We all use email for business. It’s a fact of life. Email is free, fast, reliable, and universal. After all, email was one of the very first uses for the internet, back in the 70’s (yes, the 70’s). The concept of a universal messaging medium is the equivalent of the telephone. Each person can use the service and software he or she is most comfortable with, and anyone can email anyone else, regardless of software. Oh, if only it were that simple.
The fact of the matter is email is often mis-used, and in a way that can compromise your business’s ability to operate.
Back in “the day” email addresses came from your internet service provider (ISP). The office email address was [email protected] and your house was [email protected] Right? Then came the day you switched ISPs, and you lost your email address. The world ended.
While complaining about having to tell everyone your new email address, someone told you about this new company which offered free email addresses, and you could keep it for life. Hotmail was born.
The problem arises when free email services, like Hotmail, are used for business. Since the service is free, and ad-supported, users do not have any guarantees. There are no contracts, no service agreements, and no ownership. That’s right, you don’t own your email address. Imagine running a business on a borrowed cell phone, not knowing when you have to give it back. No one would do that. What happens after you no longer have the phone number you’ve given everyone? That’s a P&L I don’t want to see.
Now, I should say, this article is not meant to be mean to any free email service. They are awesome services, and Gmail single-handedly renovated email. For that, we all should be grateful. The service should simply not be used for business. Your personal email is another matter.
Look the Part
An old saying goes, “Big businesses spend their time trying to look small, and small businesses spend their time trying to look big.” There’s no better way to look like a fly-by-night than to have [email protected] Honestly, I’m embarrassed for business owners when I’m handed a business card containing a free email address.
This is not about money. This is about perception. Regardless of your business model, or what you sell, your email address should involve your company’s domain name. Your web hosting provider likely includes email hosting with your web site’s hosting cost (Megabytes does). It’s just a matter of setting up an email address.
Someone working for you should be using services provided by the company. Why? Simple. What happens when they move on. If you allow an employee to use his/her personal email address, then the emails and the customers leave when that employee leaves.
Providing an email address to each employee solves this problem. When the employee departs, the email address is forwarded to the replacement employee, or the employee’s supervisor. Then any email sent is received and handled, seamlessly. Protecting your customer relationships is good business, and that includes email.
Access You Love
There are thousands of email providers. Because email is really the same, regardless of provider, the choice becomes your taste in features. For example, the refined, modern interface of Gmail is very attractive to some, but others prefer the traditional interface of Eudora. If you’re going to use your favorite email program, it doesn’t matter; but most of us end up using WebMail at least some of the time. Each service provider likely has different WebMail features.
If you’re a Gmail fan, Google Apps for Business is Gmail, but with your domain name and with full hosting control. This is a great option for small business looking for a cloud-based groupware solution. If you’re going to use an email program on your local computer, such as Thunderbird, then all you need is reliable IMAP email hosting.
In the end, email is the master tool, the one we all use, but be sure you and your business are using it correctly. Want help? Megabytes offers consultation and email hosting, call 618-559-2902 for more information.