Top 9 things to consider when choosing a professional email address
From which email system to use to potential collaboration features, find out more about what you need to think about when setting up your email accounts
1. What domain name should you use?
Registering a domain name, also known as a web address (e.g., yournewbusinessname.com) is the first step to getting a professional email address. It’s important to choose the right domain name as this will form part of your professional email address (e.g., email@example.com) and is an important aspect of your overall business identity.
You will also have to choose a domain name extension such as .com or .net. Many businesses choose to use .com as it is a widely used and recognised domain extension around the world. Using your company name is usually a good choice for a domain name, but equally a description of what your business does also works well (e.g. BestbakeryinLondon.com).
2. Who do you need professional email addresses for?
Before you start on the road to getting a professional email address, it’s worth taking time to ask yourself what you will be using it for. This includes thinking about how many people in your business will need an email address and if you want them identified personally in the email address. For example, you may want to use an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org for an inbox that multiple people are sharing, rather than creating separate emails for each person.
Email addresses defined by role or department, rather than by an individual’s name, are also often used as an unmonitored inbox in connection with the distribution of newsletters that do not require a response. Even if you are the only employee, it can be helpful to use this method to filter your emails. It also means that customers or suppliers always have a single point of contact regardless of who answers the email.
3. Should you use a free or paid email system?
Once you have registered your domain and email addresses, you now have a choice about how you manage those email addresses. Typically, you will be able to use the host server provided by the company that you registered your domain with to direct your emails via a free hosted email provider like Gmail or Outlook. As an alternative, you may pay for a business specific email service such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Business.
The first two options will allow you to get up and running quickly and cheaply, but the paid services may offer you extra features like bigger storage and additional support services.
4. What email applications should you 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. 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, for example, give easy access on the move and web applications like FastMail, Gmail or Microsoft Outlook can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. By making use of each of these applications to access email, you can ensure that your small business is truly mobile.
5. Do you need extra collaboration features?
Email can be much more than a way to send messages and files to contacts, it can help you collaborate better across your business.
When selecting email applications, look out for additional business features, such as shared calendars or address books, as they can be very useful tools to help you manage your business and collaborate with others.
6. Is the email service reliable?
Email is a vital function for your business so you should only look to use reliable, well regarded providers for email hosting. Do your research and find a provider that has been successfully operating for a number of years and is well regarded by the industry. Another factor to look for is to check if they have consistent ‘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.
7. Will your data be secure?
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. With regular backups, your vital data is safely stored, so should the worst happen and your system goes down, you won’t lose your information.
8. Is your email service fit for the future?
It’s likely that registering your domain name and business email is just one of the first steps on the journey to building your business. Make sure that you choose an email system that will grow with your business and still be fit for this purpose in years to come.
With this in mind, it’s important to 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.
9. Will it fit your budget?
As with any business decision, cost is a key factor to consider. 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 a good deal.
This article is a part of the ‘Getting Online’ series sponsored by Verisign.