As a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, I teach small business owners how to market their businesses in a way that’s simple, affordable, and practical. There’s probably nothing more simple, affordable, and practical than choosing a good email address to use for your business, but I see small business owners botching this task all the time. Not only that, but they are completely unaware of how selecting the wrong business email address hurts them. So, to set the record straight once and for all, today I will teach you how to choose your business email address.
What NOT to use for a business email address
Before I go into how to choose a business email address, first I’d like to talk about the mistake I see many small business owners make when it comes to their email, and why it’s a mistake. What many business owners do is use an email account at Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or other free email services as their business email address–in other words, their email address will be email@example.com.
This is a mistake for several reasons, and here’s a perfect example of one of them. I was recently out running errands when I saw this sign on the back of a car:
Now, as my wife will tell you, I don’t have one sweet tooth, I have about 32 of them, so if there is a business selling cupcakes within 30 miles of my home, I want to know about it. Since I was driving, I had my wife take a picture of the sign so I would remember the business and could look it up later. Since the business only listed their email address on the sign, and since they were using a free email account at Gmail, I didn’t know what their website was, so I did what anyone else would do: I Googled them. Here’s what I found:
As you can see, the first result that comes up is Southern Sweets Bakery. They also have their Google+ page set up and linked to their website, so we can see that they have 16 reviews on Google and that they have 4.9 out of five stars. So far so good, but unfortunately this business is located in Georgia, and I’m in Virginia, so I guess they’re not local after all.
There’s only one problem here: This is NOT the business that was advertising on the back of the car!
The only reason I know this is that, being the savvy internet marketer that I am, I checked the email address of the business in Georgia and noticed that their email was firstname.lastname@example.org, not email@example.com. So, I went back to Google and did a search for Southern Sweets and Cakes, but I still was not able to find the business advertising on the sign. Now, 99% of consumers would have given up there (if they had even realized that the Georgia-based business wasn’t the one they were looking for). However, I kept going, and the next search I did was to actually type the email address on the sign into Google. I was finally able to find a Facebook page for the business with the sign (turns out they are based in a town about 20 minutes away from my house), but it didn’t have any information about their products or services, so I left.
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Use your domain for your email address
Now, let’s say that the business in the example above had been doing what they should be doing, and had been using an email address set up at the domain name they use for their website. In other words, their email would be something like firstname.lastname@example.org, where “businessname.com” represents the website of the business. If this had been the case, I wouldn’t have had to go to Google to search for the business–I would have simply typed their website address directly into my web browser.
In addition to avoiding making potential customers go to Google to search for your website (and potentially ending up on a competitor’s site), there are many other reasons why you should set up a business email address at your domain (which, by the way, comes free with website hosting at Bluehost and many other companies where domain names can be purchased). Among these are:
- The ability to set up a separate email address for everyone at your business (for example, John@yourbusiness.com, Suzie@yourbusiness.com, etc)
- The ability to set up email addresses for different departments in your business (i.e., email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.) These can actually all be forwarded to the same email address, but setting this up can help make your small business seem a little more organized and professional
- You’ll avoid broadcasting the fact that you are a teeny tiny small business and are so busy scrambling to keep up with the day-to-day operation of the business that you don’t even have time to set up your email address correctly
The fact is that your email address, like everything else about your business, says something about you. When you use a free email address at Gmail, Yahoo, or another similar service as your business email address, it says that you aren’t a savvy business person and either don’t have the time or don’t take the time to learn how to do things the right way. I’m sure that this probably isn’t the case, and I’m sure that’s not the message you want to communicate. So, if you are making this common mistake, take some time right now to call up the 24/7 customer support hotline at your domain provider (which, if they are a reputable domain provider, they will have), and ask them to help you set up your business email account at your domain.
After you’ve done that, schedule a free 10-minute phone call with me to discuss the rest of your marketing plan, and get ideas about other simple, affordable, and practical ways you can improve it.