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GoDaddy's 16-Step Checkout: Brainless Marketing At Its Finest?

I've been a GoDaddy customer for a while. However, the only thing I've used them for is domain registrations (and even then, only a handful of the hundreds of domains I own are with GoDaddy).

Now, if you've used GoDaddy much at all, you probably already know what I'm talking about regarding the tediousness of the checkout process. Whenever I go through it, I file it away with one or both of the following arguments/excuses as to why they do this to me:

A) I'm not the target audience.
B) It must be working for them, or they wouldn't do it.

But, some recent experiences really irritated me well beyond the usual level of irritation I have with GoDaddy -- and it got me to thinking. Is this brainless or brilliant marketing? I think brainless. Let me explain.

As it turns out, GoDaddy is a popular registrar and when I buy premium domains from others, they are often using GoDaddy. As such, instead of using my primary domain registrar (eNOM), I use my GoDaddy account because the transfer process (should) be easier.

So, to set the stage for the list of steps below a few things you should know: I already have a GoDaddy account. I'm transferring a domain from *another* GoDaddy user. Both users have been on GoDaddy many times and have done transfers/exchanges many times. There was no cash trading hands at this point (so the checkout was a "zero dollar" checkout).

I took the screenshots out as it was just too painful to watch.

16 Gates of GoDaddy Checkout Hell

1. Login. No surprise.

2. Go to "My Account". Could be a bit more obvious, but nevertheless, it works (and since I'd done it before, I knew where to go).

3. Click on "Pending Account" changes. Not sure why this is a "pending account change". I'm just transferring a domain in. I would think that enough people transfer domains around within GoDaddy that they could afford a link that just said "Approve Domain Transfer In".

4. Click on "Accept Account Change. Note that this is just a button in the upper right corner. There's no indication (yet) of what I'm accepting.

5. Enter a Transaction ID and Security Code. This is two different sets of random tokens that I receive from the domain seller (that basically lets the system really know it's me). Not a big deal, as long as you've received these two things and haven't lost them. I'd argue that if the seller designated a specific account to transfer into, then this step should be unnecessary.

6. Agree to the Transfer Agreement and Domain Register Agreement. Too much legalese to read. I do like most humans do and just agree to the terms.

7. Skip by 22 offers to buy/upgrade a bunch of stuff (this is in addition to offers already shown on all pages). I'm not making this up. 22 different offers each with their own checkbox. I'd be curious to know how many people *actually* buy something from this page. I'm guessing non-zero, or they wouldn't have it here. But, I'm also guessing that the "optimum" number of offers to show is not likely 22. I click Continue at the bottom.

8. Review my Shopping Cart (Note: I have not bought anything, I'm just transferring a domain in). I also have the ability to apply a promotional code -- despite that my price is zero as this is just a transfer. I also have the ability to update my cart, though I can't change any quantities or delete any items. Lots of unnecessary UI distractions giving me options that are either not relevant or not even options.

9. Accept the "Universal Terms of Service" (though if they're universal, why did I need to accept two other things in Step #6)? Better yet, if I was signing away my first-born in step #6 anyways, why not go ahead and get me to check one more box for the Universal Terms of Service. [Note to self: Since these terms are "Universal", I've likely forfeited the right to sell my domains when we inhabit Mars].

10. Click the Checkout button. This, at least, was obvious.

11. Skip by another offer to register a new doman name that is my name (dharmeshshah.name). I receive this exact same offer every time I transfer a domain name in. You'd think that eventually they'll figure out that I don't really care and am *never* going to buy this domain. Stop asking me. I have dharmesh.com already, and that's good enough.

12. Review my billing and information and read the "Final Step: Confirm Your Order Amount" box (which buy the way, shows $0 since this is a domain transfer). Billing information not really necessary for this "zero cost transfer", but am OK with this, as they're likely trying to make sure things are accurate for domain renewals later.

13. Click the Checkout button. Yes, it's another Checkout button. Similar to what we saw in Step #10

14. Read the "Secure Checkout" message which is a personal note and thank you from Bob Parsons (the CEO of GoDaddy). He's explaining to me what a CAPTCHA is (you know, those annoying graphic messages that you have to read and type in the characters for). He also tells me that the reason they're making me do this is to protect me and for my security. I thought that was what my username and password was for. My guess is that this is really to protect them from script-kiddies that have a GoDaddy account and do some automated thing like buy a bunch of domain names. Since GoDaddy has gone to all this trouble to design a complex checkout process, they don't want folks building automated scripts that simply, um, register a domain name in one step.

15. Enter the CAPTCHA code (which thankfully is not as indecipherable as some of the ones I've seen)

16. Done! (With 19 more special offers and a checkbox for each as a last desperate attempt to sell me something).

Some may think I'm being overly naïve here. Granted I'm not a real marketing guy (and don't play one on TV), but I have to believe that GoDaddy should be a wee bit smarter about how it segments it's customers, how the checkout process should work for them, and base things a little bit on what the customer is actually trying to do. Sure, I can understand the motivation to "upsell" things, and they're clearly more successful than I am. But, so is Amazon, who also has a lot to sell me, and it doesn't take 16 steps to buy something from them. So, I know it can be done.

What do you think? If you were the head of marketing at GoDaddy would you change their checkout process?

 

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