Free business email account: what are the pros and cons?

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pros and cons of free business email

Setting up a business can be costly. It’s hard to resist the allure of a free business email account. After all, it can be difficult to pin down the exact value you get out of paying for business email. You send email, you receive email, you’ve still got to work through everything in your inbox… what’s the difference?

The differences are actually pretty big. 

Having the right solution in place can have a wider effect on your operations, and even how you grow your business, not to mention your options around protecting your business communications. 

The problem with using free email for business

Sure, a Gmail, Yahoo!, or other free address is fine for your personal correspondence. In terms of support, storage, and features, they are far more limited than, say, a pro-level G Suite account.

Free email has other problems too. For example, in return for that free email, you may be giving up privacy. Free email services may be scanning your messages to determine how best to serve ads to you—or may even insert ads into your sent emails.

Above all, if you plan to grow your business—and delegate some email responsibility to your team as it grows beyond one email address… how do you scale? Multiple individual free email accounts can spiral out of your control quickly. Free email addresses don’t look as professional or legitimate, which can make the business of establishing trust with potential clients or partners more difficult. Plus, a departing or disgruntled employee might be able to delete all the emails or lock you out of your own inbox.

The pluses of paying for business email

Email is one of the cornerstone communication methods for many businesses. However, free email accounts simply aren’t designed for the professional needs and concerns of business communications and collaboration.

Paid professional business email through services like Gmail doesn’t have to be expensive. For less than the price of lunch, you gain a lot of peace of mind.

For example, Google’s G Suite business email costs $6 per user per month. Along with state-of-the-art security features, email with your brand, and 24/7 support, you also get 30GB of cloud storage per user, video and voice conferencing, plus access to Google’s productivity tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, even online forms. And if you don’t want to use Google, no worries. 

G Suite is hardly the only player in the paid professional business email space. Office 365 and Zoho mail are just one of many options, and sometimes web hosting companies offer a deal on email service when you first register a domain. 

The takeaway? Even on a slim budget, the productivity, customer support, and security features of professional email can be a reality for your business. In return, you’ll get access to an extensive range of features, control, and scalability that more than offset the modest monthly cost. Professional business email will give you peace of mind and help you get more done—all while looking more legitimate and trustworthy, and being able to scale your email platform as your business grows.

Email provider peace of mind

No matter what provider you turn to, the key is that you should gain peace of mind about your business email. A few things you’ll want to verify when you choose an email provider: 

  1. Secure physical locations for their servers
  2. Secure logins for you and your team
  3. Easy management of individual and team email accounts
  4. Branding with your company’s domain name and logo
  5. Sufficient storage and bandwidth to send, receive, and maintain your email load
  6. Privacy controls, including HIPAA compliance (when relevant)

For example, email scalability is a big factor in how you’ll delegate responsibility as you grow your headcount. (After all, you don’t want everyone sharing a password and logging in to the same email to manage your info@yourcompany mailbox, for example.) If your business plan includes adding more people and/or growing the business to have distinct departments, then you will need an ever-increasing number of individual accounts. Teams such as sales and customer support will likely have their own shared email accounts, like sales@yourcompany.com or help@yourcompany.com.

And since you’re reading this on the Outpost blog—if you’re looking for ways to ease some of the hassles of sharing email responsibilities for those shared inboxes like your info@ or help@ mailbox, Outpost can help, and it works with all different email provider options. 

And when team members leave and there is an inevitable turnover? Controlling your organization’s email means that you can keep that data locked down—and prevent someone from locking you out.

Professional email needs a professional appearance

What if one simple thing could help you immediately stand out from 80 percent of your competition?

Here’s another question: How often do you receive emails from someone who is trying to solicit your business for a meeting, a service, a sales call… but their email address is from a free service such as Yahoo! or Gmail? 

Does that email strike you as professional? Does it make you feel confident that they’ll be doing solid business you can rely on?

Nope.

When you call a company, you expect someone to answer with the company name and a professional greeting, not a generic hello. The same expectation goes for business email. A professional email address, branded with your business name (such as avery@mybusiness.com), is a baseline, simple way to inspire confidence in your business and get people to take you more seriously.

The thing is, only 20 percent of small businesses have company-branded email. However, consumers are less likely to do business with a company using free email addresses—but they are nine times more likely to do business with a company that has branded email.

That one, simple change—switching to a branded email—not only helps your company look more professional, it can immediately help you stand out over much of your competition.

Email problems happen, so have professional-level support

Email has been in use for decades. IT professionals know how to implement stable, reliable email services. Email works great… until it doesn’t.

No matter how well email works, there will be times when something goes wrong. What happens if your email starts acting up and you can’t get it to work right? What if a bunch of messages disappear? What if you screw something up?

It’s easy to think that if you have a problem, you’ll be able to pick up the phone, send a support email, or start a live chat. And that’s true… if you are paying for professional business email. If you have a free email service, it doesn’t matter that your business is suffering. Odds are the only support resources you’ll have access to will be a do-it-yourself knowledge base.

When paying for business email, look for services that also include real, live, 24/7 support. For example, G Suite users can access customer support anytime via phone, email, or chat. (And for those times where there is a problem you can sort it out yourself, there’s a knowledge base too.) But it’s reassuring to know that when a problem is bringing your business email to a halt, you can turn to someone who is going to help you get things back on track.

Paid business email is peace of mind email

Sometimes it’s good to leverage a free service. However, the cost of free is often an inconvenience, lack of privacy, fewer options, and no way to scale. 

Once your business outgrows free, or when you want to lay a solid service foundation early on, today’s tech options mean that you can easily and inexpensively access world-class services for budget-friendly costs. That will quickly make your paid business email worth every penny. That way you can focus on putting more dollars where they belong: on the bottom line.

Posted in Email

Anthony St. Clair

Anthony St. Clair

Anthony St. Clair is a business copywriter, author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series, and a craft beer writer specializing in Oregon. Learn more at anthonystclair.com.