Everybody has an email address these days. And there are countless companies offering email services, usually for free. Does it matter how you receive your email? Does it matter what your email address is?
I believe it does matter. It's not a major factor in your strategy, but it's something that you should consider.
Having your own website but using a free service such as Google Mail or Hotmail just screams cheap and unprofessional. It says that you've probably paid for the cheapest website package that you could find and it didn't include email. That may or may not be true, but that's the impression it gives. Especially if you have a small and basic website to go with it.
But what should go before the '@'?
But what if you don't have a website? Or what if you can't use your domain name?
If you have to use a free email service, you still need to make an appropriate choice.
Everybody has heard of Hotmail and it is known for personal email. A business could come across as a bit unprofessional by using Hotmail. It definitely gives an impression of being a low tech company, so don't use it if this is important for your business.
BT email accounts, or those from other home phone providers, give an impression of working from home. Again, this may or may not be important for your image.
Google Mail probably has about the best reputation amongst free email providers. It is a popular choice for techies, so it gives a slightly better impression than Hotmail or Yahoo email accounts.
There are a lot of companies that have an email address but never use it. I suspect that they've been a victim of a poor website management company who never generated any leads. Over time, they stop checking their emails because they know that they never have any.
I've lost count of the companies that have lost trade from me because they either didn't respond to my sales enquiry, or they responded too late.
If you are checking your emails less than once a week, it could be a sign that your website isn't working for you.
A bad website is one thing, but losing customers because you get out of the habit of checking your emails is crazy.
Unfortunately, people don't like to use the phone any more. If you don't respond to their emails, a lot of prospects will choose a competitor who does rather than using the phone to call you.