Here's the cold, hard truth: your company won't be taken seriously if you aren't sending emails from your own domain. If you're doing business from a free email domain — like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail — it tells your customers that you're either not savvy enough, serious enough, or professional enough to set up a custom email address for your business.
But that's not the only reason why a custom email address, using your website domain, is a must-do. Here are four more reasons to switch to a custom domain for your emails:
When you're using a free email domain (e.g., ending in @gmail.com), there's a higher likelihood your emails will land in spam folders. The odds increase if you're sending multiple emails at a time, or are using an email delivery program like Mailchimp. Establishing your own domain address — e.g., @yourcompany.info — increases the odds your emails will be delivered, opened and read.
How many emails do you personally send in a day? Twenty-five? Fifty? A hundred? When you use a branded domain for your emails, every person who receives your email will see your company's website address embedded in your email address. That makes it more likely that they'll visit your site to learn more about your business and services.
You can also use your branded domain to set up emails for various roles within your company — even if you're the only one running the show. And multiple email addresses make it easier to sort and track inbound messages from your website. For example, you can give priority to inbound emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or set aside time several times a day to go through all emails sent to email@example.com.
When you add employees to your team, make sure they're sending emails from firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to the reasons outlined above, it will give you full control over their email account, which is especially important when an employee leaves the company.
You'll be able to immediately remove their access to their branded email address by changing the password, while maintaining the ability to monitor incoming messages. If your employees are using their own email address, it's impossible to maintain any level of control after they leave and incoming inquiries for services offered by your small business will likely go unanswered.
When you're using an email address from a free domain service like Gmail, it's easy for a hacker to potentially trick your customer by setting up an account that looks very similar. If senior-level White House officials can fall for a scam like this, certainly your customers or employees might, too.
A bad actor could steal your clients or ruin your reputation by setting up an email address that's one or two characters different than yours at the same free email provider. In addition, if recipients think the email comes from you (rather than from a hacker imitating your email address), they'll be more likely to click on links that may result in their computer or device becoming infected by a computer virus.
By conducting business solely from an email account at your owned domain, you reduce these cybersecurity risks.
How to manage your custom email address
1. Register your domain
If you don't have a domain yet for your business, you can get one in less than 10 minutes for under $20. It's an absolute necessity, because every business should have a website, regardless of whether you sell products online or not.
If you do have a domain, the next step is to set up the email addresses you need by using the management tools provided by your webhosting company.
2. Choose your email provider
While it's usually possible to manage your custom email using the tools provided by the company hosting your website, the interface they provide is clunky and hard to use. In addition, you don't want to give everyone in your company access to your webhosting management tools.
Instead, you should choose a provider for managing your custom email.
The two most popular choices for small businesses are Google's G Suite and Microsoft's Office 365. You may already be familiar with Google's interface from their free email product, Gmail. G Suite lets small-business owners take advantage of the exact same platform but using their custom email addresses. So, you get the familiarity and power of Gmail with the professional appearance of your custom domain email address. The same goes for Microsoft's Office 365. If you've used Outlook before, you're familiar with Microsoft's email interface.
The choice between G Suite and Office 365 is largely a matter of personal preference. There is no wrong decision, and you'll be up and running with a new email address in less than 15 minutes with either provider!
Both services start at $5 per month per user and include a calendar and contacts that can be shared with your team, as well as various collaboration apps.
3. Verify your domain
Next, you'll need to go through a simple, five-minute process to prove to Google or Microsoft that your company has the rights to using yourcompany.info.
You'll get step-by-step instructions from Google or Microsoft. Don't be intimidated when you see terms like "DNS Records" and "MX Records" — as long as you follow the instructions, you'll have no problem setting up your domain.
If you do run into any issues, both companies provide phone or web chat support at no cost.
4. Set up your email address(es)
Once your domain is verified, you can begin setting up email addresses. Exciting, right? Here's the best part: you can also set up duplicate (also known as alias) email addresses. For example, you can set up email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org and forward one to the other. You'll only have to pay for one address. This will help ensure emails to you don't go undelivered if a customer enters the wrong address. You can also set up aliases if your name is commonly misspelled.
Tell the world
There are many advantages to using your domain name for your email addresses. The switch also provides a great opportunity for sending out a marketing email to your contacts, alerting them to the change and sharing other news about your small business. Here are seven tips for writing great headlines that will get people to open, read, and respond positively to your messages.