In the years I’ve been helping businesses improve their productivity through technology, one common trend I’ve noticed is the use of a personal email address to represent their business. One of the first things I help these businesses do is get their professional email addresses setup using their company’s domain name… for example, firstname.lastname@example.org. But you don’t really need to pay me to do that. You can do it yourself (or with the help of that tech-savvy niece… or uncle… or brother… or…).
Sign up with Google’s G-Suite.
Once you click the Get Started link on their home page, you’ll be walked through the process of entering your contact information, the domain name you want to use (your-business.com), and a credit card to pay. The 14-day trial will default to a single payment plan choice, but you can change that once you get through this setup process and into your new account.
Create some users.
Once you are finished with the setup process in Step 1, you will land on a “Setup G-Suite” page. There should be a button to click that takes you to the screen where you create more users in your account. Even if it’s just you, I encourage you to click it and explore what options are available.
Verify you own your domain and setup your “MX” records.
Google requires proof that you are who you say you are. The next step will be much easier if you have technical chops or know someone that does. However, Google makes it much easier than most. Follow the steps they provide and give me a shout if you get stuck, but once you complete this step, your email will be almost ready.
Continuing with this step of their setup process, you will update your DNS records to point your “MX” records at Google’s servers. I like DNSimple and they make this incredibly simple with their “one-click” services, but you will need to do this wherever your DNS is currently hosted. The idea here is to tell other email servers when email to your business should be delivered.
You may already have MX records if you’ve had custom email before, so those should be replaced with the new MX records Google provides. But if you’ve found this email appealing so far, you probably didn’t so ignore this note.
An Important Note
Many people have more than one domain name for their company. It might be because there is a common misspelling of your business name that you want to catch. It may be that you have 2 different companies, but you run them both and you want all your email to come to the same place. This can be done using the same G-Suite account you setup in Step 1 by creating domain aliases in G-Suite. Setting this up is a bit more involved and I would advise getting help to ensure you handle it correctly for your exact situation, but I want you to know that you do not need separate G-Suite accounts if you have multiple domain names that are related in some way.
Similar to domain aliases are email aliases and groups. An example of this would be email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. These are handy email addresses to have to reinforce your professional image. However, they don’t need to be separate paid accounts in G-Suite. By creating them as email aliases on your single user account, you give the impression of having multiple email accounts while managing all this email from a single place. Setting this up in each email client (phone, tablet, computer) can be challenging to get right, and may or may not matter to you, but keep in mind that if you don’t setup the aliases on your devices, all reply email will come from email@example.com. I can’t tell you if that matters or not. That’s up to you.
Setting them up as groups allows a single incoming email to be copied to multiple internal people. For example, you may have one or more managers in your business and you want any incoming email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be copied to all of them because they work different shifts and you don’t know who may be on duty at the time the email comes in. Again, setting these up and getting it right is more involved and outside the scope of this post, but you should know it exists.
The “Too much information” Part
For those of you that care to know, I’ll summarize what is happening when you now send an email to email@example.com.
The moment you tap Send on your phone, tablet or computer, the email client running on that devices (where you composed the email) will transmit that email message to your mail server. So, if the email you were sending the email from was Gmail, then your email client would send the email to Gmail’s outgoing mail servers. The outgoing mail server that receives your message will then look at the to address on the email and pluck off the domain name, in this case your-business.com. It will then use DNS (Domain Name System) servers to figure out where email to your-business.com should go. That’s where Step 3 above came in. The outgoing mail server at Gmail is looking for MX records that tell it where to deliver the mail. Once the correct server address is found, the message is delivered. In this case, it’s delivered to the G-Suite account you setup in Step 1.