When it comes to choosing an email provider, there are two basic choices and they are, do you go for a branded or unbranded address?
Okay, I have deliberately over-simplified there. For most people an unbranded address is fine for personal use. By unbranded I mean addresses like ‘email@example.com’ or ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or even ‘email@example.com’
Woah. Hold on a minute, there is a teeny weeny complication to using an unbranded email address. Specifically if you choose to use an address supplied by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Generally speaking ISPs give you email addresses for free as part of your broadband service. That is fine up to a point, but what happens if you decide to change ISP at some point in the future?
The answer (sadly) is a simple one. You lose your email address and all of the emails too most likely.
This is of course a huge headache and a big problem if you have invested a lot of time into your email. Not only is it inconvenient for you, but you will have to notify utility companies of a change of address, as well as any contacts you may have. It is also a major stumbling block for people wanting to switch service providers.
To avoid it becoming a problem, it is advisable to use an alternative address that is not supplied by your ISP. Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and many others offer free alternatives which are perfectly good. Switching to one of them does not have to be a chore either, as you should be able migrate your existing emails and set your current email address to automatically forward any new emails to the your new address. Over time your contacts will know (especially if you tell them) to use the new address.
So what about branded emails? Well first of all, if you are a business and your email address ends in hotmail.com, or gmail.com or something similar, it sends the wrong signal to your potential customers. For one thing a lot of spammers use generic addresses like that, which may put some people off, but also it may be seen that you aren’t serious about being in business if you haven’t bothered to get a ‘proper’ email address. Yes, it is fine to use a generic address when you are first starting out, but only if you do not have your own domain name yet.
Once you do have your own domain name, there is really no reason why you can’t use a branded address. By branded I mean an address that uses your domain name. It looks professional, shows your commitment to your business, helps to establish your brand and also helps people find your website too. Most web hosts will allow you to create email addresses for free using your domain name as part of your hosting package, although you may find there are limitations on the size and number of mailboxes you can create without paying for more.