When setting up an email address for your business, you’ll have a lot of decisions to make.
Who will provide the service?
Should you use your own name in the email address, the business name, or both?
If you’re the only employee, is one business email address enough?
There’s one decision that should be easy: whether to use a domain email address or a generic one.
A proper business email address should include your business’ domain name (i.e., @yourcompany.com). That’s how you can project professionalism and represent your company as a legitimate and well-run business.
Creating a domain name for the website is one of the early steps that most small business owners take. It’s how people find a company on the web, and it’s a central part of brand identity.
The fact that some business owners decide not to set up a domain email address is a missed opportunity. To have all the branding power of a business domain name, and then use a gmail.com or an outlook.com email address is an easy mistake to avoid.
This article will explain why a domain email address is better for your business than a generic one. It will cover the core benefits, like improved branding and the ability to set yourself apart from the competition. It will also compare a business domain email address to a generic one, with regard to privacy, security, accessibility, and portability. We’ll wrap up with some tips on how you can come up with the perfect, professional domain email address for your business.
The Power of a Domain Email Address
One of the first challenges that a small business owner faces is to establish a firm foundation of credibility. To be viewed by potential customers as a real business is absolutely critical.
What are some of the things that make people see a business as real?
The most common expectation is that a company will have a business name, some level of branding (like marketing materials that include the company name and logo), and a website.
Fifty years ago, the first item on that list would have been a brick-and-mortar business address, but today, a company needs to have a website in order to appear legitimate. Your website will be your domain name—something like yourbusiness.com.
In many ways, that domain name is the face of your business. It includes your company’s name, it’s how people find you on the web, and there’s one more place it can work for you every day: at the end of your business email address.
Here’s how using a business domain for your email will play a huge part in establishing your business’ credibility.
Unlike many business decisions, choosing between a business domain email and free email is black and white. Using a business domain email address is a baseline requirement if you want your company to come off as professional.
When you provide your business email address to customers and prospects, don’t expect them to be all that impressed by the fact that you use business domain email. Doing so is more about avoiding the alternative—using a free email account for your business purposes is a terrible mistake.
Which of the following email addresses seems more professional?
Using a Gmail account makes customers and prospects wonder if your business is more of a side project than a serious business. Using a business domain account gives people the impression that you take your business seriously and have set up a dedicated communication channel to serve your customers.
Stand Out from the Competition
Using a free email account for business looks bad. That’s common knowledge. But there will always be a few companies that didn’t get the memo.
By using business domain email, you can differentiate yourself from all your less savvy competitors. They may have figured out ways to engage prospects in an attempt to generate new business, but their use of a free email account will be a red flag, raising questions about how seriously they take their business.
For some people, seeing that generic email address is what will make them move on to a different company—one like yours, that has a professional image, complete with a domain email address.
Establish Your Brand
Unless you have a company like Starbucks, where a green mermaid logo is all it takes to convey brand identity, it’s your business name that people relate to first. The name of your company serves as the primary element of your brand identity.
If your company name is part of your domain name (as it should be), all its branding power is passed on to the domain name, and, likewise, to every business email address that includes it.
Every pair of eyes that sees your business name, whether it’s on your website, in a Twitter post, or on a business card makes one more person aware of your company’s existence. Since that’s the initial step in every first purchase, it’s a critical one for businesses that are trying to grow their customer base.
Your company name is your most useful branding tool, and a great place to use it is in your business email address.
Returning to the basic branding goal discussed above—getting your business name in front of new people—it’s unimaginable to pass up on the chance to have your business email address work for your brand. Your business email address, all by itself, has the power to establish a brand identity. Not only does it include your company name, it gives people a way to contact you.
A business owner who opts for a generic email address is missing out on a huge opportunity. While they may include their business name in the address, that “@gmail.com” at the end will seem bush-league and be a turn-off to potential clients.
Domain Email Addresses vs. Generic Email Addresses
As discussed, a domain email address improves the credibility of your business. In contrast, a business email address ending in yahoo.com or gmail.com, for example, will give prospective customers doubts about how you run your company. A business domain email address lets people know you have an established operation that you take seriously, and it can be a valuable tool in generating brand awareness.
In this section, we’ll go over some of the other ways that using business domain email is a better choice than using a free email account.
One thing you give up when using a free email service, like those offered by Google and Microsoft, is privacy. That’s not the case when your web host stores your business email. Where Google would require that you acknowledge a user agreement that limits your email privacy, the agreement you enter into with your hosting provider goes the other way, guaranteeing rock-solid privacy and security for your business email.
Where would you feel better about storing your company email, on a server that you have no control over, or on one that you’re paying to be maintained in a secure way? Savvy business owners know that using business domain email that’s handled by their trusted web host is a better way to go.
It’s common for business owners to monitor their email from multiple devices. They need to stay in touch with customers no matter where they are, so being able to access incoming email on their phone is critical. Managing mailing lists and other administrative tasks may be done in a desktop application.
Keeping up with business communication using as a generic business email account can get messy. If you have a personal Gmail account and a business Gmail account, for example, email from customers might get lost in a sea of personal emails.
But, if you use a business domain email account, it’s easier to organize your communications, keeping business and personal emails completely separated. One thing that can make that task even easier is to dedicate a favorite email app to your business email, creating an isolated business environment that can be accessed across all your devices.
If you set up your business email account with Yahoo, for example, and later decided you wanted to use Gmail, you’d have to change your business email address, and try to let all your customers know about the change. Some will miss the announcement, and you’d lose them as customers when they try to reach out to you using the old email address.
A business domain email address doesn’t have that problem. It’s portable. You’re free to switch to a different hosting provider whenever you choose, and you can take your domain email address with you, because you own your domain name.
It’s common for the business email to contain confidential information. Your customers expect you to keep that information secure, but that’s hard to promise if you use a free email service. Providers of free email services typically have a huge user base, so they present an attractive target to hackers.
It’s also possible that you could lose access to your account. Maybe the servers go down at the worst possible time, right as you’re working through an issue with a valued customer. Perhaps a case of mistaken identity causes your account to be suspended.
You can avoid frustration like that by having your business email accounts managed on your hosting provider’s servers. You’re paying them, you have full control over your account, and, unlike with a free email provider, keeping your data safe and available is an extremely high priority for your web host.
When you use a business domain email address, you’ll know exactly what security measures are taken by your host, and you’ll have the power to implement additional security as you see fit.
How to Create the Perfect Business Domain Email Address
When coming up with the best business email address, it’s a good idea to split the task into two parts: what comes before the @ and what comes after the @.
The last part is a no-brainer, it should be your business’ domain name:
But what about the first part of the address?
This is where you have a chance to craft the precise image of professionalism that you want to achieve with your business email address.
Make that addresses, plural, because it’s recommended that you create multiple business email addresses. Not only will that help you sort incoming email into helpful groupings, but it gives customers the impression that your company is fully staffed and carefully managed through departmental divisions.
The most important email address will be that of the business owner. Convention dictates using the first Initial and last name, or both names (i.e., email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).
The main purpose of this address is to serve as your personal business email address. When you provide it to customers and prospects, they’ll know they have a direct line to you, the company’s owner.
Don’t use your nickname or add any numbers or special characters. To stress that you’re a hands-on business owner who will personally address customer concerns, be sure to use some part of your real name; avoid anything impersonal, like email@example.com.
Another important factor is case. While the domain name portion of your email address is not case sensitive, the part that appears before the @ is case sensitive. If you set up JDoe@yourcompany.com and someone tries to reach you at firstname.lastname@example.org, you’ll never get the email. Play it safe and use only lower-case letters in your business email addresses.
Once you have the owner’s email address worked out, it’s time to think about other addresses that might be useful. Don’t overdo it, because too many addresses will be hard to keep track of. If you can think of one or two alternative email addresses that either help in organization, make your company look more established, or both, go ahead and create them. Some common examples are:
Sticking with a traditional email address format for staff members (using some part of the peoples’ real names) and creating a few department-specific addresses can help you present a professional image to customers and prospects, giving your company an air of validity that businesses with a generic email account won’t have.
Boost Your Business with a Domain Email Account
The difference between using a business domain email address and a generic one is plain to see—the former will have a positive impact on your company’s image, while that latter will harm it.
An address like email@example.com looks professional; one like firstname.lastname@example.org doesn’t, it’s that simple.
If you were considering hiring one of two companies, and one had a domain email address while the other had a generic one, it’s likely that you’d be more impressed by the company with the domain address. Your prospects and customers will have the same reaction when comparing your company to your competitors.
Using a domain email address helps promote an image of professionalism and credibility, sending a signal to people that you take your business seriously. It helps establish and maintain branding for your business and separates you from competitors who choose to use a free email account.
Add to those reasons the increased privacy, accessibility, portability, and security that come with a domain email account, and you can only arrive at one conclusion—setting up a domain email account is a smart move for your business.
Do you have a professional email address for your business or do you prefer sticking with the free services?