Before the dawn of man… (the early ’90s)
I remember when I got my first e-mail address. It was through my college back in the early days of the “information superhighway”. My address was “s” (for student) and then my student number followed by “@ysu.edu”. (Go Penguins!) E-mail was relatively new and I remember explaining to my friends and family that people could type a message on their computer and then send it to me through this thing called the Internet. Crazy, right? It might take a few days to get there, but it was still pretty cool. I didn’t have my own computer at the time, so I would go to the computer lab two or three times a week and log in there. My inbox was usually empty, but I always checked with wide-eyed anticipation anyway. Those were the days. I’ve since had numerous e-mail addresses, both through work and personally and currently use about five for different purposes.
What does your email address say about you?
As the Manager of Digital Media Design, I lead a team that executes e-mail campaigns which includes processing distribution lists so, believe me; I see a lot of e-mail addresses. So many e-mail addresses… and, whether you like it or not, your e-mail address says a lot about you. For example, if the name of your business is Pete’s Perfect Promos and your e-mail address is email@example.com – that checks out. Anyone sending or receiving e-mail to that address can feel a certain degree of confidence in your professionalism. However, if your e-mail address is something like firstname.lastname@example.org, that might make it seem like perhaps you don’t have all your stuff together. Especially, in this age of e-mail and phishing scams, when opening and responding to certain e-mails can be harmful to you and your computer. Be honest, which of the above fictitious e-mail addresses would you feel more comfortable receiving and opening communications from?
But that’s not all. Certain free e-mail account providers have certain… implications on your perceived technological skill level. Take for example, this comic from The Oatmeal, a webcomic from Matthew Inman, in which he demonstrates what your e-mail address says about your technical skills. Granted, Mr. Inman might be a bit biased as he literally makes his living on the Internet, but he makes a good point. Please note that some of The Oatmeal’s other comics might not be safe for work, so browse his other strips with caution.
Anyway, G-mail is the exception as I’ve heard of several companies that actually use G-mail accounts as their official e-mail accounts because of all of the benefits that come with being a part of the Google ecosystem.
Getting a custom domain is easier than you think.
“That’s great for you,” I can hear you saying, “you work for a big company and get an e-mail address from your IT team. I’m just a small business with a handful of employees. I can’t afford a custom domain for my e-mail addresses.” I hear you, but the good news is, you might already have one. If you have a custom domain for your website registered with a company like GoDaddy or Hover, you may have the option for e-mail addresses as part of your domain and/or hosting packages. I see so many ads, business cards and e-mail signatures where the company has a custom domain for their website, but e-mail addresses from their Internet Service Provider or one of the free options in the comic above. That can be perceived as disjointed and may cause some confusion in your prospects. I actually just got an e-mail the other day from my domain registrar letting me know that some of my free e-mail credits were expiring soon if I don’t use them. Log in to your provider’s website or give them a call to see if you might have any custom e-mail addresses that you’re not using. If not, there are plenty of companies that offer e-mail hosting solutions. One that I can recommend is Rackspace, which I use to host a few of my personal e-mail accounts. They charge a small monthly fee and you get all of the benefits of having your own custom e-mail domain.
So, take a look at your e-mail address and think about what you would do if you received an e-mail from that address. Would you open it? Would you have confidence in the sender? As for me, well, my fifteen-minute session at the computer lab is almost up and a lineman from the football team is waiting to use the Compaq desktop I’m on, so I better get going. Besides, I still haven’t gotten that e-mail my Dad sent me last week…