I have recently met a couple of new business contacts – both professionals of long-standing – so I was surprised to notice that both use a Gmail (or similar) email address.  I have to confess that that bothers me.  I’m not proud to admit that it makes me feel a bit superior, smug even, but I also feel frustrated on their behalf as I know how easily, quickly and cheaply it could be sorted out.  I thought that perhaps it was just me who felt this way but a conversation at a recent networking event had almost everyone in the room piling on to bemoan people who ‘can’t be bothered’ to look professional.  So not just me after all.

But, before this descends into a rant, perhaps I will make my case better by looking at the reasons why everyone in business should have a business email address.  I’m not claiming this is an exhaustive list but it’s some of the most persuasive points in my view.


Improve your credibility

If you want to build trust and establish a professional reputation, use an email address which matches your website domain name, one which reflects your business name.  Even if you are just starting out, there is a strong case for presenting a credible, authoritative image from day one.  You will be taken more seriously by potential clients and look like a viable business.  (One of my fellow networkers said he just deletes anything if it’s from a non-business email address, regardless of the content).  You risk people thinking that you don’t take yourself seriously, so why would they?


Be consistent with your branding

Whether you are a solopreneur or part of a larger franchise or organisation, your email address needs to reflect and be consistent with your branding.  It’s free advertising, people would know where to go to find out more about you, and it will certainly be more memorable.  It might seem like brand consistency isn’t that important but those are the touches that are reassuring for potential clients.  That your email address, the business logo in your footer and the font you use all match what they see on your website, printed materials or social media reassures them that you are who you say you are – and that you care enough about your business to bother.  And ask yourself if your email address is really the image that you want to represent you?

(Email footers could be a whole blog in its own right but please do set one up that looks professional and, ideally, has contact number and link to your website in it.)


Future-proof your business

There may be many reasons why you would want more than one work email address.  Whether your business grows and you need to add more staff, or whether you simply want to set up, say, an ‘accounts@’ email address to help separate out your correspondence, and ensure customers know where to send information.  Having a business email address makes all that more straight-forward and consistent.  Multiple email addresses can also make your business look larger than it is (if that matters to you), just don’t go mad if they all come to you in the end!


Don’t get caught in spam filters

In the drive to protect us all from being bombarded by junk emails, email providers regularly tighten up their filters to try to stop spammers getting through, as do many corporate and public service sector IT departments.  They often use user-generated information to inform their policies too, so if one BT Internet email user marks you as spam for example, you are more likely to be flagged for other BT Internet email users.  If you send a lot of emails from your generic email address, you may start to find that your messages aren’t getting through and end up in spam folders.  Not great for doing business.


Don’t give control to someone else

Supposing Yahoo decide to rebrand and, therefore, your email address has to change.  How frustrating and expensive would that be?  What if they close your email accounts before you’ve had a chance to save your contacts or history?  Potentially disastrous.  What if your account is suddenly shut down because of a security issue or data-breach?  Horrific!  While an overnight change is unlikely, why would you give control of your business communication to a mega-sized corporate third party and run that risk?  Take back control of your own email, data security and back-ups.


It doesn’t have to cost (much) money

I fear that many people don’t create a business email address because they think it’s going to be expensive, or because they’re not particularly tech-savvy and just don’t know how it will work.  The reality is that it’s easy and not expensive.  Start by talking to whoever hosts your website; some offer a free email address as part of the package, others may charge a little extra but it will probably only be a few pounds a month, and much less than you may already be paying them to host your website.  With them, you can arrange to set-up your email in whichever way you are comfortable using it, Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, webmail or something else.  Have the conversation with them about if/how often they back emails up so you know whether you want to do anything else yourself too.  If they can’t help, a good IT company are worth their weight in gold for providing reliable service and preventing problems before they happen (a bit like the best insurance cover).


Have I convinced you?

If you don’t have a professional email address, hopefully I’ve made the case, as well as taking away any fears you might have about the cost and effort of doing it.  To conclude, if I could find it again, I’d quote a firm based in the USA whose research I came across when I was researching this article: they found that 70% of people say it makes a difference in their buying decisions.  And, let’s face it, you risk looking like you can’t be bothered if you don’t….