Earlier this month, CVS Caremark announced that it would stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products in its stores- a groundbreaking decision not only for the company but the retail industry. Now from a branding and communications standpoint, CVS has been lauded by industry influencers for how well the company handled the announcement. And one of the top factors for their success? A custom domain.
In an article appearing in Forbes, marketing expert Carmine Gallo discussed the specific tactics CVS used to make its story more shareable and drive awareness for its anti-tobacco plans, and the company’s use of a dedicated, on-brand landing page was at the top of his list. Gallo notes that while most brands would simply add the news to a section of their corporate website, CVS took time to use a separate domain: cvsquits.com. Navigating to this site gave people a hub for every asset CVS had about the announcement – key statistics, timelines, press materials and photos – so that the most pertinent information was centrally located and easily accessible. Typing cvsquits.com into a web browser redirects to a page on the CVS Caremark corporate site – which makes content easier to manage on the back end – but the larger point is how they used the memorable, common sense domain for ease of navigation.
This is an excellent example of a brand taking advantage of the right domain to support a specific goal and campaign. CVS surely put a lot of time and effort into collecting all of the CVS Quits information and building a dedicated site for it, so it’s common sense that they’d want to create a custom domain that would make this information be easy for people to find. A domain can change everything, for better or for worse, and using a name that’s easy for end users to remember greatly enhances the chance that they’ll visit a site after reading about it in an article or seeing it in an ad.
As the Internet continues its growing dominance as the go-to medium for news and information, domains continue to be valuable investment and should be a cornerstone of any integrated marketing campaign. Social media certainly has an important place at the table too, but a website – and a domain – are really the only digital assets that a company fully owns and controls. Some marketers may overlook the importance of getting the right domain because it’s already registered, or they may have a preconceived notion that it would be too expensive to buy from a previous owner. But the truth is, the average price of a domain on the secondary market is less than $2,000, a drop in the bucket compared to the overall budget of most campaigns.
In addition, thanks to ICANN’s decision to introduce hundreds of new top level domains that are joining .com, .net and the other extensions we’re used to, the sky truly is the limit for brands looking to invest in a custom domain that helps them reach their business goals. The first wave of these new TLDs launched late in January, with more and more becoming available in the weeks and months ahead. By this time next year, the way people navigate the internet could be completely different from the way it’s done today, making domains an even more integral part of the consumer experience. CVS strategically proved that it understood this, contributing to skyrocketing success for the CVS Quits campaign.