When opening a company one of the first things you should do is choose an email provider. My favorite is Google Apps for Work. You can also use Zoho Apps if you are a small business and want a totally free solution.
Once you’ve got your mail set up you want to set up individual email accounts.
Personal Email Accounts
Each person in the company should of course have their own personal email address that they can use on a daily basis for internal and external communication. This is the email address that they can put on their business cards and also use for logging into the various tools that the company uses.
Note that tools like Slack are now aiming at killing email for internal communication, and they’re doing it successfully. However email is not going away anytime soon as there are many more uses for it apart from internal communication.
For personal email accounts I recommend using this format:
In my case for example I would use firstname.lastname@example.org. If the person has a really long name or surname you can use the shortened version or even set up an alias to that account. For example you can have the mailbox named email@example.com but then also set up an alias for firstname.lastname@example.org and emails sent to that alias will also end up in the person’s inbox. This also applies to people who have a name that’s hard to spell.
Some companies prefer to just use the firstname@ option and omit the last name. This works for very small companies but you will soon run into problems when the second Joe joins your team. You’ll soon end up with a mess, with some people using their first name only and others having to use their first and second names or something unsightly like joe2@.
My recommendation is therefore to start right away with the firstname.lastname@ combination. If you get two people with the same first and last names, you can use introduce the initial for their middle name or something similar. For example if you have two people named Joe Smith in your company, the second one can use email@example.com.
Generic Email Accounts
Next you will want to set up a few email accounts to be used for mostly administrative, support, billing and as a first point of contact with your company. Make sure you cover all the business functions of your company.
Here are a few essential ones to start off:
- admin@ for administrative purposes such as being a Google Apps admin
- support@ for your helpdesk
- billing@ for billing and payments
- hello@ as a general point of contact
- careers@ for job applications
- domains@ for domain management
Depending on your line of business, there are others you might need to use such as:
- partners@ or affiliates@
- press@ or media@
Many companies use info@ as their point of contact, however I advise against that for a number of reasons:
- Info@ email addresses are not very friendly or personable.
- Some service websites don’t allow you to use info@ email addresses (Facebook is one of those).
- You’re more likely to be flagged as spam with an info@ email address.
- Info@ email addresses are more easily targeted to receive spam.
An email address such as hello@, hi@, hey@, howdy@ or even yourfriends@ (the latter is what Medium use) makes that first contact with your company much warmer and friendlier. Of course you will need to follow up with a friendly and casual reply to ensure a great start to relationships.
Whenever someone from your organization makes a personal connection with someone outside the company, they should almost always use their personal email address rather than dishing out generic email addresses like info@ or sales@. Research has shown that people very much prefer sending emails to personal email addresses and knowing for sure who is going to get their email and hence who is responsible for getting back to them.
You will have noticed that many companies use noreply@ or donotreply@ as one of their email addresses. This is mostly used for sending out notifications and I’ve also occasionally seen it used for newsletters.
That brings us to the topic of email newsletters and marketing communication that your company sends out. What email should be used for sending out these newsletters? I would recommend using the hello@ email address if you’re following the format set above. You want to remain accessible to people who receive your newsletter and so if they reply asking further questions about what you sent out to them or maybe giving you constructive criticism, you should be able to read that.
With a noreply@ address that goes nowhere you won’t be able to do that and you’ll inevitably alienate those subscribers. Sure, you will get a few out of office replies and such, but you can easily filter those out. Besides, if they have auto-replies set up notifying you of email changes, you need to take action on those changes. The typical case would be a person moving on to a new job and hence no longer using his previous email address, which means you will need to strike them off your newsletter list.
You might also want to set up a bounced@ email address to process bounced emails. You will have to set your mailer software to make use of the Return-Path address, so that all your outgoing email messages that generate (hard) bounces are forwarded to a specific email account (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), and not to the “FORM” address.
Bonus tip: Don’t use generic friendly “From” names like “Customer Service”, “Account Verification”, “Monday Newsletter”. Always include your brand name: “WP Mayor Support”, “WP Mayor Account Verification”, “WP Mayor Monday Newsletter”. A “From” name without your brand is automatically suspicious.
So there goes my take on company email addresses. As always your comments and opinions are much appreciated.