Email is one of the most enduring forms of communication that was born out of the Internet. Strangely, it was thought by experts to be a medium that would become obsolete as we headed into the 21st century, and they couldn’t have been more wrong.
Not only did we continue to use email in a professional capacity, but more applications were created that wouldn’t work without email, even today. There are a lot of different options that you can use to manage email for your small business, and beyond the standard email clients, most web hosting for websites include their own email.
To make the running of your business easier for everybody in your company, however, you want the best email client you can find—one that understands what a business needs from their email. We’ve picked the top 3 email clients we’ve found, to examine them a little more closely and give you the information you need to decide which one fits your small business the best.
Gmail is probably the most popular and most well-known email client out there today, and the vast majority of people everywhere have at least one Gmail account. We all know Gmail, we know how it functions, and we’re all very familiar to the look and feel of the interface.
The look and feel of the interface of an email provider may not seem like a very important element when you’re using it for business, but it’s actually a pretty great advantage to already have a general feel for an online tool before you start using it. Running a small business in this day and age means that you’re going to be using at least a few online tools and various pieces of software.
That means you will need to get used to how all of those tools feel, in addition to learning the functionality of each one of them. This is why the familiarity we have for Gmail comes in handy when you start utilizing it professionally.
Gmail is Very Friendly to Businesses
Naturally, Gmail is friendly to small businesses because they know plenty of businesses are taking advantage of their platform to run their email. They offer business accounts to which you can attach your custom domain, freely and at affordable rates.
Interestingly, the platform is designed for everyone to use, especially average consumers, but at the same time, the features you’ll be able to access actually serve businesses very well, too. It’s an extremely versatile platform that gives you quick access to all the rest of their apps, of course, such as Google Docs, Sheets, Voice, and a ton of others.
Searchability is Key
Since it’s made by Google, the searchability is top-notch, as you would expect from them. You can search all of your mail to find an old message from a client that you need for a current project, or for whatever reason, which is a scenario that comes up all the time. In addition to a quick search, there are built-in filters for search that make sure you’ll find the email you’re looking for.
You can also create your own filters within the native search engine. Another important point that Gmail covers is automatic sorting for incoming email. Many email clients make it difficult to set up your account so that mail from certain email addresses, or mail that contains certain words, are sorted into their own folders or sections.
In the settings within your Gmail account, you can easily add the keywords that you want to have the software automatically flag to sort into specific folders, so you’ll never have to think about manually sorting anything. You can of course add the same settings for sorting emails that come from specific email addresses.
OUTLOOK (Office 365)
Microsoft Outlook was first introduced as part of the Office ’97 package from Microsoft, as the company recognized that email was going to be an important platform that users would need with the increasing use of the Internet. In contrast to the date Gmail was launched, April Fool’s Day, 2004, Outlook’s 1997 release testifies to the fact that it’s been around a lot longer than Gmail. Of course, Microsoft’s email platform, Outlook, didn’t show much improvement until the last few years.
The Outlook platform now, though, is extremely functional and a strong contender in the race for the best email client for business. Outlook was the default email client for users who had a PC for a very long time, and it continues to be in use for many of those users, as well as plenty others who have jumped on board as they finally improved the features and functionality of their platform.
Outlook is Made for Business
Catering to professionals of all types since it was created, Outlook has a look, feel, and functionality that is designed to be used for business. Average consumers can definitely benefit from using this platform, but it has clearly been designed and packaged to be used for work and includes the tools that you’ll be very happy to have when you’re running a business.
Following the model of Google Apps, the Office 365 collection of applications, which includes Excel, PowerPoint, and other software that most of us are familiar with, lets you control your email, calendar, contacts and the rest all in one centralized platform. Gmail and Microsoft tend to follow each other in this regard, as Gmail also borrowed applications like “Sheets” and created their own version of them.
Outlook is arguably better for professionals and businesses to use for their specific purposes because all of the productivity software provided by Office 365 has no unnecessary frills or thrills. Apps like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint are tried and true, and they facilitate the process of getting work done more than Google Apps, in many respects.
It Sets Itself Apart
Google has been forced to toe the line, in many ways, between creating a consumer product that everyone can make use of and building specific apps that can help professionals to be more productive in their work. Features like video conferencing for up to 250 people and built-in CRM set Microsoft apart, in addition to a high capacity for users and 24/7 phone and web support for help anytime.
The 24/7 support feature, alone, puts Microsoft in a class of its own because you won’t get that with many email providers (except for the next provider on this list), and you definitely won’t get it with Gmail because Google basically doesn’t have support for its customers at all, outside of the support docs they post on their website. Something like Gmail can serve you very well for a time, but as your business grows, you might need an email client that is specifically geared towards business.
If you don’t want to go completely mainstream and try an email provider that is independent, with some features that you might not find elsewhere, then Rackspace is a great option for you. An extremely capable email client with a full list of services, Rackspace provides you with professional-level email service, hosted in the cloud, with the ability to create and customize your email with your business’ domain, as you would with the mainstream carriers.
Integrations with Office 365 and Exchange give you access to all the productivity tools you could possibly need for email and collaboration of all types. Rackspace surprisingly also provides exceptional support for its customers to be there to help with any issue that may come up with the email service, or questions you may have about the apps.
Any new features that are released through Microsoft, as well as security updates, are added for you as soon as they become available, so that you’re always up-to-date with software and security. The first advantage you’ll notice with Rackspace, over other email clients, is that it’s exceptionally affordable at $2.99/month for all business email features.
They actually guarantee that you’ll have 100% uptime, too, which is a guarantee you won’t hear from other providers. Honestly, it would be pretty rare for your email to go down with any of the mainstream providers, but the guarantee just makes you a little more comfortable, especially these days, when we rely on email notifications for so many different applications.
A Full List of Features
There are plenty of additional features that you’ll get with Rackspace, too. One of the coolest features is the ability to recover deleted emails with no trouble. This is way more helpful than the Gmail feature that merely lets you “undo” a deleted email for about 5 seconds.
When you have Rackspace, you can look up the email you need, which you previously deleted at any time, and bring it up to restore it. We all fall victim to an accidental deletion of an important email from time to time, and it’s really comforting to know that you can get it back when that happens.
If you do decide to switch to Rackspace when you’re currently using a different email client, then you can easily migrate the current email account to Rackspace’s platform. As long as you know what carrier with whom your domain name is currently registered, the Rackspace team will be able to quickly take care of the migration process for you.
It’s also necessary for any business owner to be able to access email from anywhere, anytime, so they provide you with mobile apps for email which are compatible with any iOS, Android, or Windows device.
Rackspace Gives You What You Need
Rackspace is a simple, affordable, and full-service email client that gives you everything you need to run business email. It is designed with small businesses in mind and hits all the bases that you would expect from a professional email service provider.
They haven’t been around for as long as Outlook (1 year shy), but they’ve been around for quite a bit longer than Gmail because they launched Rackspace in 1998. They might seem like the underdog at first glance, but this company stands way out upon just a slightly closer look. Their customer service is second to none.
Self-branded as “fanatical support”, they basically built the company on exceptional customer support that continues until today. When you are a Rackspace customer, you can always reach someone, either by phone, by email, or in live chat.
Do You Need to Upgrade Your Email?
Most likely, you’re still using, and probably plan on continuing to use the email service that you’ve been using for years (but God help you if you’re using Yahoo Mail). That’s fine if it works well for you and no problems come up from using it, but if there are certain pain points such as not enough storage or a difficult-to-use control panel, then you probably need to think about upgrading your email.
There are actually a lot of business owners who have been using Gmail since they first began using it personally, and then they simply continued to use it for their business. If that’s you, then that’s great because Gmail is designed in such a way that you can easily transition from the basic, consumer version of the software to the professional version of it, which is actually very highly functional and perfectly adequate for running a business.
On the other hand, it’s a good idea to at least check out one of these other email clients because they provide features specifically for businesses (especially Microsoft Outlook) that could make your operations a lot smoother and easier to manage.
When it’s time for you to upgrade your email, give the few options we’ve mentioned here a try. Just a simple switch of the email client you use could potentially make your small business operate much more smoothly than it did before.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.