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|Corporate Email Address Formats|
Choosing an email name format for your business.
Corporate Email Address Formats - Business E-mail Names
I've worked in the Advertising and Marketing industries since 1990. During that time I've had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of clients. One of my many client responsibilities is the managing of email. Over the years, I've set up thousands of email addresses for personal, business and corporate use.
While there is no standard for the formatting of email addresses, there are suggested e-mail name formats that are more professional in presentation. I'm going to list a few of those here along with the pros and cons of each one.
Email Address Examples
- email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is probably the easiest of email name formats to remember. Unfortunately, you are limited to one unique first name. This may be suitable for smaller businesses with less than 10 employees. Even then, duplication is imminent.
- email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Another easy to remember email name format but, again you run into the issues of duplication at some point.
- email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This format may be somewhat awkward as we tend to remember people by their first name and not their last. While this format is acceptable, it may not be as easy to remember as examples 1, 2 or 4.
- email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This option is my suggested email name format. It is easy to remember (in most instances) and provides a level of uniqueness that the first three do not.
Email Address Examples with Separators
In my above examples, I've not used any separators in the names. This is another factor to consider when establishing a business or corporate email address policy. Here are some examples of how separators may be used in email names.
My personal preference is to use email@example.com. My second preference would be firstname.lastname@example.org. Of the four examples provided, these two options are the easiest to remember. I would not suggest using hyphens or underscores in email addresses due to usability issues. It is much easier to say "my email address is email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org" than it is to say "my email address is email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org".
Note: If you utilize underscores in your email addresses, note that the underscore becomes obscured when the email address is linked (with underline). There are many who may think this is a space instead of an underscore. email@example.com
Choosing Email Address Formats
You should choose one format and utilize that as the standard email name format for your company. There may be times where you have two individuals with the same name. This can be tricky and should be given careful consideration.
Company Representatives - Personal Email Addresses
If you have outside representatives for the company, I strongly suggest that you do not allow them to utilize their own personal email addresses. There are many reasons for this. That individual is representing your company. All communications between the representative and the prospect/client should be done in a professional manner using your corporate identity. Email addresses are part of your corporate identity package.
You can easily set up the business email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to forward to the individuals personal email address (email@example.com). In fact, most will do this. This is an excellent option as it allows you to retain full control over all business email. If that representative leaves your company, you can then change the forwarding email address so that any existing prospects/clients are redirected to the representative who has filled that position.
I would like to reiterate that as a business or corporation, email address formats are very important in the overall marketing strategy. You want to make them easy to remember and you want to establish a common format for email names. At no time should personal email addresses be utilized during business communications.
Case Sensitive - Case Insensitive
Email addresses are case insensitive. As a standard rule of practice, all email addresses should be presented as lower case although you can mix the case if you like. Believe it or not, many think that email addresses are case sensitive and will therefore utilize upper and lower case as shown in the email address. JohnDoe@Example.com
I've seen many companies utilize the mixed case email formats. There is an added usability feature in this option and that it is that it helps to separate firstnamelastname email formats. When using separators like dots, hyphens or underscores, there would be no need for mixed case, all lower case is suggested. firstname.lastname@example.org
a very informative post, and 1 that shall be popular reading in my opinion.
only 1 comment, and this may be tatally incorrect, however a few people have mentioned it to me lately, that certain spam filters were blocking email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org
1 of the reasons given was of more likelyhood of spam?
|Email addresses are case insensitive. |
That's not guarenteed. RFC821:
|For some hosts the user name is case sensitive, and SMTP implementations must take case to preserve the case of user names as they appear in mailbox arguments. Host names are not case sensitive. |
I personally prefer using Firstname@ or FirstnameLastname@.
Question. I have one client who insists using CFO@example.com, HumanResources@example.com, etc.
I don't like it as its harder to remember names with positions and it doesn't have that 'friendly' feel to doing business with email addresses written in that format.
What do you consider the advantages/disadv of using that particular format?
Good point py9jmas. Here is the full quote...
|Commands and replies are not case sensitive. That is, a command or reply word may be upper case, lower case, or any mixture of upper and lower case. Note that this is not true of mailbox user names. For some hosts the user name is case sensitive, and SMTP implementations must take case to preserve the case of user names as they appear in mailbox arguments. Host names are not case sensitive. |
How many out there are using a case sensitive email address system? Do you think there are some usability issues with case sensitivity?
[edited by: pageoneresults at 4:50 pm (utc) on June 13, 2004]
|What do you consider the advantages/disadv of using that particular format? |
Usually those types of formats are set up as aliases. This allows you to redirect the email to whomever is handling that particular position. I see no problems in addressing this way. Most of the time when I utilize this format, it is for web based contact forms. I'll also use custom aliases when doing specific promotions for the client for tracking purposes.
I prefer first.last. Its like wearing a name badge when you speak to your clients.
Ewhisper, I've seen a few organizations that do that. I usually tease the owner of such an e-mail, like "email@example.com" by saying something like, "I guess the company is keeping their options open, huh?" ;) I'm sure that most people say nothing, but subliminally perceive the temporary feel of such an address.
I personally only use that kind of address for mailboxes read by groups (firstname.lastname@example.org) or temporary positions. I don't think it looks professional for an executive.
rogerd: along with that, I think it's particularly tacky for the CEO/CFO of a company to use that as hisser email designator - comes across to me anyway as shameless self-aggrandizement. However, use of "email@example.com" or "service" or "humanresources" ditto seems to provide at least the possibility of several people within a group, even if the company has only one employee wearing all the hats - which might make a perfectly capable though small company appear to be large enough to "play"....
I love firstname.lastname@example.org
that used to go straight in the delete bin
pageoneresults, one version that seems to be in a fair amount of use by a few large corps in the US: email@example.com - and can be further customized by using more than first initial (if you have 2 James Thompsons, you get thompsonj and thompsonja; if you have six James Browns, it's a problem no matter which version you use!)
EG&G uses this model; so does GE (well, they aren't technically "in" the US any more are they? India, ain't?), as well as Pilot TravelCenters (large truck stop chain).
I prefer the firstname.lastname@example.org format, regardless of the size of the company.
I prefer email@example.com. So many people ask over the phone if this or that is a capital letter, its easier to say its all lower case.
Re. email addresses for groups or roles:
I advise not using a common word such as sales@, info@ etc.
Spammers use whois to obtain a list all doman names, they send spam to all the common words @allnames. Instead I recommend companies invent their own less usual words like teamhelp@...
Here is a list of the common words (I am aware of) that spammers are sending to:
[edited by: kapow at 10:07 pm (utc) on June 13, 2004]
I often use different formats for some of my contact e-mail address, like:
Just a creative example of how you can stick out if you want to get a little bit away from the usual corporate identities.
It's taken me four years to finally get EVERYONE in the company on a standard email addy format.
When I started, we had john, doe, johndoe, doej, jdoe, and jd all being used with various or no separators.
Finally I've got everyone standardised to john.doe.
Of course, it did help that in a twelve month period our staff of 12 suddenly included two Daves, two Johns and two Andys.
More importantly... I've finally got my one holdout consultant who has for years used his personal address for company email to adopt a company address. Didn't matter how often I mentioned the risks to the boss... 'oh, he's a good guy - that'll never happen'. And guess what.. having his email check two addresses is not leaching away the minutes of his life after all.
deejay: that's great! The IT guy and I had exactly this conversation on Friday - a fair number of the people at work (probably 30 out of 70) use their home email for business, even though they have an "example.com" addy. I'm the only one who uses MailWasher to check ALL of my emails from work (one work addy, 6 others), and it did NOT take a rocket scientist to make it work. I don't download and deal with offsite email at work (again, I'm the only one that doesn't *sigh*), but if there's something there that's critical, I get on my laptop at lunch or a break and deal with it.
Fortunately, I'm "retiring" again the end of August so none of it will be a problem.... but the IT guy is about to tear his nonexistent hair out by the roots (and boy is THAT a good trick!)
So deejay, what exactly did you use for the carrot?
|How many out there are using a case sensitive email address system? Do you think there are some usability issues with case sensitivity? |
I don't think many are using but I heard of a random company claiming to have a solid spam protection relying on case sensitivity of an email address.
They were encouraging users to use different permutations & combinations of upper, lower case for every use (working more or less like disposable email) and then prevent spam by blocking email addresses in particular pattern rather than creating a new disposable email address everytime.
We advise all clients to issue your second preference with forwarders set up for all the other formats.
Both preferences are better than the rest but firstname.lastname@example.org is processed by the brain faster than email@example.com.
I'd like to add a few more comments about using initials in emails. If you are using the format firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (without separators), there is a good chance you are going to run into a situation where a word is formed by using this format. Sometimes those words can be inappropriate and embarassing. ;)
|So deejay, what exactly did you use for the carrot? |
errr... carrot?... more of a stick probably. *l*
It did take some time... but basically I set a standard and any new hire's address was assigned by that standard (why give them a choice when they don't expect it anyway). By the time I had three on that system, clients who dealt with more than one person would occasionally say, "so your address is joe.bloggs@domain? same as John's?"... which left my holdouts (ie, most of the company) saying, 'err, no.. mine's different' and feeling a little prattish. And of course the odd client who didn't ask, but assumed and sent email to joe.bloggs automatically - caught those on my default address and redirected them with a subtle hint attached. Client pressure works wonders.
Keeping in good with the stationery buyer helps - when business cards were up for renewal she'd let me know and I'd see if I could get the person to switch over. I know it seems silly... business cards cost so little.... but really these guys would use any excuse and it let me get about half the company on standard.
The coup de grace was when I upgraded the server software. ppffftt... I mean it's not like any of these guys knew that the upgrade* didn't require standard address formats. Of course I kept their old addresses active and redirected their mail to the new addresses.
* Doesn't have to be a server upgrade... could be a virus targetting specific address formats... some research you read showing that spam emails target johnd, jdoe or whatever other formats because they are more commonly used by home users and more likely to be read. *cough* People are gullible.
My final personal address holdout - well, in a more corporate environment it may not have been such a problem - more business, less personal relationships. This is a very informal friendly consultancy firm, about 15 professional staff... and even I have to admit that the guy is not likely to be a threat. Even so, this firm started when the three owners who were consultants working for another company broke away to form their own business... and yet I still couldn't get them to acknowledge the risk.
V-Day as I like to call it, happened about a month ago when his laptop went *ptooey* in rather spectacular fashion. I had to set up an interim machine for him, so I set up the new address as the default. I then erased his personal address from the company contacts lists and replaced it with the business one. Of course I still added his previous address as well, but with the business address set as default the 'laziness factor' kicked in and he was using it pretty much without knowing it. It's going to take some months for him to transition fully - clients will still use his old address because it's in their books - but we'll get him there.
So there you go... a little carrot... a fair dose of subterfuge... and a bit of stick in between.
I guess the key was just setting the standard and making a start. It took about twelve months to switch over everyone but my holdout, but it was relatively stressless on everyone.
Excessive personal/dangerous use though... *sigh* that's a whole 'nother can of worms.
|If you are using the format firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (without separators), there is a good chance you are going to run into a situation where a word is formed by using this format. Sometimes those words can be inappropriate and embarassing. |
I have a cousin whose first name starts with "F", surname Tuck. Leaving aside the endless Friar Tuck jokes, she wishes she'd never chosen ftuck@domain. A few clients have actually made complaints.
|a fair number of the people at work (probably 30 out of 70) use their home email for business, |
Vkaryl, that really does give me the heebie-jeebies. That's a HUGE risk management issue. Unfortunately though what it needs at that level is management intervention. Management needs to state in no uncertain terms that only business addresses are to be used for work emails, that directing business communications to personal addresses is a serious breach of some sort of rules (employment terms most usually - which means if it's not in the contracts it needs to go in them). Then you need to let clients know - send out ALL clients an updated address list with only business addresses on it, or v-cards with the new addresses - even a hard copy mailout where appropriate.
A problem at that level unfortunately I think does call for a big stick approach.
|A problem at that level unfortunately I think does call for a big stick approach. |
Heh. Yah. But the three BIGGEST violators are the owner, his son (next-in-line for the throne) and the CFO/VP. AND this is a company which prides itself on the "what's sauce for the boss" theorem. (Not excusing/minimizing the risk, btw....)
The IT guy has my DEEPEST sympathies. The single reason he is still sane, basically, is ME. I'm the one everyone else (INCLUDING the boss!) asks for help when windows does something stupid (um. really it's usually operator error....) or when their home email sends what looks like a virus to their office email.
I guess my biggest problem with all this (from my POV alone, of course) is WHY would you risk your job like that? Because that's basically what's happening....
Believe me, my own businesses have another ethic altogether....
At least in smaller organizations, I've set up alternate spellings to forward to the correct one. In one company, for example, John Smith is firstname.lastname@example.org (hmmm, the kind of thing pageoneresults was talking about...). He periodically gets legitimate mail that the sender addressed to email@example.com, presumably sent by people who thought they recalled his address. I spotted some of these in the "catchall" mailbox. I finally just set "jsmith" and "johnsmith" to forward to the correct mailbox. End of problem.
|The IT guy has my DEEPEST sympathies. |
yeesh... pass mine onto him too.
|...or when their home email sends what looks like a virus to their office email. |
See.. that's what I call a perfect opportunity for subterfuge. Next time somthing looks a little dodgy... make it look a WHOLE lot dodgy. He'll need to practice looking paniced and anxious.. wringing of hands looks good... if he can manage to break out into a sweat, all the better. Wearing running shoes helps - so he can RUN, not walk, to pull the plugs on the servers before that damn virus infects the whole network.
Signficant amounts of muttering is essential, and if it's not too outside his character or the workplaces, an occasional expletive can really punch the point home.
Of course the whole network will need to be pulled down... but essential users can be brought back up fairly quickly once their machines have been cleaned and cleared. Make sure to leave the bosses for last as you work your way around the office disinfecting every machine before reconnecting it to the network.
By the time you do the bosses machine, you'll be looking suitably tired and harried anyway... he'll be ticked that it's cost him time without his machine... not to mention the whole business, and you'll be able to sigh despondently, look him straight in the eye and say 'you know, the really silly thing is that none of this need to have happened... if only all the mail was kept to company addresses and went through our virus protection and firewalls. We really do need to look at this, because these things are only happening more frequently these days'.
Acting Coach Extraordinaire
pageoneresults, thanks a million for that post! I've been looking for something that explains the professionality when owning a corporate.
I've bookmarked that for further assistance :)
Just for what it's worth, I currently use the following e-mail addresses/formats for the employees at my company:
Professional E-mail Addresses firstname.lastname@example.org (For General Inquiries)
email@example.com (Sales information)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Inquiries on Privacy Issues)
email@example.com (Public Relations - Press Information)
firstname.lastname@example.org (For partnership proposals/info)
email@example.com (Inquiries on the board of directors)
Personal E-mail Addresses firstname.lastname@example.org (Personal E-mail Address for Employees)
Excellent post, pageoneresults.
I know that most US government e-mail addresses are in the email@example.com format.
This is my preferred format for sites with more than 10 people. Usually I just let my clients tell me what they want their e-mail addresses to be when there are fewer than 10 in the corporation.
This post will definitely get bookmarked.
|See.. that's what I call a perfect opportunity for subterfuge. |
deejay, that's - that's - BRILLIANT! I will absolutely haul Eric into a corner tomorrow and feed him his lines.... heh. He won't have ANY trouble looking panicked....
It's obvious that I'm personally too straight-forward to deal with this sort of thing. Y'know, I'll be Eric has never been here. I guess I better find out.
Three formats I use:
Small company in IT: firstname@
Business is quite formal: FirstnameLastname@
Medium business in media: firstnamelastname@
Had a new "top dog" who insisted on using firstname.lastname@example.org instead of company standard InitialLastname@companyname.com. He wouldn't listen to reason, and wouldn't accept our offer to set up both and redirect so he onlyhad to read one. He insisted in such a discourteous way, that in the end IT simply gave him what he wanted - one email addy email@example.com
For literally almost a YEAR we watched 90% of his emails get dumped into the trash bin because they were addressed to various forms of firstname.lastname@example.org. Eventually he moved to another facility.
Be nice to your IT guys - they work hard. :-)
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