There are a lot of considerations and to-dos when you start your own business. You need to design a company logo, build a website, hire employees, file paperwork, in addition to a countless number of other critical tasks. As a business owner, there is no shortage of items on your to-do list. However, one important item that you cannot afford to overlook is transitioning to a professional email with a company domain.
To make it official--and if you want potential customers and clients to take you seriously--you need to set up a business email account. Having a professional email for your communications is just as, if not more important than having business cards or a LinkedIn.
Email is one of the primary ways that we communicate with the world. According to a January 2017 report, 269 billion emails are sent on a daily basis. By 2019, there will be more than 5.5 billion email accounts. Email is one of the most important channels for connecting with customers, investors, and media. Over 60% of consumers prefer to receive promotions, updates and other information from brands through email.
Why Businesses Need Professional Email
Would you buy a product from or do business with a person that has an absurd email like: unicornsparkles1989@hotmail or email@example.com? Of course, those are the more absurd and extreme examples of horrible email taste. Most of us know by now that those are unsuitable for professional purposes--hopefully.
The more common mistake that individuals make is that they create an email that uses their firstname.lastname@example.org. For example, someone name Joe Smith might have an address like:
Even if someone has their first name and last name at a Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or other free email account, it doesn’t have the same credibility and trust that comes with a business domain.
Free email accounts are great, but for personal use. However, for professional and company use, it is a relatively low cost but a worthy investment to get an address with your own domain. A branded email makes people more likely to trust that you and your business are legitimate. When you hire employees, it is simpler to set up a company email for them and maintain brand consistency.
The process to set up a domain account is relatively simple, cost-effective and can vastly improve your business prospects and first impressions.
What You Need to Setup Your Company Email
There are a few provider options that businesses can choose from, but the primary ones are Office 365 and G Suite. We recommend Office 365. It is what we use for our own businesses and when we assist our clients to set up their own. If you haven’t set up a professional email yet, here is your how-to guide:
1. Subscribe to Office 365
Office 365 requires a subscription plan. The cost for the package is minimal, and it includes tools you likely use anyway in your business, like Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Plus, you’ll be able to store files to the cloud and collaborate with other users with OneDrive. Once you have purchased your subscription, you’ll have an admin account. To make changes, like add users and a custom domain, then you’ll need to sign in here at the Office 365 portal as an admin.
2. Get a company domain
You can buy a domain in Office 365. When you purchase one through their system, they will automatically set it up. If you already have a domain or you want to purchase one from another hosting service like GoDaddy, you just need to register it with Office. Once you input your domain, you’ll be asked to verify it.
Note: You may have noticed an “onmicrosoft.com” domain when you signed up for Office 365. This is the domain that Office creates for you. It is a user ID that they create for your subscription, and it may look like “email@example.com”. Once you add your domain, this one will just hang around behind-the-scenes. Your business email should now include the domain and look like: JoeSmith@domain.com.
The changes should take effect in one or two hours, but it could take up to 72 hours. If you are migrating your email, calendar, contacts and other information to Office from another server, account for downtime. It is best to do the transfer when you have less traffic, such as during evenings and weekends.
3. If you have employees, you can add users now or later.
It is crucial to have domain accounts for not only you, but every employee that is on your team. When you are setting up your domain, the Setup Wizard will also give you the option to add users too.
If your business doesn’t have employees yet, or you hire new recruits in the future, you can add them later. To do this, sign in with your admin account, and enter an individual’s name and another email address. A link to finish their set up will be sent to them. You can also add users in bulk. To find out how and more details, check out Microsoft’s guide.
Email Setup Tips & Features to Know
There are countless settings and features in email, so it can be overwhelming and time-consuming to figure out which ones are most valuable for your business. These are the features that we have found to be most relevant for our clients to know:
1. You can import previous contacts and messages from other providers.
You may not want to start your account from scratch. If you have many contacts and messages that you want to transfer from another server, you can migrate it during your domain email setup or copy the data for later. The process of migration differs based on which email server you used previously.
2. Creating aliases to forward messages.
One of the most useful features with Office 365 business email is the ability to set up an alias. This simply means that you can disguise one email address for another.
With this, you can have one or multiple emails forwarded to one user’s primary account. For instance, if you have an email for your general sales inquiries but only one employee on the team, you can set up a “firstname.lastname@example.org” email. Then, forward the messages to the specific employee’s primary account.
Once your business scales and you add more members to your sales team, you can change how and to whom the messages are forwarded.
3. Create branded email signatures
One of the top reasons to obtain a domain email account for your business, is to maintain consistency and professionalism. However, you can take it a step further by creating a branded email signature for all your users. An email signature gives you an opportunity to boost awareness of your company, as well as your marketing channels and latest content.
There is a wide range of functionality and a variety features with an Office 365 business account. Understanding each and how it can help make your email communication and management easier can be challenging for busy entrepreneurs. However, it is important to set up your account with precision, care and expertise. This is why we help many of our clients through the process. To learn more about the setup process for business email or to get assistance from our team at 10twelve, get in touch with us today.