A short rant about email addresses | TravelResearchOnline

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A short rant about email addresses

Everyone… take note. I have a new email address. It’s: chelleistotallyawesome@aol.yahoo.msn.hotmail.com – you can remember that, right? How about homeagnt@yahoo.com? Surely your clients can remember that! They’ll store it in their address books forever. Maybe tvlagnt4u@hotmail.com, not to be confused with trvlagt4u@hotmail.com. Piece of cake, right?

Wrong.

Let me remind you that address books aren’t foolproof. Bookmarks go bad. Post-its get lost and business cards are great – as long as the information is guaranteed to remain accurate, which it’s not if someone else owns the name. Do you own the name AOL.com? Didn’t think so.

Your email address is your brand. Your brand is part of your business.  It’s a reflection of you, your professionalism and how seriously you take your business. AOL was not designed for business and neither was Yahoo, or Hotmail or any of the other free email services – except Gmail, which I’ll get to in a future article.

Pop quiz: anyone remember Home.com? AltaVista.com? They offered email services too – and Home.com went under and hundreds of thousands of their users lost their email accounts. AltaVista stopped offering email service years ago – and just yesterday I saw a contact in my address book still had that email address listed. I have no way of getting in touch with them. Their web address was a Homestead.com free address.

What if Bill Gates decided to buy AOL tomorrow, and decided that everyone now had to have a Hotmail.com address instead of AOL.com? Far fetched? Not in today’s economy. Spinoffs happen. Companies are bought, sold and shuttered every day.

When Home.com folded, hundreds of business owners had to reprint business cards and letterhead and wait for their yellow page ads to expire – and untold amounts of business was lost. When TCA Cable merged with Cox Cable, those users had to change their addresses, too.

Let me bottom line it for you.

Domain names are cheap. Less than $10 a year. Don’t risk one dollar of your hard-earned marketing budget by using an email address that you don’t own. Make a great first impression and get a name that reflects your brand and your business, and remember to renew it each year!

You can get hosting for as little as $7 a month, which includes email hosting. That’s a very small price to pay for your own piece of mind, and the security of owning your own little piece of virtual real estate, isn’t it?. If you don’t like that host, or they go out of business, you can move your name and nothing is interrupted. Trust me, in this day and age, savvy clients expect professionalism – from your logo to your website to your email address. You don’t have a second chance to make a first impression. You barely have 7 seconds before they surf on, toss your card and move on to your competitor.

Questions? Where would you rather email me:

chelle@travelwebtraining.com or chelleistotallyawesome@aol.yahoo.msn.hotmail.com – don’t be surprised if one of those bounces back, though.

Chelle Honiker Yarbrough, CTC lends her sass, moxie and training savvy to the travel industry, as she has since her humble career started in 1987 with Ask Mr. Foster. She speaks at several travel conferences a year, the next being the TradeShow in Orlando, September 12-14. Catch her there, or on Twiiter @chelleyarbrough or Facebook: Facebook.com/chelleyarbrough. TRO Readers can also signup at http://travelwebtraining.com for GeekSchool: A 12-week training class for busy pros on organization, social media and her favorite topic, WordPress.

  3 thoughts on “A short rant about email addresses

  1. Nolan Burris says:

    Right on Chelle! Having your own domain is too cheap and easy to ignore.

    Your own domain says “I am a professional.” Using Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, or the email address that came from your DSL/Cable provider says one thing loud and clear: “I am a hobbyist.”

    If you want to be taken seriously as a business professional, you have to act like a serious business professional.

    It really is cheap, easy, and will totally change your image for the better.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hear the pros but on an opposite side I have to also state some differing thoughts. To some people, having a Hotmail/Yahoo/AOL address is unprofessional and to others it’s normal and accepted as long as other factors are legitimate. There are a lot of conveniences and practicalities with general email domains including that in general mails can be accessed from anywhere quickly and there are not worries about domain failures where you need to get to important mails but can’t due to upgrades/problems certain domain names (especially inexpensive ones) can have. Security is good too overall. These general domain names can have their issues too, but they can be more convenient in general. I often hear from others about how their domain system will periodically have a problem or need an upgrade which is less an issue with general addresses. Also sometimes years of emails are saved and it’s not easy to just get a new domain name. My feeling is that sure it’s nice to have a separate domain name if you are starting from scratch but if not then don’t worry about unprofessionalism just because you have a general email domain [unless you use something silly like heythere@hotmail.com instead of first.last name@hotmail.com]. If you have a reputable agency and maybe website a customer shouldn’t be turned off because of your email address only otherwise that customer probably is too finnicky anyway. I agree it’s better in general for a dedicated domain mail and more professional, but it’s also more professional to not have casual days in offices and make people wear suits everyday. There is nothing wrong with a generic domain that can’t be overcome. It’s acceptable for a small business in my opinion just like working from home is not liked by everyone but acceptable if it suits you. Just be professional in all aspects and be cognizant that others may look down upon your address until you show trust to them.

  3. John Frenaye says:

    Anon, I am not sure I am agreeing with you now that virtually all hosts allow web access to emails. It used to be that you needed Outlook, Eudora, Netscape, etc to access emails that were on a domain, Not so much any more.

    Also, G-mail is a great management tool for multiple domains. I have perhaps 12 email addresses that are managed by gmail. Unless you look in the headers you will never know that it came from gmail and NOT my domain.

    And I do maintain a personal gmail account too with the gmail domain. I admit that I sometimes will get lazy and fire off an email to a known client from that account, but it is usually a known client that I almost consider a friend.

    The rationalization that there are occasional glitches in a domain versus a larger conglomerate are minimal. Really, how often are they down? And most larger hosting companies have 24/7 service and technology is there to troubleshoot almost anything remotely.

    And as Chelle mentions, what happens when AOL is acquired and they realize that the email game is a loser for them? Att.net is gone, and so is iopener.com which was all the rage of the soccer moms a few years back.

    Much better to maintain the control, IMHO.

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