Undoubtedly, the past year and a half has been challenging for businesses everywhere, especially small businesses. Many have been forced to close their doors permanently because they couldn’t survive without opening their physical location. Others found ways to work remotely but struggle with team and client communication, collaboration tools, and security concerns.
One way to alleviate some of these pain points is to choose the right business email solution. Email for business isn’t going away. Email marketing and communication remain some of the most common ways businesses reach their potential customers. More than 124.5 billion business emails are sent and received every day.
Email is More Than Just Sending Messages
Email services have evolved a lot since they first began. It’s no longer just about sending information to friends and colleagues. Instead, several email services also provide collaboration tools, word processing programs, and shared resources that increase communication among your team and provide better remote work options.
As a business owner, you have tons of options for your business email. You’ve probably heard many terms like POP3, IMAP, Exchange, webmail, Microsoft 365, and more. Each of these has different benefits and features. Let’s sort through the technical jargon to understand your choices and determine what type of email hosting services, clients, and optional features are best for your business.
1. Choose Between Personal and Business Email Hosts
Personal Email Addresses
Many small businesses still use personal, unbranded email accounts like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Outlook. While it’s super easy to get a free email address from those email service providers, they’re probably not the best choice for your business.
A generic email address with @gmail.com or @yahoo.com will not look as professional as a branded address. It may make your customers question whether your business is trustworthy. If you’re still using a personal email address for business, we suggest looking at branded email addresses to increase consumer confidence in your business.
Business Email Addresses
Businesses should get a custom, branded email address. In addition to increased confidence in your brand, a business email address reduces the risk of your emails being marked as spam.
First, check with your website hosting company, like HostGator or GoDaddy. They frequently offer business email hosting for free or a relatively inexpensive fee with your website hosting service. Another option is to look at Gmail or Outlook because they also provide business options.
2. Decide on the Right Email Client
If the email host is the one that sends and receives emails for you, an email client is an application where you read and write those emails. So, after you choose how to host your customized business email, you’ll want to determine which email client works best for you and your team.
What’s the difference between basic email clients, and how do you choose? It comes down to where and how you want to access your email. Let’s look at the main differences you may encounter.
Webmail vs. Email Client
How do you want to access your email?
Some email services like Gmail operate exclusively through webmail, where you access your email by logging in to a specific website through your web browser.
- Pros: easy access from anywhere with an internet connection, no software to install, and everything is backed up on the cloud
- Cons: You need a constant internet connection, and it’s not good if you have multiple email addresses that you want to manage separately
Other services use an email client like Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail – a piece of software installed on your device that allows you to send and receive email.
- Pros: You can download and access your email offline, and they tend to have more robust email management features
- Cons: You need to install a separate piece of software or an app to access your mail, and some types of correspondence are not backed up automatically
POP3 vs. IMAP
POP3 and IMAP are different protocols that affect how email is delivered.
POP, or Post Office Protocol, is the oldest email protocol. It was initially built in 1984 at a time when computers rarely had constant internet access (remember dial-up?). The latest version, POP3, connects to the email server, downloads your email messages, and deletes the server’s original messages. In other words, your email is only stored on whatever device and email client you used to read that email—you can’t access those messages from anywhere else.
IMAP, or Internet Message Access Protocol, is a more modern method that focuses on being able to access and sync mail across multiple devices. IMAP stores all your email messages on a remote server. You can send and receive mail from any device, but all the actual changes happen on the server, which keeps it consistent no matter how you’re accessing your email. This option is perfect for remote work. So, if you delete an email on your phone, it will sync and automatically delete it from your PC. The downside is that remote email servers often have limited storage space. For more information on the difference between POP and IMAP, check out this explainer video from GoDaddy:
3. Pick Optional Features for Your Email Services
If your business is anything like most small businesses, you and your team likely rely on more than just email to keep your operations running. You often need instant communication capabilities, the ability to share files among team members, access to standard programs and applications, and more. Luckily, email providers have expanded their email programs to include more than just sending messages back and forth.
Microsoft Exchange Server
In addition to sending email, you probably also want features like shared email folders, contacts, and calendars. That’s where the Exchange Server comes in.
Microsoft developed Exchange with businesses in mind. It’s proprietary software that only runs on Windows, but if you’re using Outlook to check your email, you’re likely using Exchange. If you have server equipment in your office, you can set up an Exchange server, but most businesses use external servers to host Exchange.
Like IMAP, Exchange lets you access your mail from multiple devices, but it adds many sharing capabilities:
- Shared Calendars: see what’s on your team’s schedule
- Shared Resources: book conference rooms in your office
- Shared Contacts: share your contacts with your entire company
- Shared Tasks: assign tasks or track progress on a shared project
- Public folders: centralize information across your business
What’s more, because the data is centralized, it’s easy to back up. Many people never back up their POP3 email accounts, which puts their business data at risk. Exchange is ideal for businesses looking for better tools to share and communicate across the organization versus essential plan email services.
Speaking of advanced collaboration tools, if you’re using Windows and want even more capabilities than Exchange, you may want to look at Microsoft 365 services.
Microsoft 365 is a cloud service that gives you the power of the Microsoft Office suite (like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) whenever and wherever you need it. That makes it easy to share emails, contacts, and calendars and collaborate and share documents.
The advantages of cloud-based software like Microsoft 365 are that it’s simple to set up, provides flexible access, and it’s always up-to-date with the latest versions. It can be very cost-effective as well and allows your team to work from anywhere while still having reliable access to your company emails, files, and programs.
RE: Your Business Email Solution
Here at EZComputer Solutions, we understand that email is the lifeblood of your business’s operations. That’s why we want to ensure that you choose the right business email solution that is reliable, looks professional, and provides better collaboration across your team. We can help you achieve these goals with cost-effective solutions that fit your company’s needs and provide remote work flexibility.
Get a quote today to see how we can help you implement a professional business email solution. Our team can provide primary email, hosted Exchange, or get your business on Microsoft 365, allowing you to stop worrying about IT issues and get back to business.