(This is part two of a two-parter, dealing with email set-up, read part one, about which email addresses you must be using.)
So I laid out 2 (or 4 for the observant people) email addresses you must be using to represent your business / website / self. Basically, I was saying to ditch the hotmail (and even the Gmail) and use email addresses that tie up with your domain. They’re free if you have a domain, and you have the ability to create various custom email addresses.
The cool thing about having control over your own email accounts is you can create several, one for each member of your team, and a couple fo generic ones, like firstname.lastname@example.org
But how do you manage all these multiple accounts, especially if you’re a one-person operation? Have your generic emails come to your main email account, and manage them there.
You don’t need lots of different inboxes to manage several email addresses – you can receive and answer them all from one inbox.
When setting up your new email address on your lovely domain, ensure that you create it as a ‘forwarding‘ address, and set it to forward emails to your main inbox.
This way, people can send mail to email@example.com and you’ll reply from firstname.lastname@example.org
Mmm, that’s not always ideal – people like to receive mail from the very address they sent their message to.
OK, so here’s what to do to be able to reply from multiple accounts.
[I should say that I’m not writing a ‘walk through’ here, and if you don’t know what POP3 is, this idea won’t make much sense to you, so skip it unless you’re a competent SysAdmin or serious webmaster.]
Get a Gmail account – I don’t care what address you get, we won’t be using it, so it’s irrelevant to our needs.
Use Google to access your main inbox (email@example.com) using POP3 mail settings; this should allow you to receive your mail into your Gmail account, and reply from your official email address. Think of Gmail as simply the organising tool, the repository of your email, don’t think of it as your ‘email service’.
Now that you can read and write your business emails from within Gmail, it’s time to set up Gmail to manage those ‘fowarding’ email accounts.
- Create a new, normal, email account on your domain – e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Within Gmail, add a new email address to be able to send from – this will allow you to write official email from your Gmail repository, but not receive replies to it…
- Back to your domain administration panel, and change the email account into a forwarding email address – this will destroy the associated inbox (and all email within) – ensure you set the forwarding to email@example.com
See? Now when people email info@ your mail server gets the mail, and forwards it to firstname.lastname@ which Gmail has permission to access directly through POP3 – voila, the email appears within your Gmail repository. You can reply to it using any of your email addresses, such as firstname.lastname@ or info@ (because of step 2).
Your clients will never know that you’re using Gmail to send and receive emails, nor will they know that you’re managing multiple addresses from one system.
[See Ken’s comment below before implementing this Gmail idea!]
Note: the above system works well, but you might want to try ‘Gmail for your domain’ which is Google’s direct solution for people who want to use their own domain with their Google services (like Gmail).
Update July 2009: Google improves the system, read their instructions and learn more.