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, we can all agree that CoolDude47779@Hotmail.com isn’t going to land many clients.
In this guide, we explain the 3 simple rules to creating a professional email address. First and foremost, you need to use your own domain. Then, apply a standard email format that looks professional.
Get a Free Professional Email Address
When you’re ready to create your email address, our free business email address guide will show you how to get setup if you already have a website. If you need a place to host your website, Bluehost offers a business email and small business website hosting for as little as $2.95/month.
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).
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 create up to 5 email accounts with a website hosting plan for just $2.95/month. 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. Click here to check out Bluehost’s hosting plans.
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.
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.
Professional Email Address Examples
Each of these 5 common email username formats are useful for different scenarios:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 with this format, however.
4. 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 can still help to make your address more memorable.
5. A Generic Name – Info@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 these email addresses to forward to another account.
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. Using a personal email address on your “Contact” page can look unprofessional and leave the impression of a smaller operation. Not to mention, you generally don’t want to give out your personal address to everyone who stumbles on your website.
If you don’t have a website yet, read our guide on how to create one and get a free business email address for $2.95 per month.
A generic address, like Info@YourDomain.com, looks more professional, and allows you to hide your main email address. It’s also typically more useful, since you can forward emails to multiple accounts. For example, an email sent to Sales@YourDomain.com can be forwarded to your sales managers. An email sent to Press@YourDomain.com can be forwarded to you and your social media manager, and so on.
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 create a generic email (like Info@YourDomain.com) and forward it to one or more personal email addresses.
In the example above, Info@moonyguitars.com is being forwarded to my personal address of Jeremy@moonyguitars.com. If I wanted it to forward to additional employees, like my general manager, I would simply click “submit” and then “add email forwarder” to set it up again.
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, be sure to check out Bluehost, where you can get email, web hosting, and a domain for only $2.95 a month.