Gmail for Your Business Email: Is the Paid Option Worth It?

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gmail for business and alternatives to gmail

Free Gmail for business. It’s so tempting—at the least for the price tag. Free Gmail means you have an access-anywhere free email address, along with behind-the-scenes tech that provides world-class security and spam-prevention.

However.

Google’s free Gmail accounts weren’t designed for business or enterprise-level communications and collaboration. Ad-supported free accounts also get criticized for privacy concerns.

Luckily, Google’s paid G Suite (same as Google Apps—Google changed the name in 2016) provides ad-free, secure, branded email. You also get access to other Google services such as CalendarDriveDocsSheetsForms, Hangouts Chat and Meet, and more.

G Suite can work for everyone from solopreneurs to larger businesses. You can have multiple email addresses, increased security and privacy, more storage, and actual, real-live support—all starting at $5 per user per month. Business accounts are $10 per user per month, and Enterprise accounts are $25 per user per month.

In other words, you can have access to Google’s world-class services for the price of a big fancy coffee.

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Paid Gmail is professional email

Personal emails just don’t look professional.

When you need to contact a business, do you want to contact “firstname@company.com”—or “bigjoe47@gmail.com”? A free email versus a branded email is the difference between someone answering the phone “hello,” versus “Good morning, this is Awesome Branded Company, how can I help you today?”

Ultimately, using branded email comes down to professionalism and ownership.

However, only 20 percent of small businesses have company-branded email. According to hosting provider GoDaddy, consumers are nine times more likely to do business with a company that has branded email, not a free email such as myfirstname@aol.com, @yahoo.com, or @gmail.com.

Switching to a branded email isn’t only more professional, it’s a simple way to immediately help your business stand out.

You already know the interface

When businesses change technology, upskilling and training can be a time-consuming challenge.

If you already use Gmail, however, there’s virtually no change to the interface—no training or re-learning needed. It’s the same email client, just enhanced on the screen and under the hood.

Insert logo here

You can brand your business’s G Suite email with your own logo. It’s a subtle but important way to increase professionalism and internal brand—even if you’re a solopreneur.

Whatever the size of your team, displaying your logo in their email is another way to set a professional tone and encourage team members to bring their A-game to every email.

Control

If you use free Gmail accounts for your business, you only own your own account. If your employees have their own personal Gmail accounts for business use, there is nothing to stop them from taking those emails with them when they leave the company—and taking along with them all those contacts, sensitive information, and perhaps even trade secrets that you really don’t want getting outside the company.

Using G Suite, however, means that your business owns the email accounts. If someone leaves, you can immediately change passwords, update account access, route that email to another employee, and make sure that the data in that account stays in-house.

Storage

Free Gmail accounts come with 15GB storage.

G Suite’s Basic account includes 30GB—per user. Business and Enterprise accounts include 1TB storage per user for organizations with fewer than five users—and unlimited storage for teams of five or more.

From email to documents to other essential cloud-stored files, you can have peace of mind knowing that your data is stored securely—and you have the capacity you need.

Scalability

Whatever your plans are to right-size your business, sooner or later you may need to add personnel. And adding personnel, of course, will mean adding more individual email accounts as well as shared emails. (Or, of course, you can also use multiple email addresses—sales@, service@, contact@, etc.—to make your small operation seem bigger.)

G Suite makes it easy to add accounts and group email addresses—and route group emails to the right people. G Suite can also integrate with third-party services too, including email clients (such as Outlook), CRM tools such as Salesforce or Zendesk (and for many services you can use single sign-on, so your G Suite account can be used to access other services, instead of having to maintain multiple usernames and passwords). Just as with regular free Gmail, you can also integrate email add-ons to help your inbox work better for you too.

Privacy and HIPAA

Similar to Office 365, G Suite is regarded as having robust privacy protections and certifications. G Suite accounts are exempt from being mined for advertising data and targeting. (In 2017, Google announced that free Gmail accounts also would be exempt.)

If your organization needs to meet HIPAA standards, however, it’s essential to know that by default G Suite email is not HIPAA compliant.

G Suite email can be made HIPAA-compliant, though. The business has the ultimate responsibility of ensuring correct configuration. The first step is for an admin to review and accept a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA). Google also maintains a HIPAA Implementation Guide to aid organizations in configuring G Suite for HIPAA compliance.

Support and security

Ever have a problem with your free Gmail account and need to contact support? In this case, “support” means “googling your problem to see what the internet says,” because Google doesn’t provide phone, chat, or email support for free Gmail.

G Suite users, however, also have access to 24/7 customer support via phone, email, or chat, along with a Learning Center if you want to tackle the problem yourself.

And while, of course, email security starts with you, G Suite uses 2-Step Verification and other security features to protect your inbox and information.

Gmail alternatives

As of 2017, over 3 million businesses worldwide were using G Suite—and if you’ve read this far, odds are you’re thinking seriously about using G Suite. It’s not the only game in town for email though, and it’s good to know your options for email beyond the Gmails, Hotmails, and Yahoos of the world.

Some people don’t like Google; some people have concerns about privacy. And when it comes to branded business email, there are other options, and most have various free and paid accounts, plus the branding options you need for that more professional-looking email.

Here’s a quick list of services that are well-regarded for privacy protection:

Secure, professional email is easy and affordable

Free is free, but business is business.

Not only is a paid G Suite account affordable for even a modest budget, in return you get a range of features, control, and scalability that more than offset the modest monthly cost. Your email can become an asset that helps you be more productive and gives you peace of mind. You’ll not only look more professional, but you can also take advantage of world-class tools that help you grow and maintain your business.

Best part? You don’t even have to ditch your free Gmail address. You can just use it for what free Gmail was designed for: being your personal email.

Posted in Email

Anthony St. Clair

Anthony St. Clair

Anthony St. Clair is a business copywriter, author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series, and a craft beer writer specializing in Oregon. Learn more at anthonystclair.com.