Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The great Gmail mistake

There's one common mistake that lots of small businesses and sole traders seem to make, and its one that can very easily be avoided.

It's a simple thing that can have a big impact on how people perceive your company. Are you seen as a reputable business or perhaps not quite so reliable or legitimate?

What gives your potential clients this impression of reliability or that you are someone doing it in their spare time?

It's your company email address

Potential clients may not even be conscious of the impression this gives them, but it may be one of the factors that makes them decide whether you are the person they want to do business with, or if they would rather go with another company as it appears more professional for some intangible reason.

All too often I have seen small businesses who use a @Gmail or @Hotmail email account. Quite often it's not just on their business card too, I know of one contractor who has well designed branded stationary, smart business cards and a body wrapped van, all big investments in a strong company brand but in my opinion let down by using an @Aol address. 

Maybe its just me but i think that these email addresses don't have the same impact as mail@yourcompanyname.com, which implies a level of permanence and stability not provided by the webmail alternative. 

Easy problem to solve

The sad thing is that this can only cost a few pounds to fix, probably less than the cheapest batch of internet business cards. Maybe people don't realise how inexpensive it is to register a domain name, only a few pounds a year. It may be that they think they only get a domain if they have a website hosted on it. Perhaps they think its something difficult which requires some IT knowledge, it's not. If you can fill in a form online you can buy a domain from one of the many domain registrars, the hardest part is often deciding on the domain name you want.

Most domain purchases include either small number of free mailboxes which then allow you to set up an info@, mail@, yourname@yourcomanyname.com etc, or a 'catch all' email account which will pick up any email sent to 'something'@yourcompanyname.com. You don't even need to have a computer at home, these emails can then be picked up on your phone, your iPad, anything with a mail app, although chances are most small businesses will have at least one PC for doing their paperwork on anyway.

Some domain registration packages may include the option to have a mini website, or landing page which lets you have an online presence even if you don't have the content for a proper website at this point. Quite often it's just a page with your company contact details, maybe a logo and a short description, but at least is means if someone does look for you online they can find out a bit of info. You can also then link any free listings (Google Places, Yell, Free Index etc) back to your site to boost the page ratings which helps with your online presence. 

So if you are starting off in business or looking to update your existing marketing material  have a quick look at your contact details. If you don't have your own domain take five minutes and go online now and get one. You wont regret it, it will make both you and your potential clients more confident in your business brand.