Email Essentials: Outlook vs Gmail, What Is Right For Your Small Business
March 9, 2020 | Last Updated on: July 20, 2022
March 9, 2020 | Last Updated on: July 20, 2022
For modern small businesses, building a strong logistical and technological foundation can be the difference between long-term success and constant struggle. Every choice is important. So when it comes time to establish your company’s presence online, which of the two biggest email providers is right for your small business? Google’s Gmail, or Microsoft’s Outlook 365? In order to determine which email provider is best for your small business, we should examine exactly what each provider entails.
The thing to remember about choosing your email provider is that you aren’t just choosing your email provider. You’re more than likely choosing an entire software package that will determine exactly how your employees work, with whom, where that work is stored, and how it’s protected. Understanding that package is key to making a wise decision on your email provider. Choosing the right business apps is critical to taking your business idea to the next level.
While there are enough differences between the two companies to make it worth differentiating, both Google and Microsoft provide a similar package for business customers.
Tiers: both companies offer several options for subscriptions, adding cost and features as you rise up from the most basic level.
Email: you’ll be able to choose a custom domain name and set up handy group email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Storage: you’ll get a ton of online storage for documents, slideshows, and spreadsheets even on either platform’s most basic and inexpensive option.
Apps: in addition to your email accounts, you’ll gain access to a word processor, a spreadsheet manager, slideshow creation software, and more.
Many business owners will already be familiar with Google’s Gmail. Gmail is, after all, America’s most used email provider by a considerable margin. In fact, many business owners choose G Suite for their business out of pure and simple familiarity. That isn’t to say there aren’t many positives about Gmail. You don’t get to be the most-used email provider in the world for being a bad email provider.
Business owners have several options within Google’s business offerings. Basic offers access to most of Google’s online tools at a cost of $6 per user per month and also comes with basic security tools and 30gb of online storage. By choosing the Business level, your price rises to $12 per user per month, but that online storage becomes unlimited, the apps and tools become available for larger groups, and the security measures are a bit more stringent, offering perks like the ability to set email message retention for the entire company or track user activity. Google’s most robust level is called Enterprise, which comes with all of the above perks but adds even more security features and administration controls, all for $25 per user per month. Annually, the levels will run you $72 per user per year for Basic, $144 per user per year for Business, and $300 per user annually for Enterprise.
In addition to being a first-rate email service, Google’s G Suite includes many apps and features that will help your company collaborate. You’ll use Google Docs as a word processor, Google Sheets to manage spreadsheets, and Slides can help you build presentations. There are also tools like Forms, which allows you to build surveys. All of these documents can be stored and shared on Google Drive, allowing for easy collaboration.
Collaboration is the biggest benefit of Google’s business email and app offering. There’s no physical storage space for Google. Everything is online. That means it’s incredibly straightforward to create documents or slideshows or spreadsheets online and share them with team members in order work together on larger projects. Even with Google’s Basic plan, you can use Sheets to track project data, Forms to gauge your team’s opinions, and Docs to write out plans. If your team is remote, Google Hangouts, a simple video conferencing software, will allow you all to get face to face in order to collaborate on a Doc which you all can edit mid-meeting in real time.
On top of all that, a familiarity with Google is smart for every business, since you’ll likely be working to use Google My Business and other Search Engine Optimization techniques to bring customers to your company.
Microsoft’s business software features very similar pricing tiers to what Google offers. You can sign up for Office 365 Business Essentials, which costs $5 per user per month. You’ll get a custom domain name and access to the online versions of the Office apps (more on those later). The Office 365 Business level is slightly more expensive at $8.25 per user per month, and there’s a trade off. You’ll receive access to the offline versions of the Office apps, but you won’t get a custom domain name. There’s also Office 365 Business Premium, which offers all of the above.
On top of those options, Microsoft also offers Enterprise options, which up the price well above the Business tiers. Called Microsoft 365 E1, E3, and E5, these premium offerings allow for even greater security, file storage, and other features.
It should also be noted that the Microsoft Office plan does require an annual commitment, unlike G Suite Business.
Office 365 can be an easy choice if much of your work doesn’t require as much collaboration, or if you like to use software without an internet connection. The Business and Business Premium offerings (as well as most of the pricier Enterprise-level options) come with the offline Microsoft apps you know: Excel, Powerpoint, Word, and Microsoft Outlook to handle your email.
While Office 365 doesn’t come with a native video chat app like G Suite does, Microsoft does integrate Skype in with their plans.
As with most big decisions for your company, your choice of email provider depends entirely on your goals and processes as a company. Both companies have strengths and benefits, so consider what your company needs.
Are you a service-based small team with no remote work? You may find that Microsoft Office 365 is the way to go, since you will have the ability to work independently and offline. Are you a start-up with employees in different cities, states, countries, or time zones? Google apps will give you a greater ability to collaborate on projects in real time.
If your work is primarily done online, think about your current software suite. Is it easier to integrate your current software with one or the other? How about money? Google, particularly for the higher tiers, is a more affordable choice. If you’re just getting started, you may find that paying less for your domain name and email service fits best into your business plan. In addition, remember that G Suite doesn’t require an annual commitment like Office 365 does. So if your team is largely seasonal or likely to fluctuate, it may be wise to stick with Google.
There’s a reason these two sets of office applications are the most popular email providers in the world. They both offer unlimited storage, video chatting, instant messaging, a variety of apps and productivity tools, and all that on top of top-tier email. In addition, both offer free trials, so you can give each company a try and determine which user experience best suits you and your company.