For many business owners, one of the smaller, but more satisfying, steps in officially launching their business is setting up a separate business email account—for organizational purposes, of course, but the professional optics are a bonus, too. With over 1 billion active users, Gmail is the most popular email provider in the country, if not the world. So based on those stats alone, it’s safe to assume that you’re already using Gmail for your personal email, and that you’ve considered using Gmail for business purposes, too.
While using Gmail for business involves a similar user experience as using Gmail for personal use, signing up for a paid Gmail business account will give you access to business-specific productivity and organizational tools, plus dedicated support, that an individual Gmail account can’t. In this review, we’ll take a closer look at what a Gmail business account entails and how much each of their three available service plans cost. And although Gmail is the leader of the email service provider pack, it’s by no means the only email platform available for business use—so we’ll point out some Gmail business account alternatives, too. Let’s get to it.
Gmail for Business Features
First, some clarification: Gmail is just one tool included in Google’s G Suite, which is a collection of productivity tools, designed specifically for businesses, which are available through their paid subscriptions. G Suite’s other apps include Calendar; Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet (for messaging and video meetings, respectively); Docs, Sheets, and Forms (for collaborative word processing, spreadsheets, and surveys, respectively); Drive for safely storing your files in the cloud; and much more.
Now, to focus in on Gmail’s features in particular: As a business owner, when you create a Gmail for business, you can set up yourself, your employees, and groups (i.e. sales@ or info@) up with custom email addresses at your company’s domain name. If one user requires more than one email address, you can add up to 30 additional emails per user by creating aliases. As Google is designed with flexibility and efficiency in mind, you can use Gmail (or any other of G Suite’s apps) on your desktop, mobile, or tablet, either with or without a WiFi connection. Plus, Gmail allows for easy migration of your business data from other services like Outlook, Exchange, or Lotus if you’re switching over to Gmail.
Some other useful Gmail for business features include (but aren’t limited to):
- A read receipt when someone opens your email
- The option to restore deleted emails within 30 days
- Customizable footer text
- Syncing with your Microsoft Outlook and G Suite accounts
- Powerful, customizable spam filters
- APIs for further customization
- Advanced email organizational tools, like label creation, content management filters, contacts storage, and organizing similar emails in bundles
Available Gmail business account features increase with each service tier, as well—for instance, Gmail for business users on the Enterprise plan will receive data loss prevention, integration with third-party archiving tools, and other advanced tools that Basic or Business users can’t access unless they upgrade. Regardless of which plan you choose, however, Gmail guarantees 99.9% uptime, 24/7 customer support, and the option to add or delete users anytime you need to.
Gmail for Business Pricing
G Suite (which includes Gmail) offers their clients three pricing plans. Here’s what’s included in each service tier:
Basic: $6 per user per month (note that a “user” is defined as one, personalized email address, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org)
- 30 GB of storage
- Business email address
- Video and voice conferencing
- Team messaging
- Shared calendars
- Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations
- 24/7 customer service support
- Security and admin controls
Business: $12 per user per month
- Everything included with the Basic plan
- Unlimited storage
- Customized app creation tool
- Advanced search tool across G Suite
- Greater security and admin controls
- eDiscovery, an information tracking tool and audit report generation to track user activity
Enterprise: $25 per user per month
- Everything included with the Business plan
- More advanced security and admin features
- More advanced eDiscovery features, including data loss prevention for Gmail and Gmail integration with compatible third-party tools
There is no free Gmail for business account, but Google offers users a 14-day free trial period, so you can test out G Suite risk-free before committing to a paid plan.
Gmail for Business Alternatives
Gmail is a hugely popular and trusted email service for both individuals and businesses, but it’s certainly not the only email service you can use for your business. If you’re skeptical about Gmail, or if you’re merely curious about your options beyond the tech behemoth, you may want to consider the following three email platforms, all of which are equally appropriate for professional use:
Outlook From Microsoft Office 365
After Gmail and Yahoo, Outlook was the third-most used email service among Americans in a 2017 poll—and Office 365 is among the most reputable project management services for businesses. Like Google’s G Suite, Office 365 offers a full suite of productivity and organizational apps, including (among others) Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Teams, and Outlook, which is Microsoft’s centralized hub for emails, contacts, reminders, and other management-related tasks.
Office 365 offers three service plans for businesses, all of which offer increasingly more office apps and included services: Office 365 Business Essentials for $5 per user per month; Office 365 Business for $8.25 per user per month; and Office 365 Business Premium for $12.50 per user per month.
Zoho is another web-based business product suite whose offerings include an ad-free business email hosting service. With Zoho Mail, you and any employees you hire will get a custom domain email. You can then manage all aspects of your email—from managing user accounts, to setting your Spam policy, to setting up user aliases to allow for more than one email per user, and much, much more—from an easy-to-use Control Panel.
Zoho Mail can also integrate with the rest of Zoho’s comprehensive product suite, among which includes customer relationship management and marketing tools, documents and spreadsheets, invoicing and accounting services, and more. This software also integrates with Zapier, which will connect you to hundreds of additional workflow-optimizing apps.
Zoho Mail offers three super-affordable service tiers: Mail Lite, for $1 per user per month; Mail Premium, for $4 per user per month; and Workplace, which offers the most complete set of tools and products for managing your business, and which starts at $3 per user per month.
Although iCloud Mail isn’t marketed specifically as a business email host provider, if you’re an Apple user then you can certainly use their native email service (which is available on any of their phones, tablets, or computers) for professional purposes. And if you’re an existing Apple customer, then figuring out how to use iCloud Mail should be easy—as is always the case with Apple products, iCloud Mail is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly.
While iCloud Mail proper doesn’t offer business-related tools and features, you can take advantage of Apple’s huge ecosystem of compatible productivity and organizational apps targeted toward small and medium businesses, like Files to securely store your important documents; Notes to jot down ideas; DocuSign to capture client signatures; KeyNote to create presentations; Calendar to organize and coordinate your teams’ schedules; QuickBooks to handle your accounting needs; and a huge number of additional apps available in the App Store.
All told, you can’t go wrong by opting for Gmail as your business email host—that’s especially true if you already use Gmail for your personal email, since you’ll experience zero learning curve when you create your business address. So if you’re ready to create a Gmail for business account, you’ll just need to follow the prompts to sign up for G Suite, which shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to do. Remember, too, that you can take advantage of that two-week free trial period before you need to choose which service plan to sign up for—if you’re a single-person or otherwise small business with limited email requirements, their cheapest option will be enough to provide you with all the tools you need.
That said, it can’t hurt to look into your other business email service options. In particular, Microsoft Office 365, Zoho Mail, and Apple Mail are all equally reputable as Gmail, and they can all offer their business clients comparable tools and services to G Suite to further streamline most of your business’s back-end processes.
Caroline Goldstein is a contributing writer for Fundera.
Caroline is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in small business and finance. She has covered topics such as lending, credit cards, marketing, and starting a business for Fundera. Her work has appeared in JPMorgan Chase, Prevention, Refinery29, Bustle, Men’s Health, and more.