As a professional, you probably rely heavily on email to communicate with clients, prospects, colleagues, suppliers, friends, family members, and many others. Even though we now have more ways to communicate than ever before, for most of us, email remains the most important.
Despite this fact, many small businesses rely upon their web hosts for email services. It’s easy to understand why – most hosting providers include email hosting at no extra charge. Free anything is hard to resist!
But is it really free?
Most solopreneurs and small businesses with a basic website can get by with inexpensive shared hosting. Just as it sounds, it means you’re sharing a server with other users, sometimes thousands of them. There’s a pretty good chance that at least one of them isn’t a legitimate business owner like yourself, but a spammer. When someone flags their messages as spam, it’s not just their email address that gets blacklisted, but the IP address for your shared email server.
You’ll know this has happened when you start getting bouncebacks telling you that your message was blocked at the recipient’s end. You notify your hosting service, who will take action at their end to rectify the problem, but in the meantime, you have to find another way to reach your client, and you don’t know for sure whether your other messages are getting through.
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When I realized the drawbacks of using shared hosting services for email, I decided to explore alternatives for my clients. I found two affordable options, which I describe below.
Since I’ve been using Zoho Invoice for years and have always been pleased with it, I decided to set up a new email account using their mail service.
I didn’t get off to a good start. When I filled out the registration form, it kept saying “Error occurred!” but didn’t explain what the error was. I sent an email to their support team, and after several days, they changed some settings on their end and I was able to complete the process.
Once I was signed up, I had no trouble getting up and running, and I’ve never had a problem with email delivery.
I did, however, have my account blocked by Zoho after sending a message as a bcc to several clients. They removed the block upon my request, but pointed out that they do not allow Zoho Mail to be used for sending out bulk emails. This is the case whether you have a free account (as I do) or a paid account.
To use Zoho Mail for email marketing, you have to also use Zoho Campaigns. This isn’t a money grab on their part, because Zoho Campaigns has a free plan which allows you to send 12,000 emails per month. The pricing structure is similar to MailChimp’s, but you have to upgrade to use autoresponders, which MailChimp includes in their free plan.
Despite those two hiccups that I mentioned, Zoho Mail seems to be a very good service and I’ll continue using it. Fortunately, I still have my original email account so I continue using it for my newsletter and other correspondence that might not meet Zoho’s conditions. (If you’ve been receiving email from me from two different accounts, now you know why!)
You can access Zoho Mail through their web platform, as shown in the video below, or add it to your favorite email platform. I’ve added mine to my personal Gmail account so I can access all my messages in one place. There are also mobile apps available for both iOS and Android.
Under the free plan, you’re allowed up to 25 users with the same domain name, with 5 GB of storage per user. If that’s not enough, you can upgrade to Workplace, which includes several other apps to help you create, collaborate, and communicate. Pricing for Workplace starts at $2.00 per user per month.
Contact me for a personal invitation to use Zoho Mail, entitling you (and me) to 5 bonus users.Disclosure: I’m a member of the G Suite Referral Program and will receive a monetary payment if you sign up using my link.
The most popular third-party email service is provided by none other than Google.
G Suite uses the familiar Gmail platform, but allows you to use your business email address, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, you receive 24/7 live support, no ads, more storage than you get with a personal Gmail account, and other tools that will be especially valuable if you work with a team.
Pricing starts at $5.00 per user per month, and there’s no extra charge for additional email aliases such as email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. You can even have up to 30 aliases per user! When you think about it, that’s really not a lot to pay for a reliable email service.
Contact me for a discount code worth 20% off your first year (limited quantity available).
I’m going to wrap up this post with a fun fact: The first email was sent by engineer Ray Tomlinson to himself on June 8, 1971*. I wonder if he had any idea what he was setting us up for!
* Source: DaniWeb
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