What does your email address say about you?

It may sound strange, but whenever I receive a business lead from my website, one of the first "qualifiers" I look at is the email address.

Over 7 years and hundreds of leads (most of them useless), I've discovered that an email address can say a lot about someone.

Even before reading the project description or budget, I look very carefully at the email address.  From there, my qualifying process is a bit like this:

1. Is it a company address or free email service?

If it is a company address, that's positive.  I use the domain name to go to their website and try to determine:
a) How long they've been in business
b) Their relative size
c) Any affiliations with larger companies/organizations

2. If it is a free email address, it is usually one of the following:

Great: Gmail: This is what most technical people use, and it is by far the best.
Ok: Yahoo Mail: This was a great service back in the 90s, but has since declined.  This might indicate the lead is "behind the times".
Bad: Hotmail: This service has always been and continues to be awful.  The lead either doesn't know better, or is too lazy to upgrade.

3. If they use a free email service, is their address username:

Great: Some concatenation of their first name and last name? (ie. John.Doe@, jdoe@, john_d@)
Ok: Some derivation of their company name? (ie. great_car_reviews@)
Not good: Some random words or even worse, numbers tacked on the end? (happy_dude_638@)

It's amazing, but with one simple piece of information, and this process, I can usually determine whether the lead is even worth following up on.

So... What does your email address say about you? :)


  1. This is so true. Now that I've upgraded to gmail (which is far superior and cooler than the other free options), I've started really noticing other people's address' and somewhat prejudging them before I know them! The random selection of words and names coupled with a hotmail account is so old school. Time to grow up and get a great address.

  2. How do you judge personal vanity domains? I'm curious as that's what I use for personal communication.

    Otherwise, I agree for the most part. The only area of contention is that if it's a BUSINESS lead, then a free email service is a black mark no matter what. Domains are so cheap and access to Google for Domains is so simple that even if you prefer the interface for Gmail, don't put a gmail.com email on your business cards.

    But that's just my opinion.


  3. Cam,

    I don't see many personal vanity domains, but I'd probably treat them the same way as a company address -- checking out the website and seeing what I can find out about the person.

    I think that would generally indicate high technical competency, and therefore a good lead, IMO :)

    And yes, I agree that any business should have email at its own domain, and it is relatively easy to set up.

    But a surprising number of small businesses (perhaps the majority?) are still using Hotmail/Yahoo/Gmail addresses.


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