I get unsolicited solicitations from search marketing companies all the time. Lately, they come with gmail addresses. I wonder if the gmail address is the new AOL address? We used to joke, “nothing says professional like an AOL email address” and these days I’m thinking the same thing about gmail.
What I think when I see a gmail address :
GMail says Fly By Night: the domain can change but the contact stays the same. Today it’s MoreTrafficForYou.biz, the next day that is gone and firstname.lastname@example.org is coming out of TopChartsSearchTraffic.info. He can keep working, even if the boiler room can’t keep the domain of the Attorney General’s list, the critical blogosphere, the consumer alerts, etc.
GMail says I Share Your Info: He uses a gmail address so anything you write to him is indexed by Google, forever. Did he menton your domain in his email? Now everything you say is linked to your domain. His name (and email) are already associated with your domain in the Google index. Forever. Ever look at what Google did with the old Usenet posts of yesteryear? Google indexed them and made them freely accessible to anyone searching. Back in the old days, when schools used social security numbers as student ID numbers, and student ID numbers as user accounts? Yup. Google presents it all for scammers and identity thieves to peruse. And Google won’t clean it up, either. GMail says danger.
Gmail says Lazy: Professional Internet business people have mail servers or professional mail services. Not Yahoo mail, not Hotmail, and not peoplepc.com. They have professional services because they need to be reliable. Trustworthy. They have to make sure they have backups in place, and at least an awareness of email interruptions via monitoring. Business people are trusted for the decisions they make. When they decide to rely on hotmail for their email, what does that say about their decision making? If they choose GMail over their own domain email, what does that say about their decision making? I think it says lazy, or cheap/uncommitted, or foolish. Note: This does not apply to technical workers, and independent communications such as I might use in my professional (non-client) activities. GMail is modern and on the edge of tech, so it can actually be a good signal that shows someone is up to date, staying involved, watching closely. But in those cases, the context and other clues tell the story even if the gmail address is acceptable.
I know GMail has conversation threading (I also know GMail makes decisions about what emails to keep, and what to throw away no matter how you feel about it). I know it’s convenient. I know it’s free. So what? Why should I not have these off feelings when I see a gmail email address?