Professional Email Addresses: How “Free” Email Could Cost You

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

There are lots of ways you’ve worked to build positive brand and inspire trust with your clients.

Pleasant phone greetings when client calls in, a professional sign over the office entrance, even stationary on a nice paper stock are important to let your clients know that you’re serious about your business.

But what about having your own domain name for email?

How does it look after a great conversation with a potential customer when you hand them your card and your email address you expect to have important business conversations with belongs to one of the big email providers offering free service?

Put another way, imagine a lawyer with an email address of Do you think Pat’s clients would be comfortable knowing that private correspondence with their consultant was being transmitted through a free email service?

How would their perception change if Pat’s email were pat@robinson¬

Professional branding aside, there are some great reasons to have your email at your own domain name for business email:

Who’s going to help? Delete an important email? Can’t log in to your account? Have a question about the number of emails you can send from your account?

The free email service providers have self-service tools to help you figure out your problem, but what can you do if you still have a problem? Who will you talk to and how long will you have to wait for help?

Will your emails be delivered? “I didn’t receive your email.” Does this sound familiar? Free email accounts are very popular with spammers. Did you know that some mail services started blocking mass mail delivery from free email accounts with these domain names?

The switching cost to a domain-based email address later is higher. There’s a strong benefit to having people know where to find you. Changing your email address can be a lot like a retailer relocating. All the business built over the years could disappear, as customers can no longer find you at the address.

Unintended communication could be embarrassing, even damaging. Jon Smith is our hypothetical accountant with a free GMail account at Can you guess the number of times his clients have emailed their sensitive documents (even tax returns) to

Sure, it’s the client’s fault for the mistake, but could this have been prevented if he were

Free email accounts are very popular these days. But if you’re serious about your business and your brand, it might be time to consider how current and potential clients are judging you by a simple email address.