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How to Set Up Your Professional Email Address to Maximize Your Workflow

Email. Everyone has it. No one likes it. However, it’s not going away anytime soon, so we’ve gotta deal. And, yes, while dealing with a daily deluge of inquiries, promotions, to-dos and follow-ups in your inbox feels daunting and downright exhausting, I’m going to help make your life just a little bit easier moving forward!

Getting a new professional email address can be an intimidating process, but also a liberating one. There are a billion different ways you could set up a new email address, but over the years, I’ve discovered only a few that have worked really well for our clients. So, let’s get started!

This guide is for two kinds of scenarios:

“I just started a new business or made my first website and I need to set up a ‘me@mywebsite.com’ email address.”
“I have a ‘me@mywebsite.com’ email address but I’m dissatisfied with how it fits into my workflow.”

Are you one of those “people?” If so, keep reading. Here’s what I’m going to cover:

  1. How to think through email setup and workflow for your new professional email address.
  2. How to choose which option is best for you based on your needs, plus the pros and cons of each option.
  3. How to actually implement each plan yourself, if you don’t hire me to do it for you.

PART ONE: THINK IT THROUGH

Here are the key questions to ask yourself when considering how to set up your new email address. If you resonate very strongly with one of the answers to each question, you can click the link to zoom down to the setup method that best accommodates that need.

For my new email address, do I want to (A) check a new, separate inbox, or (B) run everything through the inbox I already use?

  • (A) If you really like having a “separate work phone” and tend to divide all of the different foods on your dinner plate, you may be better off keeping your new email inbox separate, as well. This will let you go check your work email at specific times, and not get distracted by notifications when you’re not in work-mode. If so, the GSuite Method or Premium Outlook Method might be right for you.
  • (B) If remembering to check that extra inbox sounds like a huge hassle, and you’d rather have a single base of operations for all your email addresses, you’re going to be more into the Matt Method or the Hybrid Method.
  • (C) Or maybe you already have a system going that you want to use as a hub, like with a “work gmail” such as mybusiness@gmail.com.  You’re already used to checking that inbox but need to send and receive @yourdomain.com emails from it.  In this case, a variation of the Matt Method would work very well!

Would it be helpful to have a totally separate, new Google Drive/Docs/Sheets ecosystem connected to that email address?

  • YES! If your current Google Drive is a mess of personal documents and spreadsheets dating back ten years, then you would probably be very well served by a new, clean slate for your business email. The GSuite or Hybrid methods are going to give you that.
  • NO! If Google Docs/Sheets/Etc is not your jam (how do you live??), or if you are really locked in to your current system there, then the Matt Method or Premium Outlook will work better for you.

Do I need my emails to be HIPAA compliant?

  • YES! Stop reading this now, as this limits your choices—the best choice for you is the Premium Outlook method. None of the other methods offer HIPAA compliance.

Will I need several email addresses for all my team members or other business accounts (like info@ or customercare@)?

  • YES! Cost may become a consideration here, as Gsuite can get expensive ($6/month per email address at basic tier), but the team-shared Google Drive is very powerful/useful.  
  • Alternatively, you could do the Matt Method for each person, which would not incur additional costs. However, this method will still require some configuration on each team members’ device/account, and has the same downsides as it does for a single person (which we’ll get into below).

How do I want my business email to work on my phone?

  • There is not a clear “IF THIS, THEN DO THIS” path here, but this is simply an important question that will come up in the next section of pros/cons. Keep reading!

PART TWO: THE METHODS BROKEN DOWN


#1 — THE G-SUITE METHOD

THE CONCEPT: By choosing this method, you’d pay Google to get all the services/apps that come with a new Gmail account (Email, Sheets, Docs, Drive, etc.). In addition, your email address will be @yourwebsite.com, and some of those apps have more professional features (like Google Hangouts/Meetings and calendar invites).

COST: $6/month per email address for basic tier

HOW IT WORKS:

  1. Sign up at https://gsuite.google.com/pricing.html and go for the BASIC tier to start!
  2. Complete the validation process to prove that you own your domain name (this part is a bit technical but not complex)
  3. Point the MX servers on your domain or hosting account to GSuite (also technical but not complex)
  4. When complete, your @yourwebsite.com address now has its own Google world (think: Docs, Sheets, Contacts, Analytics, Search console, etc)
  5. Access it on your phone and email program (Outlook, Mac Mail, etc) as a separate inbox (unless you use the Hybrid Method below)

PROS:

  • Really good for single-person businesses who need a clean slate on Google Drive, because their personal Gmail is very cluttered
  • For a team, everyone gets shared, powerful Google tools for collaborating—this is especially helpful when juggling team calendars and meetings
  • Puts all your business-related Google things in one place, including Analytics, Search Console, APIs, and other behind-the-scenes technical services your website may use
  • You don’t need to have a website yet to get this up and running on its own

CONS:

  • Cost is per-user, so if you have a big team or need different general email addresses (like info@, you@, customercare@), it can get pricey
  • Doesn’t scale up to your other businesses or websites, if you have many of them.  You’ll need to get separate accounts for those, with their separate costs.

IMPLEMENTATION: I do this step for our clients, and you can hire me to do it for you, but if you want to DIY it here’s the scoop (I’m going to defer to an existing tutorial for this).

The only thing I would do differently than Green Shirt Guy here is to start the signup process via the pricing page, to make sure you’re selecting the BASIC tier. Also worth noting: sometimes after putting in all the right info the final verification step takes a while, not the 3 seconds it took GSG – that’s OK! You do not need to leave that tab open, you can check it the next day to see if it went thru. if not, re-check your domain settings to make sure they all saved correctly.

#2 — THE MATT METHOD

(For lack of an obvious title, I’m going to go ahead and name it after myself, as I’ve been using a system like this for about 10 years to manage anywhere from 5 to 7 different email addresses.)

THE CONCEPT: Run your business’s email addresses through your personal Gmail, and use the “Send As,” “Labels,” and “Filters” functions to keep it organized.

THE COST: $0 (if you already pay for hosting)

HOW IT WORKS:

  1. Set up a “dummy” email inbox in the hosting account where your site is (you’ll never actually check these inbox directly)
  2. Set up an email forwarder to your Gmail or other personal email
  3. In your Gmail or other email application, configure “Send As” feature so that no one sees your personal address, only the professional one
  4. Configure “Labels” and “Filters” to make it very clear in your inbox what address a message or thread is using

PROS:

  • No new interface to learn—you’re still operating within the same personal email inbox you always have
  • No additional inbox to forget to check
  • Good for when you have many business email addresses (like I do!)

CONS:

  • You need to have purchased website hosting, whereas, if you don’t actually have a website on your domain name and do not plan to, this method would not work or be cost-effective
  • The “Send As” is not supported by the built-in email app on iPhones, so you’ll need to use the Gmail app to take advantage of that feature (it’s VERY worth making the switch, I finally did it last year and wish I had done it earlier)
  • The storage quota on the “dummy” email address in your hosting account will eventually fill up—the messages are forwarded, but still stored there in the “dummy” inbox even though we never access it directly—and it may not be obvious when that quota is full and email stops working. At that point, you’ll need to log into your hosting and clear out the “duplicate” inbox there. You can use a POP/Fetching system instead of forwarding to keep that hosting inbox empty, but this has the downside of potential email delays, as Gmail “fetches” every 60 minutes or so without hitting “refresh” manually.  
  • Did I lose you on that last one? I probably lost you. Here’s a video of me actually setting this system up that might be more clear…

IMPLEMENTATION: Hark! Listen to the dulcet tones of ME! (Again, I do this step for our clients, and you can hire me to do it for you, but this tutorial will be good if you want to DIY it or don’t quite understand it yet)

#3 — THE HYBRID METHOD

(This one’s a combo of the GSuite power PLUS the single inbox integration of the Matt Method! It’s also how I use my TWJ email address.)

THE CONCEPT: If you choose this method, you’ll have a GSuite account for all the Google Tools, but have it forward emails to your personal inbox (with filters and labels, like the Matt Method).

COST: $6/month per email address for basic tier of GSuite.

HOW IT WORKS:

  • Basically the same as the Matt Method, but using a GSuite account instead of a “dummy” account in your own hosting
  • In practice, within a Google tool, you can quickly jump from your personal account to your business account—in fact, you can even have different calendars open in tabs of the same browser—but you (like me) may not want to do that for your email inbox

PROS:

  • For me, it’s the best of both worlds: I get the single-inbox flexibility of the more custom Matt Method (a pro for me) with the power of the GSuite tools
  • Might work well for you or a team member that already has a strong personal workflow system (like I did when joining TWJ)

CONS:

  • Same cost considerations as GSuite Method
  • Same phone-app considerations as the Matt Method
  • The storage issue of the Matt Method technically still holds, but even at Basic tier, GSuite’s quota is about 10x that of most basic hosting accounts, so most users will never hit that cap
  • Sometimes a message gets stuck in spam within GSuite, so it never gets forwarded to the personal inbox. This can be solved with “never send to spam” filters

IMPLEMENTATION: The same steps to set up GSuite as above, then just logging into that account, going to Gmail, clicking the “Settings” gearbox, then “Forwarding” and setting it up like so:

#4 — THE PREMIUM OUTLOOK/OFFICE365 METHOD

THE CONCEPT: This is basically the Microsoft version of GSuite. It comes with web-based versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, etc, and if you’re already in that ecosystem, this might be perfect for you. There are more basic tiers of this method, just like Gsuite, but the only clients we’ve had that have used this Microsoft method absolutely HAD TO in order to be HIPAA compliant, which happens to be the premium tier—so, that’s what I’ll describe here.

COST: $10+/month per user

HOW IT WORKS:

  1. Purchase through GoDaddy (or potentially elsewhere, but all our experience is through GoDaddy, with domain names that were already purchased through GoDaddy)
  2. Configure domain or hosting settings to use Office365/Outlook
  3. Make sure to turn on all HIPAA verification settings, if needed
  4. Check it as a separate inbox on your devices
  5. Plays best with Outlook interface, whether web-based or software-based

PROS:

  • It’s the only service that we know of targeted at tiny businesses and entrepreneurs that has a HIPAA compliant option
  • Access to web-based services like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc
  • If you really love Microsoft and really don’t like Google, this isn’t Google!

CONS (for those not needing HIPAA compliance):

  • Same sorts of considerations as GSuite Method, but in a Microsoft context
  • No integrated access to tools like Google Analytics, Search Console, APIs, etc (these things can be accessed for free, but wouldn’t all be in the same place/account)

IMPLEMENTATION: If your domain name is already registered with GoDaddy they make it SUPER easy to get this going, as they handle the domain verification and whatnot behind the scenes, and turning on the HIPAA compliance is just a few clicks.

If your domain name is registered somewhere else, there will be more steps and you will want to make sure that the version of Office365 you get a la carte or through your domain registrar has a HIPAA compliance option. Might take a phone call to confirm!

If the appeal here is not the HIPAA thing but just the Microsoft thing, you can purchase Office 365 directly from them and use this tutorial to connect your domain!

ARE YOU STILL WITH ME?

Whew, that was a lot! Hopefully this resource helped inform you about the benefits and drawbacks of the different ways you can set up your professional email address. Feel free to comment below or reach out to me –matt[at]thewonderjam.com–if you have follow up questions or are interested in hiring me to implement one of these methods for you!


July 30, 2019
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