75% of customers agree a professional email address is key to building trust with a small business, according to GoDaddy. In an era where consumers are increasingly wary of scams, it’s the least you can do to get off on the right foot.
While we can all agree CoolDude47779@Hotmail.com isn’t going to land you many clients, what exactly are the ingredients to a good professional business email address?
In this guide, we explain the 3 simple rules to creating a professional email address:
- Always Use Your Own Domain
- Avoid Nicknames and Numbers: Use a Standard Email Format Instead
- Create Special Email Addresses to Display On Your Website
When you’re ready to create your own email address, check out our guide on How to Set Up a Free Business Email Address. If you already have a domain, you can create a business email for free. Otherwise, you can purchase a domain, business email and small business website for as little as $2.95 per month using Bluehost.
Rule #1: Always Use Your Own Domain
To leave the best impression with your email address, the first thing you need to do is buy your own domain. In other words, use JDoe@YourBusiness.com instead of JDoe@Yahoo.com or JDoe@Gmail.com.
Years ago, a custom domain was a mark of professionalism. It showed experience and dedication that you chose to buy a domain for your email address (and presumably, created a website too).
Today, however, it’s more of an expectation. Custom domains are cheaper than ever, and it takes just 15 minutes to create an email address with one (just see our guide on how to get free business email). Suffice to say, it’s less about looking professional and more about avoiding looking unprofessional to customers. A generic email address, at best, comes off as lazy or inexperienced. At worst, it can leave the impression of a “fly-by-night” business or scam.
Other Reasons To Use a Custom Domain
Though avoiding unprofessionalism is often the biggest reason to purchase a custom domain, there’s a few others to keep in mind:
Cleaner and More Memorable Email
On a more practical level, custom domains allow you to create simpler and cleaner email user names. With a generic provider like Gmail, you probably won’t be so fortunate to find JDoe@Gmail.com available. Instead, you’ll have to opt for something like JDoe4855@Gmail.com, which isn’t nearly as memorable.
With your own domain, you literally get first dibs on whatever name you want. A custom domain email address will be easier to communicate, whether you’re shouting it across the room or printing it on business cards. It will also be easier for customers to remember and associate with your business.
Not Tied-down to an ISP
If you use a business email address that’s tied to your internet service provider (ISP), you should replace it immediately. With an email like @comcast.net or @verizon.net, you make yourself dependent on the continued use of that internet provider. Should you cancel Comcast internet, your email address goes away with it, along with all marketing efforts you used to promote that address.
How to Find a Domain For Your Business Email Address
Using the tool below, you can search for available domain names. For help brainstorming, check out our 25 domain name tips from the pros.
We recommend purchasing your domain through Bluehost since you can set up email accounts at no additional cost. GoDaddy is a little cheaper for domains (around $12/year), but you’ll have to pay an additional $3.49/month for each email account.
With Bluehost, it’s a flat $2.95/month for your domain and up to 5 business email accounts. Plus, you can create a WordPress website at no additional cost, which is an extremely popular platform for small business websites. You can check out some examples of WordPress sites on our walkthrough of creating a website with Bluehost.
Rule #2: Avoid Nicknames and Numbers: Use a Standard Email Format Instead
Besides your domain, the other key component to your email address is your username. It’s the JohnDoe part of JohnDoe@YourDomain.com.
Now, it goes without saying that a simple username like JohnDoe is going to look more professional than CoolDude477 or BeachGirl789. The question remains, however, whether you want to use your full name, first name only, a combination of name and initials, or a different username entirely.
As we outline below, each of these email username formats are useful for different scenarios:
Professional Email Address Examples
- First Name Only – John@YourDomain.com – This is the simplest and most popular professional email address format. Displaying just your first name is often the easiest to remember, leaves a personal connection with clients, and allows you to maintain privacy should you not want to disclose your last name. The downside is you’ll need to break the format if two or more employees have the same first name.
- First Name, Last Initial – JohnD@YourDomain.com – This has many of the same perks as the first option, but allows for more combinations should two employees have the same first name. Again, employees maintain some privacy, which can be helpful for support agents who speak with the occasional disgruntled customer.
- First Initial, Last Name – JDoe@YourDomain.com – This is actually the second most popular format after ‘first name only.’ It follows the logic that clients tend to remember last names over first names. You’re far less likely to have any duplicate usernames compared to the first two options, and it’s also more succinct than the next option of displaying full first and last names. Don’t expect to hide your identity if you’re signing your emails with your first name, however.
- Full Name (First & Last) – JohnDoe@YourDomain.com – This is popular for executives, professionals, and sole proprietors like real estate agents who consider their full name a brand. While you can always display your full name next to your email address, regardless of the format you choose (as we’ll explain next), this still helps to make your address more memorable.
- A Generic Name – Info@YourDomain.com or Support@YourDomain.com – Generic usernames are useful to display on your website. Giving visitors special email addresses to contact for support, sales, press, etc. looks professional and keeps your business better organized. As we’ll describe further below, you can set up emails going to each address to forward to multiple employees’ accounts.
Set Your Email Display Name
Remember, your email address is only half the picture. When you create a professional email address, you can also choose a display name that appears next to it on your messages:
Just like your email username, there’s a few different approaches to display names that are useful in different scenarios:
- Full Name (First & Last) – John Doe <JohnDoe@YourDomain.com> – The simplest approach is to display your full name next to your email address. This is typically what you want to do unless you’re using the email address for an automated mailing campaign, cold emails, or support emails.
- First Name & Company – John @ Super Pets Supply <JohnD@YourDomain.com> – This approach is good if visitors aren’t familiar with you personally, but are familiar with your company. Use this display name format if you’re cold emailing, responding to visitors who submitted a form, or sending support emails.
- Company Only – Super Pets Supply <Newsletter@YourDomain.com> – Many businesses display their company name when sending promotional emails, like a newsletter campaign. A visitor who joins a mailing list will recognize your company name, but probably not any employees at your business.
Rule #3: Create Special Email Address(es) to Display On Your Website
The address you use to correspond with clients is typically different from the one you display on your website. Unless you’re a sole proprietor (and arguably, even if you are a sole proprietor) using a personal email address on your “Contact” page can look unprofessional and leave the impression of a smaller operation.
Using a generic address, like Info@YourDomain.com, looks more professional. Its also more convenient, since you can forward emails sent to that address on to multiple accounts. So, for example, a sales email can be forwarded to your personal email and your sales manager. A press email can be forwarded to you and your social media manager, etc.
Most business email providers will make it easy to set this up. You can create “Group” emails that forward to multiple accounts, or create email forwarding rules. With Bluehost, for example, there’s a special menu called “Forwarding” where you can specify which addresses forward where.
Your inbox should not be your CRM system: that’s a sure way to lose track of business relationships. Start cultivating your business relationships by using a CRM. If your professional email is through Gmail, we highly recommend you use Prosperworks, a CRM software that integrates effortlessly with google. Click here for a free 14 day trial.
The Bottom Line
Once upon a time, a professional email address was a way of separating yourself from the crowd. It spoke to your dedication and left the impression of a skilled and established business.
Today, the situation is a bit less glossy. As domains have become cheap and small business websites ubiquitous, a professional email addresses is the first step to prove you’re not a scam. When you’re ready to get started, click here for our guide on how to set up a free business email address.