Picking (and using) Your Business Email Address
As a small business owner, it goes without saying (but I’m still going to say it) that you want to use every available opportunity to promote your business and make it easy for people to find you online.
Your email address can be like the picquic tool of your online toolbox.
Starting a new business
Huzzah and congratulations! Part of picking the name of your business should be a consideration of what is available as a domain name for your website. Even if you have decided you don’t need a website (what?!?) and are just using the email to keep business communications separate from your personal communications, you should do some research to find out what is available.
I will always counsel clients (and friends…and people that I randomly talk to at the farmer’s market…) to register a domain name and use a ‘unique domain name’ business email address. It looks more professional and adds credibility to your business. Which business email seems like the more legit company: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com? Even if you have no intention of having a website, the second email sends a message that you are, indeed, in business and not just a fly-by-night operation*.
*If you are a fly-by-night operation, you can stop reading. There’s nothing to see here. Move along.
There is usually a small cost to purchasing the domain name and then setting up an email-only service, but well-worth it for the value that it brings to your perceived professionalism.
What your domain does for you
Your unique domain name can be a workhorse for your business. Every time you send out an email, it advertises where your website is located and makes it super-easy for people to find your business online.
When you have your own domain, you can generally create as many email addresses as you want. Some hosting services limit the number of email accounts that you can have with your website hosting, so not all hosting services are created equally. The hosting offered through CarricDesign allows you to have as many as you like and gives you access to set them up and change passwords as needed.
Tips for using email in a volunteer-lead organization
If you have a lot of volunteers in your organization, you will need to make a decision about using their name as the email address or their position (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org versus email@example.com). Oftentimes the volunteer positions are filled by people that rotate in and out of the position, so using the position name as the email address versus the person’s name makes a lot of sense, since people can keep emailing the same address even when the person manning the position has changed.
The flip side of that is using the person’s name in the email address. This lends a more personal flavour to the email and let’s people know that they are talking to a person instead of a nameless, faceless entity. If you have a good email management protocol, you can simply add a forwarder to an email address when that person leaves the position, and have their email sent to the new person.
Both systems work, so consider what has the most advantages for your organization.
Having multiple email addresses
Business owners often lament the copious amount of email and the multiple email addresses that they have to manage. Did you know that your email program can import emails from multiple email addresses AND sort them into their own email inboxes? Gmail is especially good at this, but all email programs have at least a rudimentary way to sort emails for you (very handy!). You can also set up multiple email addresses to arrive in one program, so instead of having to open up different email programs or log into multiple email addresses, you can get them all in the same program. Once you have them set up, you can reply from different email addresses as well. Ask me – I can help!
Using Gmail or Outlook
Don’t want to go to all of the bother to choose a domain name and set up email? Then perhaps Gmail or Outlook are the solution for you. From a business standpoint, they say ‘I’m a very small business and don’t have a nephew who works on websites’. If, for some reason, you choose hotmail for your email address, then you’re on your own! Using hotmail is like trying to sing opera in a teeny-bopper voice on a candyland set. Keep hotmail, aol, me.com etc. for your personal email; they do not say ‘I’m a professional’.
Back to Gmail. Remember, you are competing with everyone in the world that has or wants a ‘@gmail.com’ email address and they are all unique. If your company is called ABC Carpets, you might find that firstname.lastname@example.org has already been claimed. You might have to zigzag a bit and settle for email@example.com or some other iteration. Instead of re-inventing the cheese ball, here’s an article I found that has some good ideas for creating your email address.
Using the email that comes with your Internet Service Provider
When you order your internet service from Cogeco or Bell or some other company, you are usually allowed to pick out an email address. Yay you!
Don’t use it for your business. Seriously. Don’t.
If you start using firstname.lastname@example.org as your business address, you are tied to that internet service provider. You are tied to their fortunes as a company (if they go under, your email address disappears). You are tied to their price structure. You are tied to their policies and limitations. Because as soon as you decide to move your service to another provider, you will lose your business email address.
Instead, give yourself the freedom to choose any internet service provider by using your own unique domain name email address, and choose your internet service provider based on their service, not because you are stuck.
Use a signature file
It is fitting to end this post on email by urging the use of a signature file. If you don’t know how to do it, try searching on Google: ‘how to set up an email signature using XXX’, where XXX is the name of the email program you are using. Your signature should include some basics, like your name, title, company and phone number/email address (yes…even though it is attached to an email…), but it can also have links to your social media accounts, a link to your website, and/or a disclaimer message. Wise Stamp (wisestamp.com) is a great place to generate a kickin’ email signature (just in case you want to take it up a notch!).
In conclusion (because I realized I had more to say)
Clients often are confused or overwhelmed about their domain name, their website hosting and how everything works together. You are not alone. I’ve got your back. Give me a call.