In the 21st century, email is a top priority for every business enterprise and organisation. Doing business means communicating and email is now the dominant method by which sales, negotiations and contractual agreements are conducted. Treating it as a minor concern is a mistake. Email can be an enormous asset or a huge liability, so getting it right is vital for everyone. Here are the leading reasons why it matters.

Professionalism

Every competent businessperson understands the importance of branding. Along with a professional design, every email address used in the organisation is an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism. You can’t do that with a gmail or outlook.com account; you need addresses linked directly to your company name and web domain.

Cloud email boxes rarely offer much opportunity to personalise your email “stationary” but when you own your own email boxes, you can use email clients of your own choosing (such as Thunderbird) and apply whichever templates work best with your company identity and procedures.

Daily management

Personnel may be sick, on holiday or become overloaded. Cloud services either provide limited options or oblige you to wade through page after page of security checks and setup screens. With access to your own server, it is straightforward to quickly re-route, copy-in, create auto-replies or set-up alerts for important messages. Even in a small business, being able to maintain fast, lean email responses is simply vital for your reputation and agility. Missing them can do no end of harm.

Security

As the lifeblood of business, email is also a prime target for criminals, spies and terrorists. In turn, that has led to strict legal penalties for failing to protect it. Under the GDPR legislation, the maximum penalty is €20 million or 4% of turnover (a current GDPR action against British Airways is seeking €204 million).

In total however, it is likely that email threats such as phishing, fraud and trojans cause even more damage. Recent ransomware attacks like the WannaCry worm, show just how serious email-borne threats have become. Another called CryptoWall is believed to have extracted about $325 million from victims, and criminals are now advertising ransomware-as-a-service on the Dark Web.

Leasing your own email accounts from a hosting company means that you can depend on an expert team to help maintain your spam filters, antivirus software and server firewalls.

Reliable storage

Microsoft’s strategy to replace MS Office with MS Office 365 is encouraging a lot of people to entrust their email to Outlook.com. But Outlook.com has a terrible record of deleting email archives without warning or explanation. This has mainly affected free users but is hardly reassuring for businesses that need to audit historical email exchanges and extract contact information.

Even individual email boxes quickly become enormous in size. Adding in the size of attachments and graphic payloads, the storage requirements for an enterprise are considerable, and those archives are a vital data resource for auditing and marketing. The more they are under your own control, the more you can do with them.

Automation

A good thing about the Cloud is that it has encouraged developers to integrate key applications such as email, CRM, IP telephony and accounting systems. As a result, even small businesses can take advantage of enterprise software that allows them to take maximum advantage of their data, streamline processes and reduce human labour. However, it is still often easier, and cheaper, to use marketing automation tools such as MailChimp (which works well with Thunderbird) or set up auto-reply emails on your own email server.

Choice of clients

Email accounts on your own server can be accessed using desktop resident clients such as Outlook (exe), Mozilla Thunderbird, Mac Mail or Mailbird. On mobile devices you can use myMail, Newton Mail, Proton Mail, Nine or K-9. You can choose your own web-based interface such as Horde, RoundCube or SquirrelMail, run SendPress or Simple Mail under WordPress, or run your own email server and collaboration tools including Zimbra or iRedMail.

That means more options to access your email from anywhere and configure it exactly how you want it.

Top quality support

We have no doubt that Google and Microsoft have some very capable IT engineers, but do you think they will have time to speak to you when you need help?

When you use a business email hosting service, you don’t need to worry about it. You are relying on an email specialist guaranteed to have the time of day for you. Email hosting providers understand how important email is to a small or medium business and all the people who work within it. Support is often 24/7 and there is rarely a long ticket queue.