Business Email Options

Learning Academy

Since most small business do not have an IT department with their own servers this means they must rely on other companies that specialize in email services.

When considering your businesses email requirements you must review how emails are being used and sent. This falls into 3 categories:

  • User Emails
    Email accounts for your business you use to send and receive one-on-one emails from other people.
  • Website Emails
    Email account used by the website which is for sending emails to users of the website (there is no need to receive emails on this account).
  • Marketing Emails
    Emails with commercial intent that are sent to many contacts at once.

Within each of these categories their are several options listed along with the advantages (pros), disadvantages (cons), and price.

User Emails

There are 3 main options for email accounts used by the business and employees to send and receive emails from prospects, clients, and customers. They Include:

  • Free Email Hosting
    Mostly used for personal email accounts. For example Gmail.
  • Shared Email Hosting
    Create email addresses using your own domain name on a email server used by hundreds of other businesses.
  • Premium Email Hosting
    Email addresses using your own domain name from companies that have reliable deliverability.

Free Email Hosting

This type of email hosting is used mostly for people’s personal email accounts and is offered by companies like Google (under the gmail domain), Microsoft (under the outlook domain, originally was hotmail), Apple (under the icloud domain), and Yahoo.

If you stick with the popular platforms listed above, they all offer decent amount of storage for emails, can be accessed both by a web-based and app based Mail Client, and have excellent deliverability rates (meaning less chance of the emails you send getting rejected by the receiving email server or being marked as SPAM).

These platforms are also free. The main thing you give up though is your privacy. Offering this type of email service does require an ongoing investment by the providers so they make this expense up by displaying advertising to you based in part on the contents of your emails.

One large disadvantage for businesses using free email hosting is it looks unprofessional. It is not branded and using your businesses own domain name.

For example a business email address using Gmail may look like: [email protected]

A branded email address using your own domain will look something like: [email protected]

By using a free email service for a business email address, potential clients or customers may wonder if you are okay with the bare minimum for your own business, if the same is true about the products and/or services you are selling to them.

✔️Pros

  • Price
    You can’t get better than free.
  • Setup
    Easy to setup and use on all of your devices.

❌Cons

  • Unprofessional
    Not using your own website domain for your email address.
  • Scalable
    If more people in your business need an email address it can become harder to manage and control for the business owner.
  • Privacy
    Your emails are being mined for data that will be used to show you targeted advertising.
  • Security
    While the emails themselves are secure there is nothing preventing someone else creating an email address similar to the one you created trying to impersonate your business.

💲Price

  • Free

Shared Email Hosting

A low cost solution that shares some of the benefits of both free and premium email hosting but also some of the disadvantages. Shared email hosting often comes bundled with shared web hosting plans or be a part of your internet service provider (ISP).

As the name implies shared email hosting means that the email server you are using is being shared with potentially thousands of other businesses. Some of these these businesses will be sending emails that are considered SPAM. This can lead to email deliverability issues for you since the shared email server will be added to a blacklist by other more reputable companies. This means your emails could end up in SPAM or junk folders or even worse, not delivered at all. This can cost your business potential opportunities and real money.

Shared email hosting also can be a bit more difficult to setup to use and their web-based email solutions are not as feature rich as the free or premium options.

What shared email hosting has going for it is cost and branding. For a monthly fee you can setup almost as many email addresses as you want using your own domain name (most ISPs also offer email addresses using their own domain name). Email storage may not be as high as a premium solution but in most cases with proper management it will be more than enough space.

✔️Pros

  • Price
    Free (since it is included with other services) to just pennies a day.
  • Branded
    Create multiple email address that use your own domain name. Looks professional.

❌Cons

  • Deliverability Issues
    Your emails have a better chance of triggering SPAM filters and not being delivered directly into the receivers inbox.

💲Price

  • From $1 per month or may be include as part of web hosting or ISP.

Premium Email Hosting

These email services include popular platforms like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 (for business). Along with custom email and excellent deliverability these services also come with collaboration tools including cloud storage, email clients, calendars, video meetings, presentation software, word processors, and spreadsheets. With all these perks it makes the starting cost of around $7- $8 per user a good deal as most businesses will have use of these tools.

✔️Pros

  • Deliverability
    Much higher reliability for emails to get delivered and not flagged as SPAM.
  • Branded
    Create multiple email address that use your own domain name.
  • Extras
    Storage in the cloud and other high quality and useful tools.

❌Cons

  • Price
    The most expensive option but still extremely affordable.

💲Price

  • From $7 per month, per user.

In Conclusion

Free email hosting for user emails is perfectly fine for your own personal email account.

With your business and the importance of branded emails to instill confidence and trust in your clients that you have a credible business, along with needing reliable deliverability and not wanting important emails ending up in SPAM or junk folders, we HIGHLY recommend using premium email hosting. The potential for lost business due to missing emails and the additional productivity tools you receive more than make up for the extra few dollars spent every month.

Website Emails

Emails sent by websites are called transactional emails. These are one-to-one emails that contain information that completes a process or transaction that the recipient has started and include messages for account creation, password reset, order confirmation, receipt, etc. They can also be notifications either for the Administrator or other users of the website.

These emails get sent out by the website itself with no email reply expected. Therefore no inbox is needed since no emails will be received or stored.

For website email services you have 2 options including:

Please note, it is not recommended to use free email services or premium email services to send transactional emails sent by websites. These emails are automated and if enough get sent in quick succession when a website gets a lot of traffic your email accounts could get frozen or closed by the service for violating the terms of use.

Transactional Email Service

This service is offered by companies like Elastic Email, Mailgun, Postman, Sendgrid, and Sendinblue. These services can be built into the hosting or added to the WordPress website using a mail SMTP plugin like Fluent SMTP for email services.

✔️Pros

  • Deliverability
    High reliability for email deliveries.
  • Price
    It costs a fraction of a penny to send a single email.
  • Branded
    Having your website send emails using the same domain creates trust with users.

❌Cons

  • Setup
    More difficult to setup as additional DNS records need to be added to give permissions for the service to send emails under your domain.

💲Price

  • From $1 per month.

Shared Email Hosting

If you are using shared email hosting for user emails most likely you will create a separate email account and use that for your website. It shares similar pros and cons as using shared email hosting with user emails.

✔️Pros

  • Price
    Free to just pennies a day.
  • Branded
    Create multiple email address that use your own domain name. Looks professional.
  • Setup
    If part of your web hosting then it usually is much easier to setup.

❌Cons

  • Deliverability Issues
    Your emails have a better chance of triggering SPAM filters and not being delivered directly into the receivers inbox. If too many emails get sent at once the service may throttle the emails and skip sending them.

💲Price

  • From $1 per month or may be include as part of web hosting or ISP.

In Conclusion

We recommend transactional email services as they are specifically designed to send website emails. The providers of this type of service ensure reliable deliverability at a cheap price that is based on the number of emails sent so throttling rarely takes place. Deliverability is so important, that this factor ranks above all others.

Marketing Emails

These emails are generally sent to groups of contacts that are either prospects or clients/customers. They have a commercial purpose like nurturing a lead and therefore must follow local laws. A newsletter is an example of a marketing email since most business newsletters main goals is to inform the recipient and help them make an informed purchase.

For marketing email services you have 2 options including:

Marketing Email Service

Many companies that offer transactional email services also offer marketing email services. This includes companies like MailChimp, Zoho, Sendinblue, and MailGun.

These marketing services go beyond offering just sending emails in bulk. This includes email contact list management and the ability for users to subscribe themselves and unsubscribe to mailing lists you setup. These features can be integrated into your WordPress website through plugins or done directly on their website instead either through embedded forms or by branded pages you setup under your account.

Other features offered can include real-time statistics, email templates and drag and drop visual designers, A/B testing, advanced segmentation, and different marketing campaign types like drip campaigns.

Price is scalable and depends usually on how many emails you send a month and/or how many contacts you have in your mailing lists.

✔️Pros

  • Deliverability
    High reliability for email deliveries.
  • Features
    Lots of built in features which makes it easier to get the most out of your email marketing campaigns and help you obey local laws.
  • Branded
    Having your website send emails using the same domain creates trust with users.

❌Cons

  • Setup
    More difficult to setup on the mail side of things as additional DNS records need to be added to give permissions for the service to send emails under your domain.
  • Price
    Can cost more than other options.

💲Price

  • From $10 per month.

Shared Email Hosting with Marketing Plugin

If you use shared email hosting for user emails it is possible to do some limited bulk email marketing. Most marketing plugins gives you similar functionality as a marketing service including managing the contact lists, viewing statistics, and connecting with the shared email hosting service. Popular WordPress marketing plugins for managing and sending newsletters include MailPoet and AcyMailing.

The main problem with using a shared email hosting like this is they are not meant for sending bulk emails so limits are placed on accounts of how many emails can be sent out in a given time period. For example this means if your account can only send out 100 emails every hour it will take you over 10 hours to send out emails to a mailing list of 1,000 contacts (if you don’t sent any other emails on that account). The marketing plugin will schedule itself to send out these emails at a set time interval. This type of setup can get finicky and can create much lower deliverability rates and means marketing campaigns have to be dripped out and does not happen all at once.

✔️Pros

  • Branded
    Create multiple email address that use your own domain name.

❌Cons

  • Deliverability Issues
    Your emails have a better chance of triggering SPAM filters. The number of emails sent at anyone time is limited.
  • Setup
    If part of your web hosting then it usually is much easier to setup but additional plugin setup and testing is required. You also need to figure out the number of emails you can send at any one time.
  • Time
    The larger the mailing list the longer it can take to send out one email. Can take days.
  • Price
    Shared email hosting subscription and plugin license both need to be paid for.

💲Price

  • From $1 per month for sending emails and $10 per month for the marketing plugin subscription.

In Conclusion

We by far recommend an email marketing service over trying to do it with shared email hosting and a plugin. There are just to many disadvantages with using shared email hosting in this way which it was not designed for. Pricing use to be the main reason, but now days most email marketing services are comparable in price and even have a free tier that allows you to manage a small number of contacts.

About the Author

Tom Homer

Building custom dynamic websites is our specialty. With over 25 years experience in software design and development I have been helping  small businesses invest in their future.

Article Author Tom