Setting up your business email address: What you need to know

A professional email address is an important part of building a brand. Read our guide on choosing, registering and hosting the right domain and email extensions…

For any new business, creating a brand that resonates with your target market is crucial. And a key part of that is your web and email addresses.

As Bradley McLoughlin, a partner at fast growing accountancy firm Braant, says: “When we started the business, the brand was essential in obtaining trust in the marketplace [and] our URL/domain name and email addresses were a big part of the overall branding strategy.”

The email addresses that you post on your website or print on flyers or advertising posters not only provide an easy way for potential customers to get in touch, they also play a major role in shaping how your business is perceived.

And having a proper business email address is vitally important. We all have personal email addresses, which usually begin with a variation of our names – ie: Joe.Bloggs@ – and end with the domain address of an ISP (Internet Service Provider) or perhaps that of a specialist provider such as Gmail.com or Hotmail.com.

If you’re a sole proprietor or operating as a one person limited company, it might be tempting to either use your existing address or set up a new one – using your-company-name‘@gmail.com’ for instance – as a quick and easy means to set the email ball rolling. After all, addresses such as these are usually free and they can be set up within minutes.

However, a dedicated business email address – one that includes the company name or the service or product you offer – ties the appropriate domain to its mailbox(s). This assures the customer that the business itself is a distinct entity and there is no opportunity for confusion between messages that flow to and from the business and those that are sent and received by a private individual.

In practice, this means that your business address will probably look something like: Joe.Bloggs@your-company-brand.com . You might of course have mailboxes for several or perhaps dozens of staff members, plus generic prefixes such as info@, but the presence of the company name reinforces the branding.

Getting started with setting up an email

The good news is that setting up a business email address is not difficult, nor is it expensive.

The first step is to register a domain name that is relevant to your business. If you’ve already set up a website, you’ve already done this. For instance, if your web address is www.your-company-brand.com, then you might be able to get a free email address with the same domain name (@your-company-brand.com) and get access to a limited web based email service (box) together with your registered domain name. Otherwise, you have to ask your registrar (= company through which you registered your domain name) to assist you in the set up.

If you haven’t as yet done this, there are a few things you need to think about. A web address must include a domain name extension such as .com or .net. Together they form a complete domain, such as www.your-company-brand.com, which can be used for web and email addresses. In the case of the domain name extension, many businesses opt for a .com as it is one of the most widely used extensions in the world.

The right combination

Some business owners like to see their company name in the domain, but be aware that if it’s a common name, you may find that your preferred address is already taken. If that’s the case, you might have to be a bit more creative with your word ordering or spelling to find a combination that is available. You could also consider selecting a domain that utilises keywords that describe what your business offering is.

You can check if your preferred domain name is available as a .com in the toolbar below now.

The easiest way to then register a domain name is to go to an internet domain registrar/web-hosting company.

Email systems

If you have registered your domain name and have chosen a package that includes email hosting, you are ready to set up a business email account. To do this you need to marry your domain to an email tool or client.

Arguably the easiest way to do this is to use the email tools provided by your registrar. These days, most of them offer a range of email and web services. Put simply, they make it easy to set up websites (using templates), blogs and multiple mailbox addresses using the domain that you’ve just registered.

Having multiple mailboxes means you can assign an address to everyone in your company using the same domain coupled with a prefix. Thus you might have Joe.bloggs@, Jill.Smith@ and a generic mailbox addressed sales@.

A web hosting service may offer you a range of email options. These include:

Mail forwarding.

Under this arrangement you can have a company email address, but any messages sent to it are forwarded on to your own personal email address. This is quick to set up, but when you reply, the email will bear your personal email address.

Webmail.

Mail is stored on servers operated by your registrar and accessed by you and your staff via a web browser, similar to the manner in which Gmail or Hotmail may be accessed. Depending on your deal with your registrar, you might have multiple individual email addresses.

Connectivity with email clients.

If you’re already using a desktop email client application, such as Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird, these can be configured to work with the domain name you registered through your registrar. The mail is downloaded onto PCs or servers within your company and, again, you can set up multiple addresses. These clients offer a range of important and useful functions, such as calendar integration. However, setup can be tricky if you have multiple mailboxes (and computers) as you may need to run and maintain an email server (hardware and software) in-house.

A fourth alternative is to use a hosted service, such as Amazon’s Workmail, Google Apps for Work, or the hosted version of Microsoft Outlook. Essentially, these offer a variation on the Webmail theme in that mail is stored on the provider’s servers. However, they incorporate the sophistication of professional email clients. Though you have to pay for the service beyond any sums paid to your registrar, the fees are not huge.

Web-hosting combined with email functionality can cost less than £100 a year for a small company and, in addition to web presence, you will be able to send and receive emails at an address that contributes immensely to the branding of your business. It’s a worthwhile investment.

This article is a part of the ‘Getting Online’ series sponsored by Verisign.