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

We’ve all got one or more email addresses, and it can be tempting to use a personal email for business purposes, especially if you’re just starting out on your business journey. But, popping your personal email onto your business cards doesn’t look very professional.

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

Having a clear and distinct difference between business and personal accounts is both helpful to you and your customers. And, considering how quick, easy and relatively low-cost it is to set up a business email, you’d be silly not to.

Read on for a comprehensive guide on how to go about setting up a business email, and don’t forget to check out our pages on how to host a website and comparison of the best website hosts out there.


In this article, we will cover:

In this article you will learn:


Setting up a business email, first steps

Step 1: register a domain name


Building a website for your business idea is easier than you might think. Our online tool ranks the top website builders that offer free trials.

Your domain name is also known as your web address. For example: your-new-business.com can be used as both your domain name and your business email address, for consistency and brand memorability.

A domain name extension is the .com or .net part of your web address.
The easiest way to register a domain name is to go to an internet domain registrar/web-hosting company. 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.

If your business name is 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.

For example: your-new-business-name-location.com


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Step 2: decide which email system you’d like to use

Typically, the host server provided by the company that you registered your domain with will direct your emails via a free hosted email provider like Gmail or Outlook.

Alternatively, you may pay for a business-specific email service such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Business.

Using Gmail or Outlook as a free, hosted email provider will allow you to get up and running quickly and cheaply. However, paid services may offer you extra features like bigger storage and additional support services.

Step 3: marry 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:

Service Definition
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 with email clients If you’re already using a desktop email client application, such as Microsoft Outlook, 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 you can set up multiple addresses.

Email 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.

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.


Step 4: set up multiple mailboxes

Why are multiple mailboxes a good idea?
Multiple mailboxes mean that everyone in your business can be assigned a business email, using the same domain name but with their own name as a prefix. For example: Joe.bloggs@your-new-business.com or sales@your-new-business.com

Most businesses of any size will have a mix of email addresses sitting in front of the company domain name. Some will be personal and others may be shared and accessible by all or some members of staff.

Step 5: 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 and 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.


Structuring your 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 diverse range of people will want to contact your business, and, as your business grows, this demographic will only widen. This could mean customers looking for answers, loyal clients seeking advice or prospective business partners trying to get in touch.

    With this in mind, a mixture of both personal and dedicated addresses is a good idea. For example, Joe.Bloggs@your-new-business.com and accounts@your-new-business.com. This will help the customer know who and where to direct their enquiry.

  • Structure your internal email portfolio.
    Shared email addresses are a great way to make sure no customer query goes unanswered, because multiple people will be able to see it at once.

    This takes time, thought and consideration. It’s essential to develop a clear system so eyeryone in the team with access to the shared inbox knows when a query has or hasn’t been answered.

    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.”
    In the case of Magic Whiteboard, once an incoming mail arrives in a shared inbox, the company follows a set process to ensure it’s dealt with.
    “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, the sales director – let’s call her Anna Smith – might have her own personal mailbox, which receives all messages addressed to her. In addition, she can set up an ‘alias’ such as a sales@address which will also direct messages to her personal mailbox.

    This ensures that Anna takes responsibility for incoming sales-related messages. As the business changes, traffic from the ‘sales’ address can be redirected to other members of staff.

  • Remember, branding is key.
    The humble email address can play an important part in the branding of your business.

    If you work in the creative industries, you might want to go for something just a little bit wacky to set yourself apart from the crowd. If you work in management consultancy, finance or accountancy, however, then you might conclude that sobriety is the order of the day.

    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 members of staff. This may be first name (John) followed by the @ and domain name. Or it could be first name dot second name (John.Smith) or even a last name followed by the initial of the first name.

    Some companies, like Magic Whiteboard, opt for a simple first name prefix, because, as Westwood puts it, “We are a small business and wanted it to feel more personal.”

    However, this can cause problems as the company grows. What happens if you have more than one John or Kate? if you’re planning to expand rapidly, a combination of first and second names is probably more flexible.

    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.”

  • Don’t forget the important things: reliability, security and budget.

    Check the consistency of your host’s ‘uptime’ (i.e., time that their service is available). Some paid for services will offer enhanced customer services including a support phone line so, if something does go wrong, you can speak to someone straight away.

    Registering your domain name and business email are some of the first things you do when building your business. Make sure that you choose an email system with ‘growing room’ so it’s still fit for purpose in years to come.
    Consider the size limits of your inbox storage. You may not need a large amount at first, but running out of space could be very inconvenient and cost you more in the long term.

    Also, security and regular information backups are essential for all businesses and the same is true of email. If you have opted for a business class email system, such as Microsoft Office 365, it will typically have privacy and security features built in.

    Lastly, you need to make sure to strike a balance between getting the features you want and staying within your budget. Ensure you shop around and compare different services to confirm you’re getting the best value for money.


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 mailbox(es).

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.
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.

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