How important is email to your business?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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. email@example.com) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org?
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!
Originally published 2018.