Sample Email: What should you say to someone if you want to buy a domain name from them

BuyDomains.com has been the longest running sponsor on my blog, and needless to say, I’m a big fan. If you’re a startup founder who is looking to buy a domain, BuyDomains.com is definitely somewhere you should look. Over the course of the next year I’ll be putting some articles together with BuyDomains.com, this is the first – I hope you enjoy it – now let’s get to the post!

I talk to a lot of other startup founders, often at events completely unrelated to domain names, but we end up talking about domain names, since this is such a strange and mysterious world to most people. One of the most common questions I get is, “if I want to buy a domain from someone, what should I say in the email I send them?”

I often hear many founders say, “I sent an email to buy someone’s domain name and it didn’t go very well.” When I ask them what they sent, my palm quickly covers my face to make what would resembled a facepalm emoji…or as a Star Trek fan I’d like to think it looks like this:

The other day I was talking to a startup founder who asked me if I would be okay putting together a sample email for them to use for reaching out to a domain owner about a domain name. I thought, well, since this is a question I get a lot, why not write a blog post about it so other startup founders can have access to the same email?

Before I share the sample email, I do want to share some tips in case you want to put together an email yourself. Since I’ve seen this go wrong so many times, I’ll start with what not to say.

What not to say in an email to a domain owner

  1. I see you aren’t using this domain name – remember, there are many people (like me!) who buy domain names just like other people buy land or homes, as investments. Many domain investors don’t develop their domains, it’s an investment, so don’t be surprised if it’s not being used according to your definition of the word. This often comes off as insulting or naive, neither of which is a great way to kick off a negotiation.
  2. Offering a ridiculously low price – get to know market prices for domain names. Sites like DNJournal and NameBio are great resources for this. Offering someone $100 for a domain that’s similar to one that just sold for $75,000 will not go well.
  3. Pretending you want the domain for a “student project” – this is the oldest trick in the book and we’re all used to hearing it. Domain investors don’t want to sell their prized assets at a low price for a student project just like you don’t want to sell your 100 acre plot in Lake Tahoe for a student project at a cheap price.

What you should say in an email to a domain owner

  1. Start with a reasonable offer – once you’ve done your homework and understand the basics of pricing, make an offer, and be realistic. If you think a domain is worth $50,000 – it’s okay to start at $25,000 but don’t start at $1,000.
  2. Be nice – this should go without saying but it’s amazing how many startup founders end up insulting domain owners by implying that they are “squatting” on a domain. Cybersquatting is illegal, domain investing is not. Just like stealing someone’s land is illegal, you wouldn’t want to be called a land squatter if you bought land 50 years ago and just haven’t developed on it yet.
  3. Don’t be afraid to tell them why you want the domain – being dishonest in any negotiation is always a bad idea. While you don’t have to lead with what your company is and why you want to buy the domain, if they ask, don’t be afraid to tell them. Domain investors like to see their domains put to good use in the end, or at least I do!

Okay, now for the good stuff, here’s a sample email that is very similar to an email that I’ve seen other founders used to kick off negotiations that end with a deal getting done.

Sample email to buy a domain name

Hi ___________,

I’m interested in a domain name you own – BongoLongo123.com. Let me know if you would accept $12,000 for it?

Best,

Morgan

Wait!?!?! It’s so short and simple, what’s the deal here? Yes – it is short and simple. You really don’t need to tell your life story, the most important thing you can do in the email is to make an offer, and make it a realistic offer.

That will get a domain owner’s attention and even if your offer is lower than they are expecting, if it in some reasonable range, they will (possibly but not guaranteed) take you seriously and respond to continue the conversation.

The goal with your outreach email shouldn’t be to instantly close the deal, instead it should start the conversation, kick off the negotiation. You should expect to go back and forth, and yes, you can also expect to pay more than your first offer so don’t lead with the very top of your budget.

I hope this is helpful. Now I’d love to hear from you, if you’re a domain name investor, feel free to share your thoughts and if you agree or disagree with my tips here. If you’re a startup founder, let me know if you’ve ever sent an email that backfired, those are always fun stories to hear.

Either way, I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Snoopy May 16, 2019, 7:28 pm

    The big question is how someone figures out what a domain is worth, that is not easy and is one reason why very few people start with a “decent” offer. Also asking prices can be all over the place on comparable names.

    Reply
  • stub May 16, 2019, 8:21 pm

    OK. I just bid on a domain at BD in this last week. Asking price was low $4k. Estibot value was low $400’s. I think most prices on BD are generally inflated for negotiating. I though $400 wasn’t insulting. Which was my opening offer. Kept the email short and sweet. But never heard back from BD. Ce La Vie!

    Reply
    • MapleDots.ca May 17, 2019, 4:18 am

      Stub, most serious domain investors will not respond to offers below $1000 regardless of what the appraised value of the domain is. All of my domains are carefully chosen based on what I think the potential may be. Because an appraisal site says $400 does not mean that is what I would sell for. Based on the fact that you want my domain it is already worth more than the $400 because now we have an end user.

      So I would say that picking up a domain under 1k is best left to auctions and drop lists but emailing any serious domainer under 1k will quickly get you on the ignore list.

      I don’t mean to be too direct with you but as a domainer I require you to use my contact form and it specifically states a 1k minimum. What end users forget is that the domain is sold not based on appraisal but the carrying cost of the entire catalogue. A serious domainer can spend tens of thousands a year renewing domains, these costs get added to the sale of every domains and since domain sales are usually based on a small percentage of the portfolio then each domain sold has to carry a portion of the entire portfolio cost.

      A $400 dollar offer would hold my attention for about 3 seconds as a breezed past the email.

      Hope that helps you.

      Reply
  • John May 16, 2019, 11:28 pm

    “Asking price was low $4k. Estibot value was low $400’s.”

    Thanks for illustrating the problem and consequences of automated “appraisals” with another real life example.

    People know there is a problem, but are not willing to say anything. They just rollover and play dead. Except for Rick on occasion, and maybe a few others on much more rare occasions, almost never really.

    Even Andrew didn’t say anything here when I addressed it after he just did in his own post: https://domainnamewire.com/2019/05/14/5-domain-name-thoughts/#comment-2254772.

    So let that be a lesson to us all: the important thing is to allow the likes of Estibot and other automated “appraisal” services to continue causing the obvious harm they have been causing without saying anything, and not push for at least the kind of doable compromise that has been suggested before.

    Reply
  • Fat Anon May 16, 2019, 11:30 pm

    You describe the email that would work good with you. The reality is, every domain owner has his own cockroaches roaming inside his head, and you cant know, what would work, what would get you ignored, and what would trigger negativity.

    Few months ago I attempted to inquire about a domain I’d possibly like for my project, the email was polite but I never got any response. Some time later I repeated (from a different email) with simple $number message. No greetings, no signature, just $number. Personally I would consider an email like that to be quite rude. But for that domain owner, that worked much better than polite inquiry!

    Reply
  • Rick Schwartz May 17, 2019, 5:05 am

    Excellent advice!!
    I have a video about the same subject that I have not published yet.
    But this is solid advice and people should pay attention.
    Best I have seen.

    I would give domainers a failing grade for the quality of their spams. I mean emails! 🙂
    And I will. The video is just VERY harsh and a bit racy and have delayed posting it. I spank domainers for their terrible emails and sales techniques. They are really bad! Embarrassingly bad.

    Reply

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