Your e-mail address is one of the first things folks see when you reply to website inquiries. What does your e-mail address say about you?
- …you are tech savvy (by “getting” that using free, throw away or personal accounts just won’t do for business communications).
- …you take your image seriously (by understanding that this gig is all about perception).
- …you are a professional (by having a domain e-mail address that represents your company, products or services with clarity).
- …you don’t shy away from challenges (by keeping any aol.com address instead of using your dot com).
I say it all the time. Perception is the only reality online. Folks will form an opinion about you based on how you use technology. They can tell what is important to you and what isn’t by the efforts you make — or don’t make.
One tool that is critical to any online enterprise, especially for startups or one-man-shops, is your e-mail address. Your e-mail address is what the recipient first sees when your e-mail address lands in their inbox.
What do you think it says about your business when you reply to a website e-mail from YourBusiness.com with an address like “iluvpugs@(aol,gmail,msn,yahoo.isp.com)?” Here are a few others I have seen used recently in business communications that have nothing to do with the business or business at hand:
Yeah, I get it — some of those are cute and/or funny — but not for business!
Using e-mail addresses like the above for business e-mail communications reflects not only a lack of tech savvy but a lack of understanding when it comes to the basics of online marketing. Every business should be using their business dot com as their e-mail address. That is part of your branding!
Doing so is a minimal cost (domains cost $10-15/year or less) when you think about the marketing and professional perception doing so offers. Additionally, due to all the spam filtering going on, you want to be able to have new contacts get your e-mail address in their address book or whitelist to ensure your e-mail gets through.
By using your dot com e-mail address, your e-mail will be recognized as an expected contact instead of a spammer. The same goes for gmail.com, yahoo.com and msn.com type free accounts. These accounts are known as “throw-aways” and are used by spammers all the time. If you think about it, what does using a free e-mail account for your business communications say about you and your company?
I can hear the gasps now! Yes, there are are reasons to have a free account. “But I want to use my gmail.com account!” When asked for a good business reason why? Silence… they just want to.
You still can use your freebie account — when you are on the road or away from your computer. These type of accounts do have a place as a backup — but not as the primary if you are serious about how you will be perceived.
Another excuse I’ve heard — “I know AOL and all my friends are there!” E-mailing friends really has nothing to do with building a serious business. AOL, gmail, yahoo, msn — none of these services allow you to use one of the most valuable marketing tools available to you — your dot com as an e-mail address in the FROM: field.
Doing so is very inexpensive and only requires a few setting changes in the e-mail program of your choice. Time to take off the training wheels, get an e-mail program and e-mail like the big dogs if you are serious about online success.