You may not give much thought to your business email address – you check your email as it comes in, respond when you can, and for many of us, watch the unread count tick ever higher. But little thought goes into the mechanics behind the email account. Many small businesses, especially for non-techie services, start out with a very basic email account, maybe transitioning from using your personal email account to creating a free account using your new business name – like firstname.lastname@example.org or @gmail.com. It’s free, fast, and easy, so why not?
Several reasons. There are some big hidden drawbacks to that “free” email account.
The biggest is professionalism. Having a what’s called a “domain-based” email account can instantly make your business seem more professional, established, and larger than it really is. Or in some cases, not having a domain-based email account is making you look much smaller, and less professional. Which looks better – email@example.com or Vera@V2ITandDesign.com? Your customers form an opinion of you based on your web presence. Having a professional website, or at the very least an email attached to a professional domain name, makes a much stronger first impression. It shows that you’ve put time and effort into establishing your company, giving you more credibility. You could be losing 00s of dollars in sales because your company isn’t being viewed as trustworthy or professional.
Another big concern is security. Not all free email providers are created equal. I’ve yet to hear of any Gmail-based account breaches, but the same can’t be said for other providers. Yahoo has had multiple large account breaches in the past few years, and I’d highly recommend moving away from their email service, as quickly as possible. (click here for more info on email breaches and how to export your email account from Yahoo.). A security breach can lead to the exposure of your sensitive business information, as well as the information of your clients or business associates, with an astronomical cost in damages.
Performance is another key issue. Many free email accounts lack robust email handling tools and features, and are often hosted on poorly performing servers. Using an email client (a program that manages your email and calendar on your phone or computer, such as Outlook or Thunderbird) is one way around this, but the most top-performing email clients aren’t free, and can have issues syncing fully with Gmail. Wasted time spent trying to manually manage email is wasted money. Not having a solid email managing plan in place can cost 0s of dollars a week, per employee. Not to mention the risk of losing emails that aren’t archived.
So, what can you do, to present a professional appearance and maintain a secure email account? It’s easier than you may think.
What email challenges has your company faced? Tell us in the comments below:
I was already planning a post for today outlining the many reasons why it was time to transition away from any remaining @ yahoo.com email accounts you may have. I logged on today to find there's yet one more, and this one is big. Yahoo revealed yesterday that while investigating their data breach of 500 MILLION user accounts in 2014, that a year prior, they experienced one double that size! And this is just now coming to light. That's three years of exposure for sensitive data including names, birthdays, phone numbers, and security questions. Having your email compromised is bad enough, but there's the potential for this leaked data to be used to access much more sensitive information and financial access. Another aspect of this threat is the use of the same password for multiple accounts. One of the first things done with this type of stolen data is to try it against other types of accounts, and if you're using the same password for multiple websites, then you're in danger.
What to do now:
1) Log into your yahoo account and change the password to a secure password, that you haven't used on any other websites or accounts. Also update your security questions. (Link to instructions on updating your Yahoo account - )
2) Change the password on any other accounts you may have used the same or a similar password one, or that you used the same security questions for. If you've used the same security questions, update those as well.
3) If you don't already have a separate account, create a new email account with a provider such as Microsoft or Gmail (Internet providers also offer free email accounts, but keep in mind that those are tied to your services, and if you change providers you'll have to move your account again or generally pay a fee to retain the email account). There are free, secure accounts available.
4) Once you have your new email account, you can import your contacts and old emails into it from Yahoo. (Here's a walkthrough for switching from yahoo to Gmail). You can also turn on forwarding to make sure emails sent to the old account show up in your new email.
During the transition period, update your email on the websites and apps you use, with any companies that use it for contact, and your friends and family. Once you feel confident that people are using your new email address to contact you, close your yahoo account. (Link to account closing instructions).
It can seem overwhelming to leave an email provider, but following the steps above will guide you through the process. If you're currently using Yahoo mail for your business, contact Vera at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to get an email address @[yourbusinessname].com. Help is also available in completing the email transition process, email Vera for details.
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