What email address convention does your SaaS startup use?


We run a small SaaS startup and we're using GMail for Business. Each member of staff currently has a personal email address using their first name. For example [email protected], [email protected]...

We also have Gmail groups: [email protected] (this receives daily reports on the health of our system and is also used as a user account for our staff to log into our own systems), [email protected] (customer queries / complaints all come here), and [email protected] (this is what we advertise on marketing material including our website).

Emails sent to these GMail groups get distributed to the list of people in that group. For example emails sent to [email protected] get sent to both [email protected] and [email protected], but emails sent to [email protected] only get sent to Steve.

Now we're considering dropping the groups / distribution lists altogether, and instead creating individual accounts for each function. In other words we'd have an account for [email protected] where all support emails can be archived, and then dedicated support staff can simply log into this GMail account.

Which of the above two strategies is better - distribution lists (current strategy) or individual accounts that are shared? Is the first name convention a bad idea for personal email addresses? And lastly what email address convention should we use for our billing / accounts. I currently send out invoices once a quarter from my personal email address, and I always add a personalised message for each client.

Cheers from Cape Town!

Strategy Saas Email

asked Feb 23 '12 at 18:26
Kosta Kontos
216 points
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  • This is a pointless question. There's only one thing about email addresses: do they accommodate for company growth when employees might have the same names? – Dnbrv 11 years ago
  • Thanks for the input @dnbrv. The main point I was attempting to address was how to best manage sharing of emails, like with a [email protected] email address that all our customers send emails to. Do we a) make [email protected] a distribution list which then forwards all incoming emails to whoever is on that list, or b) make [email protected] it's own stand-alone email account that we all then log into and use simultaneously (we're using GMail which makes this possible). Perhaps you have a suggestion? – Kosta Kontos 11 years ago

2 Answers


For the personal email adresses, I see [email protected] used quite a lot by startups. For mature companies the form [email protected] is more common.

Between the two formats, I think it's a matter of taste and to some extent which signals you want to send between "approachable" vs "mature company". The only objective difference is that [email protected] is more scalable, i.e. you can grow to more people before you get a collision where two employees share the same name.

I think you are doing the right thing by using GMail distribution lists for [email protected] et cetera. Switching over to shared accounts would be going backwards -- how about password security for the shared account, and how will you see who has answered to a specific mail?

send out invoices [...] from my personal email address

That's fine, maybe getting a personalized email makes it more humane, and gets you your money faster... All right, the chances for that are slim. The main thing about such 'automated' emails is that they should come from an address that can be replied to.
answered Feb 23 '12 at 18:59
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points
  • Thanks for the constructive tips Jesper. With regards to your 3rd paragraph, assuming we use the distribution list strategy, the problem we're having is that I don't know who has replied to what. So for example, an incoming email to [email protected] gets sent to myself, [email protected], and [email protected] - and [email protected] replies to the customer query directly. Steve and I don't know of Jon's reply unless he a) CCs us both, or b) CCs [email protected] (and thus the whole distribution list). We currently CC the whole distribution list, or no-one at all (for the "You're welcome, come again" type emails). Is there a better way? – Kosta Kontos 11 years ago
  • @Kosta Kontos : The good old rule of always BCC'ing the list is a classical solution. Other than that, when you get a substantial mail volume on those addresses, it's really time for a true multi-user email management system. Many hosted "customer service portal" solutions have that built in (like HelpSpot etc). FogBugz's issue tracking has it too. There are many standalone tools too (Request Tracker etc). – Jesper Mortensen 11 years ago


Regarding distribution lists vs dedicated accounts, there is no right answer:

  • The good thing about distribution lists, is that all the people who should get the email, do.
  • The bad thing about distribution lists, is that many people end up reading the same email, whether they need to or not.
  • The good thing about dedicated accounts, is that only the people who actively check the account see the emails.
  • The bad thing about dedicated accounts, is that if no-one actively checks the account, no-one reads the emails.

Go with whichever system your team is most likely to get most value from. Alternatively, instead of relying on email, see what alternative options there are. Perhaps a nice big dashboard screen in the office that displays the system health, for example.

answered Feb 23 '12 at 21:44
Nick Stevens
4,436 points
  • Thanks for listing the pros and cons of each strategy Nick, it seems neither strategy is the clear winner. The dashboard screen idea is pretty cool and is certainly something we'll look into for monitoring system health. I think the main issue lies with the incoming customer queries to [email protected], and figuring out the best process for managing those. What do you guys do at your company (assuming you work in a similar environment)? – Kosta Kontos 11 years ago

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