Top tips for setting up a professional email address

Having a professional-looking email address is so important, stamping reliability and trust onto your business communications and profile. Read our complete guide to creating one that’s professional, simple, and costs almost nothing.

Do I need a professional email address?

A professional email address, preferably using your own domain, signals to potential customers and contacts that you’re a legitimate business or correspondent. Most email providers now come with an option to create a professional email address that also uses your company name, if you have one.

Maybe it’s not a requirement by law. And maybe it’s something that you can get away with for a while, without doing your business any damage. But imagine you’re on holiday and looking to book a driver to take you from the airport to your hotel. Three companies give you a quote, and you end up with the following email addresses:

  1. daniel.merton86@gmail.com
  2. daniel@mertoncars.com
  3. wheelsonfire798@btinternet.com

Which one would you go for? Options one and two might both look pretty sound, but hopefully you’d have misgivings about option three. And that’s not so much to do with the provider (read more on that below), or the lack of a first name.

Option two is what we’d go for, if we were booking that car. Even if it was a bit pricier. Why? Because it looks professional.

These are just examples. But by having a professional email address, you’re giving people a reason to trust you, often before you’ve done anything else. We’re living in a world where online scams affect everybody, from big-name corporates who stand to lose millions, to the smallest of enterprises following a targeted cyber attack. And small businesses are top of the hacker hit-list, right now, with clearer vulnerabilities.

The difference is, that huge corporate has a big, experienced, 24-7 IT team to get to the root of the problem, fast. They also have an equally efficient legal team, ready to pick up the pieces. And finally, they’ll probably have a smart communications team on hand, to smooth things over and reassure customers, during and after the storm.

If you have all or any of these assets, then this article probably isn’t for you. But with small businesses currently making up 99% of the UK’s overall business population, it’s likely that you don’t. Having the most professional business email address possible is a basic step in ensuring you’re seen as ‘safe’ by your customers.

Read on for how you can get yours.

Should I use my own domain for my professional email address?

For a really professional email address, domain ownership is a sensible choice. It keeps your contact identity simple, ties you to your business name and gives the customer confidence that you’re an all-bells-and-whistles company. Buying a domain is very easy, and much cheaper than you might think.

On the other hand, you may just be starting out and testing the waters with your business. Or it might be a truly casual money-earner, such as painting nails on a Friday night for a few personal contacts. Or you might have been in business for years, before email was even around, and your customers know exactly who you are and don’t need that trust booster. If any of this sounds like you, by all means stick to a personal email address with a provider like GMail or Yahoo. You can absolutely have a professional email address, without domain shenanigans. Just keep your address smart and sensible (see our point on numbers below).

Remember, it should be daniel.merton, rather than daniel.merton86.

Quick spotlight: what’s a domain?

Domains are basically a friendly naming system for the Internet. We use domains to name and give addresses to web servers and pages, like the one you’re on right now. They make the internet easier to signpost and navigate, and give people a memorable name for your company’s online space. In doing so, they hide all the techy information which actually makes up your website address. So, our domain name is simplybusiness.co.uk. Yours might flowersbydolly.co.uk or indeed, mertoncars.com.

Going with your own domain (or, matching your professional email address to your company name)

Let’s say your company really is called Merton Cars. If you have a website, you may have already bought the domain, mertoncars.com. You want a professional email address to match, and it should probably be something like daniel@mertoncars.com or even do away with first names altogether and make things more direct with enquiries@mertoncars.com, etc.

Alternatively, you may not have a website, and/or may not own the mertoncars.com domain yet. But you’d rather your email address matched your company name, and are happy to follow a few simple steps to doing this.

How to create a professional email address domain

Professional email address generators like GoDaddy have experience in name-clearing and small business email, or you could use one of the big email companies. GMail’s GSuite currently quotes about £8/year for a professional email address and Yahoo offer their own deals on a multi-inbox package.

Any of these providers would be a good place to start, all making set-up quick, simple and pretty cheap. Deals and promotions vary, but often you can also set up email accounts for free, if you’ve bought the domain, or similar.

Getting the name right

Before you confirm anything though, try out some practice email addresses and see how they look on-screen. If you’re stuck for professional email address ideas, GMail for example let’s you see how it’ll look on-screen during set-up.

Put one into the body copy of an email, or show it to a friend. Does it look and sound professional? Does it make sense? daniel@mertoncars.com ticks both boxes, for example, but daniel@merton.com doesn’t spell out the nature of the business quite as clearly. Even if the company is simply called Merton & Sons, or just Merton, there’s no harm in expanding your domain name to make things crystal clear for your customers.

Professional email address ideas if your name is already taken

It happens a lot. You go to one of the professional email address providers above, start entering all your details and chosen domain name into the generator boxes, and hit ‘search’ or ‘go’. The generator spends a few moments searching the internet either to check your carefully selected domain name is available, only to tell you that your name has already been taken.

This happens a lot with common names. Say your business name is David Jones Ltd. You’re looking to create a domain and email addresses that use davidjones.com, but because it’s a very popular name, it’s not available. Often, the provider will suggest a list of alternatives, for example davidjones.biz, which might be fine, or davidjones12.biz, which isn’t so great.

If you’re looking for a professional email address for common names, it’s best to be prepared. Could you try projectsbydavid.com, or djonesprojects.com? That way your common name professional email address would look like this, david@djonesprojects.com. Nice and professional, and much more indicative of what you actually do.

These are just professional email address examples, of course, and you’ll need to fit the advice to your business name, type and needs. The key is having a bit of flexibility and imagination when it comes to choosing professional email address formats and names. Test, try, and put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. What will make best sense to them?

Professional email address examples: first names, last names, long names, short names

If your last name is very long, or you’re not sure whether to use a first name only, be flexible, and try a few ideas out. You don’t have to have the exact name of your business in the email address, it’s more about getting things to match and make sense for the recipient.

For example,

anna@brilliantbakes.com hello@brilliantbakes.com anna.wrigglesworth@bakes.com

If your name was Anna Wrigglesworth and your company called Brilliant Bakes, any of these are clearly connected to your company name and keep things neat and to the point. Most important, you would definitely end up with a ‘professional-sounding’ email address.

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