“Wait, how do we log into that account?” “I don’t know… our old marketing manager handled all of that…”
It’s a tale we’ve handled all too often: An employee leaves an organization, and all of the important logins were in their name and email address. When the company deletes the former employee’s email address, all access to those accounts (and the ability to send a password reset email) are gone.
I’ve used various tactics to gain access to these critical logins: Calling past employees to ask if they remembered the password. Spending hours on support calls explaining that our clients needed their email address updated. Just guessing common passwords.
None of these tactics are as effective as this easy one:
Sign up for all online accounts with a general digital email address that is never deleted.
How to Set Up A Digital Catch-All Email Address
We recommend that our clients create an email address on their domain at “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
This email address should be set up with its own inbox. It should also be set to forward to the person in charge of all online properties. This person is often the company general manager or marketing manager.
All online logins for the company should be registered with the email@example.com email address.
A few examples of accounts that should use this email address:
- Your domain registration account – the “digital” email address should also be listed as the “Admin” contact
- Google My Business
- Google Analytics
- Company social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram
- Review sites like Yelp
- Social media tools like Hootsuite or Edgar
- Other industry-specific online profiles (for example, WebMD for a doctor’s office or Cars.com for a car dealer)
Note that Facebook and LinkedIn require a personal profile to create them, so this advice does not apply there. Make sure the company owner is listed as an “admin” on these accounts.
Benefits of Using a General Email Address
1. Easy To Hand Over In A Transition
One company we work with terminated their marketing director shortly before we began working with them. What we discovered was that all of the company’s online profiles (Twitter, Analytics, Instagram, everything) were created with his email address.
He had a password sheet that he passed along before his last day, so thankfully we were able to access most of the accounts. But, we had to log into and change the username on every single account to no longer use his email address.
It was a huge hassle, and on some systems, changing the username wasn’t even possible. We had to contact support or make a new account.This would have been avoided if there was a general email address that could have been transitioned to us.
2. You Can Easily Reset Passwords
Absolutely the biggest problem we’ve run into with clients is when they delete the departing employee’s email address.
Now, I’m not saying this is a bad policy. The problem is that if you can no longer receive email at a deleted address, you can no longer receive password reset emails. Resetting passwords becomes way more difficult.
When you have a digital catch-all email address, you can start a password reset by clicking the “Forgot password” link on any account’s login screen. You’ll receive the reset email and can quickly reset each password.
A Cautionary Tale
Why is this important? We’ve seen a lot of account transition issues, and this was one of the worst:
We have a client whose domain (the actual address of their website) was registered by an employee using their email address. That employee left the organization. When it was time to renew the domain, no one was receiving the emails that the credit card had expired.
The domain eventually expired and the remaining employees didn’t have access to log in to the domain provider. The client chose to wait for the domain name to become available again so they could register it with a new account.
Unfortunately they waited too long. A predatory business bought up the expired domain and offered to sell it back to them for a big premium, which they couldn’t afford. The site was down for 75 days, they completely lost their domain name, and they had to move their website to a different URL.
Don’t let this be you. Don’t lose your domain name or hassle with your online accounts by trusting them to one person. It’s not hard to protect your valuable assets by setting up a digital catch-all email address that is never deleted and easy to transition.