According to research cited in the recently released whitepaper, “The Real Costs of “Free” Email Services For Small Businesses: Uncovering The Negative Impacts On Brand Perception, Productivity & Performance,” more than 87 percent of all company communications are via email, outstripping postal mail, telephone and face-to-face communications to become the most used mode of business communication today.
Though attractive to startups and budget-strapped small businesses; using free, consumer-focused email services can give the wrong impression of your business before a recipient even opens and reads your message. The decision to use free email directly impacts the perception, productivity and performance of your business. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at how each are directly impacted starting today with perception.
What Message Are You Sending?
Each email sent sends a message about the sender, and when sent in the mode of business communication, that message also reflects on the business. According the above referenced whitepaper, 75 percent of people form judgments based on your email address. Even before your message hits the inbox, a series of spam and virus filters are already electronically determining if your message is worthy of the inbox. And if it does make it through, that’s when it’s scrutinized by human eyes. So, what does a free email address say about your business?
Nothing. Your message gets filtered into the spam folder and recipients may never get your message at all. All email systems have filters that electronically scan messages before they get to your inbox. These filters flag or reject messages that look malicious or spammy. For example, a message with the subject line, “MAKE EASY MONEY AT HOME!!!” is a sure bet for the spam folder. Its format tells the filters that based on experience, a subject line in all caps that refers to making money at home is probably spam. Because they are free and easy to access, spammers heavily utilize free, consumer-level email services. Using these services means your messages could wind up in the spam folder with the real spammers.
I’m new at this. Prospective clients aren’t going to give you a break because you’re new. In fact, they’ll expect you to go a little bit further to prove that your business is worthy of their business. An email from your business is likely your first customer touch point and your first chance to establish your brand and your professionalism. A free email address can hinder your ability to establish trust and build your reputation.
I’m not serious about this business. Would you trust your money to the salesperson who gives you a business card with someone else’s information crossed out on one side and his information penciled in on the other side? It might make you wonder why someone who is in business hasn’t invested in professional tools. It’s the same impression a business gives when it sends messages using an unbranded email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) instead of a business-branded email address (email@example.com).
Because your email address reflects your level of professionalism, many business resources are only available to those with business-branded domains. For example, certain whitepapers, webinars and conference registrations specifically exclude consumer-level domain names in an effort to only include serious businesses in their offerings.
Give the right message about your business with hosted business email that not only gives the right impression about your business, but also includes extras like collaboration tools, secure access and strong spam and virus protection to support business users.
Take a look at hosted email options at Rackspace and some more tools to help you choose a provider and the type of email that’s best for your business. To learn more about the impact of free email, read the full whitepaper.