Email is still important

Email is a key part of modern communications. In a few decades, it’s gone from being a rarity to being taken for granted. It’s been been astonishingly successful, largely because Gmail and many other email platforms are free, reliable, and readily available.

I’ve used Gmail since 2004 when it launched. At that time a prospective user had to be recommended by an existing user to get an account! That quaint referral requirement is long gone, and in 2018 Gmail had more than 1.2 billion active users.

Of course there are alternatives to email, such as messaging and other social media. However, those alternatives rarely have the breadth of applicability that email has.

The use of email is almost unavoidable if you want to communicate with friends, businesses, gatekeepers, customers, or an web community. Contact with a decision maker begins with an email message. But….

Email is easily ignored

Will your unsolicited email to a gatekeeper be opened? The odds aren’t good. 70-80% of Gmail messages are unread! To read or not? That is the question.

The decision to open an email is based primarily on two elements, the subject line and the sender’s address. Much has been written about subject lines so I’ll focus on the sender’s address, more specifically when the sender is unknown to you.

When we don’t recognize a sender’s email address, we look for information from the user name and the domain name (after the @).

We respond to messages from senders with familiar or plausible names. User names with unusual letter combinations, numbers, and non-alphabetic characters are easily ignored.

We are more likely to read messages from domains with the names of recognizable organizations and businesses, particularly if we have an existing relation with the company.

Emails from the domains of free email services like gmail.com or yahoo.com are special cases. On one hand these companies are familiar and credible. After all, they support billions of accounts.

However, emails from these domains tells you little about the sender. You only know that they spent no money for their email and that they are older than 13 (if they didn’t lie when opening their account). This hardly makes a case for opening their email.

For your emails to have a chance of being opened, it needs to be from a named person at a credible domain.

That pretty much rules out Gmail and Yahoo because, with billions of accounts, your name is probably unavailable. Being JohnSmith3486@gmail.com doesn’t help you stand out when you mail a prospect.

Get your own domain and keep Gmail

Perhaps a reasonable version of your name is unavailable at Gmail and you don’t have an organization domain name to use. Is there any email hope?

There is. Purchase your own domain name and use an email forwarding service. You could then send and receive emails at a more professional email address, such as myname@mydomain.org. Moreover, you could still use your Gmail or Yahoo account while sending and receiving with your new, more professional email address.

This approach would cost about $35 per year. Not free, but good value. To learn how, just sign up for my Nobody’s Guide to a Personal Web Presence course.