to new markets, operational cost savings and improved customer experience.

Hence, what is most important for SMBs today is to make sure they are discoverable. If you are not online then you are not part of the conversation. Whether you are a startup or an entrepreneur who is thinking of a setting up a business, it’s important for you to be online today.

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