As a small business, you rely on email to communicate with clients, suppliers and coworkers, basically, everyone on planet Earth with an Internet connection. Making sure you have the right email client to suit your business’s needs can mean increased productivity and, in some cases, even save you a little money. Here’s a quick guide to the four most popular email clients.
Price: $109.95 (suggested retail)
Operating System: Windows
Microsoft Outlook is still the most popular email client for business. It’s available as a standalone or as part of the ubiquitous Microsoft Office Suite which retails for around $400. Outlook lets you organize and filter messages easily. You can integrate your email easily with scheduling and to-do lists. On the downside, it does take a little effort to set up and it can be a bit sluggish. Outlook is also available with Business Contact Manager which provides basic CRM features like project management, sales pipelines. And, you can even import contacts from other programs like ACT!
Price: Free with Mac OS X
Operating System: Mac OS X
Apple's Mail is Outlook’s Mac doppelganger. Mail comes built-in with all-Mac operating systems and has many of the same features as Outlook. Like Outlook, it works with most POP and IMAP standards so you can view your Yahoo!, Gmail or Hotmail within the client. Mail is really three programs in one: Mail, iCal and Address Book. It’s relatively easy to set up and use.
Operating System: Mac OS X, Windows, Linux
Thunderbird is Mozilla’s open source email client. The latest version utilizes one of the things that have made Mozilla’s Firefox browser so popular: tabs. No more opening and closing or having a dozen windows open at once. You can open emails in tabs and jump between them the same way you do in Firefox. Thunderbird’s clever time line tool also lets you find what you’re looking for faster. You can customize with smart folders and Mozilla’s famous add-ons, including Lightning which integrated the Sunbird calendar.
Operating System: Not Applicable
Google’s Gmail is a Web-based email program. Gmail’s Web-based nature gives your business flexibility. You can easily manage your email from any computer or smart phone. Gmail doesn’t use folders, which can take some getting used to. Instead, users attach labels. And, emails are grouped into threaded conversations. Gmail, as you would expect, offers a robust search and lots of other features including integration with Google Docs, Calendar and Chat. Like Mozilla’s add-ons you can enable Google Labs to experiment with new features. You can easily access all of your mail accounts from one Gmail account and even display them simultaneously as unique mailboxes. Its flexibility and integration with other Google features make Gmail a great solution for a small business with a virtual office.