What type of email address do you use for your business? Is it a free aol.com, gmail.com or yahoo.com one? Is it with your internet provider, comcast.net or verizon.net? Whether we’d like to admit it, having this type of email address for your business hurts your credibility. If you’ve ever gotten a business card without a physical address, or have been asked to pay cash only for a service for your business, then you know the feeling people get when you give them your card with an email address that isn’t at your own domain.
The biggest reason this happens is because it’s not normal. If you were to collect 100 business cards from random contacts, less than 10 of them would have a free email address. If it were expensive to have email at your own domain, then free email addresses would be more common, but with just a quick search on Google, we found that there are several providers who if you buy a domain and email service from them, they will set it all up for you. All at a cost of less than $50 per year. Now we don’t endorse or recommend these solutions because the quality of the email service is usually lacking, but it does reveal why it’s generally unacceptable to have a free email address for your business when it’s so inexpensive.
Besides how it makes your company appear to new contacts, using a free email address has additional risks. On several occasions, companies have sought our help when they terminate an employee who has hijacked the free email address they used. Free email addresses are established with individuals, not businesses. If a former employee doesn’t cooperate by giving the password to access the free email account, then there is little that can be done from a technical standpoint. The provider has a relationship with the user, so they won’t assist the company. IT consultants have no control over the free email system, so they can’t do anything either.
Once you start to consider email to be an important part of how your business communicates, you’ll want to have it running on a system that has all of the features a business might need. Some of these include full administrative control over the email accounts, ability to access former employee’s mailboxes, redirection of old email addresses, allowing coworkers access to your mailbox to name a few. In our experience, Microsoft Exchange does this best. While installing an in-house Exchange server is a large investment that many smaller companies don’t want to absorb, there are several hosted Exchange solutions that are much more affordable. Microsoft Office 365’s Exchange Online service for example is only $4 per month per user.
With all of these affordable solutions available, it’s easier to see why you need email at your own domain. To sum it all up, it’s better to put no email address than @aol.com on your business card. Once you decide that you need an email address to publish, have it at your own domain.