Best Practices – Your Business Email Address

You have a website with your own domain name, but do you use that domain for email too?  You should be.

ISP, Free, and Personal Accounts

You’ve had them for years and wouldn’t know what to do without them – maybe it’s an email account provided by your internet service or a free account with a service like hotmail.com, and while they are great for keeping in touch with your friends and family an address like “littleorangecat@comcastverizon.net” isn’t the best choice for contacting your customers.

Why not?
The primary reason is it’s much more professional and recognizable to use an email address at your own domain name.  Someone may not expect an email from “John Smith [smithfamily@ispco.net]” to be a valid email when they never heard from John before.  But if that email comes from “Wigits Inc [sales@wigitsinc.com]” they are more likely to remember they contacted you or placed an order with your company.

Another drawback to using a personal account is an email can look like spam to the recipient.  While it’s not technically spam and may not be marked as spam in their email program, someone may not expect an email from a name and address they have not seen before to be valid so you run the risk of them deleting it without it being opened.

Aliases – Redirect Your Email

Virtually all hosting accounts include email service.  You’re already paying for it so it won’t cost anything more to start using email at your own domain name, but sometimes you really don’t want to start checking more accounts – you just want to keep the one you have.  You can do this by using what’s called an Alias.  An alias is similar to an email account but it’s just an address that directs email elsewhere.

On your hosting account, usually in a control panel where you would add new email users, you can add aliases and configure them to send email to a specific address.  For example an alias for “sales” could direct the email to your current ISP or personal email address.  You can then publish your business email address of “sales@wigitsinc.com” on your website and marketing materials and when someone sends an email to it the message will arrive in your personal account without your customers knowing.

You told us NOT to use our personal address?
That’s true, I did, but the key is to appear like you are using your domain name to your customers.  When they are contacting you at “sales@wigitsinc.com” instead of “smithfamily@ispco.net” they don’t know the alias is forwarding to your personal account.

But there is one more step – your outgoing email.  The last thing you want to do is to reply to the customer’s email and have it show your personal account for where the email is coming from.  To change this you will want to set your “From” address when you reply.  This can be done in your email program but the methods for doing so can vary between software.  It may be something you can set when you reply, or it may be a setting in the software that would take effect for all emails.  Essentially you want to set the sending address to appear as “sales@wigitsinc.com” when the email goes out, even though you are sending from your personal account.

TIP: Even with aliases, configuring your personal email to send “from” your business account and keeping business and personal email separate in your account can be difficult.  For this reason it may be advantageous to use the email service provided with your hosting account.

3rd Party Solutions

Another option for your business email is to use a 3rd party email service.  Instead of using a personal address or the email provided on a  hosting account, many businesses are switching to a service such as Google Apps.  With these services you offload email storage and traffic from your hosting account to another provider and can still use your domain name for email.

With multiple options for email –  from your hosting account, to aliases, to a 3rd party – there is a solution available to migrate off your old email address and begin using your own domain name for your business email.

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3 Comments

  1. Jagath says:

    Completely agree with this article. Given the variety of options, there is no reason to NOT use a custom company specific email. My recommendation though, is to go the Google Apps route. And here is why –

    An email address is a long term commitment (just like your company domain name). So even if the business owner decides to switch a hosting provider, she should be able to retain the same email address. With Google Apps, your email system is separate from your hosting provider and therefore is not impacted even if you change your host.

    For the reasons above, we use Google Apps for our email. And yes, you can get addresses like sales@greentoys.com using Google Apps. I recently wrote a blog article about this. http://bit.ly/bf2UVz

  2. Mark says:

    Nothing says “mickey mouse” like someone using a gmail or yahoo email address with their company name. It looks infinitely more profressional to have an email at the URL matching the company web address.

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