Even a sole proprietorship needs a professional email address in order to be taken seriously. I recently saw a start-up company searching for a blogger on Problogger.net, and they asked prospective writers to respond to a Gmail address rather than an address with the company's domain. Need I ask what your impression of that post might be? I know what mine was. And I didn't respond to it.
Here are my top three reasons for investing in a business email address.
- You will look like a professional. Unfortunately a basic Google, Yahoo, AOL or other free email address gives the impression of a hobbyist or spammer. Professional companies have professional email addresses. How often does a CEO send business emails from his Hotmail account? And if he did, what would you think about him and about his company? You might form some impressions that are not at all what he intended, but that were formed nonetheless based on an email address.
- You will build your brand. Marketers will tell you that brand identity is extremely important for growing a business. Having your domain at the end of every piece of communication is one step closer to building your brand and solidifying its recognition. Think about how much easier it is to memorize a website when you see the domain name repetitively in emails. Doesn't it tend to stick after a while? And isn't that what you want?
- You will get noticed. Let's say you are trying to network with a prospect and you send a friendly email from your email@example.com address (not a real email). Now think about if you sent that same email from firstname.lastname@example.org (random business email that I made up). Which email would you be more likely to open? Probably the second one. Why? Because business email addresses immediately show you are legitimate, and if you're smart about your domain they can also convey the type of business you are running. Don't you at least want your prospect to take a look?
So if I've successfully convinced you to get a new business email address, let's talk about how you can do it.
Where To Get a Business Email
Business email addresses can be purchased through your website host (think GoDaddy or Weebly) or can run outside of it. So if you like bundling your costs into one payment, check with your hosting service to see if they offer email as an option that you can pay for every year at renewal time. You can then ask if it can be configured to run through Outlook (if you want to use it that way) or if it is available on the web only.
If email isn't offered through your web host or if you want another option, you can get a business email through Google or a similar provider. The service runs in the background, but you get to customize the email address and the domain name. So in the example above, Dave Smith logs into Gmail to access his email@example.com email, but nobody else sees that it's a Gmail account. Any outgoing emails use his marketingbeat.com domain rather than gmail.com.
I have had good luck using Google to run my business email and I can view it on my cell phone as well. The best part is it works seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook even if you choose to use it on the web (like I do). So if someone sends me an Outlook meeting invite, I can accept it and it will not only send the acceptance to the sender, but it will also sync with my Google calendar automatically.
If you need web-based email hosting, here are a few links to some good business email options:
Google business email
Yahoo business email
Microsoft business email
Take a look at the different costs and what each has to offer, and decide what's best for you.
One final piece of food for thought. Did you know you can't get a LinkedIn page for your company without a business email address? Just one more reason to get one, even if your business is a party of one!