27 September 2022FeaturesElisa Cooper and Matt Serlin

Registrar refresh

Corporations tend to stay loyal to their domain name registrars, much like customers continue to use the same bank or phone company forever. However, since some corporate registrars have been around since the dawn of the Internet, many have undergone substantial changes since they were first hired and now focus more on their own bottom lines rather than keeping current customers happy.

Still, customers stay with them year after year even if service steadily declines and rates go up. How can companies tell when it’s time to break up with their domain name registrar and go elsewhere?

Watch for red flags

While monitoring the working relationship with your registrar, keep a lookout for red flags. Take stock of the current level of attention you are receiving. Legacy registrars have experienced several changes including acquisitions, divestitures, and personnel changes in recent years.

The white glove service they once provided a decade ago may not exist anymore, and that lack of service will manifest on a daily basis. Perhaps your registrar has high turnover, so you are not able to develop continuity or trust with the same team over time.

Also, do you consistently report the same complaints that are not being addressed? Mistakes are going to happen with any registrar, but if you find you are repeatedly correcting the same errors and escalating those to the registrar’s management, that is not a good sign. If managing your domain portfolio is taking more time than it should on your end, and the registrar is not active, this is cause for concern.

From a financial standpoint, perhaps the costs have been creeping up from the initial rates you were quoted. The registrar may have initially provided what looked to be very favourable pricing, but you're getting nickel and dimed on minor items like ccTLD updates or basic DNS services.

Or perhaps you are paying for an annual cost increase every single year. Just because you got a great deal when you signed the proposal several years ago doesn’t mean you are enjoying competitive, cost-effective rates now.

Technology innovation is a sign that the registrar is staying abreast of the latest ways to help you streamline and organize your domain portfolio. If the registrar is not continually innovating and launching new functionality, you are working with increasingly stale technology.

Ideally, the registrar should be listening to your input and applying that to the technology solutions that they provide to help you manage the portfolio. If you keep asking them to consider an enhancement to the technology and few suggestions ever get included in their offering, you are not getting through to your provider.

Will it be a hassle to switch registrars?

Anybody who tells you that there's no work involved to transfer of a portfolio, they're not being honest. There is definitely work involved. However, your new registrar should help facilitate as much as they can. The good news is that migrating a domain name portfolio to a new registrar happens over a finite period of time.

Once the portfolio is moved, most of the work is done. A general rule of thumb is that 90% of your domain portfolio will be transferred to the new registrar within the first 90 days. The remaining 10% may take longer due to country-specific rules and documentation requirements. Registrars may strike fear into clients by telling them migrating to a new provider will take nine months or a year, but this is simply a tactic to dissuade them from switching.

Finding a true registrar partner

Customers are often loyal to their registrars without questioning whether the registrar deserves that allegiance. When they finally make the decision to look elsewhere, they may be pleasantly surprised to find quality, modernised options available to them.

The ideal arrangement is a registrar that acts like a true partner that is genuinely doing what is in the client’s best interest, not trying to get the client to register unnecessary domains.

Traits of a quality registrar partner:

Responsiveness: When you request support or information, is the registrar timely in their responses? They should get back to you with a full response that covers all the concerns you raised.

Honesty and transparency: Problems will always arise in the domains business, and when they do, the registrar must be honest and forthright. If an issue arises, the registrar needs to “own” the mistake and act to fix it, even if the client (not the registrar) made the error. There is no room for blame and finger-pointing. The registrar should quickly intervene and fix any problem regardless of its source. This speaks to the ethics and accountability of the registrar.

Leading, not following: If you know more than your registrar does, and if you are leading them versus them leading you, that is not ideal. If your registrar has had a lot of turnover, they have no doubt lost institutional knowledge along the way.

That historical perspective is essential to understanding the portfolio as a whole. It's not your job to train the registrar to get them up to speed. You’ll want a team of knowledgeable, experienced people who understand your terrain and bring substantial expertise to bring to the table rather than just leaning on you, the client.

Security: Domain names are threatened by bad actors and inadvertent human error. Look for a registrar that makes security a top priority, including both monitoring and mitigation to protect domain name portfolios.

Flexibility: Today’s companies want versatility in a registrar. Sometimes they require white glove personal service, while other times they prefer to be equipped to handle transactional actions independently with self-service options. Choose a registrar flexible enough to provide a wide spectrum of service options.

Trying before you buy

Companies that are reluctant to take the plunge and migrate the entire domain portfolio over to a new registrar can consider running a pilot with a smaller subset of domains first. Credible registrars are usually willing to accept a partial portfolio. If they are not, you should be sceptical that they are perhaps hiding something.

If you have a good experience throughout the pilot process, you will feel more confident about moving the rest of the portfolio over to the new provider. The registrar should make it easy to work with them and be responsive.

When faced with losing you as a customer, your incumbent registrar may offer you incentives and price breaks to stay. However, ask yourself why they were not offering you these perks all along. Question whether anything will really change if they have demonstrated an unsatisfactory, unresponsive approach over time.

Time for a new registrar?

Domain name professionals are busy, often juggling many different responsibilities. Therefore, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of keeping the same registrar year after year without reconsidering your options. However, if your current registrar is not offering you the responsiveness, technology acumen, security or flexibility that would optimally help you do your job, it’s time to consider alternatives.

Your registrar should be your guide, making your job easier and looking for opportunities to improve your experience. If this is not your current reality, it may well be time to break up with your registrar and find one that is a better fit.

Elisa Cooper is head of marketing at GoDaddy Corporate Domains. She can be contacted at:

Matt Serlin is head of client success and operations at GoDaddy Corporate Domains. He can be contacted at

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