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In past articles here on Vodacom NOW we discussed how easy, affordable and useful it is to use modern email platforms such as Office365 and we looked at why you should have your own business domain. Now let’s combine the two for one of the most valuable things you can create for your business: company email! It’s far easier, cheaper and simpler than you thought - and the benefits are excellent.
Why get your own email domain?
But why do you need your own business email domain, especially when you can create a free email account on many different services? There are many good reasons, but let’s start with an obvious one: your brand. As explained in our domains feature, your business domain is an extension of your brand. So if you are operating under something like firstname.lastname@example.org, you aren’t doing your brand any favours.
'A business domain creates good credibility,” said Brian Pinnock, Director Sales Engineering MEA at Mimecast. 'It’s essential if you are running a medium size or larger business. But even if you are a one-person show, it elevates your respectability. People are more likely to take you seriously and do business with you.'
There are also good security reasons to have your own domain. It is harder for criminals to impersonate you. But if you have a free email address, they can take advantage. For example, they can register email@example.com and dupe customers. After all, who checks the responding email address that closely? But if it was firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s much more difficult to fake. If you use a service called DNS authentication, which all reputable hosts should offer, you can also ensure nobody fakes your business domain.
Large companies are growing suspicious of free email addresses because they are a big source of spam and criminal attacks. So they are blanket-banning many free domains such as Gmail, Outlook.com and Yahoo mail. This means the correspondence you have with them might be blocked by filters. But a proper business domain stands apart and won’t get the same treatment.
Better security and control
There are considerations for your own business operations. Free email services tend to have limited security and archiving services. But when you have a domain, you can use more professional services such as Office365 or GSuite. These have higher levels of security, and also give you better storage choices. The latter is important because as a business you’ll want to retain certain documents for tax and other purposes.
It also helps you control whose services you want to use, said Pinnock:
'The catch with a free email service is that you can’t move that email address to another service. You are stuck there because you are using their domain. But if you have your own domain, you can move it to another provider for better service or a better price.'
A business domain lets you create multiple email addresses at very little extra cost. You only pay one annual registration fee for the domain. The cost of creating individual email addresses depends entirely on where you host. Some hosts will even let you create several email addresses for one set price, while others charge a small fee per address.
So you can create email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com - each serving a different function. Each can also be assigned to a different person or app, so even if you are a one-person shop, you can segregate email correspondence. This makes your job easier and you look more professional. Start a business newsletter or an email that only deals with your business’ social media accounts!
How to get started
So, you are sold on getting your own business domain. The first step is to learn more about domains themselves - read our article on that here. Then you should get an email service that will host your domain.
As mentioned, these can be a service such as Gsuite or Office365, but there are other options as well. If you are a medium-size company, it may be worth getting a virtual hosted exchange such as offered by Vodacom Business - this is ideal when you have numerous users and need some serious security and archive management.
Some ISPs will also offer basic email hosting if you register a domain with them. This is fine if you are just starting out and often the most cost-effective. But make sure you have control over the domain, in case you plan to move to a different service provider later. Also, ask your host about moving your email archives, said Pinnock:
'Your business emails are important documents and you should keep ownership of those. But many people discover that when they want to move their email to a new host, they can’t or that it will be expensive to do. So ask your host about export tools for emails, else you could have a problem down the road.'
But everyone starts somewhere and such a basic email system can be a stepping stone to better things. However, you go about it, drop that free email address. It’s not doing you any favours. A domain, especially a local co.za, is inexpensive and hosting email costs as little monthly as one good lunch. It’s one business expense you’ll be happy to pay.