NameSilo provides the lowest everyday domain prices on the Internet. The company makes registering and managing customer portfolios in a quick, clean, and easy process. NameSilo also provides hosting and freemium email for a one-stop-shop. We’ve made an interview with Endrit Muca, Chief Marketing Officer of Namesilo about NameSilo, the services of the company, and the web hosting/domain industry.
Let’s begin with the company overview. Could you tell us about NameSilo?
NameSilo is an ICANN accredited domain registrar and web hosting company. We provide internet services including domain name registration, hosting and website builder, SSL, e-mail and more. We also provide aftermarket services through our marketplace and drop-catching platforms. Our objective is simple: provide our customers with a low-cost solution for their website needs without compromising on the quality of our platforms, features and support.
What is the company’s story? What were the most important milestones for you?
NameSilo LLC was initially founded in 2010 by a trio of entrepreneurs in Phoenix, Arizona. They built up the platform from scratch and got it accredited with ICANN. The team saw their opportunity in building a business focused on low-cost domains with lots of value-added features (such as free WHOIS privacy, domain parking, e-mail and great support) without overcharging customers.
In 2015, we launched a low-commission marketplace, allowing customers to buy and sell NameSilo domains. This marked a key milestone in the expansion of our services and creating the opportunity to start attracting more customers through these additional services.
By mid-2017, we reached 1 million active domains under management, which placed us in the top 1% of ICANN accredited registrars around the world.
In early 2018, Brisio Innovations (who later renamed to NameSilo Technologies Corp) acquired NameSilo LLC to help grow the business faster. As part of the deal, a new team came in, including Kristaps Ronka (CEO) and myself.
By late 2018, we crossed 2 million active domains under management and less than a year after that, we surpassed 3 million. Today, we stand at 3.3 million active domains and growing.
In late 2018, we also acquired NamePal, which was an important milestone for our business. Not only did this deal help us build out the rest of our leadership team, we also expanded our capabilities to include drop-catching and hosting. And over the past year, our product team has been hard at work adding website builder, SSL, e-mail, premium DNS, logo maker, new support channels and more.
What makes NameSilo different and unique? Who is NameSilo’s target customer?
We have built our business on low margins to ensure the lowest possible prices for customers while not compromising on the quality of our platform, features or support. Our approach has always been customer-first and this informs everything we do and every product we build. Even though our team has grown, our culture has maintained a “start-up” mentality – work hard, build quickly and improve continuously. So long as we deliver on these fundamentals, we have faith that success and growth will follow.
Our target customer is anyone seeking low-cost website services with tons of value-added features. Historically, this has included predominantly savvy industry users with extensive domain portfolios or reseller businesses, as they tend to benefit more substantially from the cost savings. More recently, with the growth of our brand name and capabilities, we have been increasing steadily with small-business owners as well. These customers are usually either coming to us for help with creating their first website or they already have one and are looking to transfer it over and save.
Our plan is to continue serving all of our customer bases – we want to continue building services for our ‘domainer’ customers that buy/sell names as well as offer affordable web hosting/builder packages catered to SMBs.
What is the customer’s top priority feature when they are choosing the perfect registrar or hosting provider?
The short answer is that most customers analyze us per the criteria that you would expect – price, features and support. As such, we aim to deliver on all three of these aspects with low prices, powerful features and excellent support. At a more granular level, this breaks down into different priorities for different customer profiles:
Industry savvy users with extensive domain portfolios consider us because of our low prices and value-added features like free WHOIS privacy, domain parking and market sites.
SMB customers prioritize features like affordable domain + hosting packages, with value-added features like SSL certificates, premium DNS and email. Reseller businesses work with us because of features we offer such as discount bulk buying, API integration and white-label solutions.
Recently more domain extensions (TLD) became popular and domain investors are probably looking for the next big thing. Which are the most popular ones for NameSilo customers?
Indeed, this is one of the most interesting topics in our industry. The growth of the new gTLDs over the past few years has caused everyone to try and anticipate the next big thing so as to get in on the ground floor. To help with this analysis, we have started publishing monthly reports on our registration data which can be found on our blog site. These reports include data on our top sold TLDs and top growing TLDs vs previous month.
Statistically speaking, the most popular domain extensions for our customers over the past year have been .COM (still the leader) followed by .XYZ, .TOP, .BUZZ and .NET.
Do you think the customers are careful enough when it comes to their website security? What are the most common mistakes?
There is definitely room for improvement. In fact, we have posted several articles on our blog to help our users maximize their website security and protect against attacks. In addition to the risks discussed in our articles, one other common mistake we caution our customers against is letting a domain name expire when the website is still receiving traffic. Typically, customers will let a domain expire because they either forget to renew it (which can be solved by enabling auto-renewal) or no longer plan to use it, so they intentionally let it expire.
However, a domain name still receiving traffic has value so if the owner doesn’t renew it, then it’s likely someone else will. And once renewed, the new owner can choose to post whatever content they wish on the website connected to that domain, including pornography. These situations are best avoided so whenever possible, users should renew their domains, even post use, for at least another year or two in order to let the organic traffic die out prior to letting someone else claim it. This will help ensure no angry phone calls from your upset customers.
What are the most common attacks targeting small and medium-sized businesses online?
The most common attacks we notice with SMBs online are:
Ransomware – hackers will inject a malicious program into an SMB’s system (i.e. through an email attachment that someone opens within the SMB data network). Once opened, this malicious code will encrypt the data it finds, making it unreadable and unusable. To get it reversed, the hackers will demand that the SMB pay them a ransom.
There are several steps you can take to protect against ransomware attacks – educate your employees about these types of attacks, utilize content/spam filtering services, set up restrictions on who can install applications on your network and workstations, install SSL encryption on your site and in general, follow positive network security habits.
Phishing – hackers will duplicate an SMB’s website or login portal and attempt to steal username and password information from users so they can capture their account data. Once stolen, they will either use this data to lock out the user, extort funds from the account or outright sell the login information.
Though tough to shut down completely, there are steps you can take to minimize the risks of phishing attacks by utilizing anti-spam software, requiring two-factor authentication, employing phishing monitoring services and registering all relevant domain names for brand protection.
Network – hackers will identify vulnerabilities in an SMB’s network and attempt to exploit them before they are patched. These types of attacks can end up causing significant damage to a business, including having their data damaged or stolen.
Maintaining your software up-to-date is an extremely important countermeasure against these types of potential attacks. Additionally, you should set up strong authentication and encryption (such as secure passwords, backed-up cloud storage, VPNs etc.) as well as having continual monitoring set up to scan for potential threats.
Could you tell us about your SSL Certification service? The plans suit which customer type?
Needless to say, SSL certificates have become mandatory for SMB websites and will help protect against most of the attacks we discussed above. A full list of our SSL plans (powered by Comodo) can be found on our SSL page. In short, we provide 3 plans:
Positive SSL Certificate – priced at $9.59/year, this solution is the most quick and cost-effective certificate to secure your customer transactions. This plan is suited for start-ups or cost-conscious companies looking for a simple and quick integration.
Essential SSL Certificate – priced at $15/year, this solution provides the highest level of security at an entry-level rate. This plan is most popular with SMBs looking for a reliable solution with unlimited server licences and PCI/daily website scanning.
Extended Validation (EV) SSL – priced at $99.99/year, this is our highest level SSL certificate. This plan is suitable for e-commerce websites, healthcare industries, government sectors, education & financial institutions.
What is the most technically challenging thing for the customers when they are buying a domain name or building a new website?
The most common challenge we hear from customers is in connecting their domain name to their website or e-mail. We offer several support guides explaining how to do this but unfortunately, our industry is ridden with jargon so the process can seem overly technical or difficult. To simplify it a bit – in order to have a domain name point to a website or email, you need to first set up the required records on your domain that point it to your hosted site or e-mail. These records will typically be provided to you by your hosting/e-mail provider.
If you’re not sure on how-to enter these records correctly, you should ask for assistance from your registrar’s support team. At NameSilo, we offer email and 24×7 live chat support precisely to assist our customers with these types of questions. Upon setting these records, it can take a few hours (up to 48 hours depending where you are in the world) for these changes to propagate and your new website/email should be connected.
Another common challenge customers face in many countries is online payments. Unfortunately, issues like lacking infrastructures, fraud and credit card theft or strict foreign exchange control laws have made it difficult for some users to purchase web services with us. To help with these issues, we have invested in building a secure purchase pathway for all orders. We also have numerous security protocols and fraud filters in place in case suspicious activity is detected with payment methods.
Lastly, to help serve customers all over the world, we are working to integrate more payment options –in just the last 5 months alone, we have integrated Venmo, Google Pay, Apple Pay and WeChat Pay. Our goal is to continue growing this list with local currency payment options from countries with strong customer presence in the near future.
What are your expectations from the year 2020? How did COVID-19 affect NameSilo?
2020 has definitely been a strange year for us all. First and foremost, we have been encouraging and empowering our employees to stay safe and take care of themselves and their families. Our team is global and we all work remotely, so it’s been easier for us to socially distance and continue working through this pandemic.
Additionally, to help our employees stay active and healthy, we have been organizing weekly virtual work-out sessions with trained professionals, followed by group conversation sessions. And lastly, as much as possible, we have been trying to hire employees that have been let go during these difficult times.
Providing employment opportunities to individuals struggling for their livelihood is something we will continue to prioritize for the rest of the year. From a business standpoint, the past couple of months have been really encouraging. With so many folks stuck at home bored, we’ve seen a rise in domains registered and new websites popping up.
Our product roadmap for the year is also quite ambitious and we plan to release several new platforms over the next couple of months, which will be introducing new services and opportunities for our customers. Amongst these releases will be a new drop-catching solution as well as a standalone domain sales/brokerage platform.
Can you tell us more about this new NameLot platform? What will it do?
NameLot will be a standalone domain sales/brokerage platform that we will be releasing soon. We have combed through suggestions from customers and industry users about the biggest pain points with current solutions and hope to introduce a service that better solves those needs. NameLot will enable customers to buy and sell the domains in their portfolio through a network of brokers. We have looked to add a lot of functionality that helps users find the best possible deals out there and maximize their purchases/sales.
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