Which Email? – When to use a third-party email and your business domain email.
Before I get started, I want to point out that I’m not talking about email marketing in this article. While email marketing is a good topic and is something that every business owner should be utilizing for multiple reasons. I’ll revisit that topic at a different time.
The focus of this article is all about when to use which email, and where to use it. I know that sounds confusing so let me explain when to use a third-party email and when to use your business domain email.
In today’s digital age, email communication is critical for businesses. It is one of the most vital tools for communication with customers, clients, and employees. Generally, businesses can either use a third-party email service, such as Gmail or Yahoo, or a domain-specific email address that is tied to the company’s own domain name (e.g., john.doe@ companyname.com).
Both options come with their own sets of advantages and drawbacks. So, let’s look into when it is beneficial to use each type of email address for your business communications.
THIRD-PARTY EMAIL SERVICES
These are the popular free or paid email services like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. They are not tied to a specific domain name.
Ease of Use: Most third-party email services are user-friendly and require no technical know-how to set up. And you can generally access any place you have an internet connection.
Cost: Many third-party services are free or come at a low cost.
Reliability and Maintenance: These services are maintained by big corporations that ensure they are reliably up and running.
Security and Spam Filters: They come with built-in security features, and their spam filters are usually top-notch.
Deliverability: Because these emails are run from large company servers with IT professionals. They generally are using the top methods to get your email delivered and are on the cutting edge of using standards to get your message into other inboxes.
Perception: They may appear less professional to clients or customers as compared to a domain-specific email address.
Trust: Using a third-party service means you are entrusting your sensitive information to another company. I also feel that anyone could generate a third-party email with your business name and “act” as your business. Maybe you have a gmail account Joespizzas.com. Maybe a competitor or even a hacker wants to steal your customers information. They create a gmail email address Joespizza.com (no “s”) and start contacting your customers to reset their password. Or depending on the business update their billing information.
Customization and Branding: Limited options for customization and branding.
When to Use:
For online services: *CRITICAL* When purchasing domain names and other services, you don’t want to use the domain associated with that domain or website in case your website hosting or email hosting service is inaccessible. For example, you’re using email@example.com and for some reason your billing failed for your domain name companyname.com and you can’t receive email there to reinstate your billing. Recently I picked up a new client, and their previous hosting company wasn’t available anymore. All of their business services were tied to the hosting account. The service set up their domain and other services. The customer couldn’t reset passwords anywhere because it all went to the companyname.com domain they no longer had access to. It was a major headache to get sorted out.
Startup Phase: When your business is in its initial phase and budget is a constraint.
Small Business without a Dedicated IT Team: Less technical maintenance is needed.
For Secondary or Non-official Communication Channels: such as feedback collection email that does not need to align directly with your brand.
BUSINESS DOMAIN EMAIL
This is an email address that is tied to a company’s own domain name. It usually looks like this: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professionalism: A domain-specific email address radiates credibility and shows that you have a dedicated business.
Branding: It promotes your brand with every email sent and is easier for clients to remember.
Trust: You have full control over your email data, security protocols, and configuration settings.
Customization: You can create custom email addresses for different departments (e.g., email@example.com). Even if you are forwarding these email addresses to one inbox, it helps make your company appear professional.
Cost: Owning a domain and setting up an email server (or a hosted solution) usually involves an ongoing cost. Finding the right hosting is important as many will include email accounts with the hosting.
Maintenance and Technical Know-How: These systems require upkeep, which might necessitate a dedicated IT team, consultant, or a good web guy providing your hosting company doesn’t offer this service. You will need to set up SPF & DKIM records among other settings.
Potential Downtime: If your server faces issues, this can result in downtime for your email system until the problem is resolved. Again, a good reason to have critical services and accounts use a third party.
When to Use:
Established Businesses: A branded email address should be a priority as the business grows and seeks to establish its name.
When Trust is Paramount: For legal firms, healthcare providers, and other trust-necessitating industries, a business domain email is often essential.
When Email Volume is High: Companies that need to send large volumes of email may benefit from the control offered by a domain- specific server. Generally, in this situation I recommend using a transactional email service. These services can utilize your domain and you get the benefits of better delivery.
For Primary or Official Communication Channels: For example, official correspondence with clients or partners should come from a domain-specific address.
BALANCING BOTH OPTIONS
It’s also worth considering that businesses do not have to choose exclusively between one or the other. It’s common for businesses to use both types of email addresses for different purposes.
For example, a business might use domain-specific email addresses for official correspondence with clients, invoicing, and inter-departmental communication, to present a cohesive and professional front. Meanwhile, they might use third-party email services for less critical functions like customer feedback or newsletters, to take advantage of the reduced maintenance and costs. And the aforementioned business-related services for their company.
The choice between a third-party email service and a business domain email boils down to the specific needs and priorities of a company. Newer, smaller, or less tech-savvy companies might initially lean towards third-party services for their lower costs and ease of use. As a business grows and professional image, branding, and control over data become more important, transitioning to a business domain email address becomes beneficial.
It is crucial for businesses to evaluate their needs carefully and to strike the right balance between professionalism, cost, control, and maintenance when making this decision. Ultimately, the goal is to use email as an effective tool for communication that aligns with the broader business strategy and brand identity.
If you are unsure about any of the reasons why, or the services needed. It is best to consult with a well versed web guy or business consultant. As always I hope you found this information useful to help grow your online success.