Being able to stay on top of emails can be an essential part of business—this much we know. In the technological 21st century, support phone numbers are becoming more and more insufficient for dealing with clients. In fact, a single positive email exchange can be the deciding factor in a client thinking that a business is supportive and has a good customer service department. To a similar effect, being able to easily find a business email on a website can be an important factor to a client even reaching out to a company. Many clients who don't see a business email on a website assume that it is not easy to get in contact with a company, making them disinterested in working with them.
This is why having a business email readily available is essential.
It's also important to note that it's incredibly easy to get started with your own business email. And, contrary to popular belief, it can be done for free. There are many services that will let you either have free business emails or an email that comes with another sort of service, making it easier-than-ever to communicate with your clients and potential clients.
In this article, we're going to be highlighting the best ways to get your own business email and the best methods with which you can acquire one for yourself.
Why Do You Need a Business Email?
Many businesses that have already been active for a while might be confused as to what having an email brings to the table. After all, your company might already have a customer support line, so is it even necessary to have yet another way to communicate with clients?
The truth is, business emails are important. Being able to contact customers from an email is similar to giving them a professional business card. The presentation is key and can actually play a huge role in customers determining if your business is professional or not. You will notice after using a business email for a while that customers respond better and more frequently to your emails, as there is a recognition of your business as a more serious pursuit and therefore easier to trust.
Free Business Email Services
There are many different ways to get an email address.
Here are just a few of the possibilities:
- Mainstream Options: There are many platforms such as Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail that let you sign up for a customized email for free and incredibly quickly. This is not necessarily recommended, but we will elaborate on why later on in this article.
- Email Through Hosting: Getting your business email as a side benefit to having website hosting can be a great way to hit two birds with one stone. Many hosting services (such as Bluehost, HostGator or GoDaddy) will allow you to get emails with hosting for your website, allowing you to make a your emails look professional alongside your website. Many of these services typically host their emails on web services such as Gmail, allowing you to have access to a really efficient user experience without having to carry the associated burdens of using Gmail.
- Free Hosting With Established Domain: If you don't want to pay for hosting but already have an email, you can use services such as Zoho to host an email through a specific domain, allowing you to not fiddle too much with your current setup.
<h2>Choose a Service That Looks Professional</h2>
On the list above, we said that using a free email hosting account isn't the best idea for businesses, which begs the question: why?
The reason why we're hesitant to recommend free email services as the basis for your business email is because of presentation. When you use free emails like those offered by Gmail, you're able to customize your email, sure, but it's always with the added domain of the service you're using.
Because anybody can access these email services and create their own accounts, it can come off as lazy or unprofessional to clients. It might seem like a small thing, but can really be the determining factor with many people.
This is why it should go without saying that you definitely shouldn't use a customized email that doesn't reflect the nature of your business. For clients, receiving an email from a Gmail account is one negative factor for professionalism, but it looks even worse to then have the customizable part of the email be something like JohnnyBoy765, as one would be correct in assuming that it wasn't a business email, but simply a repurposed personal account.
The Many Purposes for a Business Email
Having a business email can help you with many different things, but having multiple different business emails can help you even more. This is because it can look more professional to clients if you compartmentalize your services.
For example, having an email specifically for product returns (i.e. email@example.com) and one for tech support (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) can be great ways for you to not only compartmentalize your customer interaction, but also make it easier for your customers to get quicker feedback on specific issues. If you have specific employees looking at certain emails, then you're able to save the time of forwarding emails to the proper departments, making your business run more efficiently overall.
Another benefit of having compartmentalized business emails is that you'll be able to get responses quicker from other businesses. This is because certain organizations will only reply to other professional-looking emails, consciously avoiding free email services in an effort to weed out any potential spam.
Good Domain Leads to Good Emails
If you host an effective email name on a not-so-effective domain, you're only making it more difficult for your business to reach people. By having an effective domain for your business, you make it overall easier to interact with your customers through your business email.
Deciding an effective domain, though, is a struggle that almost necessitates an article of its own. Because of this, we recommend that you read some tips on how to decide an effective domain: this article from Website Setup is a great starting place for those looking to learn about what goes into making a domain name effective, evocative, and appealing to consumers.
Once you decide which domain you would like to have, you can then use tools such as this Bluehost search tool to determine if the domain you have is free.
An Email for Each Employee
Being able to give each employee in your company their own email address can be a great way to further compartmentalize exchanges with your customers. It can also be a great way to allow each employee to have their own space to interact with customers. If you don't get employees their own email, you risk them replying to any matters with their personal contact information, which can eventually reflect poorly on the company.
How you phrase your employee emails is a whole other topic altogether. If you want to make an email for your employee Jane Doe, for instance, you can make it email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or even email@example.com. For this, you can truly choose whichever feels most comfortable for you, but we recommend that—no matter which style you choose—you make it the same for all employees of the company to avoid any misinterpretations or inconsistencies.
Another benefit of using multiple employee emails is to communicate within your business and coordinate specific events, trainings, and discussions. By using separate email addresses, you can include as many or as few employees as you'd like.
Qualities to Notice in a Free Business Email Service
If you're looking into purchasing hosting for your website, chances are the provider you're using will also provide a business email service of some kind. Most of the time these services are even free, making it more enticing to choose a certain brand of website hosting.
However, how are you able to tell which of these services are actually worth your time? Which qualities should you be on the lookout for? And, what are the differences between each service?
Out of all of the services you look into, the most important quality you should be looking for is a service that has consistency. Some services aren't as reliable as others and you should familiarize yourself with reviews so you can understand which ones are which. Often you will see people dissatisfied with the consistency of certain services and this should be your caution to not work with certain companies. Consistent services will have a good reputation—becoming aware of online reviews and what others think of a certain company can be a great way for you to understand which companies are worthwhile and which ones aren't.
Some other features that you can look out for in a good free email hosting service are:
- Storage: The amount of storage and bandwidth that a service offers can also determine if you should use it or not. Some offer more than others, so you should know what you will need for your business before deciding. For example, if you run a business that revolves around sending high-quality, large files (such as video production or photo editing), you might want to invest in a service with more email storage.
- Archives: Similar to storage, being able to extensively archive your exchanges is a must for any business that wants to have a reliable email. You can always purchase more storage and archival capabilities further down the line, but it's important to think of this before you commit.
- Spam and Security: Some email providers are better than others at keeping track of spam and helping you filter your emails effectively. We think that making sure you know the pros and cons of any given service is a great way to ensure that you won't have to sift through spam to get to the emails you actually want to read.
- Intuitive Interface: Whether or not the email service you pick is actually intuitive to use can also play a huge role in whether or not it's worth your time. As much as we don't recommend using a normal Gmail free email address, the Gmail interface is quite useful. If possible, finding a service that runs through Gmail with a customized domain is a great option, though that is only one example of a service with an intuitive interface.
How to Set Up Your Business Email Address
Now that you're familiar with all of the features you should be on the lookout for when shopping around for business email services, let's walk you through just how you would even go about setting up your own business email account.
To illuminate the general process, we'll be taking a look at three different services and going through their setup process, their pros, and their cons. Two of the services will include free business emails while the other will not be free, to show you the benefits and detriments to each situation.
GoDaddy: If you want to create a business email address with GoDaddy but don't want to purchase a domain or hosting, it's pretty do-able and affordable. To get started, you pay the reasonable price of $3.99 per user, which also includes the Outlook web application so you can easily manage your emails. Something that we think is beneficial about using GoDaddy's business email service is that you have access to GoDaddy's wonderful customer support. GoDaddy is a company that excels at communicating with its clients and is always there to help you with any hesitations or issues you might have with their product. There is also a guaranteed 99.99% uptime, meaning that you will seldom have issues with your emails not going through or being received. If you're not satisfied, there's also a 30 day money-back guarantee, a sure sign of a company that is confident about the product they are offering.
In terms of setting up your business emails, it is relatively easy—you simply connect your desired domain to the address(es) and name them. From there, you can use GoDaddy's built-in Outlook web client for managing emails, something that you would typically pay extra to use.
Zoho: Those who use Zoho will likely do so because they already own a domain and don't want to purchase hosting or emails in addition to this. At least, this appears to be the only justifiable reason to use the services, as it's quite unintuitive to get into for those who don't have much experience in the field.
When you sign up for the website, you should make sure that you're using the “Workplace” section, as that's the type of account that gives free business emails for those that have a domain already.
Once you've setup your account, you need to confirm your identity by sharing your phone number and subsequently receiving a text. After this, you need to enter in the proper DNS information for your domain provider into the Zoho system, then continuing to configure the specific emails for your accounts by adding the proper MX records for each email you'd like to add.
Because this can be an unusually lengthy process for those who are trying to find effective business email accounts, we recommend that you only do this if you're familiar at least somewhat with how to set up a domain name and related services. That being said, we also think it's well worth the configuration period to be able to get a free business email that is connected to your domain name, so we recommend looking into it, if possible.
Bluehost: Using Bluehost means that you have to pay for the hosting, but the business email is technically free. Because of this, we only recommend Bluehost for businesses who don't have hosting already. However, if Bluehost makes sense for you, it's a really wonderful service that we definitely recommend.
To get your business set up for Bluehost, all you have to do to start is make an account and select a Web Hosting plan. If you just want basic email and don't need to worry about a large amount of storage, then you can get both hosting and email for $2.95 per month. This is much more affordable than GoDaddy, so this is the logical solution for something cheap and efficient. It should be noted, though, that it's less than $3 more per month to have unlimited bandwidth and email storage on your account, something that we believe makes much more sense for those that are predicting to have large traffic or files processed through their site.
If you can't decide which account you should have, don't worry—you can always choose the less expensive plan and switch later or vice-versa, as you don't have to commit to paying for a certain amount of months in advance. Instead, simply switch as you please, giving yourself flexibility to figure out what's right for your business.
Once you sign up, you can access all of your hosting and email elements from your cPanel, which is incredibly intuitive to use. From there, you can add as many different email addresses as you want, which is much better than GoDaddy's system that only allows you to have one email address per user.
Which Other Ways Are Free?
Even though we recommended at the beginning of the article that completely free email services don't look the most professional, we still feel that it is important to articulate which ones are the most prominent so you can have an idea of what to be on the lookout for if you decide to use one of these services.
To re-iterate what we said earlier, there's nothing necessarily wrong with using a mainstream, free email service. The only downside we see is the domain of the email address itself, as you're not allowed to customize your domain name when using one of the following services. Because of this, you risk your business looking unprofessional to some, an aspect of the process that is good enough reason for many to avoid using them altogether.
Here are three of the most notable free email providers:
- Gmail: This is the most obvious example when looking at free email services that restrict the domain of your email address. The truth is, though, that Gmail is not a bad service at all. It has an incredibly intuitive interface that makes it easy to manage your emails along with a spam filter that makes it near-impossible for any unwanted emails to get through to your inbox. We also love the amount of add-ons that can be configured to work with Gmail such as Boomerang, letting you send emails later or even automatically send follow-up messages if a response isn't received in enough time.
If you want to have your own customizable domain that works with Gmail, this is possible, but you would need to either purchase Gmail's hosting service or provide your own hosting.
- Yahoo! Mail: Yahoo is one of the most well-known free email providers because it also holds the status as one of the oldest ones. This means that they have a reputation for providing reliable service, but this does not mean that they are an incredibly high-quality service. We love its auto-delete feature for your trash, allowing you to stay on top of storage without even having to think about it, but the overall intuitive (or lack thereof) nature of the interface makes it not our top pick for a free email service.
- Hotmail: Those who are interested in having a service similar to Gmail should look into Hotmail. It's another well-established option for free emails, but it also has the bonus of being a really high-quality provider for those looking for a service to use for business purposes. Hotmail is very flexible and has a large amount of filtering services that make it very easy to sort through your spam.
Finding the right email service for your business is not the easiest thing. However, the benefits you will find from having a solid business email can be the difference between having a strong clientele and not being contacted at all. At the end of the day, any of the options we've listed in this article will expand your business, but we highly recommend not signing up for a business email service that doesn't let you customize the specific domain of your email, if possible.
In terms of the services we listed in this article, using Zoho is the best option if you want to find something that's truly free and also gives you a great deal of flexibility with your email accounts. The only downside is that it requires some knowledge of domains and DNS to set up, but familiarizing yourself with that universe is well worth the benefits Zoho provides.
There are many ways in which you can make your business efficient, but with a proper business email you can also make your service sustainable.