When it comes to business emails, it's important to ensure that the solution/provider you choose delivers the best fit for your specific needs.
For most business owners, their first venture into having a business email address is either a free email account or one available through a cheap web hosting account.
Although it's tempting to roll with an email address from a free service provider such as Gmail or Yahoo, the lack of a professional, branded email address that matches your business domain may instill some subconscious feelings of pause with your potential clients, customers, or donors.
And while leveraging the option of storing your emails on the same server as your website may work for some small businesses, their basic features and consideration of email connectivity during a website outage could make this scenario less viable for a business with multiple employees.
That being said, there are a number of options when it comes to selecting the best email hosting for your business. For the scope of this article, we will be taking a closer look at 4 popular email service providers sure to maximize the form and function of your email communications.
Before we do, let's start by considering all the ways our businesses will/do leverage email.
How Does Email Fit into Your Overall Business Operations?
Email is one of the most important tools in your business. It’s a great way to communicate with customers, prospects, and employees. But it can also be a huge time suck if you don’t use it effectively.
When considering an email service provider for your business, think about all of the ways email will be used in your organization - outwardly (via, marketing and general communications), inwardly (via, client support), and internally (via, alerts, team member correspondence, etc.)
As you continue this thought process, also think about what other systems you use will need to connect or integrate with your email platform. For example, does your email platform need to also integrate with a CRM (customer relationship management) system?
Knowing the "what and how" of email functionalities within your business will help to narrow the playing field for making a service provider selection later in this article.
Next, let's take a look at what key features we should consider when selecting an email platform.
What Features to Look for in an Email Hosting Service Provider
Email hosting is one of the most important services that a business can invest in. It’s the conduit to how you communicate with your customers, clients, and prospects.
If it goes down or stops working, even for a short while, you effectively lose a major communication channel with them - leading to lost sales, missed opportunities, and general frustrations.
When you're looking for business email providers, it's important to consider the following areas:
- storage space
- availability and uptime
Let's dig into each a bit further below.
Regardless of how you are using your business email accounts, you want to align with a partner that prioritizes ensuring your data is safe and secure.
A reputable email host will offer multiple layers of protection against potential hacking or phishing attempts - including firewalls, anti-spam filters, virus scanning software, and backup systems.
If there is ever a problem with your account, having these safeguards in place allows the ability for you to receive help and be back up and running again quickly.
Email Provider Support
Although the incidents you encounter with a reputable email hosting provider should be fewer and farther between, when something does go wrong, you want a partner that is available to answer your questions and resolve your issues promptly.
Make sure the email platform you choose offers 24/7 customer service support via phone, chat, ticketing system, or e-mail. If US-based support is also important to you, be sure to research that aspect as well, as not all providers will offer it.
Considering the complexities business owners and their employees face on a daily basis, the email software you choose needs to be easy.
Look for a simple user interface, with an intuitive design and navigation that doesn't take a 100-page user manual to use. The platform should enable you to access your most commonly used features quickly, while still providing easy access to the advanced features that aren't used as often (for example: enabling email tracking).
Also, be sure to check how many different ways you and your team can access the email within each platform. Is there a mobile app for tablets and cell phones in addition to the web version? What about a desktop app for your laptop or desktop?
When selecting an email service provider or host, it is important to consider how much space you will need for yourself and your team.
Do you plan to be sending a lot of attachments? Is it okay if those files take up a lot of space? What about bandwidth? Does your email provider offer unlimited bandwidth and storage or do they charge you for storage per user?
Availability & Uptime
Email is one of those things that by and large is taken for granted - the magnitude of which is not fully realized until it goes down.
When partnering with an email hosting provider, be sure to search their uptime stats (Google: "[service provider name] uptime statistics") so you are free from surprises once aligned with a partner.
The 4 Popular Email Hosting Providers Explored
Now that we've considered all of the ways email needs to align with our business operations and efforts, let's explore 4 of the most common provider solutions.
The Google workspace is more than email, it is a new way for you to work. It’s designed to help you get more done, and it’s built on the idea that working in teams can be better than working alone.
The Google workspace lets you collaborate with your team members from anywhere at any time. You can also use it to share files, chat with coworkers, and yes - send emails.
Key Features & Benefits
- Collaborate with your team members from wherever they are using a web browser.
- Share documents and spreadsheets easily.
- Chat with your colleagues online via video calls, voice chats, and text messages.
- Send email quickly and efficiently.
- Access your calendar from anywhere.
- Stay connected with your team even when you’re away from your desk.
For more information on Google Workspace Email services, visit their website at: https://workspace.google.com/intl/en/features/
Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription-based service that provides users with access to Microsoft's productivity software, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook for email.
It also includes the ability to share files online via SkyDrive or SharePoint Online.
Key Features & Benefits
- Access to the latest versions of Microsoft Office at no additional cost.
- Save money by not having to buy multiple copies of the same software.
- Easily share documents and collaborate with others.
- Stay connected with colleagues around the globe through email, instant messaging, and video conferencing.
For more information on Office 365 services, visit their website at: https://www.office.com/
Zoho Mail is a web-based email client developed by Zoho Corporation. It supports POP3, IMAP4, and Exchange protocols for mail retrieval from servers. The software also provides an integrated calendar, contacts, tasks, notes, to-do list, journal, task manager, file manager, and other features.
Key Features & Benefits
- Easy to use interface.
- Fast and reliable service.
- Free up storage space on your computer.
- Easily manage multiple accounts.
- Stay organized with reminders and alerts.
- Access your emails anywhere using your mobile device.
For more information on Zoho Mail services, visit their website at: https://www.zoho.com/mail/
The Rackspace Email service is a web-based email solution that provides secure, reliable and cost effective access to your mailboxes.
It's easy to set up and manage, with no need for additional hardware or software. You can use it on any device, including mobile phones and tablets.
Key Features & Benefits
- Use the same email address everywhere.
- Access your mailbox from anywhere using any browser.
- Easily share calendars and contacts between multiple users.
- Manage multiple accounts at once.
- Set up forwarding rules so you don't have to remember where to send messages.
- Receive emails when someone sends you a message.
- Send messages whenever you want.
- Create filters to organize your inbox by subject matter.
- Save money on hosting costs.
- Stay connected even if you are away from home.
For more information on Rackspace Email services, visit their website at: https://www.rackspace.com/applications/rackspace-email
You Hit "Reply All"
There are so many different email service providers out there today and which one you pick will depend heavily on the needs of your team, your business, and your clients, customers, and donors.
Although our preference has largely been in favor of Google's suite of products, we are confident in suggesting any of the above platforms for most small to medium-sized business applications.
Happy hunting (and emailing)!