How To: Set Up Business Email Accounts
by: April Autrey | ChooseWhat.com
A business email account is necessary for effective and convenient communication with customers, clients, and business contacts.
A business email account is distinct from a personal email account in that it offers you a branded email address.
A Branded Email Address uses your company’s registered domain in the email address: @yourcompanyname.com
A Non-Branded Email Address is any email address that does not use your personal domain name, such as @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com, @aol.com, @mac.com
Before you set up business email accounts, you should:
Note: You'll want to name your business so that you can select a domain name that matches your business name. Registering your domain name is a necessary step in order to set up your email account using any of the following options.
Google Apps for Business
Google Apps is our recommended choice for setting up your business email address. The main advantage of using Google Apps is that you won't be tied to a hosting provider or domain provider and can switch registrars or hosts whenever you like with minimal disruption to your email account. In addition to Gmail, Google Apps gives you access to a variety of other online tools, such as Google Docs, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and others.
The only downside to using Google Apps for Business is that it can be costly. At the Small Business plan level, it will run you $5 / user / month (or $50 / user / year, if you select the annual plan)--which could eat into a sizeable portion of your budget. However, you'll get a lot of functionality and office tools for your money.
For instructions on how to set up your business email account with Google, read our STARTicle: 4 Easy Steps to Getting a Branded Business Email Address with Google Apps
Tip: If you want a low-cost alternative to Google Apps for Business, check out Microsoft Office 365.
Email Forwarding with Your Domain Registrar
Setting up a business email address when you purchase your domain name is an easy option that kills two birds with one stone. If you want a business email address and are not ready to pay for a hosting service (or set up your website), this is a fast, low cost option. However, the disadvantage of this option is that, since your email account is tied to your domain, switching domain registrars can be a hassle.
Unlike Google Apps, this option does not give you an interface to check your email. Instead, your only option is to set up "email forwarding," which will forward business emails to your personal address or other designated address. Here's how it works:
Go through the process of registering your domain name.
- Our domain registrar of choice is GoDaddy. However, GoDaddy only gives you one free email address to use with your domain name. You will have to pay extra to set up multiple email addresses. Some other domain registrars may include multiple email addresses with your registration.
- When purchasing your domain, make sure you opt for "email forwarding." It’s usually free for the first email address associated with your new domain.
When purchasing your domain, make sure you opt for "email forwarding." It’s usually free for the first email address associated with your new domain.
Once you've registered your domain, you'll need to configure your domain to set up email forwarding. Check with your registrar for a process on how to do this.
- You are essentially setting up your new business email address to forward mail to another designated email address, usually a personal one.
- You can always change where your email gets forwarded without any additional cost.
Set up a domain alias or change your reply address.
- This is important because you don't want to reply to business emails that are forwarded to a personal account with your personal email address, which does not look professional.
- To change your reply address on Gmail, see these tutorials: Add domains and domain aliases and Sending mail from a different address.
- To change your reply address on Outlook or Outlook Express, see these instructions.
Email Account with Your Hosting Service
If you are ready to subscribe to a hosting service in order to build a website, it will be convenient and inexpensive to set up your business email account with your hosting service. The main advantage of this option is that it can be significantly cheaper than using a service like Google Apps for Business. In most cases, when you sign up for hosting service you'll get a specific number of email addresses included with your account. However, this option has the same disadvantage as email forwarding with your domain registrar in that your email account is tied to your hosting service, so that switching domain service providers can be a hassle.
Our web hosting service of choice is HostGator. HostGator gives you unlimited email addresses with your web hosting plan. You could also sign up for GoDaddy's web hosting service and get 100, 500 or 1000 email addresses, depending on your plan level.
Setting up and accessing your email account with your hosting provider is easy. Usually, they provide you with an admin interface (like cPanel or Plesk 10), where you can create and set up your email accounts.
- Instructions for setting up your email accounts in HostGator
- Instructions for setting up your email accounts in GoDaddy
If you don't want to log into your hosting control panel every day to check your email, you also have the option of setting up email forwarding just like you would if you are using a domain registrar.
- Choose a consistent structure for your business email accounts (e.g. email@example.com), so if someone from outside the company has to guess your co-worker’s email address they will be likely correct.
- Create general email address accounts that forward to certain departments of your company. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org could forward to your entire front-desk staff and a manager. Or email@example.com could forward to every employee at your office.
- If you're using Google Apps, set up Google Chat for your office. If your email is hosted by Gmail, then you can use their included IM service for intra-office communications and video-conferencing. Communicating to employees and colleages through Google Chat is convenient and helps increase productivity. If your're not using Gmail, you can set up intra-office IM through any of a number of third-party chat programs or aggregators, such as Trillian or Adium.
- Can I use a personal/non-branded email address for business communication? You can choose to use a personal email address as your business email address, but we do not recommend doing so. Although a personal email account is usually free and easy to set up, it can cause problems. Ideally, you want to keep business and personal email separate, as managing both under one account can be difficult and confusing. Also, if you decide to get a branded email address later on it will be hard to switch email addresses, especially if you've already publicized your email address on printed marketing materials.
- If you decide to set up your email with the company hosting your website, it may be difficult to change your web hosting company without disrupting your email service. Using a web-based email service like Gmail could help you avoid this problem. You could also make sure not to close your old hosting account before signing up for a new service and setting up your email.
- If you decide to switch email providers or web hosting providers, you might experience some downtime. Make sure you plan ahead for the switch to a different provider, and try not to make any sudden changes during peak business hours.