If you're running any kind of business-related website, you'll want a way for prospects and customers to communicate with you. The primary method of communication is of course going to be email, and that's what this tutorial's all about. Hopefully at this point, you've registered your business's domain name, purchased some web hosting, and pointed your domain to your new hosting account. If not, be sure to check out my tutorials, How To Register A Domain Name With NameCheap, Finding The Best Web Hosting For Your Website, and Pointing Your Domain Name To Your Web Hosting Account.
Setting up your website's communication is the most important thing to do after signing up for hosting, and pointing your domain to your host.
Now, what we'll do first in this tutorial is discuss the difference between what I call "site-branded," or "professional" email, and "unprofessional" email addresses. I also want to discuss a few other aspects of your email that I think are important. After that, we'll get into the three different options for our website's email.
By the end of this tutorial, you'll have a solid grasp on the best way for you to handle your business's website communications and keep yourself looking professional online. So, let's get started!
Now right out of the gate, I want to address what I mentioned above: "site-branded," or "professional" email addresses, and "unprofessional" email addresses. Unprofessional email addresses would be email accounts set up on free email services, where you're given an
@yahoo.com email address...or worse,
@aol.com. Ugghh... A professional email address, or an email address that's branded for your website, would be something that ends in
firstname.lastname@example.org or something similar.
I can't stress this enough, even if you're running your business solo, using a branded, or professional, email address looks a million times better than an unprofessional one. People will take you and your business much more seriously. Not only that, but it helps people remember your website's domain name, too. That's why I also call these site-branded email addresses.
Here's a simple example: Which sounds better to you: "Hi, I'm Jason. I'm a pet photographer. You can reach me at email@example.com," or "Hi, I'm Jason. I do pet photography. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org"?
The obvious choice is heads and shoulders above the other. Who would you rather do business with? Who would you trust more? If you're using a free email address with your business, potential customers are asking themselves the same questions. True story: I knew a guy whose email was "2legit24-7-365." How can we take anyone using email addresses like this seriously?
So regarding site-branded email addresses, here's the good news: If you've already signed up for web hosting, particularly shared hosting, then you likely already have the ability to set up professional email addresses at no extra cost.
When you're ready to set up your website's email, you have three different options. Depending on your needs and budget, one of these will fit for you. The first option is the simplest. If you've signed up for web hosting, and your hosting came with free email service, then you can use that. But this option leaves a lot to be desired and can lead to major problems, which I'll get into below.
Second, you can use a professional, business-grade email service. This is probably the best option, but it's also the only one that costs money. Thankfully, it's very reasonably priced. If you're running a business site, its' definitely worth the expense. We'll go into more detail about this option below.
Our third and final option is to set up a site-branded email and connect it to Gmail. This is a pretty cool option that not a lot of people know about, so I look forward to explaining this option in detail.
Alright, let's take a look at our three site-branded, professional email options...
As I mentioned above, if you've already registered a domain name and signed up for web hosting, then you likely have everything you need to set up a professional email address. Most web hosting services, particularly lower-cost shared hosting plans like those offered by Web Hosting Hub and SiteGround, come with free email. But not all hosting does, so you'll have to check. With this option, you can easily create email addresses via your hosting account. Then, to access your email, you can either use the web host's control interface, or you can connect your email accounts to an email application that runs on your computer or mobile device.
If your hosting didn't come with email, as is the case with hosts like WP Engine, then you'll have to skip down to the second option, which is to use a dedicated email service.
Now in this tutorial, I won't cover exactly how to set up email that has come with your web hosting. Your web hosting company already has exhaustive support and detailed instructions on exactly how to do this (trust me, it's one of their most common requests). When you signed up for web hosting, if the host also provides email service, then I guarantee they've provided you with instructions on how to set it up. So there's no point in me rehashing it all again here.
What I will do here is provide some food for thought about not using email services provided to you by your web host. But first, here's what's great about using your host's email service: If you signed up with a web host who includes email, then congratulations, you already have email! It's a cheap (as in, free) email option, and it's relatively easy to set up. This is a decent route to go—I did for years.
That said, my experience has been significantly improved since switching to a dedicated, business-grade service, and I encourage you to consider ditching your web host's email and going with a dedicated email service, too. Either that, or going with the third option I mentioned, setting up site-branded email in Gmail. But we'll get to these other options shortly.
In a previous tutorial, I detailed out all the reasons why using free email with your web host isn't such a great idea. I'll outline a few of those reasons here, but I encourage you to go check that tutorial out for more details.
The biggest reason that I switched to a better email service is because my site grew larger and I wound up going with managed WordPress hosting that didn't include email. But even before this happened, I'd already switched away from using the email service that came bundled with my web hosting. I found the free email that my host gave me to be painful to use. For example, keeping my email synchronized was a nightmare—I had messages sitting on the email server, messages in my desktop application (I think I was using Thunderbird at the time), more messages on my mobile device, and they all weren't synchronized...sent messages, received messages...it was all a mess. What I wanted was a single location where all my email was stored, so that when I tapped Send & Receive on my phone or on my laptop, everything synced up with everything else.
If I opted instead to use the free, built-in email interface, the experience was even more painful.
Then there was the issue of spam and reliability. Being free, email from your web host is more of an extra, or an add-on, which is nice, but it's often not a top priority for the web hosting company to ensure they have rigid measures in place to guard against spam and malware. Further, it sometimes isn't reliable either. What I mean by this is, messages I knew I'd sent didn't go through; and vice versa...messages from senders weren't being received on my end. Especially when running a business, these sorts of things can cause major headaches.
All of this isn't to scare you off of using the free email service from your web host. I'm just trying to provide as much clarity as I can to the reality of using a service like this, and what it might mean for you. Ultimately, you'll have to decide for yourself.
For me, though, I'm going to stick with a dedicated email service. And that's the next option we have to discuss, so let's check it out...
Let's dig into the second option for handling our website's email, and that's to use a dedicated email service. This is the option of choice for many business owners. If your web hosting didn't come with free email, as is the case with hosts like WP Engine, then going with a dedicated email service is your only option. Or, if you're wanting a lot more reliability and control over your email, and professional-grade service, then look no further.
In my own quest to rid myself of the headaches I mentioned in the previous section—problems like ridiculous amounts of spam, wanting easy access to email that used a reasonably modern interface, and most importantly, reliable service—lead me to dedicated email services.
The more I dug into the problems I was having, the more I realized that going with business-grade, dedicated email hosting that was separate from my web hosting was going to solve everything. And, a dedicated email service gave me the extra features and security I was looking for. Even though there was an additional cost, it was more than worth it.
Like you, I don't have the time or patience to mess around with a service that's more of a headache than it needs to be. After all we have businesses to run!
I also realized I'd be solving another headache that's come up for me a few times over the years: I mentioned above that I'd outgrown my previous web host. It happens, and it's nice to know your website's gaining popularity. But, if my email were tangled up with my web hosting, what happens when I move my business off that web host? What happens to all my archived messages, and how can I bring them with me? The truth is, it's a royal pain.
In keeping my email service separate from my web hosting, the two services are completely separate from one another. So if I move my website to a new web hosting company, my email stays where it is and functions as normal, completely unaffected. I harp on this a lot, but this is why I encourage you to keep your web services separate. Business-grade email services like Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite help us keep achieve this.
Let's talk cost. Dedicated, business-grade email service is actually not that expensive at all. Depending on the email service you go with, it's about $5/month per email account. For a solo business or a small team, this is very affordable for the level of service you get. And for medium and large teams, some kind of dedicated, business-level email service is going to be a must. If you'd like some specific recommendations for industry-standard dedicated email providers, then check out my tutorial, Finding The Best Email Service For Your Business.
Alright, we have a third and final email option to get to, using a branded account through Gmail. Let's see what that's all about...
As I mentioned way back at the beginning, this is a really cool option that not a lot of people know about. What we can do is create a professional, site-branded email account, and have that email function for you inside your free Gmail account. This option is great if you're an existing Gmail user, and if your web hosting comes with free email service, then it costs you nothing...zero...zilch!
Said another way, this option relies on the free email service that comes with some web hosting—hosts like Web Hosting Hub and SiteGround. It goes without saying that you'll need a free Gmail account, too.
If your hosting doesn't come with email, which is the case with hosts like WP Engine, then this option isn't going to work.
The set up to pull this off is a little involved, but here's the gist: In your web hosting account (via cPanel, for example) you set up a branded email address. Something like
email@example.com, for example. Next, you head into your Gmail account and plug in the send and receive settings for your web host's email server. Your web host will provide you with this information. With the settings confirmed, you'll then be able to send and receive email from
@yourcompany.com from within Gmail.
This is a very nice way to use professional, site-branded email, and simultaneously use Gmail and it's clean, web-based interface. Plus, you have access to all the other goodies that Gmail comes with, like calendars, contacts, and more.
There's lots that I'd love to tell you about this option, so be sure to check out my tutorial, How To Set Up A Website-Branded (Professional Business) Email In Gmail.
So there we are! I hope you enjoyed our look at setting up your business email for your website. Out of everything we discussed here, I hope the biggest takeaway was to use a site-branded, professional email account with your website. Always!
We had an overview of email and covered a few fundamentals, before jumping into our three email options for small business. We talked about using the free email service that likely came with your web hosting, we took a look at using a dedicated, business-grade email service provider, and we discussed the option to use Gmail with your site-branded email account.
Now, if you'd like to find the best email service provider for you and your business, check out my Finding The Best Email Service For Your Business tutorial. Or, if our third option above sounded interesting, be sure to take a look at my How To Set Up A Website-Branded (Professional Business) Email In Gmail tutorial.
Hope you enjoyed!