E-mail addresses on your website

People are often nervous about posting a real email address on their website. I want to encourage you to do just exactly that. And not only that. I want you to also include a name to go with that email address. Why?

Why do you want people to email you?

Photo of a mail slotYou almost always want people to have the option of emailing you. Or calling you. Or chatting via IM. It depends on your business and on your customers. Offering your visitors options; love having choices. It’s a way to set yourself apart from your competitors. If you have any visitors with language, motor control, or sight limitations, they will be delighted to have the choice of communication method that works best for them.

I have one client who knows that if she talks to a potential buyer on the phone, she can sell them more product and create a better relationship with that client than if the client used only her online order form. She can answer questions using the caller’s own terms and immediately address their needs and interests. She can make sure they get the product they need and that they will know how to use it. Responding to an email is not as immediately profitable, but it still allows a deeper relationship to develop. It’s more likely that if she sends another email later, the client will recognize the sender name and read her message.

I have another client whose domain hosting service made a change that caused her forms to break. If she hadn’t had her email available on her form page, she would have lost multiple buyers who took the extra effort to send her an email after receiving an error message from her form. Several customers sent her emails to place their order or to let her know of the error. She avoided lost sales and the additional stress and embarrassment she would have suffered if it she had had to discover and diagnose the problem herself.

An easily located email address can be very useful for you and your visitors if an error occurs on your site. I’ve had people take the effort of sending me a screen shot of the error they received which I could then forward to my IT colleagues. There are helpful people out there who will even let you know when you have a small typo on your site. Make it easy for them. They are like friends who will tell you about the spinach in your teeth.

People appreciate the accessibility of a human even if they are sitting at a computer.

Use a real name

I always encourage clients to post a real name to associate with an email address. My experience many years ago was that I’d get about 15 to 25 percent more comments if I was listed as Kristeen instead of as webmaster. People know how to communicate with other people and feel competent doing so. People are not sure how to deal with webmaster or sales or service. They wonder if they will reach a real person of if their email will go into the ether. With a real name, they know how to begin their email: “Dear Kristeen.”

What about complaints? Just between you and me, if I’m angry, my tone will be much harsher if I’m complaining to service rather than to JoAnne. Even if I’ve never met JoAnne, I want JoAnne to think well of me. So if you’re reading incoming complaints or questions, your job will be easier if you’re being addressed as JoAnne  even your name is José.

Even if your service staff of four all accept email from a single address, there’s no reason your site can’t state something like “If you have a question regarding product performance, please contact service@company.com.  One of our certified technicians, Kamiko, James, Guy, or Drew, will respond within 24 hours.”

People trust other people more than they trust automation. Seeing a name associated with your site tells the reader that someone is taking responsibility for that site and what it offers.

What about spam?

There are good spam filters available, but you can’t avoid spam if you publish an email address. I’ve just found that it’s easier to delete spam than it is to re-capture visitors who left your site without providing you with the opportunities for a better relationship with them.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried publishing your email and found it problematic.

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