Should you use a professional or personal email address?
There are very many different email services from numerous providers but they come down to the 3 options for business email we describe here.
Below I have described the 3 types of email service options to consider. Along with some example email service providers for each one, from here you can make the right choice for your business email service.
Each choice has some pro’s and con’s, but before we start to look at those here are a couple of things its handy to know:
Mail client. This is the program, app or interface you use to access your email messages and use the email system. Some of the common options here are Outlook, Browser or the mail app on your tablet, phone or mobile device.
Mail server. This is the server connected to the internet that has been configures to receive and send your email. Your mail client will connect to this.
Mail deliverability. This refers to how reliable your email delivery is. It depends on many things, but you will find that some services are better getting emails to inboxes than others.
Email attachments. These are files sent with emails. Attachments will use up space on your server unless deleted or downloaded and cleared from the server. If you send and receive large attachments you need to choose a service which can handle these. Cheap hosting can have small file size limits.
Email alias. Most email services allow you to use aliases for your email accounts. This means you can setup email addresses such as sales@ service@ returns@ which appear as separate addresses to the outside world, but which all end up in the same inbox account. So you get multiple addresses for the price of one.
Now lets take a look at those 3 options for business email.
Option 1: Personal Email Account e.g. [email protected]
Pro: Cost its is very cheap or free
Con: Looks unprofessional
Cost: Can be free The cheap and easy option for business email is to use a free personal account from service providers like GmailYahoo These platforms work well and offer larger storage and good deliverability. They have browser based clients and also dedicated mobile apps. The big benefits of using a personal email address is that they are readily available for free and you may well already be familiar with using them for personal accounts. The downside is how you may appear to customers and business contacts. They may think you business appears less professional than if it had its own branded email accounts. You may also run into problems as you grow as each email will be unique account with no overall admin.
Option 2: Shared Email Hosting e.g. [email protected]
- Pros: Domain based email, lower cost, may have limited storage per user
- Cons: Poor deliverability, mail clients can be tricky to setup and use, may get blacklisted if other domains on the same server misbehave. Less secure email.
- Price: Starting at less than £1 per user, per month
If you don’t want to use a personal email address, you can get a brand-name email for less than £ 1 per user, per month This will give you a professional email for just a few pence per day.
Does this sounds too good to be true? Like most low-cost solutions, shared email hosting comes some downsides.
In this case your domain registrar or website hosting provider tends to be your email service provider.
If you’re using a shared email hosting environment, your email server is being used by hundreds (or even thousands) of other businesses and individuals. This can be terrible for deliverability. This is fertile ground for spammers due to the low cost and easy setup, once done they pack up and move on, but you are left with the consequences of their action.
In this situation, one account on your shared server sends a lot of spam emails, your emails will become “guilty by association” by being on the same server and IP address. If this happens you will see your email deliverability begin to fall sometime dramatically.
Repairing the damage can take time and effort.
The email clients you’ll have to use can be a bit basic and tricky to setup correctly. Although most providers will provide a browser based solution that requires little setup but has limited features. You can use your own software as the client, e.g. Outlook, but even so you may find the limited storage and feature on the server become a challenge.
My own experience with shared hosting is mixed. Some providers have been been excellent but others have not. All the websites I have dealt with that have been hacked have been on cheap shared hosting. Many companies cut corners to compete on price.
Option 3: Premium Secure Business Email Service e.g. [email protected]
- Pros: reliable and featured email client, reliable email message deliverability, will have other features bundled, large amount of storage per user, secure.
- Con: More expensive than shared email hosting
- Price: Starting at £4 per month, per user
Our final type of email service is the premium solution. These are services like Google Workspace (formerly Gsuite) or Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365). They provide you with a secure professional email address with scope to grow if needed.
These email platforms offer a great experience with great deliverability and come with some advanced features.
By choosing a premium solution you can expect some extra cost. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace start at around £4 per user per month including office apps and security features.
Each has a dedicated mobile app, Gmail for Google and Outlook for Microsoft that make connecting simple and reliable.
As well as email, the web and mobile versions of these services come with their own word-processors, spreadsheet, and presentation tools plus cloud storage accounts in the form of Google Drive or OneDrive.
They both offer account admin account management controls to manage users and access. They both offer secure email access via 2 factor authentication. Both provide a spam filtering service for incoming email.
Of the two, Goggle Workspace tends the more popular choice among small businesses, and Microsoft 365 is the choice for larger corporations. Although both would be suitable for use in either case.
One thing to be aware of, if you are planning on sending out bulk emails from these accounts please check the terms and conditions first. The accounts will have sending limits, typically 500 emails per hour and if you are suspected of using the account to spam or for phishing your account could be closed down.
A fourth choice? Email Forwarding
If you requirement for email is very limited and only needed for receiving email then you could consider email forwarding. Many domain registrars offer this for free when you buy a domain from them.
Simply put, all email sent to your domain e.g. [email protected] is forwarded direct to another email account. This could be anywhere including a personal account.
So you have the advantage of publishing a personal email account but any replies would have to come from your forwarded account which may confuse your contact and possible fall foul of spam filters.
Which one to choose?
For the small monthly premium, if you are a business that only requires a few email accounts then I would advise selecting a premium mail service. There are several choices out there and each provides its own unique feature set.
If you require many email accounts, you might find the cost of shared hosting email attractive as this tends to included unlimited accounts, although the storage may be limited.
I would avoid using personal email if at all possible. It looks less professional and for minimal cost you can have a far superior service.
I have used Zoho mail for a number of years and been very happy. Each of these providers offer a range of email plans to choose from depending on your use case.
Email providers worth considering
For Option 1 Personal Email Accounts
For Option 2 Shared Email Hosting
Clook I have been a customer of theirs for around 10 years.
For Option 3 Professional Business Email
Microsoft 365 Business
Zoho Mail / Workplace. https://www.zoho.com/workplace/pricing.html
Rackspace Email https://www.rackspace.com/en-gb/applications/rackspace-email