The Hostway Blog

Is Using a Free or ISP-based Email Address Detrimental to Business?

Small-business decision-makers know the importance of a free or inexpensive utility, and free email services are everywhere. Funding is finite, and other aspects of the company are always begging for increased resources.

So it’s easy to see why some small businesses are on Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and the like: Maybe they started out with a business address like “mybusinessname@gmail.com,” and remain reticent to move? Perhaps they are afraid that changing addresses could confuse customers? Or maybe they just don’t see the point in paying for any service you can get free?

Whatever the circumstances, there’s a strong business case to be made for company branded, domain-based email (like “yourname@yourbusinessname.com”) – a case that draws upon issues of credibility, marketing and security:

1. Be Memorable. A business email address should be as memorable and unique as possible. There’s not much unique about your gmail address, is there? When you’re on a widespread free email service or ISP, it’s also difficult for people to remember which one it is. Was that a Yahoo address or Hotmail?

2. Be Conventional. People have also come to expect the name of a company to be located directly after the “@” sign of an email address. When you’re on a free service, it looks unreliable; it gives the impression that your business isn’t really a business, but rather an individual looking to sell a product or service. That leads to speculation on just how much of a foundation a business has, how many bad business days it may be from folding, and so on.

3. Be Consistent. Your business, in most cases, already has a website; presumably, it also already has a domain. Matching your email addresses to your website helps people find you. You may even already be paying to have them: Most website hosting packages come with some number of email accounts that match your web domain.

4. Be Read. Without your unique domain name on your email address, the risk of being seen as junk mail or as a scam increases greatly. Think about it: When you get an email from what appears to be a personal email account – one that is unfamiliar – with a “special offer,” do you always open it? Do you ever open it?

5. Be Secure. Domain-based email correspondence, unambiguous and reassuring, carries the added risk mitigation benefit of giving you access to departing employees’ email when they quit – something lacking from free email solutions. Control is a huge component: Having your employees on company-based email gives you control over your mission-critical business data.

How do you want your company to be seen? How secure should your information be? If the answers to these questions seem crucial to the future of your business, then a domain-based email solution makes sense.