Most of us don’t choose our phone numbers, and unless you live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you probably picked your home first and the street number just came with it.
However, you can choose your email address.
As of last year, an Ipsos poll showed about 85 percent of people in the world use email. That might be even higher today. The odds are high that you have at least one email address, maybe more, and that you’re regularly interacting with others who are on email and want to know how to reach you.
If you work for a big company, chances are they select your email address for you, something like firstname.lastname@example.org.
But if you’re a business owner or a freelancer, you’re free to do what you like. If you’re a job seeker, you probably use a personal email address on your resume and in networking.
Here are five questions I’d consider to make sure your email address is part of your marketing — that it helps you achieve your goals instead of hindering you:
1. Is your email address embarrassing?
Imagine you get a phone call from your dream client or dream employer making you a fantastic offer, and the call concludes with “Can you give me your email address so I can send the paperwork?” Would you blush as you say it’s CuteKitties@yahoo.com or BeerPongChampion@aol.com?
These are extreme examples, but if you have any sense that your email address doesn’t represent your desired image, it’s time for a new one. If you run a beer pong tournament business, you can keep the beer pong one.
2. Is your email address confusing?
If you find you have to explain constantly that it’s 3, the numeral three, not spelled out, or that there’s a hyphen in Newvine-Growing, you might have a problem.
Sure, many times people will find your email address on your website or your business card, but when you say it out loud, it should be as easy to understand as possible. Why make it hard for people to reach you?
3. Is your email address hard to remember?
Related to the above, if your name is John Smith and you really wanted JohnSmith@gmail.com, but by the time you got there, you had to settle for JohnSmith78932@gmail.com, you can probably do better.
How about JohnMiddlenameSmith@gmail.com? Or John@Smith.com? Or John@JohnMiddlenameSmith.com?
If you had to add a string of numbers to your chosen email handle, you’re probably defeating the point of your address being obviously connected to your name.
I think an ideal email address is one I can remember next time I’m at my computer and want to email you. Domains like .net or .biz don’t help there, either, since people generally assume an email address is .com.
4. Is your email domain telling people you’re behind the times?
I’ve read numerous articles about the judgments people make based on your email domain, including assuming people who use aol.com or hotmail.com are behind the times.
That might be unfair, but why risk making a bad first impression?
It’s easy and free to set up gmail.com email, which doesn’t have the negative baggage of some of the other Web-based email services. It’s inexpensive to use a service like namecheap.com or register.com to buy your own domain so you can have an email like email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you already have a website with a custom URL — something like http://yourname.com or http://www.yourbusiness.com — you might be able to easily add email accounts. Because I bought newvinegrowing.com, my website designer set up my email@example.com using gmail. I don’t pay extra for having that email address associated with newvinegrowing.com.
5. Are you sticking with an email address you’ve outgrown because switching is a hassle?
If you have given out the same email address since the late 1990s, and everyone from your elderly aunt to your high school sweetheart to all your best clients have it, it can feel risky to turn it off.
But there’s a compromise: many email providers allow you to forward to another address, as well as to import mail from another address. Think of it as putting in a change of address form with the Post Office, just for electronic mail.
I like gmail’s ability to combine multiple email addresses into one account in part because I can also separate them — if I’m looking just for emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, I can filter those out for a quick review. But on a day-to-day basis, I combine them to make it easier just logging in to one account.
What thoughts do you have about your email address as part of your marketing outreach? Does your email serve you well?
- From Lifehacker, Know What Your Email Address Says About You
- From The Oatmeal, What your email address says about your computer skills
- From Huffington Post, Email Stereotypes: What Your Address Says About You
Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a former reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy. She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.