Email is not just an important tool for modern business, it's an absolute necessity. Most small businesses start off with a freebie Gmail or Hotmail email account which has the benefit of being free and relatively easy to set up. However, as business grows, using freebie email accounts not only becomes more cumbersome but also dangerous. Today we look at the top six benefits of using a "proper" professional email setup.
1. A Professional Domain Name
The first, and most obvious, benefit of a professional email system is the ability to have your own fully customized email address. Having an email address like "firstname.lastname@example.org is much more professional looking and also gives a sense of trust and legitimacy to your email contacts.
Most commonly, if you already have a website you can use the domain name people already use to access your website as the last half of your email system. So if your website is "johnsoncompany.com" you can have a "@johnsoncompany.com" address. Of course, you can also come up with a new domain name if you'd like. This tactic is useful in situations where your website domain is very long.
2. Independent Mailboxes
With freebie email accounts, you typically have one account that five people are trying to access at the same time with everyone looking for their own emails. This can lead to emails going unread, accidentally deleted or confusion over who said what.
With a professional email setup, each employee can have their own email address and inbox. You can even have shared or "catchall" email boxes to catch email that is meant for the organization but not anyone specific. Access to these shared boxes can also be controlled and employee access limited to specific people or departments.
3. Better Control and Backup
With freebie email accounts, your information is at the mercy of whoever is hosting it. If you want to change or delete accounts the process for doing so can be tricky at best. If you're using just a single account for everyone, changing passwords and preventing employees who leave from accessing the mailbox while still making it easy for the remaining employees is next to impossible.
Once again, a professional email system helps take care of these issues. Since every employee has their own account and access permissions, changing accounts and permissions is easy. So is creating and deleting accounts, managing passwords, and more. You can also more effectively manage the transfer of data from one account to another as well as deletion of that data if required.
Perhaps most importantly however, having your own email system in place means that you can much more effectively back up your and your employees email correspondence. One of the top questions we get when doing data recovery for people is "can you save my emails?". With a business-class system, setting up a backup helps prevent loss due to computer crashes and accidental or malicious deletion.
4. Cascade Email to Employees
With free email, an email sent to a certain address ends up in an inbox and the buck stops there. However sometimes email needs to be pushed out to one or more people. You may be able to set up forwarding rules to push certain emails out however doing this can be maintenance intensive nightmare as a small change to a senders email can render your rules ineffective.
Business-class email solves this with the use of things called distribution lists. Instead of complex forwarding rules, you simply have your senders send mail to a specific email address. Mail to this address is then pushed out to whoever you specify. This takes the headache out of trying to get the right emails to the right people.
5. More Email Storage
Free email storage is usually limited. Even the largest free email services limit their mailbox sizes to less than 20 Gigabytes. This usually isn't a problem when you're just starting out, but serious email users can easily exceed that limit.
Professional email systems have much larger mailboxes that can handle a lot more mail. In addition to this, many business-class email systems also have archival storage available which allows you to put old email that you need to keep but not necessarily access often into in order to free up even more space.
6. More Effective Security
While free email accounts usually do an okay job at filtering spam, they do little to nothing against emails containing malicious phishing links or virus-laden attachments. This can leave your entire organization at risk as all it takes is one user and one click to potentially throw your company into a world of hurt.
Professional email to the rescue. With a business class setup in place, these security issues can be mitigated by utilizing more powerful email filtering that not only attacks spam but phishing links and malicious attachments. This can be set up in a way so a bad email never even reaches your inbox. In addition to this, anti-spoofing measures can (and should) be set up so the only email from you that ends up in your clients inboxes are emails you've actually sent.
Overall, if your business is growing, chances are you're going to need email that will keep up. Free email accounts are great for personal use and even a small one-person startup. However if you are demanding more from your email, you may want to look more closely at a better system that can provide both the benefits and security your business needs. Professional email can either be hosted locally (ie: a server in your office) or using a cloud-based service (think Office 365 or Google Gsuite). For convenience and accessibility, cloud-based tends to be the way to go and is typically what we recommend.
Lastly, some web hosting companies will offer free email when you host your website with them. These sorts of offerings can be a nice middle-ground as they are usually inexpensive or even free. They do often however fall short of the feature and security set of the aforementioned services, so don't assume they are a full solution.
Thinking business-class email might be for you? If you'd like to learn more or have assistance migrating to a professional system, give us a call and we'd be happy to help you.