Getting Control Of Your Email Is Important To Your Business Success

December 2nd, 2013

Every time I do an update to one of the ebooks I publish I run smack into the fact that a big percentage of ebook purchasers are not in control of their email. In my business book I have a whole chapter on how to get control of your email because it’s hard to be successful at a business like real estate photography that is so online intensive without being control of your email. Disciplined use of email accounts is a huge factor in your being successful. When I have trouble giving away free stuff to over 30% of ebook purchasers there is a problem!

Here’s what I mean by being in control of your email:

  1. Have a stable email address: Don’t just walk a way from  email addresses. If you change addresses or have several addresses you’ve used in the past make sure all of the addresses you have ever had are all read by one email reader. This is not  difficult. Services like Gmail allow you to do this very easily. You can even read your AOL email in Gmail. You can read up to 5 POP3 accounts from Gmail including AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, other webmail or POP3 email servers.
  2. Be in control of your own SPAM filtering: That is, filter SPAM in a way that you can verify it’s working like you think it is. Be aware that many email hosting services (like AOL, Comcast and others)  do automatic SPAM filtering before your email reader ever gets it’s hands on the email. These services are deciding what’s SPAM and what isn’t. Sometime they are right and sometimes they are not. This is a major reason to avoid these services. So, where possible, set the parameters on all your email hosts to NOT do any SPAM filtering and then use a service like Gmail to do the SPAM filtering. It works beautifully, and you can “train” it to filter what you want.
  3. Don’t depend on an email reader (like Outlook or Apple Mail) that is physically tied to a single computer: If you do, it guarantees you will have a disaster sometime soon. If you use Outlook or Apple Mail use the IMAP setup in your email reader to allow access to your mail server from multiple computers and see the same mail at every computer. IMAP allows you to see the same email on your SmartPhone, your Laptop, your desktop and an Internet Cafe in Nairobi.
  4. Brand your email with your own domain: To look professional you want people to see your email coming from you@yourname.com rather than anjz42@aol.com. Your email is just another part of your brand. It is very easy to have a mail server at the domain of your choice. It’s also easy to setup your Gmail account to read mail from that server and send mail so it appears to come from your branded domain.

To me, a key component accomplishing all of these is Gmail. It has everything you need to setup and follow all of these principles. Gmail isn’t the only way to do this but this is one of Googles core competencies. There are many other approaches that will work. But Gmail is free, and Gmail is remarkably good at SPAM filtering. So good that I’d go so far as to say there is nothing that touches it for SPAM filtering and SPAM filtering may be the most important of these principles. Also, I have every online receipt from everything I’ve purchased online since I started using Gmail in 2006. And we now know that the NSA also has access to all this! But Google in in the process of encrypting the whole bloody product to keep the NSA out.

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8 Responses to “Getting Control Of Your Email Is Important To Your Business Success”

  • Hi Larry,
    Thanks for reinforcing good email practice….very important.
    I would also like to hear your take on reinforcing and promoting technology competency,especially regarding client use of image presentation.
    So many of my clients have their monitors set on a less than optimum resolution. Many cannot play back video because of inadequate video cards or
    DSL speeds that are two notches above dial up. I cannot believe how many PC users are still running Windows XP :-(.
    Maybe a “Technology Update Manual” is in order.
    Happy Holidays to all !
    Ron

  • I use Outlook at least for the last 15 years and during all those years I managed to built solid spam filters for 4 of my emails, with my own domains. About 2/3 of the emails end up in spam filters. But before I delete them on a daily bases, I do a quick scroll.
    Once a while I have to correct one or two.

    Because I needed lately a language translater I tried the one from Google. But Google went to far and started on an auto system to translate my Dutch emails into english. I am not using Google anymore.

    To comment on Ron.
    In today’s economy many do not have the cash to upgrade their computer systems and others are using maybe the computer only as an email item to family. And as long as their system works, they feel fine.

  • Hello Larry,

    Absolutely agree. Email management is hypercritical. It is simply one of the core competencies we need to have in today’s age. And, as an extension of one’s brand, I cannot imagine an email address that serves only to promote -somebody else- as does a Yahoo, AOL, Google, Outlook, Live, or other service provider.

    That in itself tells you a lot about someone. A person’s email address is reflective of themselves and how they run their business. When I see a business where the primary address is MyRealEstateCompany@AOL.com, I cringe. As in, really? You spent many thousands setting up your business, possibly with a physical location, but you couldn’t spend $150/year for a dedicate domain and email? This is particularly true of folks that might have their own domain (e.g. MyRealEstateCompany.com) yet have staff using Yahoo! (or other) generic addresses.

    Besides, what did you think of the last person who gave you an AOL address? This happened to me last week. My first impression was, “I’d forgot they even still existed.” Followed by, ‘I think they’re dating themselves.’

    🙂

  • JT – Yes you’re right, AOL email says, “I got my email in the early 1990s when they were passing out AOL CDs at the supermarket”

    Another fact is that the security on Yahoo emails is so bad that they can’t get Yahoo employees to use Yahoo email.

    Many people have discovered that .ME email accounts (the old MobileMe Apple product) filter out email that you have no control over. As far as I can tell, many of the Lighting Interiors purchasers with .ME accounts did not get the download links for the second edition. I would stay away from all Apple mail products… that’s just not Apple’s core competency.

  • Gmail is by far the best way to go.

    Gmail for business (google apps for business) is just $60 per user/year includes 30 gigs of space, no ads and all their apps under your domain name. A domain name is around $10 per year from godaddy.

    Works on any device easily, mobile even has a gmail app. And like Larry said, all of your previous email address’ can be setup to be checked through your 1 gmail account.

    I have been using it for 3 years and it has never been down and I have never missed an email (that im aware of)

  • @JT I cringe as well when I see companies and professionals using Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail accounts. A dedicated domain is less than $75/year if you shop around with unlimited (for a certain amount of unlimited) storage. I find that companies that have a uniform email address convention and have everybody using a company email address for business gives the business a much more professional appearance. The generic email addresses that you see being used by people where the company has their own domain are probably personal accounts. I’ve owned and managed businesses and would never allow employees to use personal accounts for business. It doesn’t look good and there is no good way to handle the mess when employees leave or even just go on vacation.

    @Christian I steer people away from using Google. First off, I am a big privacy advocate and Google’s track record is not good. Their business is about collecting information and reselling it. Hosting companies are more focused on providing mail, web and storage services, although, it’s a good idea to read their fine print closely. More and more companies are “leveraging their customer data”. Reading the fine print at GoDaddy is a good idea as well. Their initial agreements gave them the rights to the domain name you registered through them so many people found out that they couldn’t switch service providers without losing their domain name. They may not do that anymore, but if they offer a deal that seems too good …… I know too many people that were burned to ever trust them.

    I register my domain names through the same company that hosts my domains. The price is the same, +- $1, and I can take care of all the charges each year with one payment. I did register my .pro account with Network Solutions and I’m going to move that away from them. They are huge spammers. I just received a renewal notice for a domain name that expires in April 2014. If they do the same as last year, I’ll get a few of those a week until the domain’s actual expiration date. The reason that I used them was because the .pro addresses were only available from NetSol at the time. I believe that there are more registrars for .pro now.

    I use a dedicated email application (Apple Mail) for email with some add-ons. I can access my email via the web with my domain host’s email apps, but I have only used that function once. Again, privacy is a key issue. If you are using a web based system to access and store your email, those emails are easily read by any government agency (all perfectly legal) and can be subpoenaed en masse. If you are storing your email on your computer, a subpoena must be more specific as to what you have to provide. Neither of those situations have ever come up for me and maybe never will, but I lock my doors at night without ever having been robbed. What I really appreciate on a day to day basis is the ability to sort, organize and use my email with additional applications on my computer without any internet connection. I am often off-line when I am traveling, but I can still read important information contained in emails without having to be on-line.

  • @Ken

    Actually, its a good rule of thumb to never have your domain and hosting from the same company, you never want to rely on one company for both, you are essentially trusting them with your entire online existence. In fact the best practice is to have them separated AND use a separate company to manage your DNS (like dnsmadeeasy.com), allowing you to point your domain name to multiple places. For example my domain name points to a web host for my website (A Record) and points to google apps for business for my email (MX Record). This separates my email from my website, ensuring that if/when my site (webhost) goes down my email will still be working just fine.

    Keep in mind that 99.9 uptime calculates to 8h 45m downtime per year. Whether thats all at once or most likely spread out over the year, its one thing if your site is down but having your email down as well is bad for business. Every webhost goes down at some point, especially the shared hosting that you see for $20 or less per month as you are on a server with hundreds of others. I pay 4x that for a dedicated server because I host around 25 sites and it still goes down at times through out the year.

    Even google apps for business only has a 99.9% uptime guarantee but the key is by separating your webhost and your email, the chances that BOTH are down at the same time is almost nonexistent, you probably have a better chance at winning the lottery

    I was a web designer before getting into real estate photography 9 years ago and i can tell you that i have bought over 200 domain names over the years through godaddy and I would guess I transferred well over half of those to clients preferred domain registrars with absolutely no issues. I still have probably around 25 websites that I manage for good friends and just last year switched them all over to netfirms.ca, only because they were a few dollars cheaper for Canadian .ca domains and I wanted everything under one control panel, and I can tell you again there was absolutely no issues transferring.

    And by the way Google does not share or reveal private user content such as email or personal information with third parties except:

    As required by law (see the Google Transparency Report)
    On request by a user or system administrator
    To protect their systems.
    All your data is under your control and is not accessible to others unless you have given them permission.

    You might want to read up on the Google apps for business and their privacy policy and other “myths” here http://info.groveis.com/blog/bid/177004/7-Common-Myths-about-Google-Apps-Security-Privacy-and-Data

  • @Christian

    I’m not too worried about my web site and email being down at the same time. If a prospective customer is looking at my website and my email is down, having both unavailable isn’t an issue, I’ve probably lost them as a customer. I have two hosting companies in addition to a gmail account, so I can send mail if a host is offline. I’d really be in trouble if I added VOIP services and had all of my eggs in one basket. One hosting service I use is completely dead when they go down. VOIP, Skype, Email and web trouble tickets are all offline when they drop out. I’ve requested they get a POTS local number that they can put a system status report recording on.

    I stand on my evaluation of Google based on their business model. Google is a large company with solid earnings. Those earnings come from selling information and advertising. I also feel that the best way to control my data is to maintain it myself and not rely on the untestable trustworthiness of an outside vendor, especially one that makes a large percentage of their income by selling information about people. It seems that a week doesn’t go by where there isn’t a story of a company getting hacked, a bad bit of programming giving access to private data or a laptop gets stolen with a huge swath of sensitive information. Also remember that if you are getting something for free, you are the product.

    I used to keep my desktops and laptop emails sync’d up on a regular basis, but I have slacked off since I’m not using my laptop as frequently and this article has me putting some thought into getting my local server in place and running so that my email is stored in a couple of places. I do backup on a regular basis with both on-site and off-site storage. I’ve been pretty fortunate so far that I haven’t had any problems for quite some time. The last crash years ago cost me a pretty penny and many long nights restoring data from paper reports. I never want to do that again.

    I’m glad that GoDaddy isn’t playing games with domain names. As for me, they blew it by playing that game once upon a time.

    My ideal configuration would be to have a local hosting company where I could either co-lo my own box or only share one with a couple of others. The shared hosting I have now is slow serving up pages. Not so much that I am going to run out next Monday and replace them, but it is on the list to do when I need better performance. My photography web sites are not currently generating loads of business, so spending more on better performance is not a priority. The $60-$75/year I spend with each hosting provider (including domain names) is good value for me and I haven’t experienced any serious problems over the past several years I’ve been with them. I’m also not competing with other photographers in the area, so anybody interested in my services isn’t going to jump to another photographer’s site if mine is a little on the slow side. The down time I see is probably more than what they “guarantee” and I don’t doubt that most hosts lie about their uptime performance. It’s just too easy to fudge. I’d rather take all of the down time in two or three bites. I always seem to be down for 15 minutes right in the middle of trying to send out a very important email or when I am revamping web pages.

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