If you’re a small business owner with a branded website, a swath of social media channels, and an active blog, you’re doing digital marketing right.
But if you’re using a personal email address, or an email hosted by companies typically associated with personal addresses (such as Gmail or Yahoo), you’re doing it wrong.
This small but crucial detail hinders businesses in ways their owners might not recognize. Here are five important reasons why you need an updated email address.
It just looks professional
Just like you wouldn’t show up to an important meeting in shorts and a t-shirt—your off-the-clock outfit, let’s call it—you shouldn’t represent your business with your off-the-clock email address.
A professional email address also builds trust and credibility among customers and potential clients. Your business takes on a life of its own when it has its own email—it’s more than you just you, it’s an organization where responsibility will be taken for a customer’s information in exchange for a product or service.
Finally, to that point, if you’re trying to project a bigger and more corporate image (as opposed to the potential reality of it just being you in your kitchen, for now), a professional email address is a good starting point.
It helps boost your brand
Having a dedicated business email address can be a big part of your digital marketing strategy, in a few ways.
For one, simply having a business email is an important and easy way to keep your company top-of-mind for customers and potential customers. The name of your company, not the name of some other company (such as Gmail) should be present when you hand out a card or otherwise make a connection.
Additionally, when it comes to email marketing, you’ll want to send your newsletters from a branded email address. Over 80 percent of professionals say that email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention—not Facebook, or print ads, but messages directly to email inboxes. You’re more likely to see people opening your messages and responding to them if they come from the company address rather than your personal one.
It’s inexpensive without looking cheap
There’s a difference between inexpensive and cheap, and email addresses are no exception.
Sure, it’s free to open a Gmail account and call it “NameOfYourBusiness@gmail.com.” But just because something is free doesn’t mean you should use it.
Using a business-branded email address isn’t necessarily free, but it’s often close to it. If you’ve already purchased a domain name, the business email address likely comes included in the cost.
It gives you control even as you grow
It’s somewhat understandable if you thought that because your business was just you, that it’s okay to use your personal email address for business.
But what happens when you start growing and bringing employees aboard? Are you going to give them access to your personal email?
Giving out business addresses to employees allows you to retain correspondence and keep it going if one of them leaves the company. If they leave with all their correspondence under their personal email, you’re out of luck. Instead, set all emails that address receives to forward to their replacement; or have employees use a general address like “firstname.lastname@example.org” so you can keep the same address alive.
If you do come up with a standardized way to assign new addresses to new employees, such as “FirstLast@business.com,” it’ll make it easy for people to find and correspond with the right person—reducing the amount of time needed to forward emails or make connections.
It may help your chances of obtaining credit
According to the Small Business Administration, one of the ways that lenders and creditors assess the creditworthiness of a company looking for a loan is by looking at their email address. Having a “real” domain will help convince lenders that you are a “real” business with an organized communication system.
Having and using your business address in correspondence with lenders will go a long way towards cementing your chances of getting the loan you need to expand your business and reach your goals.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be judged by our appearances, just the quality of the work we produce. But we live in a superficial world. And luckily, it’s easy enough to put on a nice shirt and nice shoes, and/or start using a professional email address to conduct business. This small step can go a long way towards making you successful.