Did you know that the Internet name space is quickly expanding far beyond the commonly used domains ending with .com, .net, or .org? And that .church domain names are coming soon?
If you didn’t know, you are not alone. One survey showed that 54 percent of Americans are unaware of the new gTLDs (generic top-level domains) and that they have begun to launch, but other parts of the world (including U.K., Germany, and China) have much greater awareness.
In 2014 so far, the Internet has launched more than 250 new gTLDs, with the most popular new domain extensions include: .xyz, .berlin, .club, .guru, .photography.
The launching of .church domain names is imminent—churches and pastors need to be aware of this opportunity. Here are five reasons your church should consider registering a .church domain name:
1. Protect your church name. This is called brand protection in the marketplace. Your church name is valuable and you may consider protecting your church name against someone else using your church’s name as a .church domain name for cybersquatting, watchdog blogs, bad publicity, misrepresentation, parody, impersonation, porn, religious cults, or other crazy things bad people could dream up. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world and the Internet isn’t exempt.
2. Get a better domain name. Just as logos and website designs get a refresh from time to time, this is an opportunity for a memorable, meaningful, and shorter domain name. (And a .church domain name can help with your search engine ranking too.) For example:
westdallascommunitychurch.com could be westdallas.church
newlifechurch.tv could become newlife.church
livingwordonline.org could be more meaningful with livingword.church
westsidefamilychurch.com could become westside.church
3. Start innovating. Using a new gTLD .church domain name indicates a visibly noticeable innovation that can be a part of a new branding and communication strategy for the church to launch a new initiative that is more engaging with people’s digital lifestyle.
4. Better connect with potential visitors and the congregation. Your church could provide two separate websites to provide content specifically for each audience, instead of trying to communicate to two very different audiences using one website. Visitors want basic information to decide whether to visit and how to visit. By contrast, regular attendees want easier communication with staff, connecting with groups, checking the events calendar, and accessing volunteer information.
5. Launch a landing page. Have you noticed websites with just one web page with a single purpose? They’re used to communicate one message clearly and call for a response with no distractions. And, a single domain name is much easier to communicate, both verbally and in print. A church could use this type of page as a digital response card to replace the bulletin tear-off form, a sign-up for the next all-church event, a RSVP for the community service project, or a place to give visitors a clear printable page for worship times and locations.
As with most domain name registrations, the .church names are first-come first-serve. Don’t let the bad guys grab your church domain name.
There are three important dates for when registration of .church domain names are available:
- July 8–September 6, 2014: If you have an active trademark and it’s also registered at the Trademark Clearinghouse, you can register a .church domain name matching the trademark during this 60-day window for exclusive priority access.
- September 10–16, 2014: During the Early Access Program (EAP), anyone can register a .church domain name for a premium fee during this week. The premium registration fee is typically over $10,000 on the first day, and then the premium fee drops gradually daily over the course of the week. Fees vary by registrar.
- September 17, 2014 and after: General availability of .church domain names for the public to register at an annual fee of $29.99. Fees vary by registrar.
According to early indicators, these .church domain names are very popular—.church is in the top 30 of new gTLDs out of an estimated 1,000+ suffixes! This window of opportunity to be part of church innovations is worth considering and preparing for, accordingly.
For more information on the importance of church names, trademarks, and domain names, check out the July/August issue of Church Law & Tax Report.
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