This One Overlooked Mistake Can Cost You Your Credibility
I love making new connections, don’t you?
My favorite part of the exchange is when we swap business cards. As a design-obsessed person, I adore looking at business cards of all shapes and sizes. Business cards are such a great way to make a solid first impression. Heavy card stock, gold foil and other elements scream “I’m too legit to quit!” A flimsy card, on the other hand, shows you couldn’t care less about your business.
We spend so much time making sure our business cards align with our brand so they can make the best impression possible. You show off your new cards on Instagram. Proudly hand them out to your friends and family. Carry them with you all the time.
When you meet me, you confidently hand over your card and I admire the design and weight until….. I see your email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or email@example.com. Or the best: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I now want to cry. I want to ask you why?? Why did you spend so much time on your brand and your cards and getting the gold foil placement JUSTT right only to not bother setting up a professional email address?
Don’t you realize you just undid all the hard work you put into your business? You thought about your business name, excitedly registered your domain name, built up the design of your brand and then… just said “Screw it!” when it came to a custom domain email.
Why You Want A Custom Email
It’s a no brainer! The more consistent you keep your business elements, the closer you are to having a dazzling brand. Not only it is difficult to remember when your emails/handles/urls are different, but it can very well make the process of finding and contacting you so exhausting they just give up.
Despite what you think, no one sleeps with your business card under their pillow.
Things get lost. People spill coffee. If your email is difficult to remember or just didn’t match the other things on your business card (hint, domain , hint!) then guessing the correct email is a shot in the dark.
It shows you aren’t running a hobby or side-hustle. Even if you are side-hustling, you are taking it seriously.
I judge harshly when I see a business using a non-professional email. In fact, I immediately dismiss them and move on to someone else. Especially if they are calling themselves luxe-anything. A gmail email is anything but luxe.
I know an oral surgeon who runs a booming practice and is highly sought after in his industry. Yet his email address is @aol.com and says otherwise. While this doesn't bother the majority of clients (and certainly doesn’t take away from his stellar skills), I believe the world is catching up to business best practices and eventually everyone will be judged on EVERY element of their business- like their email. Details matter.
If you can’t set up (or pay someone to set up) a custom email, what else can’t you do?
It communicates you aren’t as professional as you think you are.
It’s another opportunity to brand your business
Instead of your main contact email being “email@example.com” you can use something that aligns with your business’s tone. hi@ or sup@ might work if you’re casual, while concierge@ might work if you’re formal (like me!) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I love Credo Beauty’s Customer Support email: email@example.com
Who wouldn’t want that? Their email communicates a lot about how they treat their customers.
It Demonstrates Competence
Who wants to work with someone who isn’t good at their service/product? Would you want to go to a heart surgeon who takes his or her clients with a grain of a salt, or do you want to go to the surgeon who is going to do everything in their power to help you, down to even referring you out to another provider if he deems your issue out of his scope?
While going to a competent doctor might seem obvious, it’s definitely not the case when you replace “doctor” with manicurist, editor, developer, or even tutor.
Providing a product isn’t the same as providing a GOOD product.
For example, if I find an app developer and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org I might question his ability to build a decent app. I might also question his professionalism, how seriously he takes his work and whether he is the right fit for me. Turns out he has a free consult, so I spent half an hour speaking with him. I don’t get any solid information on his process, I still don’t know what to expect when working with him nor do I have a concrete idea of his prices. If I had stopped at judging his email address, I could have saved myself thirty minutes.
I think this is the future of work, when efficiency overpowers curiosity.
At the end of the day, we all need things done. In choosing who we pay to get those things done, we don’t have the luxury of wasting time. Judging a business by their email address is a great way to filter out the people who more likely than not won’t live up to their claims.
I am very much aware it’s possible for people with a custom email address to also be incompetent, uncommunicative and overall just terrible, but I think that likelihood is just slightly less.
How To Get A Custom Email
Now that you’re on board with having a custom email address, you are probably thinking to yourself “That’s nice and all.. but how do I get one without tearing my hair out?!”
If you’re tech-savvy.. register one with Google or Zoho. Google is the go-to partner for custom domains because you get a new email that is @domain.com but allows you to use GSuite’s inbox the same as your Gmail. If you build a Squarespace website, they have an integration with GSuite so that you can set it up from right within your website. It’s pretty easy and can be free for the first year depending on your website subscription plan.
If you don’t want to pay for an email, Zoho is the way to go. They offer free email addresses. Yes, they are totally free. No, you don’t need to give a credit card. Caveat? There’s a limit on email storage and the number of addresses you can set up, but you likely won’t exceed any of these limits as a solopreneur. Ever.
Setting up Zoho involves changing MX records for your domain and editing the DNS settings.
If this all sounds like gibberish..
If you’re not tech-savvy.. hire a web designer to do the honors. I set up a custom email for all clients. Most web designers include a custom email in their packages, but if you’re DIY then you could follow the guides.
Registering a custom email address is usually the last hump entrepreneurs never get over.
Yet they parade themselves around as professionals while looking like fools. Be the professional. Be the entrepreneur with a clean address. And then continue impressing the pants off your customers. They will believe you more now.