Choosing the best email provider for your small business is an important step in running a business efficiently. Because technology changes happen faster and faster, it’s important to keep up with them. Here we take a look at the core SMB email solutions on the market to help you find the right one.


Why is Gmail not enough?

Your new business up and running, maybe with a new and shiny website. This is often the time when the free nameofyourbusiness@gmail.com email just isn’t enough to be taken seriously. You want your business to appear as professional as you know you are, so you need your business e-mail, on your own domain.

One other thing that you might be considering is who has access to your e-mails, and just how private your business information is. In the end, Gmail or Yahoo are hosted on public clouds, so if your conversations are worth more, you will be interested in securing them as well.

If you have your own personalized address you can also make sure that you will have those conversations stored on a server until “the end of time”. Should a situation when you need a 10 year old e-mail, you will know it’s there 🙂

One of the perks of doing business today is that if you choose an email platform or provider today, you don’t have to stay with it forever. You can always switch to another service or platform in the future without having to change your email address. Migrating is a lot easier now. Keep in mind, though, that migrating between email platforms isn’t always completely seamless, some of the content of your inbox may or may not move well.

The best way to go is to buy your own domain personalized for your business, and to create your e-mail on that domain.

Webmail or desktop e-mail?

Webmail means that the e-mails are stored on an online server, which you can access easily using an internet connection. This option is ideal if you travel a lot or simply want to be able to access your email from anywhere. You typically get a more than decent amount of storage for a reasonable price, so space should not be an issue. One important issue can be the fact that it will not work offline. So, in case of an internet connection problem you will not be able to access your e-mail.

Desktop e-mail means that the e-mails are stored on-premise, so you don’t need to login online to access them.  It does mean that you can open multiple accounts without the whole login-logout hassle, but it also means that you can’t access your e-mail from any other device, like your home computer or a tablet, for instance. Also, if your data is stored all in one place, in case of disaster, you might end up losing all your data.

What options do I have for my e-mail?

Google Apps for Work

Since it was obvious that Gmail will not suffice for a business, Google came up with a solution for you: Google Apps for Work.

The setup is very simple. Make an App Engine account, add your domain to the account, and then you’ll get a single Google Apps account with your domain. That simple. If you really like Gmail then this solution will give you the advantages of Gmail just with your own domain and the option of switching to another service should you want it.

Of course, Google Apps for Work does not mean just e-mail. You can also choose to integrate Google Docs, making document management, editing a lot easier.  Also, Google Drive offers you a great place to put your documents.

Google Apps for Work Pros:

Cheap: Most of the services are free or very inexpensive. Google Apps for Work comes at a price of $5.00 to $10.00 per user, per month. It includes email, video meetings, online storage and some more business tools in this offer.

Ease of use: You probably are already familiar with Gmail and other Google products. This makes Google Apps for Work easy to access and learn.  

No compatibility issues: Since all the apps are accessed through a web browser, you can use your all time favorite, be it Safari or Chrome. Taking into consideration that every document is hosted by Google, you don’t have to worry about someone having an older version of a program.

Sharing and setting permissions: You can share the documents you have been working on with anyone in your team without having to e-mail them. Also, you can configure the setting so that one team member is able to edit the document, or just view it.

Files always updated: Since everybody can edit the document live, in the cloud, you eliminate the issue of not having the latest version of a document, thus making your team more efficient.  

Google Apps for Work cons:

All documents online:  One of the pros is also a con. It’s great that you have all your documents online, but if you don’t have Internet you can’t access them.  If you need to make changes offline you’ll have to download them.

All documents in a single location: You should not put all your eggs in one basket. This is exactly what you do with Google, so you need to pay attention to security, since your documents will be on Google’s server.

Not overly customizable: Google has improved its formatting, added graphics, logos or templates, but they are still more limited that many standalone programs.

Must upload current files:  If you have files that are in other formats, you’ll have to upload and convert them to Google Docs. Whilst this can be time consuming, once it’s done, editing is easy-peasy.

Office 365 Business Essentials

This is, as you might have heard, Microsoft’s solution for a number of issues. With Microsoft Office 365 you get the full power of Exchange on your own domain, with all the configuration options you’d want.

You’ll have full Exchange push email, or IMAP and POP3 sync, and you can use the new Office 2013-styled Outlook Web Access to check your email online.

You can also choose to have access to the full, installed Office apps, just in case you want something more than just e-mail.

If you need storage, Microsoft offers you OneDrive for Business, to not only have all your docs in one place but you can share with your coworkers as well.

Office 365 Pros:

Work Anywhere: Since it’s accessible over the Internet, you can access Office 365 from anywhere, thus having flexibility when it comes to your workplace. This feature comes in handy if you have remote employees, multiple locations and companies with employees who travel often.

Easy collaboration: If teamwork is important in your company, then a tool that offers collaboration features is a real deal for you.  The best thing about this is that every team member can edit a certain document, the changes are saved in real time, so you will have only one version of the document. Sharing is also made easy, so  your team can access the files they need.

Mix and Match Plans: One member of your team may need some tool combination, another maybe not the same. Having a plan that enables you to customize this comes in handy.

Security Features: To make sure that you are safe, Office 365 has a lot of built-in security features to keep your company’s data safe, like encrypted e-mail, data loss prevention or mobile device management.

Office 365 Cons:

No internet, no work: Office 365 is a cloud-based service, so if you don’t have an Internet connection you will not be able to work. A slow internet connection might also be troublesome for you.

Compatibility with Line of Business Applications: If you use line-of-business applications you might have some compatibility issues. So, any compatibility issues will need to b checked beforehand.

Cloud Storage: Microsoft does praise Office 365 as a suite that has a number of security features, but when you have all your documents in their cloud you might consider a certain level of encryption, especially with sensitive data.

IBM Verse

IBM Verse introduces itself to the table as a powerful email solution which gives you access to your e-mail from a laptop or desktop browser or from your mobile device.

Verse comes with a an innovative user-centric design, to give you the best possible experience when it comes to e-mail and business messaging. When using Verse, you will notice that finding what is important comes easy and you can build stronger working relationships whilst optimizing business results, as easy as 1.2.3.

You can choose to use Verse as a stand-alone product or as part of Connections Cloud S1 , or as an on-premises solution through Notes Domino. Either way, Verse will offer you:

  1. An e-mail solution that comes based on a user-designed format and social analytics optimized for desktop and mobile devices.
  2. Less cluttered email accounts, thus making it easier for you to prioritize and focus on what matters at a certain  moment in time.
  3. Global teams connection through intelligent, built-in security features with engaging social apps.

As you might expect, Verse also comes with solutions for file management, sharing them with your team mates, so as work becomes a pleasure.

IBM Verse Pros:

IBM Verse comes with the new IBM user-centric design language and principles, meaning that its design will try to predict how an end user will be most productive using the software.

The migration tools that Verse puts on the table help you make the change from current IBM Notes and Domino email and calendaring environments as easy as possible.

IBM Verse has powerful analytics poring over your email, contact and calendar data so that it can prioritize messages, help you manage your schedule, and find answers to questions posed in communications.

IBM Verse COns

Verse does not come with migration tools for Microsoft Exchange. This will particularly not be pleasant for the customers who are dissatisfied with their current IBM Notes and Domino environments.

Which email is the best?

All these three solutions solve a lot of problems not just the e-mail one, you will need to take into consideration one very important thing: SECURITY. You’ll need to decide if you want to go with a public cloud for your document storage for instance, or a hybrid one, or private if you know that the documents you will be uploading will be very important.

And of course, should you go for the hybrid version, you need to establish exactly what documents go where.  Thus, there are still a number of decisions to be made even after you have settled on the e-mail solution you want to use for your business.