Protect Your Business Email

Business email address
A question that often arises when I am designing a new website for a client is how to encourage safe potential customers to email their business.

My immediate advice is that you should never publish either personal or business email address on a website. There are many Internet harvesting email programs (often known as spam-bots) that crawl websites looking for email addresses. Everything found are added to the mailing lists and sold; if you are unlucky enough to have your address on one of these lists, you will quickly find you receive a spam flood.

Until you actually had this happens it may just seem like a minor problem, but I can tell you from my own experience that it can quickly become a major problem for a company, and can become a serious waste of your time. Just a few years I started an e-mail address of the mine on a very obscure and forgotten site. Finally, I received about 30 spam messages per day, at which point I was forced to abandon using that email address. Luckily for me this particular address was one that I very rarely used and thus to abandon what was little loss. If it had been a business or personal that I used every day, it would have been a headache for me.

The fact is that your work email address is an asset to your business, and must be protected. If you have used for a while, your customers and suppliers will be on file and use it to communicate with you. You may have signed up to newsletters, registered with the websites and online purchases. If you are forced to stop using your address problems can easily be considered: some of your contacts will read the e-mail you send them informing them of the change of address, and immediately make the necessary changes to their base data in the Address Book; many will forget. You will need to re-subscribe to mailing lists, and change your address on all sites you have registered with. If you’re smart, you add an auto-responder on your old email address, giving the new address. This will probably work when the message is sent by a real person, but you will still need to verify your previous address on a regular basis to ensure that important messages are not missed. In short, it will take your valuable time, and will be a real cost to your business, and you never want that to happen to you.

So how do you protect your business address? After all, you have to give sometimes, otherwise there is little point in having one! You want real customers to be able to contact you easily.

The first step, if you have not already done this, is to register a domain for your business. It is so cheap to make that it is worthwhile even if you have no immediate plans to set up a website. One of the facilities that usually comes with a domain is the ability to configure the shipping email addresses. Many companies start using a free address as mybusiness@yahoo.co.uk or mybusiness@btinternet.com. An e-mail sender means that you can use to continue using your current address. You set up a forwarding address on your new domain, such contact@mybusiness.com, which will forward all emails sent to it directly at your current address. You respond to the message received in this way exactly as you would any other email.

A great advantage of this is that it looks much more professional. However, there are also other advantages: you can know the forwarding address, while keeping your strictly private real address. Because email forwarders are easy to create, you can have several, you can book for specific uses. If you find that you get a lot of spam through a particular forwarder then delete it and start using another.

However you want, if possible, to avoid having the same spam through your shipping address, as it can still be a nuisance to have to change, so there are some other methods you can use. First, avoid using the freight info@mybusiness.com. The ‘info’ name has become so widely used that I think that spammers have become wise to this, and you often send spam addressed to ‘info’ in a list of areas on spec. You will have a certain amount of spam by using this address.

If you must mail your return address anywhere on the Internet, trying to disguise it. spam bots often look for the “@” address to disguise this nature can be a good way to do it. A particularly good way to do this is to use HTML coding entity, so that ‘@’ becomes ‘@’ – the good thing about it is that the character will still appear human visitors as “@” while that spam robots will simply see the coding. It is not foolproof, because spam bots theory could be programmed to detect this ruse, but my experience is that, in practice, they are not, and this is quite a safe way to view an email address. Other means include changing the spelling to contact [at] mybusiness.com, or something similar, that humans understand as an address; or using javascript to load an e-mail address; which can be very effective, but is generally more difficult to implement.

If you have a website of your own, rather than display your email address, webmail form can be a good and convenient way for customers to contact you. Inquiries sent by the form can be sent directly to your business address.

You should also protect your address when registering with websites. Reputable sites will have an explicit privacy policy, and will not pass your information to third parties without your permission. If you are any doubts about a website that you save with make sure you use a freight forwarder.

Summary Your email address is an asset to your business, and must be protected.