Email has stood the test of time as a trusted communications medium, but how do you pick the best email provider for your needs?
For many of us, the first time we came across email was most likely with an address that ended in the name of a major provider, whether it was at Hotmail, Gmail or the name of a popular ISP.
For personal accounts that’s generally fine and understood, because few people expect individuals in their daily communications to have a need for a specific or business-related email address.
For small businesses – and for some more prominent individuals – simply being firstname.lastname@example.org really doesn’t cut it in terms of presenting a professional appearance.
That’s where you need to consider a more professional product than the “free” email that you can get from the likes of Google or Microsoft. There are plenty of providers out there offering a wide array of packages and services for email, whether you need it for simple business or personal communications or more resource intensive tasks such as email marketing.
So, when you’re considering and comparing options, what should you look out for?
Most email services will keep each email on a central server, so while your email client – Outlook, Apple Mail or similar – downloads the messages, they’re also still there in the cloud if you need backups or to access them via webmail or similar.
However, they do take up storage space, and if you consistently send or receive large attachments the storage allotment you have can fill up rapidly. Consider your needs, and check if your provider will allow you to archive older messages or purchase additional storage as needed.
Just like you wouldn’t want anyone peering into your letterbox and rifling through your physical mail, it’s important to check the security policies and offerings of an email service provider to ensure that they meet your needs.
For some small business types there may be very specific legal requirements in terms of data retention and security to keep in mind as well.
3. User and mail capacity
Some smaller providers effectively sell simple personal one-user style plans, and that might be all that you need.
However, for small businesses it’s going to be more important to choose a provider that can grow with your predicted needs, allowing you to add (and sometimes subtract) users at will with a minimum of fuss.
The other side of this equation is actual sending capabilities, especially if you need to do email marketing. There’s a big server provisioning difference between one user sending a single message to their granny, and your business sending out hundreds or thousands of emails in a single strike.
Not all providers will support full email marketing efforts, though many do. It’s worth knowing what the story is here even if they claim they will let you send mass emails, because you’d ideally want those to go out as rapidly and fuss-free as possible, not stuck in queues or bouncing around due to sending or storage limitations.
4. Ease of use
Email is email, and it works everywhere, right?
That’s only partially true, because depending on the platform you choose you may find that integration with your existing email client platforms, customer relationship management software or other database clients may vary a lot.
There’s also the question of staff training to take into consideration here. A larger, more complex solution might tick off every need in your list for sending emails, but it’s not going to work as well if you can’t actually work out how to fine tune it to those precise needs.
Of course cost is a consideration, because there can be a huge gulf in pricing terms for single users, larger user bases and feature sets.
If your needs are modest, there’s no point in paying for solution that scales up to larger contact lists or sending solutions, and you can get by with a much cheaper solution.
Opting that way if you do have larger email integration needs is only going to cost you in the long run, whether it’s slower delivery, missed emails or lost business opportunities.
Do you need help setting up an email account for for home business use? Or has something gone wrong with your account that you need solved? Geeks2U can help! Our email setup service will help you get an account up and running, configure multiple accounts, setup an email archive process, and help to optimise for best perfomance. Give us a call today to find out how we can assist.
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