Carol A. Wilcox
PREFERRED Therapy Providers, Inc.
You pride yourself on your professionalism. You treat your patients with the utmost respect. You strive to convey a sense of reliability and trust. You have spent time and resources developing a great looking website for your business; you have an eye-catching logo, marketing collateral materials and business cards. You understand that a polished image for your clinic is as equally important as the quality of care you provide. But, when it comes to your email address, you fall flat and look like an amateur. What gives?
Okay, so email addresses are probably the last thing you’re thinking about. Who cares what an email address looks like? Who cares if the email extension is Gmail, Hotmail, AOL or Yahoo? As a healthcare practice owner you should care. Think about it for a moment. Let’s say that you needed surgery and contacted the best surgical practice team in your community. If they replied to you with an email address like: firstname.lastname@example.org instead of something like: email@example.com, would you be inclined to have them perform your surgery?
Still not convinced? What if you emailed that surgical practice and received an email with an address from them like: firstname.lastname@example.org. Would you be ready to schedule that appointment? That would most likely, be a no.
If you’re using a generic email extension or a gimmicky name as your email handle for your business, your patients, potential patients, vendors and colleagues may be thinking the same thing about you and your clinic. So, yes people care about these things and make decisions based on their first impressions. A white paper published by Visible Logic, a branding agency based in Maine, shows the results of a survey they conducted on the impact an email address has on a business. The report indicates that some of the survey participants described people who use a generic, non-domain-level address as “lazy,” “cheap” and uncommitted to their business. Don’t let this be you.
What are Branded Email Addresses?
Simply put, a branded email address is an address with a domain name extension instead of a generic extension. A branded email address is a reflection of your business. It helps to reinforce your clinic as professional and trustworthy. It also makes it easier for patients, referrals and others to find you. If they have your email address but not your clinic name for example, your business can still be found.
Cable and Wireless Company Email Extensions Don’t Count
If you have email accounts with your local cable company or wireless carrier such as Cox, Verizon, Comcast, Earthlink, Centurylink, Juno and others; and have email extensions with their company name (example: email@example.com), these are not considered to be branded email addresses. Those email extensions along with extensions such as Gmail, Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo are better left for personal use.
It’s Inexpensive to Look Professional
Obtaining professional-looking email addresses for your business does not have to be expensive. If you already have your website domain name hosted, you most likely have the option with the hosting company to add email addresses. GoDaddy and Bluehost are two popular hosting companies that offer email addresses with your domain name extension when you purchase or transfer your domain.
Setting up your email address is fairly easy with most hosting companies offering technical support and step-by-step instructions.
Another affordable option is G Suite, formerly known as Google Apps. G Suite is not attached to a domain hosting service, so you don’t have to be concerned if you ever want to move your domain registration to another provider. An additional attractive feature is that you also have access to other tools including Hangouts, Google Drive and Calendar – all useful online resources for a business. Prices start at $5.00 per month per user. There’s a 14-day free trial available to new users.
Branded Email Tips
Once you have decided on the service to use to establish your branded email addresses, there are a few tips to keep in mind:
No numbers, cute names or nicknames – It’s not the look you’re going for. You want these emails to remain professional-looking.
Choose a username format – Decide if you and your staff will use first name only (firstname.lastname@example.org); first name, last initial (JoeT@myptpractice.com); or first initial, last name (JThomas@myptpractice.com). These examples are the most commonly used. It is recommended that you keep the username format consistent.
Use special email addresses for your website, or specific departments – It is not recommended that you put any email address on a website (it invites spammers). The better way is to have a contact form on your website that defaults to a designated email address. If that’s not an option, add an email that is not person-specific. Something like: email@example.com.
Additionally, you may wish to have special email addresses for specific departments in your business. Email addresses beginning with info or patientservice or customercare are some examples.
By branding your email addresses and with very little effort and minimal cost, you can ensure that the first impression your business gives to patients and others will be positive and professional.
About the Author:
Carol A. Wilcox is the staff writer and head of marketing communications at PREFERRED Therapy Providers, Inc. You can reach Carol here.
This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.