First let me start out by saying that there is nothing wrong with using free e-mail accounts. In fact they are terrific for many reasons and I have several accounts myself that I find very useful. Like anything else, used properly, free e-mail accounts are highly recommended.
On the other hand…
If you already have a registered domain name for your business you should definitely be using e-mail accounts from your own domain web hosting account such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Why? Because in the first place, it promotes a positive image of your company and profession. When you think about it doesn’t email@example.com seem much more professional than firstname.lastname@example.org? Absolutely.
Forwarding Domain E-mails to Free Accounts
Here’s another thing that many people do that is unprofessional and can cause problems. They have a domain, set up and email account and proudly announce their contact e-mail as email@example.com. But then they have those e-mails forwarded to a free e-mail address such as firstname.lastname@example.org, for their own convenience. When they reply to an e-mail, the person who contacts them gets a response from email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org. They are probably thinking who is email@example.com and why is she sending me an e-mail? Off it goes, unread, to the junk e-mail or spam box.
Which also brings up the possibility that the person receiving your email may have spam filters set to reject e-mails as spam from free e-mail account providers. Do you really want to take the chance that your e-mails are getting filtered out as spam just because it’s easier for you to forward everything to your Gmail or Yahoo account? For anyone conducting a business, this is a lazy and surefire way to annoy your customers. Worse yet it may give them the impression that you never answered their e-mail inquiries, when in fact you did but your reply went unseen to their spam folder.
Sometimes forwarded e-mails are actually weeded out by the free e-mail account provider. In some cases, you will not even receive the forwarded e-mails due to errors on behalf of GMail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. Many companies such as AOL, Comcast, etc. that provide free e-mail addresses with their services DO NOT ALLOW e-mail forwarding from another account. If something goes wrong, don’t blame your web hosting company where firstname.lastname@example.org is hosted. Nine times out of ten, the problem lies with your free e-mail provider. Good luck calling Google or Yahoo and asking them to look into the issue.
Bottom line is why would anyone want to deal with this entire situation at all when you have your own domain name and e-mail accounts? Simply use your webmail (most hosting accounts have webmail access) or configure MS Outlook or other e-mail programs on your computer to retrieve your e-mails automatically. Save yourself a lot of potential headaches in addition to providing a more professional, business like appearance with your e-mails. Use the free e-mail accounts for things like signing up for promotions, etc. to keep the spam and junk mail out of your business e-mail account.
And finally, here is the best reason for using your domain e-mail account – advertising.
If you use a free e-mail account on your website, business cards, print and other ads, what happens if your free e-mail provider switches names, etc.? For instance when Adelphia was purchased by Comcast, everyone who was using email@example.com had to pay a lot of money for new business cards and other changes. At that point, wouldn’t you realize that instead of changing to firstname.lastname@example.org, wouldn’t it make more sense to use email@example.com? As long as your domain name is paid up, you’d never have to worry about changing the e-mail address again. Simple enough?