In recent years, the number of domain name extensions available around the world has increased enormously. The new extensions have made very little impact on the Dutch business market, however. Most businesses that don't opt for a .nl domain name choose .com instead. Some 19 per cent of survey respondents said they used .com, usually because they were aiming at an international audience. Only a small proportion (7 per cent) of Dutch businesses use an extension other than .nl or .com, such as .info, .eu or .nu.
Most entrepreneurs see the .nl extension as the best option for business use. An address that ends with .nl is associated with qualities such as 'serious', 'reliable', 'secure', 'local', 'familiar' and 'fun'.
People tend to think of the .com extension as being for big companies with a wide (international) reach.
Choosing a domain name
According to the research, the choice of a business domain name is shaped by three important considerations: ease of finding the domain name (88 per cent), ease of remembering the domain name (88 per cent) and reflection of a serious, commercial image (81 per cent). Like established businesses, start-ups put those considerations first, but were more likely to also want a catchy or amusing domain name (48 per cent).
Start-ups were also more likely than established businesses to have a lot of trouble finding a good domain name. Some 41 per cent of new businesses reported difficulties on that score.
Websites increasingly important
As well as highlighting the popularity of .nl with the Dutch business community, the research showed that most business people (57 per cent) expect the importance of a good website to increase further. A further 41 per cent anticipate websites remaining about as important as they are now. Only 2 per cent foresee a decline.
A quarter of Dutch entrepreneurs think that it's essential to have a business website. Another 46 per cent see a business website as important but not essential, while just 5 per cent say that a website plays very little role.
App or social media page
Although having a business website is considered important, some entrepreneurs say that they are thinking of replacing one of their websites with some other internet-based medium, e.g. a social media page (38 per cent) or an app (36 per cent).
*The survey was carried out on line in November 2015. Responses were obtained from 501 business people, some of whom already had a domain name and some of whom did not. Out of the 501, ninety-six were start-up entrepreneurs, while 405 were speaking on behalf of businesses that had been in existence for more than a year.
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