Why Startups Should Choose the .io Domain

A descriptive .io domain can be key to successful digital branding, instantly communicating your value and providing greater visibility when potential users search for solutions online.

Domain Extensions

Have you noticed that some of your competitors are launching their websites with an .io domain name?

The Software as a Service (SaaS) model has shifted the B2B buyer’s journey from meetings with sales reps to searching for software online. Forrester Research reports that 74 percent of B2B buyers research products via web search before they buy. Digital branding has become key to a successful business – even more so for SaaS companies with “download now” buttons that can capture sales at the precise moment buyers find the solutions they need.

Making a sale requires capturing the buyer’s attention and communicating your application’s capabilities and value. Established companies can rely on well-known brands to get that message across. Who doesn’t know what SAP or Salesforce does? But a startup with little brand recognition needs a different strategy. And it all starts with a name.

What is a Descriptive Domain?

One of the first decisions a startup needs to make before launch is its name, and specifically, what its domain name will be. If you’re in the midst of making this decision, you’ve probably discovered [yourtypeofsoftware].com isn’t available. On the other hand, you may find the name is available but held by a domain speculator who may be willing to part with it for tens of thousands of dollars or more.

At this point, some startups go another way. They choose unique names in an attempt to rise above the competitive fray and capture attention. However, a business without brand recognition may be doing itself a disservice by forcing potential users to have to try too hard to understand what their products do.

A better solution is to use a descriptive domain.  The top-level domain ( TLD) is the part of the domain after the dot, such as the familiar “.com.” Descriptive domains  give you more choices, such as “.computer,” “.software,” “.technology,” and the trending “.io.”

The .io domain was originally assigned as a country code top-level domain for the British Indian Ocean Territory. However, Google recognizes it as a generic TLD because it’s used as more than a country code. The tech spaced claimed it as a representation of I/O, and it’s now the top-level domain for numerous successful startups.

The .io Domain Speaks Volumes About Your Company

Just as with any other branding element, your domain name helps to shape your company’s identity. A tech startup that uses the .io TLD is communicating that their company is modern, on trend, and smart. Registering a .io domain says decision makers were smart enough to invest in a reasonably priced descriptive domain that provides a memorable name while also indicating they are an innovative company that is in touch with the tech community.

Another thing we’ve noticed is that companies using nTLD are getting attention from VCs. Of course, correlation is not causation, but startups choosing a TLD like .io are often more strategic and committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve success, right down to the last detail – an approach that can turn investors’ heads. Their domain is just one way that drive manifests itself.

.io vs. .com?

Choosing an nTLD for a new business, website or product launch is a very different matter than toying with the idea of changing an existing .com domain. If you are fortunate enough to have a .com that works for you, hang onto it.

However, if your SaaS company has plans to establish a new domain, weigh all your options and choose the best one for your business. A descriptive, .io domain can be key to successful digital branding, instantly communicating your value and providing greater visibility when potential users search for solutions online. Name wisely.


Ashley Barton is the Senior Director of Marketing for Name.com, a Denver-based domain name registrar and web hosting company. With more than 15 years of digital marketing experience in e-commerce and tech, she’s passionate about reducing the barriers for getting online by connecting startups, entrepreneurs, and SMBs with best-in-class tools and services.