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A potential Achilles heel for M&A deals: why you can’t afford to neglect web domains

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Web Domains

By Glenn Hayward, CEO at Com Laude

 

The percentage of mergers and acquisition transactions has risen sharply in the past year. Partly driven by a recovering economy, the value of global deals in 2021 reached $5.1 trillion, up 34% from 2020 to surpass pre-pandemic levels and reach a five year high. The good news is that the trend suggests another supercharged year for deal-making in 2022 as dealmakers worldwide increasingly look to digitalise their businesses.

However, the primary focus for organisations during this surge in M&A activity is to ensure transactions are completed as smoothly as possible. A consequence of this is that critical digital assets, such as a company’s domain name can often take a backseat, presenting bad actors and cybercriminals with ample opportunity to take advantage of any vulnerabilities that come from changing roles, responsibilities, systems and services.

A company’s domain name portfolio can become the Achilles heel of the M&A process if not handled correctly. In order to mitigate the threats of intellectual property infringement and abuse, reputational damage or cyber-attacks, we’ve outlined some actionable insights around domains for those businesses embarking on M&As.

Account for domain ownership

When a business is going through an M&A, there will inevitably be a consolidation of teams. As responsibilities change hands, domains can often be forgotten about in the transition. This can lead to domain registration rights leaving with the person who originally registered them, or with the registration remaining with an old (now defunct) email address from the acquired company.

Organisations must ensure this handover happens early on to prevent these domains falling through the cracks. Equally, it is crucial that the domain registrant transfers ownership to a group email address at the new entity so that multiple stakeholders are alerted when a domain may be expiring or needs attention. Not only will this give the brand watertight protection but avoiding these slip-ups will raise stakeholder awareness for having a robust domain strategy.

Secure domain names before announcing an acquisition

An M&A is an exciting time, and it’s tempting to shout about the new acquisition and a potential new company name whilst it’s in progress, but businesses cannot afford to get carried away. Cyber-squatters will be ready to jump on domain names that aren’t registered in advance of the announcement, holding them hostage for an extortionate price and causing a serious headache for the new business that now needs to get them back ahead of the official brand launch.

Prior to announcing details of an M&A, businesses need to conduct an audit of their future domain portfolios and ensure that all potential online real estate is spoken for. By registering these domain names in advance, organisations can safeguard against any costly (and ultimately inconvenient) re-acquisitions of the name.

Domain names can cost less than £1, but they can be sold on for hundreds of thousands if they’re desperately needed by a brand. Take the example of TikTok: two friends anticipated that the app would become a popular brand, so they bought the domain tiktoks.com for $2,000 just after TikTok’s launch. TikTok’s parent company offered $145,000 to the pair to buy that domain, however upon their refusal to give it back, the brand was forced into lengthy and costly legal processes for its re-acquisition.

The lesson is clear: stop and think about your domain portfolio and ensure all potential domains are registered and accounted for before you rush to make a very public announcement.

Putting in place a robust domain name strategy

A lack of knowledge both about how vital domains are to business infrastructure and the potential implications that neglecting them during an M&A may have has often been why businesses make mistakes. When domains are held by cyber squatters, the effects can be felt across the entire organisation, from seriously impacting online trading through to phishing scams that target customers and ultimately damage brand reputation.

Small brands need not think they are exempt from being targeted; when they are, the attack could be even more damaging with a smaller pool of funds to combat mistakes. All businesses must remain vigilant and protect themselves against the increasing threats during an M&A.

Listen to the experts

When planning for future business acquisitions, organisations can help to mitigate these issues by ensuring they have a corporate domain portfolio manager on hand to ensure domain portfolios are watertight throughout the transition. With their guiding hand they can advise on the key domains that need to be acquired ahead of time, and ultimately mitigate the substantial costs that can be incurred by needing to get a domain back.

With cyber squatters always on the lookout for a quick buck, businesses going through an M&A need to be one step ahead, covering their back from the start with a clear domain strategy. There are many pieces to the M&A – make sure domains don’t end up being the missing piece that prevents the perfect picture.

 

Business

A new beginning for financial services B2B marketing

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Financial services B2B marketing is dead. A bold statement with B2B ad spend set to pass $30bn next year in the US alone. But it is dead, or at least, it’s dead boring.

B2B marketing has long carried a reputation for being dull, lacking emotion, heart or guts. Indeed, the same could be said for financial services, with its technical jargon, long-winded T&Cs and an array of complex services and products to promote. Put the two together and you have a considerable marketing challenge on your hands.

Michael Richards

But there are green shoots of change springing up on the beige horizon, as financial services businesses begin to recognise that they deserve better and start to see the lessons to be learned from their B2C peers. For example, many financial services B2B brands moved to digital to refine client experiences and grow relationships during the pandemic, meaning they could connect with businesses in a more accessible way through tailored and creative solutions. But it’s not enough to just convince a business to buy a product or service with a smattering of data and a selection of charts. There needs to be a focus on provoking the truth about these progressive brands; giving them what they deserve: intelligence, imagination and emotion to provoke their truths and tell their stories in ways that just can’t be ignored.

There are so many financial services B2B brands that are missing the mark on creating provocative work and telling their stirring stories. The industry is full of inspiring stories but needs to adopt the techniques of B2C (and fast) to avoid being left behind.

Below, I’ve outlined three approaches B2B financial services marketing should take from B2C:

 

Be 100% brand and 0% product

Let’s look at the lessons we can learn from one of the biggest brands in the world. Coca Cola used to advertise on a single poster with simple descriptive messaging that didn’t make a lot of sense … but that was in the early decades of the 20th century. Coke is now one of the most instantly recognisable brands in the world. It has evolved so much from that early uninspiring product messaging that some Coke ads today feature nothing more than a red background, a white glass bottle silhouette and the message ‘Open Happiness’. 0% product, 100% brand.

Financial services business brands can learn a lot from this. Very few are tapping into the vocabulary of emotional marketing. They sell their product in line with industry jargon, expecting their ever-changing audience to understand what they mean. When really their product or service should be learning to speak a new language. One that showcases the brand over the product, communicating to their audience with a personality and values of their own.

No company can rely solely on their product features because no product is unique anymore. The power of a brand can generate that differentiating value that will set it apart from the competition.

 

Use data to personalise your offer

Data is the beating heart to personalisation. It gives businesses the foundation to build a product that is bigger and better than its competitor. One that entices new audiences while maintaining loyalty.

Consumer brands are obsessed with collecting data to better their product and reach audiences far and wide. In fact, nearly 90% of UK shoppers will hand over their personal information for improved online customer experiences.

B2B businesses also use data, but on a much narrower scale. In a survey of B2B companies, only 25% of B2B businesses use data weekly to understand customer needs, while 9% admitted they never use data at all. This is evident given that 47% of B2B buyers who need a new financial service go straight to their existing bank, and 75% of those who claim to shop around also end up with their current bank. Most buyers don’t even consider more than two brands. Meaning lots get left behind.

This is where B2B marketing shouldn’t just rest on its laurels of tedious white papers and limited data. It should inject its own personal touch and emotion by undertaking its own research and data collection to produce insightful pieces of research and showcase its unique findings. This can include specific consumer trends and behaviours in the financial services space, so they can really understand their audience and further improve their product.

 

Be audience aware

Audience Blindness is a condition that hinders B2B brands from seeing that business decision-makers have changed. They have become younger; they’re millennials. The content they consume is worlds apart from what their predecessors consumed and is constantly evolving – particularly as we enter Web 3.0 and the metaverse.

Even in the finance sector, B2B marketing is still about appealing to ‘people’ and their needs. B2B isn’t a machine and shouldn’t just cater for a computer. It needs to connect to real life audiences – those with feelings, thoughts and emotions. Because behind every business partnership is a room full of people interacting, debating and sparking ideas.

The B2C financial services sector has progressed significantly, understanding changes in audiences and catering to new needs and desires. The rise in neo-banking, investment made easy and services specifically for young adults and children looking to save is testament to this. They’ve introduced digital-first approaches, influencer techniques and new ways of improving the shopping experience through buy now, pay later (BNPL).

We’ve seen glimpses of B2B’s new beginning, but its future is to live in the present, and inject it with the power of B2C. Only then can B2B see the new audience, hear the new market and feel the new world.

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Business

Need a business broadband package? Here’s what you need to know

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Author: Kerry Fawcett, Digital Director at Radius Payment Solutions

 

Does your business have a broadband supply that is speedy, cost effective, and most importantly, reliable? If not, now is the time to put that right. Online is king in this day and age, and no matter the size of your company, a good business broadband supply is vital to allowing staff to work as they need to. Here are some tips to find your organisation a business broadband package that fits it like a glove.

 

  1. You need to choose the right business broadband package

There are a number of reasons why your business might need a business broadband deal. Such reasons can include email which helps you stay in touch with customers and suppliers, social media access so that you can communicate with your customers and provide support, research and web browsing that your employees may need to do as part of their jobs, and general marketing tools which are nowadays more often than not web-based and require an Internet connection.

Also, let’s not forget that the people who want your products and services are online too—they use the Internet and search engines to find what they need. If this is your product or service and you do not have an online presence, their business will go to your competition.

That said, the decision on which broadband package to opt for is far more complex than simply choosing the deal with the fastest speed, or the cheapest price. Depending on the business, things to account for include data management, other services like email, and backup options.

With any package, however, it is important to look closely at the services being offered and whether they match up with what you are looking for. Also, check to make sure that they are built with business use in mind and have not been designed solely for consumer-grade activity.

To ensure your business chooses the right broadband package for its needs, make sure that you account for these three things. By doing so, you end up in a much better position to begin comparing options:

  1. Before choosing a broadband package, be sure to look at and understand how your business uses the data it is creating and storing. This will ensure that your broadband package can handle the data loads your business produces.
  2. Make sure to read and study service level agreements (SLAs). Every single half-decent business broadband package will have one of these—if they don’t, avoid the supplier—and looking closely at the clauses helps you avoid nasty surprises.
  3. Look for a broadband provider that has a bandwidth utilisation of below 50%. This will avoid bottlenecks and make your website and general broadband services a lot faster, enabling more data to be processed more quickly.

Price is certainly a factor, though. Whether comparing the price of business broadband, business mobile phone tariffs, or anything else, it makes solid business sense to make sure you are getting the best deal possible for your ideal product.

 

  1. Be aware – business broadband is not the same as home broadband

It is wrong to assume that business broadband is the same as the broadband that the vast majority of us have at home—it’s not. Business broadband packages include features that are specifically designed for business customers.

Generally speaking, a business broadband connection is set up and optimised to meet the increased demands of a business. Therefore, the features that are often found in a business broadband deal include prioritised customer support on-hand to provide immediate relief should something go wrong, faster upload and download speeds that can cope the bandwidth demands of a commercial office, better security features that protect your assets and data, and static IP addresses that allow you to run CCTV, host your own website, and authenticate intranet users.

What’s more, business broadband packages will usually come with generous—often unlimited—usage limits and competitive price points that aren’t too dissimilar to home broadband packages and plans.

 

  1. Explained: Business Broadband vs Home Broadband

For any readers still wondering about the most important differences between home and business broadband, here are four things that you don’t tend to get with a home broadband deal.

  1. Guaranteed service levels
    Returning to the point made about SLAs, business broadband providers will offer customers a guarantee to keep the broadband service up and running, and to do all they can to bring it back online should things go wrong. If a situation occurs where a provider is unable to do this in a pre-agreed timeframe, your business will often be compensated.

It is rare for home broadband packages to come with such a guarantee.

  1. Prioritised traffic
    Some of the best-known business broadband providers such as TalkTalk and BT prioritise traffic for their business customers over non-commercial home broadband customers.

This of course means that the speed and quality of your Internet connection will not be negatively affected by other customers’ usage patterns during peak times, such as when HD media and games are being streamed and played.

  1. Business-centric customer support
    As a business, it is vital that your broadband connection is restored as soon as possible should it go offline. If you don’t, you run the risk of losing revenue and having your reputation harmed. Business broadband providers know this all too well, and for that reason they typically offer around-the-clock, UK-based customer support.

This is in contrast to home broadband where customer support operatives are only available at select times, usually during business hours.

  1. A static IP address
    Most business broadband deals provide you with a static IP address. This type of IP address enables you to use your business broadband for some very useful business-critical operations, such as:
  • The hosting of your own server (vital for CCTV, file transfers, client services);
  • The hosting of your own website and domain name servers;
  • Enabling remote connections by your employees to their work desktops; and
  • Making available systems that require authentication, such as intranets.

Instead of a static IP address, home broadband packages include a dynamic IP address which changes each time a new connection to the Internet is established.

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