I have this theory about folks who are new to technology, don't know much about a tech company, but maybe see an ad or get word-of-mouth recommendations.
More than a few such folks are liable to mis-spell the name of the vendor or service and give up out of a sense of confusion.
If they use a search engine to find, say, the Vonage website and they type in "Vonnage," then Google will come back with a "did you mean Vonage."
But what if an inexperienced yet inquisitive person (the type that could well become your customer if they can find your site) mis-spells the name of your company? When they see a page that has nothing to do with your company, or maybe a bit to do with it but only indirectly, aren't they likely to be confused?
We are talking about less experienced and less knowledgeable users here. Less experience and knowledge equals confusion and misinterpretation.
And maybe not just inexperienced users. The X-chromosomal unit works at a university, and she regularly receives correspondence from Ph.D's who can't distinguish between "it's" and "its." If very educated folks get tripped up by that, then calling "Vonage" "Vonnage" is not just a sin of the cerebrally challenged.
Typos can also be committed by folks in a hurry, or who are not fluent in English.
So how well do tech marketers cover their assets by buying up close-typo domains and then use those presumed landing pages as instant referral pages to their actual site?
Not many, I am afraid.
I know this because on Thursday evening, I put on my faux dunce cap and deliberately mis-typed 10 URLs of VoIP and or/convergence companies. In most cases, I got sent to a page of a spam or spyware-rendering, totally marketing-driven search engine. In other cases I arrived at cybersquatted domains, like the Mikrosoft one at the top of this post.
OK, here's what I found:
Vonnage- "server not found." WHOIS says the name is owned by Vonage, so why isn't there a refer?
Skipe- An exception- takes you right to Skype.com.
(ATT) CallAdvantage- It's CallVantage of course. Takes you to something called "All Advantage," a one-page "site" with just the name.
Mikrosoft- As you see at the top of this post, the site owner says he is not a cyberquatter- and he just wants Microsoft to take the domain off his hands- for free!
Sisco- Page request refers to some obscure search engine called First Place.
Googal- Actually bounces to RFID.com, an interesting e-commerce site for RFID enclosures. But since the site does not use Googal in the address, it appears that the folks behind RFID.com bought Googal on the assumption that they would get traffic from the typos. Give 'em their do- err, due.
Commcast- A nondescript page with just a collection of links.
Packet Eight- Of course you would want to type "Packet 8." But if you did what I did, you'll wind up on a site called "Rush2Buy. Guess what: they will sell their domain for $500! I have to wonder if Packet8 owner 8x8 might be interested.
Come take a look:
Earthlinks- Server not found. Domain registered to some guy in New Jersey.
Hewlett-Packerd- Page request bounces to some obscure Web directory called Clickabove.com.
So what's my point? Tech marketers, don't lose customers to "domain poisoning." Be like Skype and buy up those related URLs!