by Brooke Edge, PhD, Open Eye
How much importance do consumers place on a brand or organization investing in a dedicated domain name to establish their online presence? Do they feel strongly about where they make purchases online? Do they trust social media-only presences as much as domains? New research conducted by the Domain Name Association (DNA, a working group of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition [i2Coalition]) brings the voice of the consumer to the table, and indicates significant importance and trust in domains, especially when it comes to spending.
In 2021, the DNA conducted a US-based consumer survey to learn how a company’s presence on social media and/or on dedicated domains impacts their purchasing behavior. Overall, the results reveal that consumers place significant importance on a company having its own domain name, and are notably more likely to trust and feel comfortable spending money online through a company’s domain name rather than via a company’s social media footprint. A summary of the results is provided below:
- It is very important to consumers that a business has its own domain name. DNA asked on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = not at all important, 5 = extremely important) how important is it to them that a business have its own domain name, then provided examples to demonstrate this is not only .COM. The result was 3.94, with a third of respondents selecting “Extremely important.”
- That figure rises to 4.5 for those with an annual household income of $100,000 and above.
- A supermajority of consumers trust a business with its own domain name more than one with only a social media presence. While seventy-nine percent of respondents trust a business with a domain more, more than half of respondents say they trust the business with a domain “much more.”
- When asked why, respondents said that a domain name indicates the outlet is legitimate and professional: “Shows more of a footprint, and that it’s a business that actually exists. Anyone could set up a social media page for anything.”
“A domain name gives your business instant credibility and puts you in the same online marketplace as your largest competitors. It says that you mean business and helps online shoppers and customers see you as a forward-thinking company that is conveniently accessible online.”
- That trust carries over into spending, as consumers place significant importance on purchasing from a business’ domain name rather than a social media site. On the same 1-5 importance scale, respondents rated this importance a 3.92, with 31% saying this is “Extremely important.”
- As before, the figure rises with higher household income, to those in the $100,000 and above category rating this a 4.4.
- When we asked why, respondents explained that a domain indicates professionalism and a quick way to trust where they’re sending money: “It makes me feel safer with my purchase.”
“It gives credibility. The site doesn’t have to be great but the mere presence of one is important.”
- If they’ve first encountered a new brand or business on social media, nearly all consumers will try to verify its legitimacy before interacting or spending money with that organization. More than half (55%) say they do so by seeking out the organization’s domain.
- For those who did not feel comfortable making a purchase via a social site, 81% say they would feel more confident spending on an organization’s domain.
- Domains are seen as vastly more reliable than social sites (74 percentage points higher), as well as a significantly better place to learn about a business (50 percentage points higher).
What would you say are the benefits of a business’ domain name versus a business’ social page?
- Of notable interest in these ratings is the demographic surveyed. All respondents fall in the 25-44 year age range (Millennials through young GenX). These consumers have grown up with the Internet and social media, yet still feel significantly more trust and confidence interacting and spending via domains.
While this study did not measure .COM versus .ORG or other TLDs, the survey did clearly state at the outset that this was intended to measure all dedicated domain types. Additionally, the trust measurements for domains remained higher than social across all industries. Together, the results can indicate to .ORGs that these trust and spending confidence findings are applicable to their TLD.
Importance for .ORGs
These consumer responses demonstrating statistically significant higher trust and spending confidence on domains are especially vital for .ORGs, given that non-profit organizations place high value on web presences providing a space to share reliable information and to raise funds. It’s important that these institutions be seen as reliable and trustworthy online. DNA’s research indicates that consumers feel having a domain such as .ORG is a major step in achieving just that consumer confidence.
 I2C’s survey was conducted online in Spring 2021, of United States-based consumers aged 25-40. Final number of total completed surveys was 319.