Domain Connect: a new standard makes using your domain name easier

There’s an ongoing challenge for the domain name industry: a customer will often register a domain name, but won’t activate services needed to make active use of it, such as hosting and e-mail. A possible reason: adjusting his DNS for the new service is just too complicated. A new open standard, Domain Connect, has been developed to fix this issue.

No use, no renewal

Not being able to use a domain name leads to a lot of support calls for providers and ultimately influences the registrant’s decision about renewing the domain when the initial registration period runs out. It is the main reason many domains are deleted each year.

Domain names that have services linked to them and are in active use are more likely to be renewed than unused domain names. The relationship between service activation and renewal is striking, and makes perfect sense. When the annual bill comes for renewal of the domain name, the registrant weighs things up pragmatically: ‘need to have’ or ‘nice to have’? Whether the domain name is in active use will often have a major bearing on what’s decided.

Time and knowledge are major constraints

A variety of factors contribute to domain names being left unused. Sometimes registrants lack the time to configure DNS records. Other times, it is the technology or user experience that’s to blame. Setting DNS records for e-mail, WordPress®, Office 365® or other systems may seem simple to industry insiders. For the many people who lack the technical know-how, such crucial steps can be intimidating or confusing, however. As a result, they sometimes take no action and leave the domain name unused. 

Setting DNS generates support calls

Alternatively, the customer may take action, but require a lot of guidance and hand-holding from the support department of the service provider or registrar. That can be expensive for the registrar or service provider, as well as time-consuming and frustrating for the user, with implications for the way they perceive interaction with the registrar or DNS provider.

Domain Connect simplifies DNS Configuration

With the aim of making things less confusing and intimidating, a number of industry players decided to develop a new, open DNS configuration template standard. Domain Connect aims to make domain name activation and usage easier. It is an open standard, submitted to the IETF.

How it works

Domain Connect simplifies things for the user by authorising the DNS provider or registrar to share DNS settings with a service such as Office 365®, WordPress®, Google®, WP-Engine®, Hubspot®. This saves the user the trouble to configure fields such as TTL, DNS records or hostnames. Because the information comes from the source, the registrar or DNS service provider can set records correctly and communicate the user’s requirements effectively on the basis of authenticated data. If you’re interested in technical details. Check the source code on Github.

Promising first results

Early adoption by registrars in North America and Europe has shown that implementation of Domain Connect increases the number of registrants that actively use their domain names, with a noticeable (35-55%) reduction in the cost and volume of support requests and an increase of 10-30% in the rate of renewals. An Office 365 presentation at the recent NamesCon 2019 in Las Vegas revealed that where Domain Connect was used for service activation, the domain name renewal rate was 98%, compared with 70% where Domain Connect wasn’t in use.

New in the Netherlands

The Domain Connect standard has not yet been adopted in the Netherlands. The Domain Name Association (DNA), a branch organisation of which SIDN is a member, has started promoting the standard worldwide. The DNA and SIDN encourage registrars to learn more about Domain Connect and how it can promote the active use of domain names.

For more information check domainconnect.org.

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