The business benefits of using Gmail
Email has been in prevalent use in business for over two decades now, and two particular trends continue to emerge: on the one hand, options for which email provider you use proliferate as newcomers introduce brand new email services, and communication alternatives such as Slack and CoSchedule. On the other hand, those email providers that have already been around for some years continue to innovate, diversify, and dig in their heels so that certain brands become stronger as their services become more powerful.
Indeed, this bi-directional pull in the world of email means that no individual provider has quite become synonymous with the act of sending email as, say, Google has with internet search (the new verb ‘to google’) or Photoshop has with image modification (‘that image looks Photoshopped’). Still, certain email brands have pulled ahead in certain directions so that at least for the knowledgeable tech user, you have certain expectations as to what each provider excels in. Hotmail is a basic brand for casual users and hipsters who already covet that retro @hotmail.com address. Outlook is more of an office tool. And Google’s own Gmail is for the consumer who wants a bit more functionality from their email package.
Well, that’s the traditional view of these leading providers. But today’s insider might be starting to suspect that, as far as business use goes, in the second decade of the 21st century Gmail might actually trump desktop email for business use. With an upgrade to Gmail’s business package, G suite, the argument becomes even tougher to refute.
Browsers and browser-based email services have become so sophisticated these days that there’s really very little need to retain a desktop service – indeed, it may become too restrictive when you need it most. Yet Gmail remains, at its heart, a consumer service which – if it has some cachet – still doesn’t quite carry the required air of professionalism. With G suite, this all changes, as it powers up the regular Gmail experience with a number of features and functions that will be appreciated within your office and by the customers and clients who receive your sent mail.
Before you get carried away you’ll need to think about the price. G suite costs $5 per month for the regular version, or $10 for unlimited storage and Vault (a service that enables you to securely archive data and messages beyond standard retention periods.) Really, there are few small businesses that need worry about a cost like that – so let’s move on to the features.
- First off, Gmail in general is a secure option for your messages. It uses an always-on HTTPS connection so no-one can spy on your email while you’re using WiFi. Your emails are also encrypted while they’re held on Google’s servers. If you trust Google themselves, you can trust Google with your email. They also reckon Gmail is online 99.978% of the time, which is to say it’s down just 0.022% of the working year – meaning that you can always send and receive important mails without fear of the service failing.
- Indeed, if you do have any problems – Google down, or whatever else might crop up while using G suite – you’ll be reassured that by paying that bit extra you get round-the-clock email and phone access to Gmail’s tech support team.
- As for creating a professional image within and without, G suite offers two simple but basic tools that provide instant justification for paying a bit extra. One is that you can switch the Google logo in your email browser to instead display the logo of your business, which may seem like a purely cosmetic improvement until you think of the subconscious effect that this little detail will have on your crew and on visiting client. A strong business needs a strong core brand, and there is nothing wrong with re-enforcing this on a subtle everyday level.
- As for the ‘without’, G suite makes it easy to use your own domain name for email interactions rather than the generic ‘@gmail.com’. Indeed, you are required to enter your domain name while registering for G suite, and if you don’t yet have one (it is the URL that you use for your company) then Google will help you to find and secure one.
- Another great business tool with G suite is the ability to integrate Google’s Skype-like video application, Google Hangouts, with your account. It’s an effective way of keeping group communications organized and on-page, and even though you can use Hangouts outside of G suite (it’s basically an agglomeration of several of Google’s retired messaging services) the functionality that you get by hooking it up with G suite means you have better integration of your contacts and permissions. (As a side note, it’s worth mentioning you can install a Hangouts Plugin for Microsoft Outlook, which allows users to schedule video calls with other Outlook users if that’s the provider you decide to go with).
- This is the double-edged sword of Google – by having a finger in every pie, once you commit to using their services you will find that it’s pretty easy to navigate and share what you do, using apps such as Hangouts and also facilities like Google Docs and Calendar. It does rather mean putting all your eggs in one basket, and each facility does tend to come with a few niggling bugs (not least the complications that arise if you have multiple Google identities or prefer a browser such as Opera that doesn’t really agree with Google ID). But each of these negatives is generally outweighed by the positives – so you need to decide for yourself whether it’s worth it!
And along with all these extra fixtures and fittings, you get the raw power of Google itself, for example taking that search giant power and applying it to searching your own email, learning more details about your contacts (strictly within privacy laws!) and connecting with the wider web through social media and LinkedIn integration.
There are few email services that can offer quite this balance of power and versatility, but then email often comes down to personal preferences, so have a look over this great infographic summary of G suite’s features and advantages and you’ll finally be ready to make that decision for yourself.