There is only one purpose of every email you ever send: for the email to be opened.
Whether you’re emailing your buddy about going to movies on Friday night, or whether your business depends on emailing and winning that tender document; both outcomes depend on whether your email is opened.
And 42% of people say that the first thing they look for when deciding whether to open an email or not, is who it’s from.
And that, ladies and gentlemen (with a drumroll), is why crafting a professional email address can mean the difference between you eating bread and butter or chicken a la king.
We think we’ve made our point.
But just in case you need more…you should know that in the digital sphere, making sales is all about T.R.U.S.T.
Why? Because people are interacting over the internet and not in person.
In the old days, sales were easier from brick and mortar buildings because both seller and buyer were interacting face to face.
Online business is a different kettle of fish altogether; it’s why businesses invest so heavily in adding content to their websites, and to social media.
Because they know that sales are dependent on T.R.U.S.T.
So…if you’re sending emails to prospective clients with the funky, free email address you created on Yahoo when you were 16, you’re going to need to read this article.
Jenny234hotchick@yahoo.com does not contribute towards building trust.
To follow are 4 rules for crafting a professional email address that will achieve what you want it to achieve:
Table of Contents
Rule #1: Keep your branding consistent
Always work backwards.
In other words, you may be a one-man-show right now, but do you plan to stay as you are, or do you intend to grow your business?
So. If you don’t already, you need to call your business something.
You could go by your name, or you could have a registered company name.
Whatever the case, if you call yourself John Doe Consulting, then your professional email address needs to stay consistent with that, and ideally, your email address would have the domain, “johndoeconsulting”, just as your website would.
If your website is johndoeconsulting.com, then your email address needs to have the same domain, in order to keep your branding consistent.
Why is this important?
Firstly, keeping your branding consistent is professional. And because it’s professional, it immediately builds T.R.U.S.T.
Think of it this way: you receive two emails; one is from Jenny234hotchick@yahoo.com, with the subject heading, “SEO consulting services”, and the other is from email@example.com, with the subject heading, “SEO consulting services”.
Which will you trust more?
Yep, you got it. If you’re in the market for SEO consulting services, you’ll probably toss the first email, but have a squizz at the second.
In the mind of the recipient, it boils down to this:
- Free gmail.com or yahoo.com email address = wannabee business, not an actual business
- Customised email address = a real business
A professional email address that is consistent with your brand, and which uses the same domain name as your website and shop front, builds trust.
And online, it is trust which sells.
Options and tools
Desktop email client
A desktop email client allows users to create, send and receive emails from their desktop.
The most well known example of an email client is Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird. The cons with using these applications is that you can only access email from your desktop. If you travel a lot and need to check your emails from all sorts of destinations, a cloud based email host may be a better option.
The Outlook dashboard.
The company that hosts your website offers free email addresses, and it is very easy to set them up as well as manage them:
Here’s how to create an email address via your website host:
- Log into your website’s hosting control panel (cpanel).
- Click on the “Email” section and then “Email Accounts”.
- Enter the details for your new professional email address, and click “Create Account”.
- Voila! Bob’s your uncle. Email address sorted.
Now to access your email address, you can either log in to your webmail, or set up the “forward email” function in your cpanel, so that any incoming email to that address will be sent to another email address, like your free Gmail account.
Alternatively, use a service like Mailbird, which is especially useful if you have a few email addresses and want to manage all your email in one place. Although you should note that Mailbird is a desktop application, so you can only access your email on a device that has Mailbird installed.
Manage multiple email accounts in Mailbird.
Dedicated email host
Perhaps you don’t make use of a website host. In this case, you can set up a free business email address with a dedicated host like Zoho Mail, and it’s only $1 a month, so there’s absolutely no reason to continue using a free email address that looks like a hobby instead of a business.
G-Suite for small business, which, for $5 per user per month, gives you a few essential tools including a professional email address.
G-suite admin console.
Fastmail, which also starts at $5 pm, allows you to create and manage email in the cloud.
The benefits dedicated email hosts, is that you can access email from the cloud, so you can check email anywhere in the world, on any device, so long as you are armed with your email host login details.
Rule #2: Don’t be fancy, keep it standard
When considering how to compile your email address, you should use a format with the end goal in mind.
So again, if you currently don’t plan to use your email address for sales for instance, you might be tempted to add a cool prefix or suffix, and that is OK; go ahead.
funkychicken@domain is catchy ‘n cool if you don’t want to make sales via email.
But you need to consider your long-term future plans…if you plan to grow your business, a more conservative approach than funkychicken@domain may be better.
Sometimes it’s better to stick with the familiar for the sake of your business: not only does familiarity breed trust, but people are more likely to remember your email address.
The standard when devising a professional email address, is to create them using common formats:
1. First name + domain (firstname.lastname@example.org)
First name and domain is the most popular email format. This email address is simple and easy to remember. The only problem comes in when you have more than one person with the same first name and you need to break the format.
2. First name + surname initial + domain (email@example.com)
The second most popular option is to use a first name, together with the initial of the surname, with domain. When people want to send a specific person at a company an email, but they don’t know what the address is, they usually try this combination after they first try the first name + domain combo. In addition, with this format, the surname of the sender is still not revealed, so employees are protected, and if there are two staff members with the same name, this format will accommodate that.
3. First name initial + surname + domain (firstname.lastname@example.org)
With this format, there is less likelihood of duplicate names as opposed to the first two options. The cons of this formula is that the surname is revealed.
4. Full name + domain (email@example.com)
If you want to use your name as a brand, this is the professional email address format for you.
Tips for crafting the perfect professional email address
If you already own a custom domain, this part is easy because you will simply use the domain name you already own. If not, here are some tips:
- Before you do anything, you’ll need to check whether the domain and extension you want is available. You can usually do this within the email host platform, but for a quick check, this tool will help.
- Avoid any prefix or suffix, e.g. “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
- Consider the domain extension. If you already have your own domain name, it will be registered with an extension (the part that comes after the word after the “@” symbol. There are hundreds to choose from.) In that case, you would simply use the one you already use for your website. But if you only want to create an email address, avoid fanciness with the extension. The best extensions are always based around your ideal target audience location, and the extension that is most common, like the primary ones (.com, .co.za, .co.uk and so on), because people remember them. Start using fancy extensions that are not common, and people won’t remember it easily. Having said that, you may not need them to remember your email address. Get an idea of the types of extensions available.
- If your domain name happens to be your personal name, you could add a role in the part before the “@” – e.g. “email@example.com” or “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
- Your email address is your online identity. Craft it carefully, to represent you as you want to be perceived. When people receive an email from you, what do you want your email address to tell them about who you are?
Display name tips
Your email address is, well, an address. But your display name for that email can be anything you want it to be.
In this case, while the email address is “email@example.com”, the display name is “A1 Design Services Ltd”.
And this is important, because display names should be based on the recipient and the action you want them to take. Here are a few scenarios to give you an idea of why you need to take into account the display name; while you go through them, allow your creativity to flow in order to think up scenarios in your own business:
- If you’re a writer and sending out cold emails to design agencies as part of your marketing strategy for sales purposes, you may want to replace a display name that points to you being an agency owner. In a case like this, you would probably get a better response rate to your emails were you to make the display name your personal name, and it might also be better to send these emails from a gmail address. The reason for this? Some agencies would not be interested in hiring a writing agency, but they would be interested in hiring a freelance writer. On the other hand, if you are a writer and emailing small business owners, they may be more inclined to hire a company because of their own personal perceptions, i.e. a company would know what they are doing more than a one-man person. It all depends on who your audience is, and what’s important to them.
- When you send email to people who do not know you, but are familiar with your company, use a display name that includes the company name, so that they recognise the brand.
- When sending out promotional emails to a mailing list, it is key that the display name show the brand, because those people will know the brand, but not any of its employees.
Rule #3: Personalise for the purpose
Your personal professional email address should be different to email addresses that are used elsewhere, like as a way for website visitors to get in touch.
For example, you should have a professional email address for contact/enquiries and accounting.
The format for these would be something like, “firstname.lastname@example.org” and “email@example.com”.
It is not wise, and it doesn’t look professional, to add your personal email address as the primary method of communication on your website.
That doesn’t mean your life has to get more difficult because you have to check all those email addresses every day, especially if you are a small business of one; it simply means you can create certain email addresses for the different purposes of your business, and no one needs to know that all roads lead back to you.
All that’s required is to set up a forward rule, so that any email that comes from those specific, generic addresses, gets forwarded to your personal email address so you view and send emails from the same place.
Any email host or service should include a “forwarding” option that is simple to set up. In the website host cpanel, it is also easy to set up a forwarding function.
Pro Tip: Whilst on the subject of personalisation, if you’re looking to professionalise your email outreach, then utilising personalised images can be a huge benefit. Checkout this article on how to 6X your cold email results leveraging hyper personalisation.
Rule #4: Create a professional email address signature
Even seen a gorgeous, oh-so-pro email address signature at the end of an email you received, and wondered how on earth it was created?
Now compare the beautiful email signature above to this outdated eyesore:
There’s no need to ask which one is going to impress you more…
And that is true of your prospective clients too.
You get the picture.
OK, but how is the stunner created?
Quite easily, actually. You may have thought you need to be some kind of tech guru to use complicated HTML or the likes, but what makes an email signature truly a piece of art, and more importantly, a power marketing and sales tool, is a signature generator, and one of them is Wisestamp.
Wisestamp offers free email signature templates – granted, the free ones have less functionality than premium versions, but free is a start, and will give you a professional looking email address signature.
All you have to do, is add the necessary details and the generator spits out a signature that works with other third parties like Gmail, Outlook, Macbook and others. Your new signature can work with any other service if you get the HTML version of it, but that incurs a cost.
The dashboard of Wisestamp. It takes a few seconds to generate a professional email signature.
Weigh it up; if you use email a lot and impressing recipients with a professional email address signature will help secure more business, paying for an email signature generating service will be worth it.
In the end, your email address is not just a place from which to send and receive mail. It is far more powerful than that. Instead, as you’ve seen, it is a marketing tool.
To make more sales, your email address needs to work on your behalf to build trust, and to do that, there are three key rules:
- Keep it consistent with your brand
- Carefully consider the standard your company will use when creating email addresses, now and in the future as your business grows
- Personalise the email address for every purpose
Have any tips we missed? Share in a comment below!