Free email services are damaging trust in small business

By Daniel Williams, founder of Domains Direct

One thing that really makes me cringe is when I spot a small business, who have their own website Domain, but use Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail addresses for their email. I cannot understand why they thought this was a good idea; I mean, I’m sure they’ve seen people with email addresses like john@jsplumbing.co.nz, but instead they opt for johnsmithplumbingnz@gmail.com. What do you think looks more professional?

So why is this a problem? Well, because there is real evidence that businesses using free email services are losing trust with customers, and that’s probably costing them sales. I personally skip passed businesses like this when I’m looking for a service. I’m often amazed when I see businesses paying for print advertising and they have a Gmail address. I wonder if they realise that just spending around $20 a year for their own Domain would make them look so much more professional.

Here’s some excerpts from research done by the NZ Registry Service via their www.getyourselfonline.nz website.

  • Two thirds of NZ businesses don’t have a domain name for their website or email.
  • Most businesses without a domain name use an ISP-provided or free address for email.
  • Half of them say they do not know how to use a Domain-based email.

In 2014, Colmar Brunton conducted research on Domain name perceptions, and found that 89% of consumers know what a Domain name is. Those surveyed feel that companies with brand specific email addresses are more likely to be professional, credible, responsible and trustworthy than those with Xtra and Gmail addresses.

I think it’s a 2-part problem: ignorance, and lack of technical know-how. It is much easier to just register a Gmail address, or use the mailbox Xtra gave you, than to go through the process of learning how to set up and configure a mailbox on your webhost.

If you’re in this boat, and you realise it’s time to start using your Domain for your email, all you need to do is contact your Domain provider or webhost to help you get set up. It’s going to require some time investment to get everything configured but it’s an investment that will pay rewards.