Recently, we had a client who had been using Gmail for their work email. They were very familiar with the Gmail interface on their computer and mobile device and requested that we look into setting their new work email up with Google Apps. We’ve known about Google Apps for quite some time but once we dug deeper, we discovered some pros and cons relative to using traditional mail servers provided by webhosts.

Google Apps is a nice little service that allows you to run your company email off of Google’s mail servers. In addition, you get easy integration with a whole slew of products that Google offers that can help make your business more productive. I know many people have written about this topic already, but I wanted to throw my hat in the mix because of how easy it is for small businesses to solve a whole slew of problems with just this one product:

  1. Company Email: Many small business people use their @hotmail, @gmail or @ISP address for their work email. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this. But, using your @YourCompanyDomain.com email address looks more professional. And the odd person may look up your site and visit just by seeing your email address (bonus traffic to your site!).
  2. Storage Space: The best mail servers provide around 1GB of storage space for emails. Most provide less unless you want to pay for space. Google provides 10GB for free which should be more than enough for most small business.
  3. Search: If you do end up using a lot of space for your email then you don’t have to worry about trying to find an email from 2 years ago. Google’s search function is the best there is. So, you’ll always be able to find that old email so long as you haven’t deleted it.
  4. Spam: We all get a bit each week. However, if you want to reduce your spam, just setup your company email to go through Google Apps. They have some of the best spam filters around which will save you the trouble of having to delete those pesky unwanted messages manually.
  5. Mobile: Google is a huge player in the mobile market. They have a solution for almost all mobile devices so that you can get your email while you are on the go.
  6. Easy Access: In addition to mobile, you can be assured that you will be able to check your email from anywhere that has an internet connection.
  7. Other Products: Google Apps is called such because of all the other products and services you can access which can help your company be more productive. From file sharing to calendars, there are a slew of solutions to help your business.
  8. Easy Setup: Google provide step-by-step instructions and videos. You don’t need to have any technical knowledge to setup Google Apps. You just need to have the attention span to watch a few minute video and you’re good to go.

I really dislike it when I see small business people using their @gmail or @hotmail address for their work. It’s not that it’s wrong. But it’s so easy these days to get a professional work email setup using your company domain. So, if you want a free, easy to use product that gives you your professional looking company email address, then Google Apps is the no-brainer solution.

P.S. – and be sure to add your website, contact info and social media links to your email signature. You’ll be surprised how often emails get passed around and clicked on.

UPDATE: As of Dec 7, 2012, Google has eliminated the free version of Google Apps. You can sign-up for a free trial. But, thereafter, it now costs $50 per year per user – not a big deal for most of us. But it’s certainly signifying a change in Google’s business philosophy. And it not good news for start-ups, very small businesses, not-for-profits and those in 3rd world countries.