Communication is one of the primary keys to success in almost any endeavor, but in the world of business—large or small—good communication may be its most valuable asset. It’s important that the members of your business are available to one another and to clients whether you do business across town, across the country or across the world.
There are many different email solutions available, including free and fee-based providers. For small business, however, there are a handful of solutions that rise to the top. Below is a rundown of some of the most common email providers for small business and what makes them unique.
A Few Common Denominators
All of the solutions listed have mobile capabilities, making it easy for you to access and read your email while you’re on the go. Additionally, most can be used with a desktop email client, such as Outlook. Also, most email providers’ fees are based on the number of users or email addresses you’ll need. Many of them also have a fee schedule based on the amount of storage space you want. These providers also offer live phone and online tech support to address any issues that may arise.
One of the most versatile and the biggest email options, Microsoft Exchange has cornered the market of office solutions, including software and IT. Microsoft has multiple email options for businesses, including a server-based solution and a desktop client.
Microsoft has bundled together many of its office solutions under the name Office 365, including added functionality for building your business website.
Other features of Microsoft Exchange include:
- Proven track record with the name recognition of Microsoft
- Can be used as a cloud-based solution or run on your own in-house server
- Available for purchase separately or as part of a larger Microsoft package with the Office 365 Suite
- 50 GBs of mailbox storage per user
- Runs Outlook, which makes syncing calendars and contacts throughout an organization easier
- Proven security measures with Exchange Online Protection
Google Apps for Business
Aside from redefining the way we conduct online searches, Google has become a massive force in the business space.
Google Apps for Business incorporates all of Google’s other online services, including Google Calendar, Hangouts and Google Drive. This is considered a terrific solution for a business that relies heavily on remote workers or far-flung offices.
Other Google App features include:
- Gmail , a recognized email platform with many different web-based options
- Compatibility with Microsoft Outlook as well as POP and IMAP support
- Security measures that include two-step authentication, encrypted connections to Google servers, spam filtering and more
- 30 GB of mailbox storage (more can be purchased as necessary)
- Working offline is best achieved via Google Chrome web browser
- Cloud-based solution only
Zohomail offers five free mailboxes for users with their own domain name, which can make it a great solution for a very small or sole proprietorship business.
Other Zohomail features include:
- Independent provider not tied to Microsoft or Google
- Completely web-based
- Comes with standard mail features such as Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, etc.; can also sync with Google Calendar
- Mail hosting with existing or new domain names
- Supports integration with third-party email providers such as Outlook or Thunderbird with POP and IMAP access
One thing to consider: Zohomail does not allow you to sync contacts from the web to the desktop version. So if you’re using a desktop-based client (i.e. Outlook) and you want to sync your contacts from the web version, it isn’t possible. The same is true with mobile devices—you can add contacts via the mobile interface, but cannot transfer those contacts to other platforms. For businesses, this can be a major drawback.
Another third-party email host is FuseMail, which is uniquely designed to support small businesses.
FuseMail’s API allows more technologically savvy customers the chance to integrate their own applications.
Other FuseMail features include:
- Email host with Hosted Microsoft Exchange capabilities
- Supports IMAP, POP3, SMTP
- Professional Bundle comes with email archiving for three years
- Mobile sync capabilities
- Unlimited aliases and domains
As always, one of the biggest deciding factors when selecting a solution for your business will be cost. All of these solutions are fairly cost-effective, depending on the amount of storage space and mailboxes you require. When weighing your options, be sure to take into account not only cost, but security, user experience and available tech support to ensure your business communications run smoothly.