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? :)