Few things intimidate a bank marketer like the esoteric terminology of IT, so here are the basics of website hosting in plain English.
Questions about .bank domain still abound
Nearly three years after its debut, the .bank top-level domain (TLD) continues to confuse financials.
Fortunately, we keep up to date on the latest details surrounding the .bank domain. Read on for answers to the questions we get asked most often.
Should my bank website change to .bank?
Unlike some decisions — like “Do I need a responsive bank website?” and “Does ADA compliance legislation impact my bank website?” — there isn’t an easy “yes” when it comes to the .bank TLD. There are pros and cons to consider, and each bank’s unique situation will determine the best answer.
- Domain registration for .bank is limited mostly to banks and savings associations. Moreover, registration must be re-verified every two years, making it more difficult for phishing sites to spoof.
- The rigid requirements for a hosting platform and DNS make .bank more secure. For example, the .bank domain requires a hosting platform with a content delivery network, and the DNS must be hosted on a secure DNS platform.
- The costs for .bank domain registration and DNS hosting are significantly higher than generic TLDs such as .com.
- There is an additional set of requirements to maintain .bank domain compliance. One example is the TLS protocol, which a visitor’s web browser uses to connect to — or “handshake” — the bank website’s server. As soon as June 2018, the requirement for .bank could be set at TLS 1.2 or greater, so bank websites with a .bank domain will need to remain aware of timelines and requirements as they are changed and updated.
Here are a handful of questions to consider when deciding whether to switch to .bank:
Does switching to a .bank domain give us a marketing advantage over our competition?
If so, make sure your marketing communication plan takes advantage of key marketing messages, such as being first to market with .bank.
Does switching to a .bank domain bring you in line with your competitors?
If a number — or the majority — of your competitors have switched to .bank, you may wish to make the switch as well so that your .com isn’t perceived as “behind the times.”
Is it worth the cost?
As mentioned above, there is a considerable increase in registering a .bank domain — upwards of $1,000 per year. Beyond that, changing your bank website’s domain will have an impact on all marketing communications, including email and all printed pieces (business cards, statements, letterhead, signage and so forth).
Is there a strategic business purpose for making the change?
Switching to a .bank domain for the sake of change alone won’t likely yield much ROI.
How will switching to .bank impact our customers?
You should inform existing customers of the new URL leading up to the conversion. Additionally, it is wise to redirect the old domain to the new .bank domain, especially when it comes to popular and likely bookmarked pages.
Also, be aware that most consumers think of .com as the default, so you might inconvenience — or outright miss out on — potential customers who try that URL first.
For example, once banks are required to serve content at TLS 1.2 or greater, older browsers (such as Internet Explorer 9 and prior versions) as well as older operating systems will not be able to access the website. In these instances, the web browser will simply return a message that the site cannot be reached, without any further explanation, so it is imperative that you keep your customers informed and assist with updating their browsers and operating systems prior to implementing the .bank domain.
Should my bank website reserve the .bank domain even if we don’t intend to use it?
In some cases, it might make sense to reserve the .bank domain that corresponds with your .com, if only to prevent competitors or banks with similar names from using it.
Unfortunately, current rules do not allow for a .bank domain to redirect to a .com or any other domain, so if you “park” your .bank, the costs that go into the domain registration and DNS hosting are 100% lost from a practical standpoint. (Note: you can redirect a .com to a .bank, though there is not much of a benefit in doing so.)
If your bank is on the fence about using the domain or not, BrownBoots typically recommends against incurring the additional costs. However, if you have plans to use the .bank domain in the near future, reserve the domain you want for branding and marketing purposes immediately.