Use Your Own Domain!

Email has become one of the most important communication tools the world has seen. It has replaced the FAX machine as the way to correspond quickly, and for many people it is preferred over having phone conversations, especially when working with people in different time zones.

So given email’s importance to business communications, I’m surprised when I still see business people using email addresses provided by their ISP such as AOL, or by companies that provide them for free such as Yahoo and Google. It’s especially hard to understand when these companies already own their own domain.

Fortunately, by now most companies setting up a web site understand the point of having your own domain. But when it comes to email, some people still seem reluctant to make use of what they’re already paying for. Here are some reasons why you should use your own domain.

Portability

How successful would your business be if you kept changing your phone number? If you’re using someone else’s email service you’re at their mercy. If they get bought out (think Pacific Bell -> SBC -> AT&T), go out of business, or their service just gets so terrible that you decide to change providers, then you have to go through the process of notifying everyone that you have a new email address. Add in the expense of printing new business cards, and any other materials that have your email address on it. You also have to update any online directories where your email contact might be listed.

If you use your own domain, your email address stays the same for as long as you keep renewing your domain. You can change ISPs at will and never have to worry that you’ll lose business because your email address can be moved to the new ISP.

Branding

When you send an email, do you want to promote your business or Yahoo’s? You spend money and time trying to get people to your web site, why not make it easy for them to find you by using your own domain every time you send an email?

Professionalism

Using a free email service like Yahoo or Hotmail tells the world you’re cheap. To many people, an AOL address identifies that user as someone who can’t figure out the ‘real’ internet. Clueless and cheap are not traits you want to broadcast to your clients and customers.

Control

With an email address through a service like Yahoo, you’re stuck with what they give you both in features, and with how they handle spam. Yahoo, AOL, and Comcast are very prone to labeling valid emails as spam. Can your business afford to lose sales because customers’ emails end up in a spam folder?

It’s also true that mail coming from a free account is more likely to end up in someone else’s spam folder.