Over the past couple of years, a number of people have asked me for my opinion on starting an email service on one of their domain names. Most of the time, these domain names are either very short or brandable in the sense that people would want to have the vanity email address. While an email service can be good to increase page views, brand recognition, and stickiness, I generally don’t recommend doing this for a few reasons.
As a service provider – especially a service as vital as email has become, you will be held responsible for any service outages or interrupts. Of course you can blame Google or whatever application you decide to use if something goes down, but as the face and contact for your company, people will look to you for answers. I get frustrated when my email service goes down – as infrequently as that is. Imagine if you have 1,000 frustrated people emailing you from other email services!
Maintaining the privacy of millions of emails, logins, passwords…etc can be a very big responsibility. While in theory it shouldn’t be too difficult, constant hacker attacks, worms, and other malicious attempts to crack your servers can cause problems for you. It can also be expensive to hire a company to watch this for you. Not only can you expect bad PR if someone hacks into your email system, but there could be legal liability as well.
Another reason is that I believe it can encumber a domain name if the owner ever wants to sell it. Whether the owner is charging for email service or not, if he has opened it up to allow others to use the domain name for email, the owner could potentially be required to host the email for an extended period, and many buyers won’t want to have to deal with these ramifications – unless they are driving serious revenue. I am no legal expert, so consult with an attorney on this.
I know of one person who launched an email service and regretted it, and I want to give advice to those who are considering it. I personally wouldn’t advise doing it.