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Email versus Contacts – Which is more important?

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The truth is that these days you can access your email on just about any device.

Most email accounts can be accessed via the web, on a desktop using an email client such as Outlook, on an iPhone or a Samsung, and any other smartphone using an appropriate app. All you need to know is your username and your password, and most email providers provide FAQ’s on how to set it up on any of the available devices if more settings are needed.

As long as it is set as an IMAP account then it means then whether you are looking your mailbox on your iPhone or on your laptop you will be able to see all the emails you have received and sent, and those that you’ve filed into folders.

IMAP allows you to synchronise your email between multiple devices.  Why is this important?  Because most people now have at least two devices – their laptop or desktop, and their smartphone.

What we don’t tend to consider is being able to access your contacts from any of the devices.

What happens when you want to access your contacts list from your desktop computer?

Example:
You’ve been using a Gmail account and are now moving to your new business email account.  You still want to access your old Gmail account and all of your contacts that are attached to that account.

You can use the Gmail app to access other email accounts, and to send email from them, and because you’re using the app you can access the contacts stored in the Gmail account. All great, but it does not sync your email because you have to connect the non-Gmail accounts as POP3 accounts, and POP3 simply downloads the email to your device, it doesn’t sync any changes back to the mail server.

The result:

  • Access to email – YES
  • Access to contacts – YES
  • Changes synced to any device – NO

Most of the places that store contacts—Google, iCloud, Outlook—let you import and export them, so there is the option of piecing together a master list from all of your different devices.

At present iCloud and Outlook do come close without using a third party app.

I use mainly Apple devices, I store my contacts using iCloud and away from my iPhone and iPad I use Outlook to manage my multiple email addresses.  If I was using Windows on my laptop, then I could use iCloud for Windows to access my iCloud contacts and calendar in Outlook.  Strangely, because I use Outlook 2016 for a Mac I can’t do the same thing.  Why?  “Outlook 2016 for Mac currently doesn’t support the CalDAV or CardDAV internet standards. This means that it’s not possible to synchronise your iCloud Calendar or contacts with Outlook 2016 for Mac.”

What about the contacts you have stored in Facebook or on Twitter, or in LinkedIn?

The key thing here is to plan.

Think about what email accounts you need to access, how you need to access them, and how you will need to access your contacts.  Then right at the start put in the time to export contacts from your various sources to create one big master list, which you then import into your chosen program.  Most of the sources will let you export as a .CSV file so it’s not a case of manually creating that import file.

There are apps that do a lot of the hard work for you, and offer some level of cross-platform syncing to keep everything in order.  It’s fair to say that with a little more development using one of these apps may be the way to go.  For example Full Contact was launched in February 2016.  It allows you to “control your social, email, and mobile contacts from one dashboard”, and is free for up to 5,000 contacts and has a two-way sync between Google, Exchange/Office 365 or iCloud.  With apps for iOS, Android, the Web and Gmail, though no desktop app.  Also check out Zoho, it also links in tasks and notes.

As I’ve said, the main thing here is to plan.  

Good luck!  And remember, the time spent at this stage is an investment in what will be a successful business.

 

Glossary

IMAP – IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a standard email protocol that stores email messages on a mail server, but allows the end user to view and manipulate the messages as though they were stored locally on the end user’s computing device(s).

POP3 – POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) is the most recent version of a standard protocol for receiving e-mail. POP3 is a client/server protocol in which e-mail is received and held for you by your Internet server.

CalDAV – Calendaring Extensions to WebDAV, or CalDAV, is an Internet standard allowing a client to access scheduling information on a remote server.

Startups – going online with that first business email address

Startups – going online with that first business email address

Whether you make wedding cakes in your spare time, you’re a complementary therapist, a local family owned restaurant with years of experience or have a revolutionary idea that you want to develop, people need to be able to communicate with you.

In both business and in your person life there is very little these days that does not ask for a note of your email address.  We’ve all seen the Barclays bank advert aimed at students looking for that first job and how little.miss.trouble@ might not create the right impression for a prospective employer.  Well it’s the same for businesses.

Why spend money on your own domain when you can get an email account for free?

Imagine meeting a potential client for the first time and giving them your business card.  Which one makes a better impression?

Sarah@spectacularweddingcakes.co.uk or spectacularweddingcakes@gmail.com

Having a professional email address is important, it creates the right impression.  It says “this is a professional business”.  It helps build confidence in you.

pixabay.com - bank-17816_1920How much does it cost?

When you buy your own domain, it can cost as little as £1 in the first year and straight away gives you a business email address.

Companies like GoDaddy, 1&1, Heart Internet, 123Reg (to name just a few) will all allow you to buy your own domain and provide with you a free email address to go with it.

You pay an annual fee for owning the domain, and as your business needs start to grow and you want to further developing your online presence there are usually additional hosting costs.

What’s my own domain and why is that important?

“A domain name locates an organization or other entity on the Internet” (Definition from Whatis.com).

In the example above the domain name is spectacularweddingcakes.co.uk.  You cannot have your own professional email address without owning the domain, and when the time comes for your setting up your website you will need to own your own domain in order to have a location for your professional website.

Why can’t I use a free one just now and buy my own domain later?

No-one likes having to change their telephone number, it’s too much hassle!  You have to let everyone know your change of number and then run both numbers for a while to make sure you don’t miss any calls or important messages.It’s the same problem when changing your email address.  In this case for such a small amount it can save you a lot of hassle.

Some people have avoided the issue of changing by keeping their original email address from when they first started out.  How professional does it look though to have a gmail email address (Sarah@spectacularweddingcakes.co.uk) and a business website www.spectacularweddingcakes.co.uk?

Accessing your business email

It’s true, accessing your business email that comes free with your domain can sometimes be a hassle to setup.  But all of the services provide great guidance on how to set it up, step by step instructions, and once it’s done it’s there and easy to access on your mobile device, on your tablet or on your desktop or laptop.

With connectivity everywhere its no longer a case of if you need an online presence, it’s simply a case of when you set it up.  Starting your business with a professional email address is just the first step.

pixabay.com - www-751513_1920What else can I do to create my online presence?

Money is always tight at the start of any business.  An online presence may not seem like a high priority but there are a variety of free tools to help you get started.  For instance:

  • How often have you heard people say Google it?  Get your business listed by Google, create a Google Business page, it’s free!
  • Create a basic webpage which gives your business name, explains what you do and provides contact details. It’s the start of your website and can be developed later.  Even if you know nothing about building websites there are a large number of free tools to help you.  You don’t need to be a designer at this stage, just keep it simple.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your new business.  ParadigmIT will be developing information for new business in future blogs.