We all use email every day. And while social media gets most of the buzz, it’s email (social media’s less sexy roommate) that gets the work done, day in and day out.
All of this means that if you own and operate a small business, you need to be sure that you’re taking full advantage of this wonderful tool. The easiest way to start is by paying attention to how you come across when you send emails.
Here are two big mistakes that I see – over and over and over again – in my work with solo professionals and small business clients:
1. A generic or hard to understand “from” line. Most of us pay a lot of attention to our emails’ “subject” line. It’s the headline and the thing that entices people to open our emails in the first place.
But the “from” line is even more critical. Why? Because that tells the recipient who is sending the email in the first place. If it’s a friend, relative or company I do business with, I’m very likely to open it (regardless of the subject line). If I don’t recognise the sender, I’m likely to assume it’s spam and click delete.
Yesterday, for example, I got an email from “Gabbi” with a blank subject line. Well, I don’t know any Gabbi’s. I had already deleted it when I remembered a woman named Gabriella who works for one of my clients. I fished the message out of my Trash folder, and, sure enough, she was sending me some important information. It made me wonder: How many of her emails are regularly deleted?
Another common faux pas is when the “from” line is simply an email address. That’s okay if your full name is part of your address, but not so good if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the solution? Try something like this: First and Last Name | Company. Your first and last name, followed by your company name, either of which may help folks realise who you are.
2. Not using a custom domain for email. You may not know this, but if you own a domain (e.g., www.mycompany.com), you can create email addresses (email@example.com) that use that domain name (and probably at no additional cost).
Unfortunately, I frequently see emails from small businesses and solo professionals who use Gmail, Verizon, Comcast, Yahoo! and other providers to act as their domain. An example is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This approach paints you as a hobbyist (as opposed to someone who’s really in business), and it also represents a missed opportunity to help people find your website. When you create an email address that uses your custom domain, you are constantly advertising your company and where to find it on the web.
Like any tool, email is only as good as how you use it. Polish up your approach and start getting the full benefit from this important aspect of your business!