Business development · 1 November 2017

Still using your personal Hotmail address? You might want to consider a rebrand

"Cape Town, South Africa - August 23, 2011: Mail icon on an iphone 4, manufactured by Apple"
The vast majority of consumers trust branded email domains over personal ones

In business, first impressions are crucial. You only get to make one, and even the smallest details can leave a powerful impact on your brand.

Now, new survey findings have confirmed that generic email addresses, whether hosted by Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail, are giving off an air of unprofessionalism that could be costing your business vital custom.

Van leasing platform LeaseVan.co.uk polled UK consumers to find that an overwhelming 78 per cent trusted company-branded domanin name over free email addresses.

Your free email could even wash over potential customers, after 67 per cent said they were more likely to remember a brand name if the email was unique.

Britain’s community of tradespeople branding their vehicles with a Yahoo or Hotmail email address could be most at risk of losing customers, and have been warned that promoting their business with a generic domain risks creating the perception of a rogue trader.

Read more: Eight in ten founders Google their own business to manage its online reputation

One survey respondent told LeaseVan.co.uk that despite initial reservations over a gardener with a Hotmail address referencing a children’s’ TV character, she gave him the benefit of the doubt.

“He didn’t actually show-up for the first appointment and was almost impossible to contact afterwards,” she revealed.

“We are definitely not going to try any more tradespeople with silly email addresses. If they think their business isn’t important enough to set up a professional email domain, why should we use them?”

Advising business owners over the importance of a branded email address, LeaseVan.co.uk’s Tim Alcock said many perceived registering a unique domain as an unrealistic expense.

“No one needs to be driving around with a generic email address on their van in 2017. Yet many tradespeople wrongly believe setting up their own domain is costly and time consuming,” he said.

“We want to bust that myth once and for all because the reality is it costs a few quid and they could be missing out on scores of jobs every month because some punters are put off by a Hotmail or Gmail address.

“If they convert one single extra job the web domain has paid for itself. It’s a no brainer – why on earth wouldn’t you? It’s frustrating that someone should work so hard to set up their own business and then lose out on something that’s so easy and cheap to set up.”

Fortunately, you can auto-forward messages from your personal inbox to your branded one, and vice versa, ensuring you don’t miss out on emails from older contacts yet to update their records.

These three digital content strategies can transform your small business

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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