A lot of the world’s biggest publishing platforms, like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and LiveJournal, allow people to publish content on their subdomains, often for free. We do it here at Instapage, too.
The people who take advantage of the opportunity are the ones who have web page URLs that end in “.wordpress.com” and “.blogger.com” for example.
Now, there are some advantages to doing this. You won’t have to spend money on a domain name, and these pages are easy to publish.
But if you shop around, you’ll notice domain names aren’t all that pricey. In fact, you can purchase one from top registrars like Google, 1&1, or GoDaddy for just a dollar. Some registrars, like HostGator, even offer packages that allow you to buy your domain and host it on the company’s servers.
And as far as ease goes, you’ll see later on that publishing to your own custom domain isn’t very hard.
So this leaves us with one question: Do the advantages of using a custom domain outweigh the disadvantages?
We think so, for one big reason: branding.
What’s in a brand?
Before we get into what branding is, let’s nail down the definition of a brand; because it seems to be one of those words that people use often, but don’t fully understand.
And that’s not their fault. The word “brand” has evolved to mean something much more powerful than it did originally.
Ask anybody 100 years ago what it was and they’d likely say “a mark used by ranchers to differentiate their cattle from other ranchers’.”
Between then and now, it’s meant a lot of different things.
In today’s world, a “brand” is what legendary copywriter David Ogilvy called “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” It’s what people think of when they do everything from using your product to reading your company’s social media posts. It’s the sum of your customer service, your packaging, your messaging, your business culture, and so much more.
And it has an enormous influence on consumer purchasing decisions; which is why you need to be thoughtful about everything you do involving your brand – a process known as…
“Branding” is the act of creating that public perception about your business – that brand.
It’s the reason you think “luxury” when you see the Mercedes logo, why “easy” comes to mind when you hear “Geico,” and how “Apple” became synonymous with “innovation.”
The brains behind these global brands have purposely (and sometimes accidentally) molded the public’s view of them over time.
Whether you knew it or not, you were branding when you shared that funny meme from the company Twitter account, when you offered a money-back guarantee for your product, and when you bought that ad space on park benches across the city.
See what we’re getting at here?
Branding is anything and everything you do that involves your business; and if you want it to work in your favor, you need to have a strategy. An important part of that strategy should be…
“Pavlov never offered food without ringing the bell, and never rang the bell without offering food,” he said.
Sending a consistent message is important for establishing familiarity with your audience — to hammer home what you stand for.
Consistent branding is one of the reasons “Coca-Cola” is said to have become the second-most recognized term in the world, trailing only the word “Okay.”
It’s how street artist Shepard Fairey built a globally recognized brand using an old picture of Andre The Giant coupled with the message “Obey.”
It’s why consumers routinely choose one company over another, even when those businesses are selling a totally identical product.
Most importantly, consistency is one of the ways you build brand equity over time (until you hopefully one day reach Coca-Cola status).
But, don’t take it from us. This research states that more than 63% of shoppers say brand consistency across channels plays a role in their spending. Of those polled, 34% claim that they tend to spend more on a brand that’s highly consistent with its messaging, while 39% say they spend less on inconsistent ones.
So when people see “YourLandingPage.pagedemo.com,” they think, “What’s Page Demo? How is it related to the brand? How come I’ve never seen it before? Is this even a real page?"
You’re confusing them, and it’s messing with your brand. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
How to publish your landing page to a custom domain
For a million dollars, if I asked you to define a CNAME, could you do it?
Don’t beat yourself up, most people couldn’t.
That’s why so many choose to publish their landing page to the Page Demo subdomain. It’s easy, and you don’t have to learn a million acronyms or know your way around a domain name system.
But guess what — publishing your page to a custom domain isn’t that hard, and it’ll only take a few minutes (we won’t even make you learn what CNAME stands for).
Here’s what you need to get your own custom domain:
- A domain (if you don’t have one, you can get one for as low as a dollar on GoDaddy.com)
- Administrative access to your domain’s DNS (if you are the owner of the domain, you have this. If you’re not, you’ll have to ask for it)
- Administrative access to your Instapage account (if you’re the Instapage account holder, you have this. If you’re not, you may have to request it.)
From there, it’s a simple process.
Here’s a real estate landing page I just finished for 12345 Main St. that I want to publish to my domain CaliforniaClosersRealEstate.com:
To publish it, the first step I have to take is to hit the publish button in the upper-right hand corner of the screen. When I do that, this dialogue box will pop up, giving me multiple ways to publish my page:
Next I want to click the image second from the left that says “Custom Domain” underneath it, at which point I’ll be prompted to enter my website’s address:
Click “Add Domain and Continue.”
Now here’s the part where some people get confused.
You’re going to need to head over to whatever service you bought your domain through, and log-in to your account.
This gets tricky because, while you’ll have access to everything you need to publish your page regardless of where you purchased your domain, every service’s interface is different.
Going through this process is going to be slightly different if you used GoDaddy than if you registered your domain through IWantMyName.
Fortunately for you, we’ve put together publishing guides for over a dozen of the most popular domain registrars, so if you have trouble with any of the steps below, you can refer to the appropriate guide.
After logging into your account, you’re going to need to tell your domain to show pages hosted by Instapage. To do this, you’ll do the following:
- Navigate to your DNS Management page
- Find the CNAME record settings
- Create a new CNAME record
- Enter a value for your sub-domain in the host field.
- In the 'CNAME' field, type pageserver.pagedemo.com.
- Enter pageserver.pagedemo.com. as the destination or address.
- Save the changes to your DNS records.
(Note: If you want to publish your page to a domain without the “www.” prefix (“MyDomain.com” instead of www.MyDomain.com), you’ll need to set up a simple 301 redirect. For more information about how to do that, click here.)
And that’s it! Really. You’re all set! (See? We told you it would be painless.)
The best part is, now that you’ve told your domain to show pages hosted by Instapage, you won’t have to do it again.
Usually, your page will be published in a matter of minutes, but in some cases, it can take up to 24 hours depending on your hosting.
Once your landing page publishes to your custom domain, you can integrate it with many of the same services you already use on your website, like MailChimp, Salesforce, and GoToWebinar.
To get started creating and publishing your first page, start here with one of Instapage’s 100+ professional templates.