If your business uses email at all, it’s essential to have your own custom email addresses. If a customer sees “email@example.com” they may see it as a lack of credibility, even subconsciously. But what’s the best way to set up and manage your “firstname.lastname@example.org” email service?
Most web hosts offer the storage and ability to run your email from the same space as your website. This can be a good option for those who have an in-house IT department or otherwise manage their own server space. However, using your website’s hosting to run your email isn’t always a great idea.
Why companies use separately hosted email services
Security & email spam
A webhost is well equipped to handle website security, but a host that specializes in email will be better able to protect your email files and filter out annoying junk mail.
Especially for companies without an in-house IT department, the ability to get support setting up email and troubleshooting issues often comes in handy. Though your website host may be able to give you the basics of email setup if you’re on a maintenance plan, you may need occasional help from an email expert.
Cost of service
Many companies use an enormous amount of data in just email alone, sending large attachments that live in inboxes for years. Email hosts know this and can provide ample and affordable storage space. Web hosts’ server costs are often higher as they need to run more website processes.
Which email service is best for my business?
Finding the best email host requires a bit of research since it really depends on the needs of your specific situation. A good way to start your search is to determine which services are the most important to your business protocols, then choose the platform that best supports those needs. Since each email service is connected to its own “family” of applications, it’s helpful to have a good idea of which programs and software you’ll be using, so you can decide which email service will best integrate into that process.
Google Workspace: Gmail for business
For companies that already use or are familiar with Gmail, Docs, or other Google products.
Whether you’re a business owner or an everyday user, there’s no denying that Gmail is one of the best email platforms out there. Businesses have been turning more and more to Google Workspace to manage their company emails. Workspace isn’t just an email service, but offers many other business-friendly features as well, such as improved Meets (video conferencing), more cloud-based Drive storage, and better document collaboration tools in Sheets and Docs. All these extra bells and whistles are great, but if you’re looking for a solid email host, Google Workspace is a great choice.
Google has always invested heavily into good user experience, which is obvious when you realize that you’ve probably never had to watch a tutorial on how to use Gmail. Since it’s by far the most popular email service on the internet, the interface is going to be familiar with pretty much anybody in your company. This in itself is a major selling point for business owners – you won’t have to check resumes for Outlook or Zoho experience, and you won’t have to waste time training someone on setting up and managing a new account, because most people use it already on a daily basis for their personal email.
One of the best perks of using Workspace’s business email solution is the integrations with Google’s other apps. For instance, it syncs seamlessly and easily with Calendar and Meet, which makes scheduling and booking meetings a breeze. You can accept a meeting invitation via email and it will automatically add it to your calendar. Drive is another fantastic integration you may find yourself using frequently with Workspace’s Gmail – you can add attachments from your company’s shared folder easily within your Gmail window.
What’s more, Gmail is one of the less expensive options for business mail. Just six bucks a month will get you started with your own custom email, and not to mention that also includes some of the best phishing and spam blocking in the industry. At that price, there’s really no reason to not try it out to see if it’s a good fit for you and your business.
Microsoft 365: Best for businesses that run on Outlook
For companies that will be relying on Outlook, Excel and other Office products.
If your company runs on Microsoft apps instead of Google Apps, Microsoft 365 may be the choice for you. It offers a lot of great features and benefits, including robust security, ample storage space, and plenty of customization options. It includes not only email hosting, but also access to the major Microsoft apps: Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote. Pricing and features are now very comparable to Workspace, so it’s really just a matter of preference.
One important thing to point out is the common misconception that Outlook is an email provider. Outlook itself is not an email host, it’s just an email client; It’s a program you can use it to retrieve your email, which can be hosted anywhere else. On the other hand, Microsoft 365 is the hosting service that you would pay for to host your email on their server. In other words, it’s possible to use Outlook to connect to your 365 mail, or your Gmail, or your email hosted on some other server or website. (In contrast, gmail.com is both a client and host).
Many users are already familiar with Outlook because it’s was the default email client for Windows computers for a long time. As a result, Outlook has a large user base and there’s a good chance your employees will already have had experience with it. Many business owners choose Microsoft 365 simply because they already know and use Outlook and don’t want the hassle of shopping around. Many businesses still rely on Outlook’s calendar to manage their schedules, so if this is important to you, 365 may be the obvious choice.
365 used to be one of the pricier options, but it appears Microsoft has made an effort to stay competitive with Google. You can now get the Business Basic plan for $6 a month, which is the same as Workspace’s pricing. They also currently have a promotion, so you can score your first month free to give it a test run. They also offer 20GB more email storage space than Workspace on the lowest tier plan, so it’s definitely a good option for your business email hosting.
Front: A different approach to email
For startups and entrepreneurs who need a modern, fast, and simple way to communicate.
Front is an entirely new approach to email and business communication. While Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 include many other features and programs beyond email hosting, Front is basically offering a whole new methodology for the way businesses communicate. It replaces email, messaging, ticket systems, and customer management systems with a single easy-to-use system.
While email groups are certainly possible with other competitors, it’s the defining feature of this email hosting service. Front allows you to connect your teams so they can collaborate and share information in real time. You can have a email@example.com that will reach all members of your sales team, or a billing@ that goes only to your billing department. While mail groups are available in other email services, Front integrates these groups with the rest of the system, making it a great way to manage your teams. All members within a mail group are notified in Front when someone responds to the group, so nothing falls through the cracks.
Traditional email is by no means dead, but it’s a very basic system with many inherent flaws. With Front, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to CC someone, and gone are the days of the “I didn’t get your email” excuses. With the messaging-like interface, you’ll no longer have to sift through long, poorly formatted email chains to find information. Once you get used to communication being so easy, you may notice your bottom line increasing along with the flow of information.
Because it’s new to the game, there aren’t as many people with experience using Front. Regardless, the interface is so intuitive and easy to learn, training people in it is a breeze. Once your business gets in the groove with Front, it may be difficult to return to regular email. Though Front’s pricing is a bit higher compared to other custom email providers, you have to consider that you’re getting several team- and customer-managing systems in addition to your custom business email. For some business owners looking to replace multiple pieces of software, the price tag could be a bargain.
*2 user minimum
Zoho Mail: Connect email to a suite of business software
For businesses that could benefit from a ticketing system and powerful tool to manage accounts.
Zoho is an increasingly popular suite of business software that more and more businesses are turning to for B2B and B2C solutions. It’s a popular choice for business owners looking to manage customers, HR, billing, support tickets, marketing, and more – all from the same place. Their custom email hosting service, Zoho Mail, can be seamlessly integrated into Zoho’s other products. If you’re only opting for the email portion, though, you’ll enjoy a their flexible pricing model, which is very fair in terms of cost, and very scalable as well.
You can get a free 15-day trial of their Mail Premium service ($4/mo/user) to try out the service, and no credit card is required. While their Lite tier doesn’t offer a free trial, it’s only $1 per user per month (billed annually), with 5GB of space for each user, making it ridiculously affordable. They even have a free version, though it doesn’t offer IMAP/POP3 support, which is required to access your email from a separate client such as Gmail or Outlook.
ProtonMail: Secure, encrypted company email
For industries where privacy is paramount, such as healthcare or finance.
ProtonMail is the ideal choice for businesses that are concerned about privacy and security. With its robust encryption system and advanced protection against hacks and phishing attempts, ProtonMail keeps sensitive data safe from prying eyes. Whether your business is handling important client data or handling sensitive financial information, ProtonMail offers effective protection against online threats. So if you care about safeguarding your company’s confidential information, you can trust ProtonMail to get the job done.
Within companies where HIPAA and GDPR regulations are a concern, this email service is probably the best way to ensure total compliance. There are even encryption features and self-destructing emails, for those super secret messages that shouldn’t be hanging around stored on a server for long.
Like many other email hosts, there is a free option for personal accounts if you’re curious about the interface and functionality before making a purchase. If you decide to opt for the Business plan and get your custom @yourdomain.com email addresses, the cost is fair and even less than Workspace or 365. If you are concerned about the cost, however, you can cut it even further by limiting the transfer of sensitive information through a select few ProtonMail accounts only.
The verdict: What’s the best business email host?
Now that you’re informed on all the business email options available to you, it’s time to decide. If you weren’t keeping score, don’t worry – you can reference the table below for a side-by-side comparison.
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After learning about all the features offered by business email services, it makes sense why you’d want to move your email off your web host and onto one of these popular providers. The features and support offered by the basic email service included with your website simply can’t compete with other services that specialize in providing the fastest, easiest, and most secure email service for your company. Having an idea of what other business software your business needs will help you choose the best provider for your company email, but you can’t go wrong with the email services mentioned above.