Your cash flow is tight, and you’re looking to save money on your startup costs. Why not use a free email service (e.g. Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo)? These services are great for email, easy to set up, and are full featured, but what do they say about your business? Unfortunately, customers, peers, vendors and potential partners may be drawing the wrong conclusions from your use of a free email.
There is a world famous restaurant in Milwaukee whose front door has been sealed since 1966. To enter, you must head down the alley and knock on the unmarked door and when prompted offer a password. This unique feature has created a mystique surrounding the business and brings tens of thousands of visitors each year. This is unlikely to work for your business and in most instances should not be part of your marketing strategy. This is the first issue with using a free email. Every time you send an email an opportunity arises for you to promote your business and invite potential customers to visit your website. Development of an email signature that conveys a message about your business and how to contact you is essential. Unintentionally, the impact of this message can be lessened when you use a free email because readers will often look to your email address to quickly identify your website address.
Every minute, everyday 70 new domains are registered on the Internet and 571 websites are created. Online credibility is crucial when starting a new business and you will want to quickly establish a professional online presence for your business. Potential customers searching the Internet for your name or your company name could view your free email address and draw many undesirable conclusions. They may assume that your business is not up to speed on current technology. Customers could conclude your business lacks adequate capital for a complete online presence. Others may think it is a simple lack of attention to detail or signal a lack of experience. None of these conclusions or assumptions will reflect positively on your business.
In a global digital economy first impressions are important. Consumers have a plethora of choices and they often make up their mind long before you get a chance to make your pitch on why your company can provide a better product or service. For example, if you had a plumbing emergency late at night and you searched the internet for a plumber, who would call? John.Doe@24PlumbingSpecialists.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? Not using your company name, a dedicated URL or a shortened, abbreviated version of your company name, is akin to putting someone else’s name on your storefront.
Another reason to use your own domain for email is with increasing amounts of Internet fraud, matching your email address to your company name offers your customers a higher level of confidence in your organization. In this case you are communicating that a company is behind the email not just an individual. While in all actuality this may not provide any more protection the perception is that it does.
When working with entrepreneurs one of the first questions I often ask is what their long term plan is for the business. Sometimes it is to grow the business to reach a certain level, other times it is to build the business and then sell it. In almost all instances the plan involves adding employees or contractors at some point. This can present a real issue if your business is not using an email address with its own domain name. Allowing employees to use personal email addresses for business is a huge mistake and yet without an assigned company email address this is exactly what they will do. Mixing personal email and business email is fraught with risk and should be avoided at all costs.
Setting up multiple email addresses for a variety of customer requests such email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org is quite simple. When customers contact you using these email addresses it gives them the feeling that they are contacting a professional business that takes its customers emails seriously. It also allows you to route email to other employees and change passwords quickly during staffing changes and scheduled absences. Many companies have learned the hard way how dangerous it can be if you can’t prevent a discharged employee from sending email to your company’s customers.
Many business owners and entrepreneurs assume setting up multiple email accounts linked to your domain name is difficult or expensive. It is true that at some point you will likely want to set up business email servers and manage all aspects of digital communication which can be expensive and require dedicated IT resources. However, there are many inexpensive and easy ways to implement solutions available for startup or small companies. Almost all web hosting companies offer a large amount of email address with each domain name hosted. It is important that you OWN the domain name not simply rent it from the hosting company, as this will provide you the freedom to move it and make changes as you grow. For example, even GoDaddy’s most economical hosting plan for less than $4 per month will give you 100 free email addresses to use.
Chances are you are investing everything into the success of your company so why take any chances or leave any stones unturned. If you are still using that free email for business you should make a change today. If you are planning a a new business, make setting up a unique email one of your initial tasks. For more tips and guidance one starting your new business contact Siddel Law.
Disclaimer: This article discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Siddel Law expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this article.