As an entrepreneur, you are your own brand. The first handshake, smile, text, email or call defines you to the person you want to do business with. Your email address is a lot more than a place for people to communicate with you. It’s an address that communicates a message on its own.
Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur, or the leader of a tough and nimble team of digital disruptors, you need to be able to communicate with the outside world professionally.
Using a free email account like Google, Yahoo or Outlook simply isn’t going to cut it. Who would want to trust important business communication to an address like:
These email addresses scream low-budget, unprofessional and technically illiterate business operator. But don’t worry, it isn’t too late to fix things. In this guide, we’ll cover a few professional email address suggestions that will help you better represent the professional digital identity of your brand.
1. Professional Email Address Examples
Let’s first take a look at the structure of your organization’s internal communication. For quick, real-time discussion, I recommend Slack. The platform does an incredible job of organizing conversation threads and empowering teams to share project files to support real-time collaboration.
But there are some things that just don’t fit in an instant message. For example, a complex thought or idea needs to be cohesively presented, without the constant pings of interruption from co-workers chiming in and breaking up the flow of the information you’re trying to communicate.
For this purpose, email still wins the communication war. While you don’t need to invest in a professional email address generator, let’s look at some examples of professional email addresses:
- Give each member of your team an individual corporate address. The best professional email address format that I’ve seen uses their first initial and their last name. So, Eric Fortier would be EFortier@YourDomain.com.
- There are three core reasons that customers reach out to your company – sales, support and vendor relations. So, I would create one email address for each of these purposes: Sales@YourDomain.com, Support@YourDomain.com and VendorRelations@YourDomain.com.
You’ll configure these addresses to forward incoming messages to the appropriate members of your team. Outgoing messages should be sent from the employee that is handling the issue. And if an issue requires the assistance of more than one member of a team, it’s time to create an internal ticket that allows for all communication and work completed to be appropriately notated. You don’t want to create a situation where a single customer or vendor is having two separate conversations with two or more employees about the same issue. This leads to mass confusion.
If you utilize the examples of professional email addresses that I’ve laid out here, you’ll have gone a long way towards streamlining your internal and external communication.
2. Use a Reliable, Professional Business Email Platform
Hosting companies, like GoDaddy, used to provide emails for free with the purchase of a domain. This was completed through cPanel. Unfortunately, the majority of hosting providers have gone away from this. Instead, they offer businesses a much better and more reliable form of email service at an additional fee. Generally, pricing is per user – which means that email aliases are free.
The two powerhouses in business email are Google and Microsoft. No, I’m not talking about @gmail.com and @outlook.com. Those are free consumer-grade accounts that look unprofessional and lack the administrative tools that digital entrepreneurs need in order to manage their team effectively.
Microsoft Office 365 for Business
The undisputed heavyweight in the corporate IT world is Microsoft. With 85 million users relying on Office 365 to get work done, they have a significant lead over newcomers, like Google. Their platform costs $99/yr/user.
This includes both corporate email (using your website’s domain name), as well as all of the corporate-centered Office apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, OneDrive for Business, and Access.
Google’s G Suite for Businesses and Entrepreneurs
The newcomer to the ring is Google. They’ve created a compelling offering that leverages their popular cloud-based productivity suite and popular Gmail email platform. With only 3 million paying business customers, they are still overshadowed by Microsoft. But, their gmail client – when you factor both paid and free accounts – is obliterating Microsoft’s Outlook. Gmail has 26% marketshare, while Outlook only has 6%.
From a cost standpoint, G Suite starts out at a cheaper level – $60/yr/user – but in order to get data archiving tools (a requirement for many legal and medical startups), you’ll need to upgrade to their $120/yr/user plan.
3. Pay Careful Attention to Who Controls Your Corporate Email
If you’re bootstrapping your startup, it might be tempting to leverage the free email platforms out there. But, unfortunately you won’t be able to customize the email address with your company’s domain name. You’ll end up with a gmail or yahoo address that looks outdated and unprofessional.
But there’s another even more important reason to choose professional email platforms for your business. If you have an employee or partner that is communicating with your customers and the rest of your team via a personal email address, the email communications don’t belong to you. You have no control over how your internal communication is shared.
You hear about leaks all the time – the federal government and large corporations are famous for them. But you are a startup with razor thin margins. You can’t afford to have someone leak or misuse corporate information – especially in light of new EU regulations dictating how customer data must be safeguarded and respected.
With professional email addresses from reputable vendors, the owner of the account is in full control of company communication and data. If you terminate an employee, you can immediately lock them out of their company email and associated data in your corporate cloud.
Free email addresses, while they might seem more affordable in the short-run, simply open your startup up to too much liability and risk.
In conclusion, it’s my hope that you’ve learned how important a professional business email address is to the future of your company. Even with instant messaging apps like slack and Skype, there’s a need for email. Your customers expect it, and for some things it’s a much more effective way to communicate with your team. And with all of the benefits that cloud productivity platforms bring, paying for professional email is an investment that can be leveraged on every project your team works on.