Choosing an email service provider is a crucial step for all business owners. In today’s digital world, businesses rely on email for everything from marketing campaigns for prospective clients to collaborations with outside vendors to routine communications with employees. It’s essential to have all your employees use the same email service to minimize confusion for customers and streamline internal communications and training.
This article will go over the features you should look for when choosing a free professional email address and review some of today’s best email service options for small businesses.
Every business will have its own particular needs, but here are a few features that every good email service provider should offer.
Office workers can receive hundreds of emails a day, and sorting through spam and junk mail is demoralizing and a waste of time. Make sure that your business’s email provider has an effective spam filter to ensure efficient office communications.
There’s nothing more frustrating than software that consistently crashes or otherwise fails to perform. If your email service is often down, you will lose opportunities to connect with clients, so you should choose a reliable provider that resolves issues quickly.
Often, new clients will contact you for the first time over email, so it is vital to make a good impression. If a client notices that your email provider is low quality or outdated, it may deter them from doing business with you.
You want your clients to trust that any information they exchange with you over email is kept secure. Look for a provider that is well versed in issues of online security and virus protection, particularly if your business deals with confidential client details.
You can cut back on time and resources spent training new employees if you choose an email system that is exceptionally intuitive and user-friendly. It will streamline your processes as your business grows.
In the same vein, it helps to choose an email provider that integrates well with systems you already have in place, or that comes with its own suite of additional services, such as calendar, document, notes, and project management applications. Doing so will keep your business consistent across all platforms and will aid in employee training.
Storage & Archive
Any business must keep a detailed record of its communications, which means that you should be sure to choose an email provider that gives you plenty of storage and archiving options. It’s also helpful to have a strong organization system within the platform, such as folders or labels, to find information quickly.
There are many additional features that email providers offer that are helpful for businesses. These include forwarding capabilities, the ability to “unsend” emails, the ability to schedule emails to be sent at a particular time in the future, and more.
Our Picks For Best Free Email Service Providers
Let’s look at the seven best options for free professional email addresses for small businesses today.
With over 1.5 billion users worldwide, it should be no surprise that Gmail is at the top of our list. First launched in 2004, Google’s email service comes close to being perfect in many ways. It is incredibly intuitive and easy to use and has endless options for customization. It also has a two-step verification system and a powerful spam filter, protecting and streamlining your accounts.
Gmail’s accompanying Google suite is a significant advantage. With a Gmail account, your business will have access to other Google applications such as Drive, Docs, Sheets, Calendar, and much more. New employees are likely to have already used Google systems in the past, which may cut back on training time.
Gmail has instant messaging and video call functions and advanced features such as smart replies and the ability to unsend an email.
Gmail offers a free account option with up to 15 GB of storage space. However, businesses may find it wise to upgrade to even the most basic paid plan, which gives you double the storage space and the option for a custom domain name. Paid plans start at $6 a month, and there is an option for a free trial period.
One downside to Gmail is that some users may find its organization system, making it necessary to create custom labels, confusing. Overall, though, Gmail is an incredibly reliable and high-quality option for your business.
- Easy to use, reliable, and popular
- Both a free version and affordable business plans
- Access to the rest of the Google suite
- Unusual organization system
- May be hard to find a free email address with so many users
The first thing to know about Outlook.com is that it is a separate service from the Microsoft Outlook software that is part of the Office 365 system. While this desktop software is useful in its own right, Outlook.com is a valuable free option for business email addresses.
A free Outlook.com email address will give you 15 GB of storage. It has a powerful spam filter and advanced filtering features, Clutter and Focus, that automatically sort your emails based on priority. You also can retrieve deleted emails.
Outlook.com has a two-step verification process, so it is very secure. It is highly integrative with many different software and systems, including other Microsoft suite applications, and uses Skype for instant messaging. It is easy to download and use and features a more standard organization system than that of Gmail.
- Easy to use
- Reliable and secure
- Advanced organization features
- Can be confusing to distinguish between Outlook.com and Microsoft Outlook
- The free account has large ads that take up space on your screen
For an email service specifically designed for small businesses, look no further than Zoho. Its free plan provides service for up to 25 members, with up to 5 GB of storage per user, which is plenty for most small businesses. It also offers custom domain names as well as spam filters and antivirus protection.
Zoho comes with its own business-friendly suite, including applications for calendar, documents, and tasks. It is easy to use and is entirely advertisement-free.
- No advertisements, even with the free plan
- Integrates with its own creative suite
- Custom domain names available
- Limited storage space
- The free plan lacks advanced features such as forwarding and offline access
GMX is another excellent option for a small business email provider. You can register up to ten free email addresses for your business, all with unlimited storage. A small provider, GMX only has roughly 11 million users, which means it’s not difficult to find a unique email address.
GMX doesn’t offer the two-step verification standard in other email providers, meaning it is easier to hack into your accounts. However, GMX does provide a reliable spam filter as well as virus protection.
- Unlimited storage space
- Solid spam filter and virus protection
- Free access to mobile apps
- No two-step verification
- A smaller company can translate to a lack of customer support and decreased reliability
If privacy and security on the Internet are of top concern to you, look into ProtonMail as your business’s email platform. Based in Switzerland, ProtonMail is end-to-end encrypted, making it impossible for outsiders to read your email’s contents. ProtonMail also doesn’t require a name or phone number when you create an account, so you can be sure your privacy is paramount.
Unfortunately, ProtonMail doesn’t provide nearly as much data capacity as other platforms. Its free plan gets you 500 MB of storage and a limit of 150 emails a day and doesn’t provide folders or other organizational tools for your inbox. However, its Plus account is affordable ($5 a month) and gives you 5 GB of storage and 1,000 emails a day, as well as a custom domain name.
- Fantastic privacy and security
- A good tool to have in addition to other email accounts
- Mobile app available
- End-to-end encryption means you can’t use it with non-ProtonMail addresses
- Limited storage
As one of the oldest Internet companies around, some might consider Yahoo outdated; however, its business plan is affordable and has lots of perks (a free version is also available). The Verizon-owned platform now offers custom domain names, nearly unlimited storage, and the use of email aliases. It has a strong spam filter and a built-in calendar and notepad, as well as instant messaging.
Yahoo’s main downfall is its history of major security breaches, the most recent being in 2017.
- Affordable business plan (just over $3 a month for one address, and the cost decreases as you add mailboxes)
- Custom domain names
- A massive amount of storage
- History of security breaches
- Fewer organizational features than other major email platforms
A primary advantage of Mail.com is that it offers over 200 different free domain names, whereas most other email platforms require a paid plan to create a unique domain name. It has a reliable spam filter and antivirus protection, plus forwarding capabilities and an online calendar feature.
Unfortunately, Mail.com loses points for its design, which can feel clunky and outdated compared to user-friendly domains like Gmail and Outlook.com. However, it is still a great choice for a free business email.
- Completely free
- Choices for unique domain names
- Mail Collector forwarding feature
- Annoying advertisements
- Not as attractive or user-friendly as other platforms
Any of the above options meets the basic requirements for small business email providers. While you might get added perks and features with paid plans, you can easily set up free professional email addresses using any of these providers.