Are you a business without a website, without a business listing in Google and still using a @hotmail email account? You're not the only one!
Thousands of local businesses feel it is just too expensive to get a uniquely branded email address, website or their business listed on Google. I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to cost a fortune and will increase the reputability and professionalism of your online presence. This is extremely important to convert potential clients into customers. Here's how:
1) Get yourself a domain, now!
The one thing no business should do without is a domain. Not only does it secure your online name for when you need it, but is a crucial part of appearing legitimate online. Your website, email and business listings all rely on this single pointer. The best part is that it's generally not even expensive! Most domains can be acquired for £10-20 per year and can be setup in 30 minutes. Not sure which domain provider to go with? Stick with Google Domains for ultimate flexibility and reliability: it's secure, reliable and integrates perfectly with the rest of your online ecosystem.
2) Sign up for Gmail if you aren't already
Most of you can just skip this step entirely, but for those of you who don't already have an account or who would prefer to keep their business email separate, I'd recommend setting up a free Gmail account for your business. Try to pick a name that is related to your business name, but don't worry if you can't get it exactly as nobody is going to see this name anyway. Remember to tick "for personal use" - otherwise it will recommend G Suite to you starting at £6/month/user, which you don't need!
3) Bonus - you just got your entire office package, FREE!
Yes, that's right. No need for Office 365, G Suite or any other alternative. Just by signing up for a free Gmail account, you've got access to everything you need to run your basic business. Need online storage with collaborative working? You get Google Drive with 15GB free storage. Need to create documents, spreadsheets or slideshows? Googles lets you use their Google Docs, Sheets and Slides free of charge. Need Calendar events, note-taking or team collaboration messaging? Google takes care of that too with the Calendar, Keep and Hangouts apps. Best of all, all of these can be accessed through any browser or on your phone through an App anywhere, anytime.
4) Custom email addresses? No problem.
No, you don't need to pay for G Suite, fancy email hosting or anything else to get your professional looking email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org email addresses. We can do this for free for up to 100 email addresses! Remember that Gmail account you signed up for? We are going to forward all your custom email addresses there. Here's how:
- Go to your shiny new (or old) domain you bought from Google Domains.
- Click on the menu and then on the "Email" tab.
- Scroll down to email forwarding and click the "Add email alias" button.
- Type in the name of your email address you want, such as "info" or "Kristy" and then in the block on the right, type in the Gmail address you just signed up for (or your personal one you already had), for example: "email@example.com".
- Click on the "Add" button and you're done! Want another one? Just add again and don't worry about forwarding it to the same Gmail account, we will sort that out for you next.
Now that we have all your addresses forwarded to your Gmail account, we need to set up how you will reply to these emails. So log into your Gmail account and follow these simple steps:
- First, click the icon of your account and click "Manage your Google Account".
- Go to the "Security" tab and look for where it says "Signing in to Google".
- This is crucial: Set up 2-step Verification. If you don't, we won't be able to add your email accounts! All you'll need to do is put in your phone number and type in the code they SMS to you.
- Once you've done this you should see a new option come up ion the "Signing in to Google" section called "App passwords". This is what we need. Click on this option.
- Google will ask you to sign in again to make sure it's still you. Now that you are in, click on the "Select app" drop-down and choose "Other (custom name)" from the list.
- Type in your domain name which you purchased, such as "awesomegifts.co.uk" and then click generate.
- When the code pops up on your screen, highlight it all and copy it to use later (or simply write it down somewhere). Don't worry, you can always go back and view it again!
Now let's get those email aliases all setup:
- Log into Gmail and press on the Setting icon in the top right corner. In the menu that pops up, select "Settings".
- At the top of your screen, there will be different tab options. Find the one called "Accounts and Import" and click on it.
- Where it says "Send mail as:" it should only have your current email address added. Simply click the "Add another email address" text to begin setting up your alias.
- Put in the name you want people to see in the Name box, something like "Kristy Newman" and then in the Email box, write the name of the email address you created in your domain, such as "firstname.lastname@example.org".
- Make sure "Treat as alias" is ticked and then press "Next Step".
- Here is the tricky part: In the SMTP Server box, type "smtp.gmail.com", in the Username box, type in the name of your Gmail account, such as "email@example.com" and then in the Password box, put in the code you copied when you generated the App Password. Leave all the other settings as is!
- Click the "Add Account" button and you're done! Simply rinse and repeat for all your other aliases you added to your domain.
One final step is to go back to your "Send mail as:" section and ensure the "Reply from the same address to which the message was sent" box is ticked. This way, when you get an email it will automatically respond from the right alias! If you want to compose an email or reply from a different alias, simply click the down arrow next to your email address in the "From" field and pick the alias you'd like to use.
5) Get your business listed on Google
Finally, you can't have a professional online presence without getting your business listed on Google. Thankfully, Google helps set this up for free too! Simply head over to Google My Business, sign in with your Gmail Account and follow the steps to put the necessary information in. Google will send you a letter to your address in a few days, which can just be a home address or any other private address, to confirm you and your business really exist. You'll need to follow the link printed on the letter to confirm your account and start seeing your business listed in your area in Google Search Engine and even on Google Maps. Better yet, you'll even get an £80 Google Ads voucher to help you promote your business once it's listed.
Well, now that you have a fancy business domain, your own free complete Office Suite, professional-looking email addresses and your business listed on Google all for the total price of less than £1/month, the next step will be to get your website set up and start driving traffic to it! We will cover this in another tutorial coming soon. If you don't want to miss it, make sure to Like our Facebook Page and signup for our Newsletter on our website!
Better yet, why not contact us about your business and goals and let us help you get your professional online presence set up. We can help you get started with E-commerce, create bespoke content to drive traffic to your website, manage your digital marketing needs or even your social media.
Don't wait for tomorrow. Get in touch today!