One of the tests often used for determining the suitability of a domain name, is what’s commonly called the ‘radio test’.
The ‘radio test’ simply means that if someone heard your domain name on the radio, would they easily and correctly recall the domain name?
We prefer to use the term ‘voice test’, as there are a wide range of potential brand interactions involving audio (e.g. radio, podcasts, TV, face-to-face, etc).
The best brands are easy to say, spell and remember. A great example is seek.com.au.
Is your domain name difficult to say or spell? If it is, then many people will end up in the wrong place when trying to reach your website.
Longer domain names are more prone to typos and are much harder for people to recall. Whenever possible, you should aim to keep it short and simple. Most people struggle to correctly recall brands that contain more than two words.
Complicated spelling is also a problem. Avoid words that are overly complex or frequently misspelt. For example, you should try to avoid words like: connoisseur, entrepreneur and knowledgeable. Better options would be words like: gourmet, startup or smart.
Ideally, your brand (and corresponding domain name) should be spelt as it sounds or how people would expect it to be spelt. When businesses use brand names like ‘cre8tive’, they’re setting themselves up for ongoing customer confusion and lost sales opportunities. Trying to stand out with ‘creative spelling’ is almost always a terrible idea. If you can’t get your ideal domain name, don’t try to get clever with alternative spelling – pick a different name.
You also have to be mindful of using words that sound the same as other words. For example, if weight.com.au was mentioned in a podcast, some people would undoubtedly navigate to wait.com.au when looking for the brand’s website. Another example is three.com.au, which many listeners would hear as free.com.au.
The voice test isn’t just applicable to broadcast media. Word-of-mouth is still a huge source of referrals in many industries. If someone recommends your business at a social gathering, but your potential new customers mistakenly go to a similar sounding domain name – that’s a lost opportunity.
There are also existing and emerging technologies that leverage voice for activities such as searching the web. Two prominent examples are Amazon Echo and Google Home.
People are talking to their devices and we’ll be hearing phrases like “Hey Alexa” and “OK Google” much more often.
The following example illustrates the growing importance of voice for online queries. Two office workers were discussing a new business that uses a generic, industry-defining term for its domain name and brand (much like realestate.com.au, for example). The worker that learnt of this new business from her colleague, later used voice search on her device to find their website. She said the term “coworking” and her device asked if she meant coworking.com.au. The response matched the domain name used by the brand. That’s a big tick on the voice test for that business.
With a massive increase in the use of search engines (e.g. ‘Googling’ a brand rather than navigating directly to their website), some pundits have argued that the radio test (voice test) is becoming less important. However, usage of voice applications is growing rapidly, which is why we would argue that the voice test is actually an increasingly important consideration for brand owners.
If your domain name fails the voice test, you could be losing huge volumes of prospective or repeat custom that you’re not even aware of. And the problem will only get worse as voice plays a greater role in how we interact with applications and devices.
If your domain name fails the voice test, you’re losing leads. There’s no doubt about that. The only question is: how much are you losing? If the loss is substantial or flowing to a competitor, then it’s time to consider a new domain name.
If you’re starting a new business or brand, make sure you consider voice when making your choice on a domain name.
Disclosure: we own the coworking.com.au brand. The example used in this article outlines the circumstances as later described to us by the third parties involved.