Email is essential to all small businesses. We use it for customer communications, staff communications, mailing lists, coupons, sales leads, calendars, task lists and daily planners. Most of us have it on our desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
However, navigating through this sea of 1s and 0’s can be a daunting task. Technology changes so fast, staying current is near impossible. Therefore, we look to our friends, our RSS feeds, and daily-read news sources to let us know what the next big thing is. Hopefully this article makes it to your inbox, or social wall, because today, my tech-tethered friends, we are going to dive in and answer that nagging question – what is the best email client to use for small business? Let’s start with this great article at SmallBusinessTechnology.com.
You need email to run your business. It’s most likely integral to your daily operations, so the solution you choose matters. You need the service that delivers the features you need, the storage space and the integrations.
Let’s take a close look at some options of the best email service for small business, how much they cost, and what they offer.
“It’s the world’s top email service provider, offering an impressive suite of features to everyone for free. Business users pay between $50 – 120 per year per user for an enhanced version of Gmail and the associated apps with more storage space than free users.”
I haven’t used the paid version of Gmail extensively; however, I use regular Gmail for just about everything. With Google Drive, Google Plus, Google Hangouts, and Google calendar integration, honestly its hard to justify moving outside of it. I do however still use Outlook and Thunderbird for non Gmail addresses, though I have been thinking about routing them though Gmail just for ease-of-access.
Using Gmail this way is old school; this is how it was before they had such enterprise applications. If I were looking for a complete business solution needing “email@example.com,” now that Google Apps For Business is no longer free, and assuming my business was profitable to warrant an enterprise solution, I would most likely go this route. (Psst… don’t tell, but there is a work around to use Gmail to send and receive email at your domain – check it out here: email [at] yourdomain.com)
As a small business or startup with a limited budget, I would probably set up my email address at my web host and route them through Gmail due to the fact that almost everyone has a Gmail account. With the new(er) Google Apps For Business gaining ground in the business world as a viable solution, I would think the decision a forward thinking one (see the infographic below). But this is not the only solution and we must do our due diligence, and I have to say after I did mine I was shocked at my findings.
- Next on the list we have ZoHo Mail as mentioned in this article on readwrite.com:
“Purchased for $3 a month. Zoho Mail includes 10-15 GB per user depending on the plan. Attachments are limited to 10MB.
Zoho Docs costs either $3 per user per month or $5 per user per month, depending on your needs. E-mail is a separate service and cost either $2.50 or $3.50 per user per month, depending on the plan. There are also free versions of both the e-mail service and Docs that offer basic functionality. Zoho has several other features that can be added on at various price points.”
Zoho, is an amazing sight, they have everything Google has, and even lets you set up one domain for free. So small businesses could get away with using their free service until they grow to need the paid version. However, ZoHo’s prices are a bit steep and they don’t have the same number of users as Google. They do support just about every other document and email type, so it really doesn’t matter if the people you are connecting with are on Gmail / Google Apps For Business or not. To me, Google is still the better choice between the two, but not by much and maybe not for long. Try signing up for a free ZoHo account and check it out for yourself, its really cool and worth your time. We aren’t quite done yet. There is one more email for small business provider that is worth checking out Office 365. An article at PCWorld.com
“Now that Microsoft has launched Office 365, it is officially “game on” for online office productivity suites. Microsoft may enjoy a near-monopoly in the desktop office suite market, but online it faces established rivals in the form of Google Apps and Zoho Docs.”
“As capable as these three offerings are, though, none of them can truly match the features and flexibility of a locally installed desktop office suite such as Microsoft Office 2010, or the open-source Libre Office. Desktop suites also have the advantage of being able to function without relying on Internet connectivity.”
I had Office 365 since its beta launch last year when they gave it to you for a year free. I like it since has all the components I’m used to using, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, plus the Skydrive and other internet based functionality. I was a happy customer, until it came time to renew. The cost wasn’t all that much, but I was out of town and didn’t get to the renewal in time and what happened next was enough for me not to purchase it. I tried to access some documents and my email, not to use it, but to archive my important files, and it wouldn’t let me do that without paying for it. The old version of 2010 that I had wouldn’t reinstall without total deletion of Office 365.
Long story short, I wasn’t able to save a lot of my files. Luckily, I did have backups from a week or two earlier on a external drive which saved me. I’m sure there is a solution for this, but at the time I couldn’t find it and this negative experience was enough for me to not renew and instead go to Open Office; which in my opinion can’t be beat when it comes to advanced editing (aside from the Desktop version of Office 2007 and above). The online spreadsheets of Docs and ZoHo are clunky and frustrating to use, but once you start getting used to them, they serve their function. For me, at least for now, I’m sticking with Google Apps For Business and Open Office. Whatever solution you decide, just make sure to test the free versions and see how you like them. None of them are bad choices, it really comes down to your needs and budget. Oh, and just remember to backup your files to an external drive – it’s just good practice.