Welcome to the third and final part of our three-part tutorial on keeping your business's web services separated—domain registration, web hosting, and email. In part one, you got an overview of why it's important to keep your business's essential services independent of one another, and I gave you a handful of analogies to help explain what goes on in what I'll call the web services market.
In part two, you learned about why it's so important to keep your business's domain name separate and isolated from your web hosting, even if your host is offering you a free domain. Now, in this third and final part, we'll we'll talk about isolating your business email from your web hosting, and why that's so important for your website's communications.
I mentioned this before, and I'll mention it again: If you take the time to work your way through these three parts and learn all about keeping your business's crucial web assets isolated from one another, you'll have a ton of knowledge—more than some web designers and developers!
If you want to know what specific dedicated email services I recommend, I'll add some suggestions towards the end of this tutorial. But be sure to check out Ten Ton's resource page, where you'll find lots of business-related resources—reputable web hosting companies, domain registrars, top dedicated email services, and much more. It's key information, so I hope you'll check it out.
Alright, so I hope you're ready for it. Here's part three of our tutorial series, business email!
Okay right off the bat, in case it's on your mind, I want to toast the idea of using a free Gmail or Yahoo email address for your business website. Using a free
@yahoo.com email address looks very unprofessional and amateurish. So let's consider free email accounts (what I call non-professional email accounts) as non-options for our business website.
What we want is a site-branded, or professional business email address—
firstname.lastname@example.org, or something similar. No
Now, when you sign your business up for web hosting, you may find that it also comes with free email service. You can use this free service if you want, but I really don't recommend it. At first, it might seem like a nice convenience to bundle your email and web hosting together, kinda like bundling your business's domain registration with your web hosting. After all, it keeps everything in one place for you. While true, this actually creates a few problems, which I'll get into below. Very much like web hosts offering domain name registration, they also offer email because it's cheap for them and doesn't require much overhead on their part. But web hosting companies specialize in hosting websites, not in registering domain names (as we learned in part two) or in providing business-grade email service. So ideally, just as we'll use a dedicated domain name registrar to register our domains, ideally we'll also use a dedicated, specialized email service to handle our business's main form of communication, email.
While this is an extra step, and requires a bit more set up, the long-term benefits are definitely worth it. It'll save you potential hassles and headaches down the road. So let's get into the nitty-gritty—let's address the problems with bundling your business email together with your web hosting.
You're running an online businesses, so email is a critical, key service.
You already know that whether you web hosting company offers free email or not, I'm going to encourage you to go with a dedicated email service instead. I've been using Google G Suite's dedicated email service for years, and the difference between using web hosted email and a dedicated email service is night and day! I simply don't experience email problems anymore.
Here are some reasons why using a separate, dedicated email service for your business's website is much better than using the free email that comes with your web hosting...
Many web hosts promise anti-spam protection with your email. And while some do a pretty good job at filtering out the gunk, it's pretty tough to beat the rigorous measures that business-grade, industry standard email services go to in fighting spam and malware. In fact, I recently logged into an old email address that I'd set up with a hosting company. I hadn't used this email account in a long while. I was curious to see just what sort of job my host's spam filtering did. This old account's inbox was riddled with hundreds and hundreds of spam messages. Hundreds! Yes, this was an old account (on a host that I've since canceled service with). But, it goes to show you just how poor some host's spam filtering is.
With professional, business-grade email service, their dedicated service is...email! Email is what they do, and all they do. It's all they think about, night and day. So, they're going to work hard to ensure that your experience with their service is top notch. This means rigorous anti-spam filters and malware protection to keep your inbox clutter-free, and your business communications running perfectly at all times.
The task of just getting to your web hosted email is a pain. First you have to log into your web hosting control panel (like cPanel); then you have to launch your email; then you have to log into the email account that you want to check; then you have to wait for it to load...all before clicking Send & Receive. This isn't the end of the world of course, but geeze we have a business to run! That's a heck of a lot of hoops and hurdles just to check email.
Of course, there are ways to get around all these hoops. You could, for instance, connect your web hosted email service to your smartphone or to your desktop email application...but that involves a whole different set of hoops to jump through.
Alternatively, accessing your email with a dedicated email service like Google G Suite is as easy as logging into a regular Gmail account. In fact, I just keep my Ten Ton business email open in a browser tab while I"m working on other things. What's really nice is because I'm using Google G Suite, I can easily switch back and forth from my business email account to my personal
@gmail.com email account. It's simple and easy to use!
The email interface that comes bundled with web hosting leaves a lot to be desired. A lot! CPanel, for example, has three different email applications to choose from, Horde, Roundcube, and SquirrelMail. Each has an interface that is equally as awful as the next. It's like choosing between helpings of three different organ meats...out of a Brooklyn dumpster...in August. Gross, no thanks, and...I'd rather fast for a week!
With a dedicated, business-oriented email service, again, email's all they do. So, they've worked hard to provide users with a clean, pleasant interface that makes it easy to archive and retrieve messages and otherwise manage email across your business. And they have a reason to work hard to keep things simple and easy to use—because they want to keep their user's happy!
One of the big reasons why I switched away from using the free email service that came bundled with my web hosting was that I found it painful to keep all my email synchronized. I'd have some messages sitting on the web host, some sitting in my desktop application, more messages on my mobile device, and they weren't all synchronized...sent messages, received messages, archived messages...it all became a nightmare.
What I wanted was a single place where all my email was stored, so that when I tapped Send & Receive on my phone or on my laptop, everything synced up with everything else. With a dedicated, web-based email service, synchronizing messages across multiple devices is an inherent part of the service. Everything's web-based, so it works great. This frees me up to focus more on my business and my customers, and not chasing after technical issues.
We're trying to run our online businesses here, not chase technical problems, right? Back when I was using the free email service that came with my hosting, I had numerous situations where customers hadn't received emails that I knew I'd sent them. For whatever reason, my email didn't go through. Other times, customers had sent me emails that never made it through on my end. Some of these cost me money, lost sales, or lost opportunities. This sort of oddball email behavior creates unnecessary stress and headaches. Reliability is simply a must. When I hit Send, I want to know that my email has gone through, and that the person on the other end is going to get it.
And since we're on the issue of reliability, here's another problem with tying your business's email and your web hosting together. If your website temporarily goes down, for whatever reason, then your business email goes down with it. I've had my websites go down from anywhere from just a few hours, to days...to even a week. That experience is stressful enough...but imagine not having access to email during these times too—especially if you're running a business!
If your business email's separate from your web hosting, at least you can still communicate with your customers. You can at least let them know that you're experiencing some technical problems, and that your support team is working on it. Still not ideal, but it's better than your entire business going dark for an undetermined amount of time.
Going with a dedicated, business-grade email service gives you peace of mind to know that your email is reliable—that messages are being sent and received, and that your business or web project's communications are being handled by professionals. A dedicated service takes the hassles and headaches out of email.
Maybe this one should have been first, but here it goes: Web hosting companies specialize in web hosting, not email (and all the technicalities that come with it). For them, email is an extra that they've included with their hosting as a free convenience. This isn't to say that they won't provide any email support, but some hosts don't prioritize something that their customers don't pay anything for. For them, support for web hosting comes first, because that's what they're in the business of selling.
A dedicated, professional-grade email service, on the other hand, is in business to sell their email service. So, supporting your website's communication is a priority for them. In fact, impressively, Google G Suite comes with 24/7 support via telephone or email. That's pretty amazing. I've never had to use their support (because everything always runs so smoothly), but it's nice to know that I can get someone on the phone at 2am if I need to.
While many hosts grant you the flexibility to set up as many email addresses as you want, all of this takes up space. All the email you'll be sending and receiving, and any attachments they include, all your archived email...it's all eating into the same space that your website occupies...because your website and your email are both stored the same space in your web hosting account. If you're storing and using a lot of email (and who isn't?), then you may find yourself quickly running out of space for your website. Not so good...
On the other hand, a dedicated email service comes with it's own, separate storage space. Because this storage space is located on a different server that's owned by an entirely different company, it'll never impact your website's storage space. Typically, dedicated email service will come standard with 30-50gb of storage (that's a lot), and you can always purchase more space if you need it.
How painful? Ice picks and hydrogen peroxide kinda painful! If your web hosting service begins to decline in quality or you outgrow their service, you'll want to seriously consider migrating your business to a new web host. This entire process of migrating a website can be tricky, and adding your business's email into the mix just adds to the complexity.
For instance, what happens to old, archived emails? Do they come along with your website to the new web host? How can you reliably back them up? If you opt for a separate, dedicated email service, these problems are immediately sidestepped. This is because with a separate email service your email is stored on an entirely different server, remember? With a separate email service, if you move your website to a new hosting company, all you need to do is simply update your Mail Exchange (MX records) for your domain, and you're done. It might sound a tad technical, but it's actually pretty straightforward. Update those MX records and you're done, simple as that!
Handy email extras like reminders, being able to filter email by sender or by subject line, archiving...all these features and more are available from dedicated email services, but either aren't available in web hosted email, or they're pretty low quality and finicky to use.
But with a dedicated email service, these features are a part of what makes their service so good. So, they put time and resources into developing and improving these sorts of handy features. For instance, Google G Suite has a ton of extensions available for it (many of which also work with free
@gmail.com addresses too, by the way).
One extension I love is called Boomerang, which allows you to send emails later, and return unanswered emails to your inbox so you can easily follow up with people. Let's say for example that I send you an email, and I want to be reminded to follow up with you if you haven't replied to my email in, say, a week. I simply set a Boomerang reminder on the email, then go about my work day. A week later, if you haven't replied to my message, it returns (boomerangs!) back to the top of my inbox, and I go, "Oh yeah, I need to follow up with them." It's very cool, and has saved me a lot of problems.
If you'd like to learn about more Gmail extensions to help conquer your inbox, check out this resource.
So, for all of the above reasons, I choose to go with a dedicated email service. Dedicated email has freed me up to focus on my business and other web projects. By separating email from web hosting, I have zero email headaches, even if a problem arises with my website—because each is independent from the other.
So where do I recommend you go to for dedicated, business-grade email service? I cover this in much more detail in my Finding The Best Email Service For Your Business tutorial. But for specific recommendations, I'll make some quick mentions here. But be sure to check out Ten Ton's resource page for a full listing of business web services and resources, too.
As for recommendations, just as with domain name registrars and web hosts, there's no shortage of email services to choose from. But in an attempt to get you up and running quickly, I've narrowed it down to two of the best: Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite. Both are very popular, come highly recommended, and are widely used by small, medium, and even very large businesses.
In addition to email, Microsoft Office 365 includes things like calendars, cloud storage, online conferencing, and the Microsoft Office suite, as well as a few other goodies. The Business Essentials plan is priced at $6/user per month (or $5/month if paid annually).
Google G Suite comes with all the great stuff Gmail's become known for—Google Docs (including Sheets, Forms, and so on), Google Drive cloud storage, Calendar, Hangouts, and of course,
@yourdomain.com email. Google G Suite starts at $5 per account per month.
I've personally been using Google G Suite for well over five years for a few different web projects. Being a Gmail user, I was already familiar and comfortable with the Gmail interface and services, so setting up and using Google G Suite was a no-brainer. And because it's cloud-based, it instantly solved my aforementioned synchronization issues. On the desktop, the same browser-based Gmail interface is used, calendars, message filtering, contacts, etc. It's all the same as it is for regular, free Gmail accounts. On mobile, my Google G Suite business email accounts are piped through my Gmail app.
If you're already a Gmail user, I can't recommend Google G Suite more highly—You're already 95% of the way there!
Now if you're running a very small web project and don't want to go to the expense of a dedicated email service like the ones I'm describing, you can use a neat trick for sending and receiving site-branded, professional email from within a free Gmail account. I show you how to pull this off in my tutorial, How To Set Up A Website-Branded (Professional Business) Email In Gmail. So give that a look if it sounds interesting.
Okay so, there's some resources to at least help you get the ball rolling.
So there's a ton of information about business email, why it's so important to separate your email from your web hosting, and some details about dedicated email services. I hope you learned a lot!
And, this wraps up our three-part tutorial series on separating and maintaining control over your essential business website services—domain name registration, web hosting, and email. The most important take-away from all of this is is how crucial it is to isolate these critical services. When you stop and think about how crucial each of these components are to your business, you begin realizing how important it is to use dedicated, isolated services for each.
You don't have to use any of the recommendations I've made here, but it's important to begin looking for reliable, professional vendors for each service. Find and use companies who don't treat these services as add-ons or use them to entice you to purchase something else. Instead, find companies who's primary business is to handle these three crucial web components.
Alright, I hope you enjoyed this huge tutorial series and all the info I put into it. If you want to keep learning more, be sure to check out my tutorials on domain names, web hosting, and how to set up your email.
I look forward to seeing you there!