A Business Technology Place

Reduce spam and cold-calls with a second email and phone number

It’s common practice to have multiple email accounts so that you can use one for personal contacts and one for registered sites and services. Let’s face it, when you register an account with your email address it’s not long before you start receiving emails not only from that merchant, but from other parties you’ve never contacted. Some of these emails you may want or don’t mind scanning because they contain information you deem valuable (coupons, special offers, etc.). Yet most of it seems to end up as spam from parties you really don’t know.The same thing happens in business when we sign-up online for services or trade-shows. Our email address and phone number are sold such that we begin to receive not only unsolicited emails, but cold-call sales calls as well.

Why don’t we use secondary email and phone numbers for our business contact information?

The concept seems so obvious, yet I’m not aware that anyone is doing it. Maybe people think it would be too much work to maintain. Maybe they don’t know it’s possible. Or maybe they enjoy all the spam email and cold-calls. I don’t receive an abundance of these types of messages, but they are certainly something I would rather not have to process each week. So I thought about this and came up with a few options to create a second business email and phone.

How to setup a second email address

There are multiple ways to create a second email address for your business use. If you want to keep the same domain name as your primary address then request a second mailbox from your mail administrator at work. If you primary email address is john.doe@company.com then request something like john.r.doe@company.com where you add your middle initial. I’d love to have john.doe.spam@company.com, but that seems a little obvious. Now, request that mail for this inbox be automatically routed to your primary inbox. Then setup a rule on your primary inbox to route all incoming mail from the second address to a mail folder that you create. That’s a one time setup and all email to that address will be available for viewing in a folder off your inbox should you choose to look at it.

Another way to do this is to create a new email address with one of the free mail services such as Yahoo!Mail, GMail, or HotMail. These services also allow you to setup automatic forwarding to another account. Again set this up to auto-forward to your primary work account and setup the rule to send mail from that address to a designated folder. The downside here is that the email you give won’t have your company domain. But how many people really look at that? If someone challenges you on it, just tell them it’s a cost cutting measure to use one of the free services. If you use Gmail then you could say your business is evaluating using Google Apps.

How to setup a second phone number

The basic premise is the same for this as with the email. One option is to contact your local phone administrator and ask for a second extension. Have that extension setup to ring on your phone but marked as the second extension (Most business phones support multiple extensions). Now when a phone call comes in you can see which line is calling and let the second phone line always roll to voice mail. This works well if you don’t have an administrative assistant to act as a gate keeper.

Another way to do this is to obtain a free Google Voice number. At it’s core, Google Voice is phone forwarding service. For your number you setup rules to forward that number to multiple other numbers (mobile, home, business, etc.) You can also setup Google Voice to screen callers or automatically send the call to your designated numbers. So the key function is to setup screening for numbers that are not know (in your address book). Screened calls ask the caller to identify their name. That name is announced to you when you pickup the call so you choose to either accept the call or let it roll to voice mail. If you already have a Google Voice number you can’t have more than one number for a Google account. So you would either use the method I mention above or setup a new Google account and define the number to forward to nowhere or always use screening.

This does require some thoughtful upfront planning

Certainly there are other logistics to consider when planning an approach like this. You would need a set of business cards that have your secondary contact information to use for registrations, drawings, and other types of vendor sites. There may be situations where you want to convert someone from using your second address to your primary addresses. You’ll need to always remember to use your second address when registering online for services and accounts.

The main idea though is to keep your inbox clean and your phone line free from cold-calls. What do you think? Do you have other ways to create a second email address and phone number for business?