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How to set up a business email

Wondering how to set up a business email? Conflicted between Gmail, Outlook or something in between? Simply follow our five steps to business email success

It can be tempting to use a personal email address for business purposes, especially if you're just starting out. But it isn't the best option.

According to a Verisign UK survey from 2016, 78% of UK consumers trust a business email more if it comes from a company-branded email address. So, nailing that professional and approachable email identity is vital to building that vital customer to brand relationship.

As well as being a bonus for customers, having a separate email account for your business is also incredibly useful for you. A separate account is easier to track, easier to prioritise, and easier to manage. If you aren't sure how to set up a business account, this page is for you – fortunately, the process is simple and the associated costs are very manageable.

Read on for our step-by-step guide or, if you're only looking for a little bit of information, click a link below to visit that section directly.

Register a domain name

Your domain name plays several roles. It the address that a user will type and see when they visit your site, but it is also going to be a part of your email address; for that reason, the domain name you choose needs to be as close to your brand name as possible. A brand that stretches across your entire physical and web presence is far easier for consumers to follow, and promotes brand memorability.

The easiest way to register a domain name is to go use an internet domain registrar or web hosting company. Web hosting, with a plan that includes email functionality, can cost less than £100 a year, depending on the size of your company. Paying for this feature will provide you both a web presence, in the form of your site, as well as the features required to send and receive emails from your business email address. For the benefits this provides to your business, the investment is well worth it.

Take a look at the providers below – each of them provide domain names with email functionality.

1&1 IONOS

Best for: combined hosting and domain name, with email functionality

Cost: from $1 a month (available in the UK)

Features: professional email address, matching domain, 2GB storage and up to 25 email accounts to start

Get 1&1 now

Bluehost

Best for: WordPress hosting and email

Cost: from £2.43 a month

Features: automatic WordPress Install and Updates, free SSL site Certificate, free Domain Name for 1st year

Get Bluehost now

Hostgator

Best for: ease of use

Cost: from &2.75 a month (available in the UK)

Features: 24/7 support, 45-day money back guarantee, 99.9% uptime

Get HostGator now

If your business name is quite common, or the domain is already taken, you should consider alternatives. You want to make sure your choice is still as close to your brand as possible, but with something relevant to differentiate you from competitors. For example, owner@yourbusinessmanchester.com might be suitable if your business is Manchester based.


Decide which email system you want to use

In most cases, as in the ones above, the hosting or domain provider will direct emails to you via free hosted providers like Gmail or Outlook. For extra features, you may consider paying for a business-specific service like Microsoft Office 365, but this is unlikely to be required in the early stages of any business.

Using Gmail or Outlook as a free, hosted email system will allow you to get up and running quickly and cheaply.

The domain or hosting provider you choose will also help you to complete this process as part of your sign-up, so there's no need for any complex working on your side.


Link your domain to an email tool or client

This isn’t as complicated as it sounds, all you need to do is use the email tools provided by your registrar (whoever you registered your domain with). Your registrar will make it easy to set up a website, create a blog and multiple mailbox addresses using your registered domain.

The range of email services typically offered by a web host include:

Mail forwarding: Provides a company email address, but any messages sent to it are forwarded on to your own personal email address. 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 Gmail or Hotmail.

Connectivity: If you’re already using a desktop email client application like Microsoft Outlook, it can be configured to work with your registered domain name. The mail is downloaded onto PCs or servers within your company and you can set up multiple addresses. Email clients offer a range of functions, such as calendar integration. However, setup can be tricky if you have multiple mailboxes as you may need to run and maintain an email server in-house.

Hosted service: Think 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.


Set up multiple mailboxes

Why us multiple inboxes? Multiple inboxes mean that everyone in your business can be assigned an email that uses the same domain name, but with their own name as the the prefix. For example: joe@yourbusiness.com, katie@yourbusiness.com.

Most businesses, no matter the size, will have a mix of email address representing individuals or group accounts accessible by multiple people. For example, if you have three people in sales and want them to share a single inbox for some contacts, you might create: sales@yourbusiness.com.


Consider your email apps

Wondering which email applications you should use? There are three main types of applications you can to use to access your business email:

  • desktop
  • web
  • mobile.

You will probably want to use a mixture of all three access methods to ensure that your small business is truly mobile. Desktop applications, including Microsoft Outlook or Postbox for example, allow you to access email when you’re at the computer in the office.

Mobile apps, such as Boxer, Microsoft Outlook Android/iOS or Gmail Android, give easy access on the move, whilst web applications like FastMail, Gmail or Microsoft Outlook can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection.


Scale your email marketing with CRM

Once you're set up with your email addresses and have begun sending and receiving them regularly, you may also want to consider adopting tools to help optimise your user journeys and email sequences.

A customer relationship management (CRM) system can work with a number of platforms, including email, to improve the way you can work with your database. Using an database that can also connect phone numbers and other useful information, you can create bespoke email journeys for your users. This is particularly useful in sales and marketing, where you want to be able to track who has been contacted before, but also what messaging they have received.

There are several ways to make use of this sort of system; you can create email sequences that allow you to build and maintain brand following, design and format commercial emails to promote certain products and services to past customers who may be interested in more of the things that you offer. Though it may not be essential for every business in the beginning, early adoption can be an excellent way to make sure that you make the most of a CRM system.

Interested in enhancing your email activity with CRM – compare top CRM providers today for free.


Setting up a business email


Tips on structuring business email addresses

Now you know where to go to set up your business email, it’s time to consider the finer details, like how to structure your business email.

Here are the top things to keep in mind when structuring your business email address.

Think of your audience:  a range of people will want to contact your business and, as it grows, the sort of people contacting you will only grow. This could include customers with questions, clients wanting advice, or prospective business partners trying to get in touch. A mixture of personal and professional is a good approach to match all of these intents; specific emails for people in your business will help people direct their communications appropriately.

Structure your internal email portfolio: shared email addresses are a great way to make sure customer queries are answered. This can take time though and effort to get right though, so develop a clear system for your users. As mentioned in the section above, a CRM system can be a great way to keep this effective.

For Neil Westwood, managing director of Magic Whiteboard, “The advantage of using a sales@address is that we don’t miss any emails,” he says. “All staff can see the same emails and none go missing. One of us will action it.”

“We flag emails and colour code them when they have been actioned, or we delete them,” says Westwood. “We manage emails with the four D’s: Do it, Don’t do it, Delay it (to ask for advice) or Delete it.”

By handling emails in this way, managers have complete visibility in terms of incoming orders and questions as everything goes into a shared pool. “I like to see all the orders and web enquiries so I get a feel for what customers are asking,” adds Westwood.

Use an alias: in a small company you may have more than one person handling several functions. Your sales manager may also handle customer interaction, for example, and so having alias emails can help to structure everything properly. In this instance, you might have: sales@mybusiness.com and customerservice@mybusiness.com. As the business grows, these accounts can then be accessible by more people, if and when needed.

Branding is key: email can be integral to your business's brand. If you work in the creative industries you may want to choose email accounts that reflect your business personality.

Account director Gemma Ray, of Liverpool-based PR and reputation management company Jayne Moore Media, thought the generic info@ format was “too boring” so instead plumped for itsneverdull@jaynemooremedia.com. A small element of creative flair can really boost your branding by adding a touch of sparkle to the otherwise mundane email address.

Personal protocols: most businesses have a set email protocol that applies to all staff; this might be first name followed by and then company name. Think about the size of your company now, and how big it might be in the future. If you choose to go for just firstname@mybusiness.com, then this could become a problem in the future if you hire two people with the same name.

As Bradley McLoughlin, managing partner at accounting firm Braant points out,“We knew we’d end up employing a large number of bookkeepers and accountants, so the format ‘joe@’ wouldn’t work because we’d likely employ two Joes,” he says. “So we opted for the format of joe.bloggs@. This also projects a professional and transparent approach which fits with our overall ethos.”

Remember the important things: reliability, security and budget: check the consistency of your host providers uptime – i.e. the amount of time their service is available. Many paid for products will include support lines in their plans to make sure you have a point of contact in the event of an issue. Security and regular information backups are essential for all businesses, and the same is true of your email systems. As above, many paid for plans will include security features. Many services offer a mixture of services; balance your budget against the features you need – in the end, the better the system, the more you can do, and the better ROI.


Final thoughts

A dedicated business email address will include your company name and, or, the product or service that you provide. A dedicated business email address will also tie the appropriate domain to its mailboxes.

The simplest way to set up a business email is via the company you register your domain and host your website with. From there, it’s a matter of branding, organisation and structure.

As a reminder, these are our our top picks for hosting and email functionality.

1&1 IONOS

Best for: combined hosting and domain name, with email functionality

Cost: from $1 a month (available in the UK)

Features: professional email address, matching domain, 2GB storage and up to 25 email accounts to start

Get 1&1 now

Bluehost

Best for: WordPress hosting and email

Cost: from £2.43 a month

Features: automatic WordPress Install and Updates, free SSL site Certificate, free Domain Name for 1st year

Get Bluehost now

Hostgator

Best for: ease of use

Cost: from &2.75 a month (available in the UK)

Features: 24/7 support, 45-day money back guarantee, 99.9% uptime

Get HostGator now

The key to successful email management is to assign the correct people to receive the right messages and define the actions that should be taken. Equally, businesses should think about when communications between the customer and generic address should be replaced by a more personal touch.

Bryn Glover
Bryn Glover

Editor

As Editor of Startups, Bryn runs content strategy and our annual campaigns. A lover of small business, you can find him writing about exciting entrepreneurs and UK industry trends.

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