January 17, 2012 – Is your email address an important brand touchpoint?

Whether you like it or not, every communication and interaction you have with customers has a direct impact on their perception of you. Fortune 500 companies know this. They even spend countless dollars to ensure every touchpoint along the customer experience delivers on its brand promise.

For example: One of Nordstrom’s customer touchpoints is during the purchase stage, in which they walk around the counter and hand deliver your purchase. JetBlue recognizes that air travel can be quite stressful and overwhelming, so they leverage the color blue to reinforce a sense of calmness and peace of mind. They were even the first airlines to provide media right in front of your seat, giving you a sense of ‘control’ in an environment, where you don’t really have ‘control’ per se. For those owe taxes this year and didn’t make your payment, you’ll notice that the IRS notice or statement has a particular tone, look and feel and messaging. NOTE: When I was in college, I owed taxes one year, and those IRS letters were quite threatening and intimidating. Certainly didn’t empower me to pay the bill – rather, I was quickly reminded that I owed taxes, and hated myself for it.

Okay, so what does this have to do with brand touchpoints for entrepreneurs and small businesses? Well, several weeks ago, Branding For The People launched a survey to address just ONE brand touchpoint. Email address formats. Albeit a minor touchpoint compared to one’s website or marketing brochure, email formats do indeed have an impact on current and potential customer’s perception of you. Many entrepreneurs overlook this and think they can get away with just any email address.

We surveyed 200+ entrepreneurs to rate the following email addresses formats:

  1. nameofperson@gmail.com
  2. nameofperson@yahoo.com
  3. nameofperson@aol.com
  4. nameofperson@hotmail.com
  5. info@companyname.com
  6. firstname@companyname.com
  7. firstname.lastname@companyname.com
  8. firstnameinitial&lastname@companyname.com

Guess which one had the most positive impact? You might have figured it out.

Yes, the last four versions! The ‘firstname@companyname.com’ had the highest ratings.

However, for those entrepreneurs who are still using AOL or Hotmail, please be advised that
both email formats have a NEGATIVE impact on your brand (65.5% for AOL; and 55.2% for Hotmail)

Yahoo! was second runner up in terms of negative impact on brand. And, 39.3% rated Google’s email format as ‘neutral’ (i.e., neither negative or positive).

So, all in all, what does this mean for solo-preneurs, entrepreneurs and small businesses? In broad terms, seriously take a look at every brand touchpoint. Every customer interaction you have is an opportunity to reinforce your trust, credibility, and overall image. You can start with evaluating your email format.

If you’re serious about your business, attracting clients and improving your brand perception, we want to inspire you to take one of the following THREE actions:

  1. Create an email address of your company name (if you’re not already doing that)
  2. If you’re still not ready to use a company name email, and you’re using AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo!, then we strongly recommend graduating to a Gmail account. ‘Neutral impact’ on your brand is better than ‘negative impact’.
  3. If you’re not using a company email format and you’re still using Gmail, then SHARE this blog with at least 5 other entrepreneurs, so they can benefit from this simple brand-building touchpoint.

Stay tuned for more details of other brand touchpoints that make an impact on your brand.