Imagine for a moment that you are the owner of a retail store called Mike’s Bikes. You resell and service top quality bicycles. What impression would you give prospective customers of your business and its credibility if your store resided in the backroom of an old factory building with no signage directing customers to where you are? Setting up a storefront like this would leave your customers wondering if you are a “real business.” They’d wonder if the goods they are purchasing from you are stolen and if their credit card information is safe with you. You know this so you invest in your physical storefront, your business branding, and the sales and support your business provides to its customers.
Have you given the same consideration to how your digital presence impacts the impression your customers derive about your business? A domain is simply the name that is in the address bar of your website. You can use a personalized domain to customize your email address. If the email address you use for business email correspondence ends with anything other than @yourcompanynamehere.com, it’s time for you to change your direction. Here’s why:
1. Having Your Own Domain Name Positions Your Company as Reputable.
Say you are looking to hire a corporate attorney to represent your business in a malpractice suit. You ask your business associates for a referral and they recommend Sue Smith of ABC Law Firm. You ask a colleague for her email address and they tell you it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. How likely are you to follow through with soliciting Sue’s legal services? Would you have had the same reservations if her address was email@example.com? Probably not.
GoDaddy’s 2014 small business owner and customer survey shows that customers are nine times more likely to do business with a company whose email is hosted at their own domain. The reason is simple. When your email address is not based on a free domain (like Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc.), you look like a legitimate business.
- Hosting Your Business Email with Your Own Domain Name is Affordable.
There was a time when acquiring business email addresses with your own domain name required a significant investment. You had to purchase a server. You had to purchase licenses for mail server software like Microsoft Exchange as well as access licenses for every named user on your system. You had to hire someone to set up and maintain the investment. The upfront investment was at least $5,000, and the system had to be upgraded every three to five years. With this level of investment, it is no wonder that businesses turned to providers like Hotmail to host their business email accounts at no charge.
Fortunately, technology has evolved, and it is now more affordable than ever to have your business email hosted. Both Microsoft and Google offer hosted business email solutions. The cost for either starts at just $5 per user per month, and both companies include with that fee online access to the word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software components of their respective productivity suites. They’ll even throw in cloud storage space for each of your users to store your documents. There is no hardware to buy and no upfront investment required other than the purchase of your company’s domain name (which will cost you approximately $15 per year).
- Your Email Address is Yours – Forever.
When you use a free email account, your ability to keep your address is dependent upon the stability of the provider. Say your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Back Water ISP folds. Your email address goes away with them. When you own your own domain, your email address is yours as long as you pay your annual domain hosting fees. You are free to change hosting providers as often as you wish without the hassle of changing your email address.
- Using Your Own Domain Name Is Free Advertising for Your Business.
Lastly, use of an email address containing your business name is free advertising for your business. Every single time you hit “send” on an email, you are promoting your brand.
If you are using a free email account for your business email, the time to stop is now. There are three resources I’d recommend you take a look at in order to take the next step in owning your own domain. Check out GoDaddy to research your domain name options. Next, take a look at Microsoft Office 365 Small Business Essentials and Google for Work to provide you with hosted email services. Both are solid products that will provide your business with the online presence it deserves.