NOTE: This article is adapted from “How free is that free email account?” by Nancy King and you can find the original article here.
If you are a business or website owner, you might be tempted to use a free email. After all, there seems to be no differences between a free email and a paid email service on the surface.
While customers are able to reach you on any email, you need to consider some important safety concerns. Not only that, but it is also a missed opportunity to market to your customers.
Think about your personal email address if you are using a free service provider. Remember all the ads you see in your inbox?
I’ll clue you in — your email provider scans every last sentence for keywords, so there’s a good chance they tacked an ad for baby clothes to your message. I wonder what surprise your free email provider added to that resume you sent out last week, or if your email even got past its recipient’s spam filters.
Don’t you want your email to just be email? Your very own email, expressing who and what you are. The same goes for your business.
You don’t have to use a super-long email name with a few extra random numbers. With a professional email address, you can choose a short and memorable email address that represents what you’re all about. It can be something simple like firstname.lastname@example.org or you@yourname. Whether for personal or for business, when you send an email, your recipient knows it’s from you.
How free is that free email, really? (For individuals & freelancers)
Here are five things to think about when deciding whether to use a free email account or a branded email connected to your unique domain name:
1. Online merchants might turn you down.
Online merchants know that anyone can get an email account with these providers without proving they are who they say they are (some of these people aren’t as awesome as you), so some have started refusing customer orders with free email accounts.
2. Use it or lose it.
Haven’t used it in awhile? Did you know you could lose the account and your username? That’s OK if you’re not emotionally attached to your username, but if you used it to register at websites like your bank or for shopping, you could be out of luck.
3. It’s next to impossible to get an easy, memorable name these days.
There are just too many Matt Smiths running around! What if you lost the actual username you used back in the inaugural days of the Internet? You’ll have to add a random (long) number if you want to use the same one again. (email@example.com IS available. Sound good?)
4. POP charges can add up.
If you’re not being charged for POP access to your email, you’re in luck. For some accounts the charge is MORE than the cost of buying a domain and a year of paid email.
5. Providers can tack on ads – isn’t that a privacy concern?
Ever heard the adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”? It’s true about email, too. You pay for it one way or another — including ads in your email for products you don’t endorse when you send your mom a happy birthday message or that all-too-important thank you message after a job interview.
Most free email services remain free as they are supported by advertising. This is a cause for privacy concern, since the providers need to “read” your email in order to determine the ads that you get served.
Not only that, but if your email provider chooses to share your data with 3rd party advertisers, you might also see similar ads elsewhere.
Why should you not use a free email for your business?
Customers and clients might perceive your business as unprofessional and untrustworthy
Gone are the days when it was challenging to get a professional email with your brand name on it. Yet, it might seem more convenient to use a free email service as a business point of contact. Some might even have a website, but choose to register an email with popular free email providers.
This could mean cost savings in the short run, but you risk long term problems arising from negative brand perception.
Think about it. How would your customers think of your business if you do not present a consistent brand image online? Some of them might hesitate to support a business that are unable to, or unwilling to invest in a a domain name and a professional website with email. This is especially so if you do not have a website, but would like to be able to acquire new customers online. Whether you have a website or not, by using a professional email with your domain, you can at least assure your customers that you mean business.
Your business’ online presence is like a digital storefront, and first impression matters. With many domain and web hosting providers offering professional email services as well, it is convenient and cost effective to have that email with your domain.
For some of you, it could be because you are doubling up your personal email account as your business email. The same rule applies.
Moreover, you are paying for your “free” email as your email content is being tracked. This, in turn, generates advertising dollars for your free service provider. For the sake of your business and your customer’s privacy, investing in a professional email service is crucial.
Missed opportunities in using email marketing to build your brand presence and engagement
Every time you share your website or an email with your web domain to your customers is an opportunity for them to remember your business. This is just like online advertising! Instead of spending thousands of dollars on digital ads, having a professional email is a nifty way to start building your customer list for email marketing.
With every email your company sends out from your professional email service at your domain, you are reinforcing your brand name and advertising for your brand. It’s a great way to build brand recall with your customers. However, when you use a free email service, not only does it make your company appear unprofessional, you are also advertising for the email provider rather than your company! These free email service providers certainly do not need more help from you in advertising for them.
On top of that, you can also have multiple email addresses with the same domain. This ensures that your customers get the best experience when you direct their enquiries to the right places. It’s a win-win for all!
Editor’s Note: Not too sure how to run email marketing for your business? Check out our article here for more tips!
Your email from a free email service becomes spam mail
Most spammers regularly use free email accounts to send out spam emails. After all, it doesn’t cost the spammer any money to create these email addresses in large quantity.
Therefore, it is not surprising that emails sent from popular free email service providers are more likely to be filtered as spam. However, for your business, this could spell trouble. For starters, your customers might not even receive your emails at all. After all that effort to create great material to engage with your customers, it’s a shame that your email is filtered as spam even before your customer sees it!
On a more serious note, if you are using your business email to provide support for your customers, a free email service could be detrimental for your customer experience. Imagine your support email gets filtered as spam in your customer’s email inbox. Not only does this look unprofessional, it can cause inefficiency and unwanted frustration for your customers!
Moreover, your email inbox with a free email service provider is also likely to receive more spam. This depends on how spam filtering is provided by your free email service provider.
Free email = no customer service or technical support
What happens when your email is compromised? Or when you encounter a problem on the platform and need some help?
With a free email account, if any of the above happens, you’re most likely on your own. Given the nature of these free service providers, it is unlikely that you will be able to get any form of support when you encounter issues.
This is an important consideration for your business. If your business communication via email is of top priority, you would want to use a professional service email provider that can provide you with customised help and support when the need arises. Given the level of security provided by professional email service providers, compromised accounts are rare. However, in the rare event that this happens, you are more likely to get assistance in recovering your email with a professional service provider. For example, GoDaddy’s ad-free professional email plans include 24/7 award-winning support, full text search, 99.9% guaranteed uptime, world-class data security and spam filtering.
Investing in a paid professional email is better for your business and customers
Given affordable options of website hosting account out there, and most include email as part of the package, there is no reason why your business should be using a free email. With all the privacy, safety and branding concerns, using a professional paid email service will definitely pay off in the long run! With GoDaddy, it is easy to obtain your own professional email service! Check out our step-by-step guide to learn how you can use a custom domain name for your email with GoDaddy.
When you call the small business consultants at GoDaddy, they can help you choose the right email plan for you and your business. Now our email is even more exciting than ever! Professional Email from GoDaddy is more than email — it’s a whole productivity package for the business owner. Whether you’re just starting out or business is booming, we have a solution that will work for you.