If starting a website for your business is a goal this year, add one more thing to your to-do list: creating a custom email address.
The goal of branding your company is to ensure that potential customers know exactly who your brand is, and that you look professional. Just like you’d have a custom URL for your website rather than something like mybusiness.wordpress.com, you also need a custom email address to provide consistent branding.
Not convinced that you need to go to the trouble of creating a custom email address? Here are a few other reasons why you absolutely need one for your business.
1. @Gmail or @Yahoo Screams ‘Unprofessional!’
If your argument against a custom email address is that Gmail and Yahoo provide perfectly good free ones, consider this: if you were thinking about spending a fair amount of money with a company, which salesperson email would you feel more confident in:
Using free email addresses detracts from the value you want to offer your customers. They’re too busy trying to figure out why you didn’t spring for the nominal cost of a custom email address to actually buy from you. And since your competitors all use custom email addresses, that might be the single factor that sends business elsewhere.
You’re right in thinking that an email address shouldn’t validate your credibility, but it does, on some subconscious level. Make sure the impression that potential customers get of your brand isn’t marred by a free email address.
2. You’re Already Paying for It
It’s not as if getting a custom email address costs anything more than what you’re already paying. If you’ve purchased a domain name for your website, you already have the ability to use that domain for your email addresses.
Setting up your email account is easy. If you don’t have a website manager or designer who can help when you first set up your website, there are free and easy-to-follow tutorials available online to set-up your email accounts.
3. You Can Standardize Email Addresses
This is especially important as you grow your staff: when you have your own custom email address, you can use a format for all other email addresses. So maybe you use email@example.com or first[initial]firstname.lastname@example.org. This provides consistency in your business, and customers can easily remember the formula for your company email addresses.
When you use free emails, you’re at the mercy of whatever usernames are still available. If your name is Stan Smith, good luck getting that email without adding all kinds of characters and numbers to the address, like email@example.com!
4. When Someone Leaves Your Company, You Keep Control
What happens when your marketing manager leaves, taking her personal email with her? If she was using it to conduct business for your organization, you won’t be able to access those emails.
On the other hand, if you set up an account under her name, you can redirect those emails to go to your newly hired marketing manager. Or, you could create a generic email for certain roles, like firstname.lastname@example.org so that the new hire just takes over management of that account. They would just need to change the display name to their own.
5. A Branded Email Does Your Marketing For You
Have you ever seen someone’s email address on a business card and looked up the website because you were curious? That doesn’t happen with free email addresses. But, if you use your domain in your website, you’re getting your brand in front of more eyeballs.
That email address should appear in each employee’s email signature, as well as on business cards and marketing materials. Every place you have that branded email address is one more opportunity to attract new business!
6. You Can Create as Many Emails as You Want
Even if you’re a one-person operation, you can create emails for different purposes like sales, customer service, orders, etc. This can give the impression that your company is larger than it is (which is not a bad thing), and in the event that one day you hire for those roles, you can simply assign those email addresses to other employees.
Tips for Creating Your Custom Email Address
Start with a simple domain name. The shorter, the better. Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce.
Decide on a naming convention for all emails for your staff. Typically companies use:
Give each employee the ability to change their password and settings, but maintain administrative rights so that if they leaves the company you can still access and manage their email account.
When staff leaves, make sure to forward those emails automatically to another employee.
If you take yourself seriously as a small business owner, you need a custom email address.
Remember: First impressions are everything, and how potential customers see you will determine how successful your brand will be. Consider your email address your calling card, and make it memorable!
Have any of your own tips for creating a custom email address?
Jay Egger is a digital marketing specialist for Fit Small Business, a digital small business education publication. He has experience in public relations, SEO, journalism, social media management and video production.