There are few tools more necessary to the modern office than email. For most workplaces, the main communication tool in the office and outside of it is email. When you’re first starting your business, you might find that you’re looking specifically at business email service providers for your new company.
Business email service providers have learned how integrated email is in the modern office and have built numerous tools to enhance the experience and keep productivity going—a good case against using your personal email for business. The best business email service providers offer not only email capability, but also cloud storage solutions, productivity tools, third-party integrations, and robust safety protocols to keep data secure and spam out of inboxes.
In this review, we’ll go over the best business email service providers out there and take a look at what features you should take into consideration when selecting the right service provider for you.
Though there are ultimately five options on our list, we feel that these three email service providers may be just what you’re looking for when it comes to professional communication in the workplace.
Best for New Businesses
G Suite is the name for Google’s group of services including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and more. G Suite is great for small and new businesses because it offers a ton of tools, integrations, and features, like Gmail for business, for a low monthly cost. G Suite offers a 14-day free trial.
There are three paid versions of G Suite for your business to choose from.
Basic: This plan is $6 per user per month. It comes with Gmail, which includes email delegation, spam filtering, a safe sender list, internal emails, advanced spam filtering tools, email recovery, offline access, and attachment previews.
In terms of tools, you’ll have access to the G Suite tools, such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides, along with shared calendars, video and voice calling, and secure team messaging. You’ll also get:
Business: The next tier plan of G Suite costs $12 per user per month. In addition to the features of the Basic plan, you’ll also get a vault for document eDiscovery and archiving, audit reports for user activity, and drag-and-drop tools for creating your own apps. Other specs include:
G Suite Business also comes with third-party integrations to tools such as Pipedrive CRM, Zoho CRM, Asana, RingCentral, and DocuSign.
Enterprise: This plan costs $25 per user per month. It includes all the same features as the Business plan and adds:
Free plans: If you’re looking for free email service providers for business, there is the free version of Google’s G Suite for personal email, but it lacks the custom email domain you’d get with a paid business plan and you won’t have administrative control over other accounts. You do get access to all the power of Gmail’s inbox organization, and tools such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
If you’re a school or nonprofit looking for free email service providers, however, you may be eligible for G Suite Enterprise Education or G Suite for Nonprofits.
One of the aspects of G Suite that really sets it apart is its usability and collaboration tools, which can be accessed in either its basic or free plan.
As one of the most popular email service providers on the market, you have the added bonus that many team members will already be well-versed in how to use G Suite. Many people use Gmail’s free version for personal use, so not only will it be easy to onboard new members, but you’ll probably also be able to easily collaborate with people outside your organization, like freelancers and contractors.
G Suite’s wide variety of accessible tools makes it a great option for new businesses and small organizations that might have to contract work out. It’s also ideal for schools and nonprofits looking to save on costs.
As an additional bonus, G Suite is HIPAA-compliant, making it a great tool for those dealing with sensitive medical information.
One of the places where G Suite is lacking is within its email settings. Gmail doesn’t allow for bulk clean-up, multiple email signatures, or multiple email templates unless you use a third-party integration. Though G Suite allows for such integrations, some businesses might not appreciate being forced to share data with third parties to manage these additional inbox organizing tasks.
Best for Large Teams
Office 365 is Microsoft’s suite of productivity tools which includes, at various levels, business email, word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Of the business email service providers out there, Microsoft Office 365 is best for larger teams, as their robust suite of tools may be too much for smaller businesses.
All tiers of Office 365 have a maximum number of users of 300. If your team is even larger than that, you need to look into their Enterprise plans. Note that Office 365 has a Business Apps plan which we will not be reviewing because it does not include email.
Business Essentials: Office 365’s Business Essentials tier costs $5 per user per month. This is the most basic tier for Office 365 and the most important thing to note is that it doesn’t include access to the desktop versions of Office apps—you only get web and mobile access. Those apps include Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which you’ll get for up to five phones and five tablets per user. Users will be able to simultaneously edit documents.
The Business Essentials plan also allows for online meetings and video calls for up to 250 people and custom security permissions. This plan comes with malware and spam protection, along with encryption for outgoing messages; customizable password protocols for each user; and multi-factor authentication.
In addition, it also includes:
Business Premium: Office 365’s Business Premium plan costs $12.50 per user per month. It includes all of the features of the Business Essentials plan and also includes desktop versions of all Office 365 tools (which allows for installation on five desktops per user).
Business Premium doesn’t come with any additional storage or security features, but it does offer an extra suite of tools that include:
While Microsoft Office 365 is a pricier option on our list of business email service providers, it is highly compatible with the business world. If there’s one favorite provider when it comes to business email, Office 365 wins out hands down.
Other than simply being an all-around favorite of the business world, Office 365 also does a great job of having a full suite of collaboration tools. Pretty much any tool you might need, Office 365 has it built-in.
While Office 365 does have most of the tools you might need, it doesn’t play well with others. Office 365 doesn’t offer a lot of third-party integrations with other tools from outside providers, which can make it difficult to use if you need to use a tool that they don’t offer.
Best for Long-Term Growth
Zoho Workplace is a business email provider that also offers personal productivity tools, analytics, and the ability to integrate with third-party applications for small businesses. In addition, they’re one of the only free email service providers for businesses that allows for businesses to scale reasonably as they grow.
Free: Zoho Workplace is the only business email service provider on this list that offers a free version of its suite of tools. The free Zoho Workplace plan includes single-domain hosting for up to five users, along with free email addresses. You’ll also get:
You can use an existing domain, or purchase one for about $3 to $10 per year, making it an affordable option for smaller businesses. The real reason we’d recommend starting out with Zoho’s free plan is because their higher-priced plans are still budget-friendly, making Zoho Workplace one of the best free email service providers for a business looking to grow.
Mail Lite: This plan is $1 per user per month and you get a decent amount of additional features, including email hosting for multiple domains, email forwarding, domain aliases, and email recall. In terms of cross-functional organization tools, Mail Lite also comes with integrated calendars and appointment scheduling, full access to a workflow tool called Tasks, a shared Notes feature, and Zoho Cliq, a messaging platform that allows for group chats and video calls.
The Mail Lite is a flexible option that allows you to add on storage upgrade options, as well as:
Mail Premium: You can also get a mail-only plan called Mail Premium for $4 per user per month, which comes with all of the Mail Lite features, but includes eDiscovery to find data and increased storage at:
Workplace Standard: The next tier is the Standard plan, which costs $3 per user per month when billed annually. This plan includes everything from the lower-tiered plans and a few other tools that the Mail plans don’t have.
Workplace Standard comes with Zoho Docs, which includes 5 GB of file uploads, G Suite integration, and advanced analytics and reporting; Zoho Office Suite, which comes with a word processor, spreadsheet program, and presentation tool; and Zoho Drive. Also included is:
Workplace Professional: This plan costs $6 per user per month. This plan includes all of the features of the Standard plan, but also allows for increased capabilities in Zoho Drive, like team folders and assigning roles and permissions.
Additionally, Workplace Professional comes with Zoho Meeting, an online conferencing tool for up to 100 people; Zoho Connect, a group intranet that comes with guest access; and Zoho ShowTime, for remote training, polling, and analytics.
On top of that, Workplace Professional comes with:
Depending on what you need from your business email service provider, there are a couple of things that Zoho Workplace does really well.
First off, if you’re a cash-strapped startup, Zoho Workplace can be a free email service provider for your business. The fact that they have pricier plans with more capabilities you can upgrade to later on makes it a great starting-off point.
It also offers great integration with other apps. While Zoho Workplace offers its own suite of tools for documents and spreadsheets, it also integrates with Google Docs, which has become a go-to in online collaboration.
Zoho Workplace includes a lot of tools, while still working with third-party apps, and providing a well-planned approach to email.
Storage is Zoho Workplace’s main issue. Zoho Workplace won’t be able to function as a complete replacement for a cloud service and desktop office suite. Though it’s a risk to use cloud storage to backup data, it’s still inconvenient. It’s likely that you’ll need to use other tools for content creation and storage in conjunction with Zoho Workplace.
While they didn’t make the cut for the top three, here are two other business email service providers that deserve an honorable mention.
Rackspace has a couple of features worth mentioning that aren’t offered by the other business email service providers on this list.
Rackspace offers 100% uptime guaranteed. So, if email is critical to your business, this is the provider for you.
Rackspace also offers ecommerce support. As a small business integrating an online store with your in-person customer experience can be tricky. Rackspace has a team of experts on hand to make the move simple.
Best of all, you can try it out risk-free with their 14-day free trial.
If your business has teams across the world, the multi-language support provided by FastMail could make all the difference. FastMail supports 36 different languages.
You can try FastMail for your team for up to 30 days free. Plans then start at $3 per month per user.
To bring you this list of the best email service providers for 2020, we looked at a specific set of features. Each of the business email service providers that made the final cut did so because they ranked well on most of the below criteria.
A custom business domain name is where your email address ends in your business name, instead of the name of the email service provider. So, instead of @gmail.com, your email address would end in @yourbusinessnamehere.com. This can be great for business branding and overall professionalism, which is why you should keep domain names in mind when choosing your business name.
All of the business email service providers included on this list allow you to use your company’s website domain for your email address.
As modern email users, we’re all aware of the need for spam-filtering, virus protection, and general digital security tools from our email service provider. This goes doubly for businesses that are, in this digital age, increasingly at risk of dangers like business identity theft, ransomware attacks, and phishing scams.
All of the above business email service providers include hefty security protocols to ensure that your email is safe, protected from hackers, and spam-free.
If you send a lot of emails for work, storage will be a key factor in what business email service provider you decide to use. For some of the options included on this list, you’ll be able to choose from different storage sizes and pay accordingly.
For small businesses, one of the struggles can be getting all the services you need without hiring more employees. Instead of hiring someone to manage their technology, most small businesses rely on the provider’s customer support. Uptime, or however long the provider is in operation, is also a factor here.
All of the email service providers on this list offer robust customer support options through multiple channels, including phone, email, live chat, and searchable knowledge bases, along with high uptimes.
The cost of a business email service provider’s services will vary depending on how many of their premium features you’re interested in using and how many employees or users you have. While there are free email service providers for businesses out there—and we cover a few here—usually, greater capability will come with a higher price tag.
The installation process and user interface were both part of how the above business email service providers were evaluated for their ease of use.
Anytime you use a new software product, there’s a learning curve to face. Each software functions slightly differently, so the first week or so of using it might be frustrating. That’s more the startup cost of using a new product and not due to the product itself.
For certain types of businesses, a concern with email service providers might be the maximum size of attachments allowed. All of the above business email service providers allow you to send at least 25 MB per email.
Most also offer additional file-sharing options to make it simple to send larger files.
A lot of business email service providers aren’t just for sending email anymore. Two of the most notable examples of this are G Suite and Microsoft 365, both of which offer significant tools, integrations, and add-ons to their basic email product. Productivity tools can help add cohesion to an office, so they’re a major perk.
Whether you’re a small- or medium-sized business, you’re likely thinking about your next steps. It’s important to think about not only how many email addresses you need now, but how many you might need in the future and whether or not your business email service provider will be able to grow alongside your business.
The modern office functions on email and other digital communication tools. Without them, the business world might literally stop! On top of great email functionality, these top business email service providers also offer suites full of productivity tools, strong security features, and robust cloud storage systems to make sure your business is running as smoothly as possible.
Sally Lauckner is the editor-in-chief of the Fundera Ledger and the editorial director at Fundera.
Sally has over a decade of experience in print and online journalism. Previously she was the senior editor at SmartAsset—a Y Combinator-backed fintech startup that provides personal finance advice. There she edited articles and data reports on topics including taxes, mortgages, banking, credit cards, investing, insurance, and retirement planning. She has also held various editorial roles at AOL.com, Huffington Post, and Glamour magazine. Her work has also appeared in Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan magazines.