Making Your Email Match Your Business Style
You’re a small business owner and/or freelancer. Your primary form of contact is by email. Take a moment to think about your email identities. Do you pick a task oriented, or personalized email address when providing contact information?
Contact details paint a subtle first impression to the recipient, and your first impressions online may be worth the extra thought. In this post, we’ll take a look at two approaches to business based email.
The Task Email (e.g. email@example.com)
This is an email with a mission. It does one thing and does it well. It might be firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, but the address indicates the task. There is a clear definition of purpose. But what else can having a task based email do for your business?
Email has an interesting way of piling up. It’s not always practical to have one person manage an overflowing inbox. Task email allows a group of people to be responsible for the same email address since there is no central name associated to it. By emailing an address labeled “Marketing”, would it be shocking to receive a response from a service representative named Steve? Probably not.
For the small business or freelancer, you probably don’t have an entire floor of people devoted to specific tasks. There is, however, a certain appearance of professionalism that comes with this kind of contact. A task email can give the impression of being a larger company than you actually are without resorting to ordering a specialized CD of background noise.
Sort Inboxes Easily
Depending on which mail client you use, setting up mail filters and labels for your inbox shouldn’t be too hard. With a task oriented email, you can effectively label each so it’s easier to prioritize. Doing this with a personalized email would take a bit more doing, and certainly wouldn’t be as foolproof.
Lose Human Touch
This is one of the “downsides” involved with this flavor of email. By removing individual names from initial contact channels, you’re also removing the human face behind it. It can be daunting to email a company without any idea of who to ask for. In a world where customer service is highly valued, sometimes having a personal touch in contact information is all it takes to increase a customer’s comfort level.
The Personalized Email (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
The personalized address acknowledges that eventually another human being will be responding to your contact. The individual is listed instead of hiding them behind a group name. This does not necessarily mean that only person will read the email, but it comes across as much more personalized.
How often have you read an email that starts with a disclaimer of “I didn’t know who to send this to…?” Personal emails eliminate this initial awkwardness of connecting with an organization. Consider the following wording when inviting a prospect to get in touch:
Carol is our marketing lead. She’ll be happy to help you out. Reach her via email@example.com.
One on One Attention
In the same way that a task oriented address can give the impression of a larger organization, the personalized email may accomplish the opposite. Depending on your company philosophy, this might not be a bad thing. If you’re a large group, having an appearance of personalized contacts may be just the sort of customer service that you need.
Typically when someone emails an address that has a name in it, they expect a response from that exact person. If a company is large enough, it may be impractical for one individual to handle all of the relations. In this case it would be a better choice to have a task email that allows a variety of people to respond.
Using the same example as before, how would you feel if an email sent to Steve the marketing guy was never actually replied to by Steve? There’s no sense in having every email start with “Steve is busy, but my name is…”, that’s a fast track to alienating the personalized touch the email strives for in the first place.
A Fair Warning
There is such a thing as too personal, and it should go without saying that if you’re looking for professionalism it should not be done with an address like “LoveAngelx0x037@hotmail.com.” That’s a very different kind of contact, and more apt to be found on Craigslist. Tread carefully, lest you find yourself getting interviewed by Chris Hansen.
First Impressions Matter
Earlier today I asked our Twitter followers if a person’s email address affected their first impression, even if the individual wrote well. I’ve paraphrased some of the responses received below:
@RustlingRagazza: Yes. I’m put off by people who have “girl”, “boy”, “man”, “chick”, “babe”, “sugar”, band names and such in their email add.
@kientran: It’s a lot easier to take someone seriously with firstname.lastname@example.org vs email@example.com. Personal Brand does matter.
@mmehlhope: The combination of an email address and the contents within the emails themselves formulate the user’s experience.
@starweaver:Yes. Your email is the 1st window people get into who you are & says a lot about you as a person & what you want to portray
@rabbigreen: Yes! Because an email address may be the first words you notice/see & also if you respond to a non-personal email address that’s bad news!
Rabbi Green actually brings up an interesting point to consider. Since email contacts can go both ways, it’s also worthwhile to consider what your email address would look like when sitting in someone’s inbox. Would your address turn people away from opening the email all together?
Let’s Hear It
What format do you think would work better for the average freelancer? Do personalized emails make better customer service? Or are task oriented a more professional way of handling contacts efficiently?