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Do You Really Need a Domain Name?

Occasionally, business owners ask me whether or not their business really needs its own domain name. “Can’t we just use Yahoo or Gmail for e-mail?” they ask. After all, these services are free. Web and e-mail hosting cost money every month, and you can send and receive e-mail via Gmail just as well as you can through a paid service. Social media services, like Facebook and Google+ allow for companies to engage directly with customers without ever setting up a Web site.

My Company is Too Small

For small companies, it may be tempting to stick with free services and forgo registering a domain name. Here’s the problem: Your e-mail address is your primary contact with the outside world. If your address is jimsaccountingservice@gmail.com, all of your vendors, customers, and prospective customers will have that address listed with your contact information. Since you can only get a gmail.com address from Gmail, you can never stop using Gmail (at least without a lot of pain). If you have your own domain name, and your own e-mail address, like jim@jimsaccounting.com, anyone can host that address for you.

That’s just one of the benefits. Keep reading for more.

We Already Have a Domain Name

Most businesses with five or more employes have a domain name, but it’s often not a conscious decision. Usually, it’s because someone in the company said, “Hey, we need a Web site and custom e-mail addresses.”

“Why?” the boss asked.

“Well, um, everyone else has them, and it’s not that expensive, and we need an Internet presense.”

At the words, “Internet presense,” the boss’ eyes glaze over—he has more concrete things to worry about than social media and Internet presences—so the domain name gets approved, and everyone gets their own e-mail addresses, and someone’s nephew develops a mediocre Web site, and that’s the company’s “Internet presence.”

In his outstanding book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, marketing expert Michael Hyatt lists your e-mail address first in his list of branding tools. He says:

“The other day I received an e-mail message from someone who claimed to be a social media expert, specializing in personal branding. Only problem was that his e-mail address was something like rooster763@aol.com. That instantly killed his credibility with me.”

About Web sites, Hyatt goes on to say:

“This is undoubtedly the single most important branding tool you can have. It is the first way in which most people will encounter you. It will shape their opinion of you. That’s why you must get it right.”

He then devotes several chapters to explaining how to “get it right.”

Hyatt isn’t just talking about big companies, he’s talking about individuals (speakers, authors, plumbers) and small organizations too. If you’re trying to connect with an audience online, you need a domain name, and you need to utilize it to its full potential. This means a professional Web site and an e-mail system that allows you to interact with customers in an efficient and engaging way.

To learn more about Clocktower’s professional e-mail services, click here, or just give us a call at 508-541-6143.

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