You’ve all seen it on business cards or on a website. Maybe you’re guilty of it yourself. It’s one of the most common mistakes when in comes to branding your business and it can have drastic consequences and even cause you to lose valuable business. I’m calling this problem “the ugly email.” I’m talking about businesses that use email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe I’m overly sensitive because I’m in the technology industry. But I have to admit when it comes to personal or corporate branding I’m pretty shallow—it is about how it looks. I can’t help but cringe every time I see the ugly email on a business card or website.
The really sad part is that some of these people or businesses already have their website listed right under their ugly email. Which means they already have a domain name! Why on earth would they not set up a professional email address using the domain name they already own?
Are you guilty of using the ugly email? Here are some simple tips to help make over your communications (and your brand).
- Do not use Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail or your Internet service provider’s email as your main business email. Even if you are a small or micro business, there’s no reason to look small. These free email services look unprofessional and give the impression of a very small or even fly-by-night business.
- Do use your domain name for your email. Set up an email like email@example.com. You miss out on a great branding opportunity by not using your business name or brand name for email. In fact, you are actually promoting someone else’s brand instead of your own. Why advertise for Google or Hotmail when you can advertise your own company each time you send an email?
- Do set up multiple email accounts to organize your business (and make you appear larger than you are). A small company or one person operation can easily set up firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. All of these emails can be forwarded to the same person (or multiple people), but this gives the impression of a large, sophisticated operation.
- Do use a Hotmail or Gmail email address when subscribing to online newsletters. There is definitely a time and place to use the ugly email. If you subscribe to a variety of online newsletters or services, you likely get a lot of spam. I like to use one of these free email accounts when subscribing so if I start getting a lot of spam to one of these email accounts, I can easily cancel that account without affecting the rest of my communications to my main address. You can also forward each of these free email accounts to your main email address, if you like, so that you don’t have to check multiple sources to track all your incoming mail.
- Do set up multiple email accounts to help determine your HR needs and business bottlenecks. Small businesses typically don’t have the resources to implement sophisticated tracking systems to monitor what types of inquiries they get. The sole proprietor or business owner typically answers all the emails and by the end of the month, has no idea what kept them so busy. By setting up a separate email address for each division of your company, it is a great way to track types of questions you get from customers. At the end of the month, add up the number of inquiries to each email account. Over a period of time, you can determine where your next hire should be or where you should make improvements in your operations.
See? It’s really very simple. A few quick and easy changes, and you’ll go from being an ugly emailer to one with professionalism, polish and much more free time.
Cybele Negris is president and co-founder of Vancouver-based Webnames.ca Inc., Canada’s original .ca registrar and one of the country’s leading providers of web hosting and other Internet solutions. She is a veteran of the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs.