As a business owner, if someone gave you the option to promote your brand daily with little or no extra cost or effort to you, would you do it? It’s surprising the number of retailers and other businesses who miss this opportunity every day by continuing to use free email services such as Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, or other similar providers for their primary email address. Every time you send an email or someone grabs your business card with your generic email address (ex. User.Name@gmail.com), you miss out on the opportunity to reinforce the brand that you have worked so hard to build. By simply using an email address with your store name (User.Name@YourRetailStore.com), you create a professional image and a name that your customers can remember.
There are a lot of reasons why people opt to stick with a generic email. We’ve heard it all before …” I love Gmail, I use a free account for personal use and my store’s address for business use, I’ve been using AOL for years and everyone knows this address, I don’t see the point in switching it, etc.” Even though we provide our clients with 10 or more of these email addresses as a part of our service, they often go unused. For as many reasons that are given for continuing to use generic emails, there are even more compelling reason to make the switch.
Keep it Professional
When you see a generic email like User.Name@gmail.com, what is your first impression of the business? Maybe someone just getting started. A small business. Perhaps not very professional. An email address that matches the store’s domain instills a sense of confidence in the retailer; it provides a sense of legitimacy.
I’m also not a fan of adding a signature on a free email account that links visitors back to your website. Call me old school, but I believe you present a more professional front when both your email address and website link come from the same address. You don’t give out your personal home address and send all the mail from your store there do you? Why would you do the same thing with email?
Building Relationships is Personal
Like some people, you may prefer to keep your business and personal email addresses separate. Let me tell you a story about why you should reconsider. Only yesterday I was stopped on the street by someone who wants us to develop a website for his new bike shop. How did he find us? Not from Google. Not from our website. Not from some fancy brochure or marketing. Instead, he remembered we build websites from my email signature. His relationship with me is not professional, it’s personal. Our sons were in the same Cub Scout Troop a couple of years ago!
Marketing, Marketing, Marketing!
Email is marketing and it takes only minutes to add a signature to every email to constantly promote your business. Every time your customer sees your domain or store name to the right of the “@” symbol, that’s one more time for your name to be imprinted in their memory. If they go back to search through emails, will they remember how to find User.Name@gmail.com or will they remember to search for YourRetailStore.com?
If you absolutely can’t give up your free email account then at least configure it to pass email through your domain name. Many providers such as Google offer this as an option, and although a bit more to setup, people will see your store’s address even when using Gmail. This is great compromise – especially if you can’t live without your Google Docs and email.
So, if you already have your email address linked to your domain name, you’re on the right track for promoting your business and building your brand. If not, consider making the change because as a retailer, everything circles back to your business and you should be compelled to promote it at every turn. Make sure your email address is the same as your website address and always, always, always include a signature on every email message. You never know who might walk into your store because of it!