Making Your Email Match Your Business Style

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 protected])

This is an email with a mission. It does one thing and does it well. It might be [email protected] or [email protected], 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?

Multiple Recipients

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.

Appear Larger

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. [email protected])

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.

“Hello Dave…”

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 protected]

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.

Limited Scope

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 “[email protected]” 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 [email protected] vs [email protected] 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?

Posted Monday, July 13th, 2009 · Back to Top

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13 Comments 4 Mentions

  1. Tim Smith Author Editor

    I totally agree with this! I’ve seen e-mail addresses of “professional people” that don’t convey that. If I didn’t know who it is, I would think that some kid is e-mailing me. Thanks for the great tips!
    .-= Tim Smith´s last blog ..Interview with Julian Dorado =-.

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  2. Michael Kozakewich Author Editor

    I find that having a personal domain is a great help. If someone is mailing me from hotmail.com, it means they either don’t have their own site (not very professional) or don’t care about professionalism (also not very professional).

    When I was setting up a payment option on my site, I was horrified to find that someone who clicked on the payment link would see that they’re paying my ten-year-old personal email address, ‘@hotmail.com’. I quickly changed that.
    On that note, consistency is very important. If I was some potential client and clicked that link, I wouldn’t have signed up. The sudden, unprofessional email change was just far too suspicious.
    .-= Michael Kozakewich´s last blog ..Community Expertise =-.

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  3. Webdesign Agentur Author Editor

    I think for a freelancer is it much better to use personal e-mail address. Freelancers sell through personality. Task E-Mail Adresses is the solution for big companys.

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  4. Montana Flynn Author Editor

    Currently I just use info and admin @ mydomain.com, but after reading this I may change it to montana @ mydomain.com especially since most of my visitors come from twitter and my name is unique and memorable (so I’ve been told)
    .-= Montana Flynn´s last blog ..My first blog, resurrected and alive. =-.

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  5. Melody Author Editor

    I always create mini templates to remain professional in my e-mails…it’s only a habit now. The twitter users are right about first impression though, can’t say how many emails I’ve taken less seriously under those same circumstances..
    .-= Melody´s last blog ..Official T-shirt Design Line Launches Today! =-.

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  6. Janko Author Editor

    Hm, good points, however, I’ll stick to my email for now :)
    .-= Janko´s last blog ..Create fancy share box with CSS and jQuery =-.

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  7. Zach Dunn Author Editor

    @Dela

    That’s an interesting approach. I wonder if it would be worth it simply make the department the subdomain? I don’t mind long email addresses as long as it’s meaningful personally.

    @Montana

    I have to admit, you have one of the better names I’ve ever come across.

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  8. MCB Web Design, Newcastle Author Editor

    What’s the email client in the screenshot at the beginning of the post? It looks pretty nifty and can’t say I’ve seen it before…

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    • Zach Dunn Author Editor

      @ MCB Web Design

      That’s actually GMail using the “Desk” theme. It’s one of the better themes.

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  9. David Poninski Author Editor

    If your a company making money you should have a website. I think using a combination of both is the best way. The initial email should be an “[email protected]”, and the response should come from a “[email protected]”. This way the company has the respect from a client as a organization, but gets the personal response they want. But never respond with a yahoo, hotmail, or even gmail account. That screams unprofessional. Even if your just starting out as a freelancer and looking to move things to a higher level, come up with the $100 and buy yourself a domain and hosting. Throw up a clever coming soon page and set up some emails. That way you have a professional contact for your clients and you can begin working on your company’s website.

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  10. Paul Kamphuis Author Editor

    Your email address is part of your corporate identity and therefor important. So far I only used and info@ address, but David stated a way that I like a lot better. Both professional and personal, sounds like a perfect combination to me.

    How important do you think a standard email signature is?
    .-= Paul Kamphuis´s last blog ..What is happening =-.

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  11. Erica Author Editor

    Great post! I’ve definitely seen a few absurd addresses from wannabe-professionals… I especially love the one’s in job posting on places like craigslist.

    “Consutlting firm for Fortune 500 companies needs new talent to help build their award-winning sales force! Email your resume to [email protected] for consideration of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

    Yeah. Right.

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