Why you shouldn't use a free webmail address for your business communications

August 12, 2020

There are several free webmail services like GMail, Yahoo! Mail, GMX etc. In the core they all deliver about the same service: being able to send and receive emails. Then they differ in terms of design, functions, hard disk space and so on. Today I'd like to drill into this topic a bit as emails are a very basic part of every business. And they have become a common every day “thing” everybody relies on (and also hates at the same time). Maybe because it's so hard to stay on top of all those pesky emails we are living through a time where a lot of different communication channels pop up — all of them wanting to make it better and give you — the user — a better experience (spoiler: for real they want your data).

Then there are also different mail programs wanting to achieve the same thing but are all struck with the same complications: the underlying SMTP protocol for mails is very old. Like really very old in terms of the internet era. Which doesn't mean that it's a bad thing, it only means that it has evolved and that pretty well I think. But there are restrictions and today nobody knows how the next gen email will be like or when it will be developed. So that's why it's sort of like in a democracy: everything works but nobody has come up with a widely accepted new or better protocol for our modern daily communications yet. So, yes email is that good actually if you look at it from this side!

Well, what does this all mean? On one side it means more clutter because we have so many communication channels. I am a project-manager, a data-h̶o̶a̶r̶d̶e̶r̶ keeper and a very neatly organized person. Up until a couple of years ago I **knew** that a message was either in my email archive or maybe in Facebook Messenger. Now I often just. don't. know. Unified messaging? Yeah, right. The info I need might be in the mails, in WhatsApp, Telegram, FB Messenger, Trello, Instagram or whatever! And people sending voice messages in some of those Apps — sometimes over 15 minutes long with instructions what they want to have changed in their website. I am not Peggy Olson, my friends.

On the other side I guess it could mean more communication. Sadly that doesn't mean better communication like automatically. I am still thinking about the voice messages: Monologues are not helping in the betterment of communication. Nor do 20 messages to make up a time and date for one of those dreaded phone calls! Whoa. Dude. I gotta talk to a real human? Yes, it helps a lot of times. Pick up the phone already!

Why Free Webmail Addresses are bad

Every Peggy, Sue, Manfred or Justin can get a freemium mail address. You'll end up with a mail-address like justin378@gmail.com of course. Nice.

But hey! That's all cool for the private use. No problems here, really if we don't take privacy into consideration.

Just recently though, I had a case where a customer wanted to - voluntarily - use a free webmail mail-address despite the fact that he already had a custom domain and a website and also a custom email address already. This one email box had some hiccups which bothered the customers so much that he wanted (and did) switch over to Freemium Mail Address for his business. 😱 Instead of investing some time and money and make the already in place address work properly. Which I had gladly done for him.

One of the biggest advantages of an own domain email address I think is the individuality and the seriousness it comes with. Want to rather get a quote from susan_bg.56@yahoo.com or from susan@imeanit.com? See, thought so.

I compiled a little comparison table that should make it pretty clear why it's cool to have a GMX mail address for the private use and why it's absolutely NOT recommended using such one for your valuable business communication and matters. To me it's like coloring your carefully crafted old timer with cheap lipstick instead of the proper paint it deserves.

Here we go:

Custom Domain Email address Free Webmail address
E-Mail-Domain Individual and personal domain (eg. @last-name.TLD or @mygreatcompany.com) Domain specified by the provider, which is used a thousand times (eg @gmail.com)
Integrity All around serious Well. Sometimes. I guess 🤷‍♂️
Personality Very personal, due to freely selectable character combinations and own domain Less personal, especially since many e-mail addresses are very similar ("tom1212@yahoo.com", "tom123@yahoo.com" etc...)
Memorability Very easy to remember Hard to remember, especially with complicated combinations of characters and strong variations
Spam-Protection Some sort of "spam protection" at least based on the individuality of the e-mail address (harder to guess) Random hits allow spammers to reach a high number of mail users
Other security Increased protection against hacker and phishing attacks Greater vulnerability to cybercrime (platform attack)
Advertising completely advertising free Ad sponsored. Advertising is displayed on the user interface or attached to the messages
Control Full control, since e-mails are not read by the providers Providers use mail scanning to analyze some of the e-mail content in order to place targeted advertising
Configuration capability Full control over the configuration Usually restrictions of some sort in the configurations based on what the provider thinks is best for you
Lifetime Lifelong usable, because you can also change the provider with the e-mail address If you change providers, you must register a new e-mail address
Versatility Often several mailboxes (= several e-mail addresses with the same domain) are possible Only one e-mail address per registration
Functional scope Often useful additional functions such as catch-all forwarding Additional functions, if offered, are often subject to a fee or change

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