It’s the Achilles heel of small business owners: They use their personal email address for marketing campaigns and customer communications, apparently not realizing that little email handle is wrecking their credibility with prospective customers. Why does your email address matter so much, and how can you turn it into a business asset instead of a liability? Read on.
It’s never “just an email address”
You would never tell a prospective customer to move along, but that’s the message that a personal email address sends when you use it for business. Everything your audience sees, including that email address, is an element of your company’s brand that helps form their impression of your business. Customers of all kinds look for businesses that seem trustworthy and authoritative. How, exactly, can your personal email address work against you? Let us count the ways.
The dealbreaker email address
Some addresses destroy trust and authority at first glance by casting doubt on your judgment. It should go without saying that an email address is kryptonite to business success if it includes references to politics, sex, violence, bigotry, mental illness, or drinking and drugs. Yet people carry on using email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org and then wonder why their business is struggling.
The no-boundaries email address
Shared email addresses like BillandTed@domain.com or TheEntireJonesFamily@domain.com tell your customers a couple of things. One, their customer information can be seen by people they don’t know and who aren’t part of your business. This erodes trust. Two, you seem to think email addresses are so rare that your whole family has to pile into one account like clowns into a circus car. This erodes your authority.
The outdated email domain
Even if you keep your personal email tasteful and simple, some customers will judge your email provider itself. Older domains like aol.com and hotmail.com can make you appear out of touch with modern technology—a serious ding on your brand if you run a tech or communications business. Some of this “email prejudice” is tongue in cheek. Some is real. Avoid it with company-branded email.
A common problem with an easy solution
An incredible 46% of US small business owners surveyed in 2016 don’t have a business website, which means they can’t create company-branded email addresses. Why? The most common reasons business owners gave were that they didn’t think they needed a website and that a website would cost too much.
Those answers show why setting up a professional email account gives you advantages that go beyond email branding. A web presence is a must for businesses now because of the way consumers research their purchases. If they can’t find you, they can’t shop with you. With even a simple website and a business email account, you set yourself apart from less motivated competitors. What’s more, web hosting costs just a few dollars a month, and setting up an email account is simple.
With any HostGator web hosting plan, you can set up your professional email account in under a minute from your customer portal. Adding professional email doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck logging into multiple accounts each day, either. Our email services perform like any other web-based webmail client, and you can even choose to have your messages forwarded to you so you don’t miss a thing if you prefer to manage things from your personal email account.
Professional email addresses give small-business owners some valuable but inexpensive tools: a brand element that conveys trustworthiness and authority, a domain for creating a strong web presence, an advantage over competitors who don’t have a website and branded emails, and the freedom to keep their personal email address private.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.