The ugly truth is that many individuals and small businesses don’t understand the importance of branding and permanence when it comes to this 30 year old social networking technology we call email.
Most people don’t even realize that they are making a dreadful mistake or have any idea there is a better way.
The Problem Exhibited
My wife and I were wandering around at Riverfest this past spring and I noticed a nice vendor selling widgets. (I honestly don’t remember their product but it was creative and marketed to families with children). I was impressed by their product and by their setup. Their wares were nicely laid out in a great trailer and had some well produced signs and a nice logo. Here was a very small business making a go of it and I was pleased… then I saw their email. [email protected] (ugh)
Today I received an email from a friend notifying me that his email address had changed from [email protected] to [email protected], while I was glad to get the update I immediately thought, “you are making a mistake”
Both of these nice folks fell into the trap of not understanding the importance of branding and permanence of email.
The Problem Explained
There is no easy way to say this, If your small business is using an email address that contains @comcast or @aol then you are giving people the impression of being a small time operator.
This doesn’t mean people are prejudiced against small businesses it just means we all make a judgment call. If you are planning a party who are you more likely to contact first?
We immediately assume that MyPartyRocks.com has their business more in order and they are more established. This first impression is invaluable and you want to give the right message.
How long will your contact info stay the same?
Consider the following standard contact form:
City, State, Zip
What if you decided to accept a position with a new employer in a new city next week?
Every piece of contact information you possess is going to change except two. Your name and your email. Our address, phone number, and work email addresses are all tied to situations that life can alter. Once you realize how permanent your personal email address is then we must consider ways to help preserve that address.
My friend (Exhibit 2) is a world traveler and regular speaker had to change his email address simply because he changed his telcom provider. Sometimes, it isn’t even our choice. Southwestern bell rebranded as SBCGlobal then merged with AT&T years later. Their users had to migrate from swbell to sbcglobal to att because of boardroom decisions.
It’s an unnecessary evil to rely upon such a fluid relationship for your email. What we need is a email provider that is going to be around for the long haul and isn’t affected by your choice of internet service.
The answer is simple, find a good stable webmail provider. In today’s world I can only recommend
All 3 have proven staying power and all three offer mailbox sizes that should be adequate for most anyone.
If you are a power user or prefer to use Outlook then you need to look no further than Gmail. They offer more options like POP3/IMAP for Outlook, larger box sizes, and advanced filtering rules. I’d never use anything but Gmail but choose who you like.
As a side note get a real name. [email protected] just isn’t a good idea. If you can’t find a good email address consider the small biz solution.
The right answer is to purchase your own domain and get an email address associated with that domain. Don’t worry it isn’t hard and its cheap.
I won’t go into Domain branding but if you get creative there are plenty of good domains out there. Try sticking with a .com but .net and .us names are better than nothing.
Surf over to GoDaddy.com and start searching for available domain names. Once you’ve found the right name you just need to add email. An email plan that will give you 10 addresses and unlimited storage is around $2 a month. In total you can have your own domain and email address for around $25 a year and that is a small price to pay to make a good impression.
But before this sounds like a GoDaddy commercial let me give you another option.
Google Apps Standard Edition
Google Apps is a way to use the Gmail system with your own domain name. They offer a free service that will support up to 50 users. Sign up for Google Apps and then follow the instructions to verify your domain. Once the process is completed you can use Google Mail, Calendar, and Docs all from your own domain.
The free version doesn’t included support so if you want someone to call when your email goes down stick with the paid products.
Don’t forget that you can use forwarding rules to do all sorts of magic with email delivery. Gmail and Google Apps can offer you a ton of options to send a receive emails from multiple accounts all within Gmail.
Email is important and you should have access to it anywhere you have an internet connection and it should only change when you decide. Can your email do that?
If you have questions or need help getting setup I’m Keith@aol… just kidding, you can contact me here.
Disclaimer: All domains and email addresses are completely made up and any resemblance to persons real or fictional is due to the fact you’ve got nothing better to do than see if kate really exists