How important is email to your business?
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As a professional, you probably rely heavily on email to communicate with clients, prospects, colleagues, suppliers, and many others. It’s therefore essential to have a professional email address and a reliable email hosting service. This article includes tips to help you with both decisions.
Choosing Your Email Address
The Internet has made it easy to start a business with minimal investment. Unfortunately, too many people jump in without giving any thought to their email address.
Ideally, you should have your own domain name. This is not only important for branding, but it tells the world you’re serious about your business. Even if you don’t intend to have your own website right away, or at all, you can still benefit from using your own domain name. Since domain name registration only costs about $15.00 a year, it’s affordable even if you’re on a shoestring budget. Would you be comfortable dealing with someone who doesn’t have enough confidence in their business to invest $15.00 in it?
If you really don’t want to invest in a domain name, at least create a separate email address for your business. Many ISPs will give you multiple email addresses at no extra charge, so why not set up YourBusinessName@yourisp.com? If you’re not currently using a business name, YourPersonalName@yourisp.com is a better choice than email@example.com (unless you sell books 😀 ).
If you absolutely MUST use a free email service, choose a username that reflects your business appropriately. Keep in mind that free email addresses are often associated with spammers and here-today-gone-tomorrow operations, so some people might be reluctant to deal with you.
Never use a joint email account (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) for business purposes. Not only does this send up a red flag – your clients probably don’t want your spouse reading their messages to you – but it’s too easy for you to miss a message if your spouse reads it first and doesn’t remember to mark it unread or accidentally deletes it. I have had this happen to messages I’ve sent to clients on more than one occasion.
Under no circumstances should you use an email account with a cutesy or suggestive username for business purposes, unless of course it relates to the nature of your business. Would you be confident doing business with email@example.com?
Choosing Your Email Hosting Service
Even though we have more ways to communicate than ever before, for most of us, email remains the most important.
Despite this fact, many small businesses rely upon their web hosts for email services. It’s easy to understand why – most hosting providers include email hosting at no extra charge. Free anything is hard to resist!
But is it really free?
Most solopreneurs and small businesses with a basic website can get by with inexpensive shared hosting. Just as it sounds, it means you’re sharing a server with other users, sometimes thousands of them. There’s a pretty good chance that at least one of them isn’t a legitimate business owner like yourself, but a spammer. When someone flags their messages as spam, it’s not just their email address that gets blacklisted, but the IP address for your shared email server.
You’ll know this has happened when you start getting bouncebacks telling you that your message was blocked at the recipient’s end. You notify your hosting service, who will take action at their end to rectify the problem. In the meantime, you have to find another way to reach your client, and you don’t know for sure whether your other messages are getting through.
How much time, money and stress is that costing you?
For more reliable email, you’re better off using an email hosting service which isn’t connected to your website. Some of the most popular options are Google Workspace (formerly G Suite, formerly Google for Business), Microsoft Office 365, and Zoho Mail, but there are many others.
Each service allows you to use your domain name for your email address. They charge a monthly fee based on the number of users and features you require. If you only need email, the smallest plan will do just fine.
In the case of Zoho Mail, that would be the Forever Free Plan. How amazing is that? The downside is you can only access your email on the web or using their mobile app. Even their paid plans cost much less than Google or Microsoft, so they’re worth checking out.
When you think about the cost of lost messages, $100/year or less per user really isn’t a lot to pay for a reliable email service.
If you decide to go with Google Workspace, contact me for a discount code worth 20% off your first year. I only have a few so don’t forget and miss out!
How much is email worth to you?
I hope you’ve been nodding your head and saying, “I have a professional email address and a reliable email hosting service. Yay!” If not, consider the cost of any business you may be losing simply because you’re not taken seriously, or because your messages aren’t reaching the recipient.
If you’d like to explore this topic in more detail, feel free to schedule a 30-minute session to discuss how you can improve your own email systems.
I’m going to wrap up this post with a fun fact: The first email was sent by engineer Ray Tomlinson to himself on June 8, 1971. I wonder if he had any idea what he was setting us up for!
Photo © Rawpixel / DepositPhotos
Originally published 2018.
Might have to look into G Suite. I have an email address from my domain name, but the reliability isn’t great. Gmail seems to work the best, but it isn’t professional to the client. Crazy to think that the first email was sent in 1971!
G Suite offers you the reliability of Gmail plus the branding advantage of using your own domain!
You answered an issue I was having when I was using my hosting provider’s free email service. I would get those bouncebacks you mentioned at least a few times a year and boy it was annoying. I didn’t even think to contact the hosting company about it. Oh well, live and learn.
Does G Suite have a calendar feature too? I would like to send appointments easily to other Gmail emails, especially my clients and family.
Yes, G Suite includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites and Hangouts.
You always amaze me with the depth of knowledge you bring to the table. In all honesty, I’m not 100% how the tech works with my email, but it’s pretty seamless with few issues. I use GoDaddy (a paid service) to manage my email. Squarespace, who hosts my websites, doesn’t offer email hosting as part of the package, so I had to use a third party. Early on their were some snags that got worked out. I’m glad that you’re satisfied with Zoho.
Linda, you make me blush – thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you have an email service that works well for you. It’s such a hassle otherwise!
I totally agree that your email address should use your domain name to look professional. I found it most important when I added employees. They needed a business email and that made US look more professional and established. I think it’s easy to do, although Janet Barclay does it for me and well worth it.
I think it’s especially important when you have employees. Many contacts will recognize YOUR name, but not necessarily those of your staff.
Thanks for your kind words!
I agree 100% with your points, Janet – right or wrong, I’m immediately a little leery of someone without a business domain. I use G Suite (or I guess, Google Workspace?) and am overall very pleased with it. I have wrestled some with my actual domain name, because my business name is slightly different now (due to some growth in other areas), but I’m kind of chicken to change it because I’ve had it for sooo long. I do have another domain reserved…it’s something I’ll ponder more when I do strategic planning later in the year.
If you decide to change your domain name, I suggest that you keep the old one for a while, even if it’s only to forward incoming emails to your new email address. Even if you ask people to update their address books, not everyone will, and it would be a shame to miss out on an opportunity or have someone think you’re ignoring them!
Since my original comment (in 2018,) I switched from using GoDaddy to GSuite. As time went on, GoDaddy was becoming problematic. So when I redesigned my website in 2020, I also upgraded my email to GSuite. Besides the fact that it bounces back any emails I send to optonline.com email addresses (which is frustrating ), GSuite has been reliable and easy to use.
That would be frustrating! I googled the problem, and it sounds like you’re not the only one. Optonline must have a very strict spam filter. I doubt the problem is on your end.
Thank you for breaking this down, Janet – there are so many confusing opinions out there but this post really helps the beginner dip their toe in the waters. Sharing it with friends who are needing to read this!
I’m glad I was able to shed some light on the subject! The trouble with technology in any form is that most of the information is, not surprisingly, technical, which makes it hard for the average user to wrap their head around.
When Jonda and I created Release Repurpose Reorganize we decided to use G Suite for the email associated with that business. My DNQ Solutions is hosted by GoDaddy but I’m thinking of switching that to G Suite also. great post with wonderful details. Thank you, Janet.
Thanks for sharing, Diane. Once you try a premium service, it’s hard to settle for less, isn’t it?
As always, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I’ve generally been happy with having my email through my web site host (Hostgator) and have rarely ever had email bounce, but of course when people fail to reply, you never know if you’ve landed in their spam filters. This prompts me to research Google Workspace; while the Zoho plan is appealing financially, I’d prefer to never have to deal with webmail. (Currently, I only access webmail when traveling, or when I fear something has gone awry with incoming mail.)
And more so than ever, I’d be disinclined to do business with anyone who did not have an email address at his or her own domain.
You get “regular” email with Zoho paid plans, which are cheaper than Google’s. Since you may be researching…