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What you need to check before choosing an email provider for your startup

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A person using Macbook Pro on white table [Photo: Cottonbro Studio]

Putting together the right toolkit of apps and software services is an essential part of setting your startup for success right from the beginning, and nothing is more indispensable than a good email service provider.

Many startup founders make the mistake of sticking with a basic, free email service that has limited features because they think all they need to be able to do is send and receive emails.

While being able to send and receive messages is certainly an important feature any email provider offers, your email service can — and should — do so much more.

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  • Check whether the email app has a team chat feature

Traditional email threads certainly have their place when it comes to more formal communications, especially with people outside your company, but chat conversations are so much more efficient for quick internal communications.

So, before you decide on an email app for your startup, check whether or not it has a built-in team chat feature.

Ideally, you should be able to start both one-on-one conversations and group chats, so you can organize discussions around certain topics or private matters.

  • Look for other ways to communicate in the email app
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Text-based chats and emails are great for many types of communication, but sometimes it’s easier and more efficient to explain yourself and discuss matters verbally.

So, an email app that offers ways to communicate, such as built-in voice messages and video meetings, is something to consider.

That way, you don’t have to switch between a bunch of different tools any time you want to send a voice note or hold a video conference — you can do it all from right within your same email service app.

  • Make sure there’s good data security

Anything you and your team discuss over email or in a chat is your company’s private data, so your email service provider should provide adequate data security.

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Check to make sure that any email service you’re considering encrypts your data and is not selling your data to third parties.

Data storage should be restricted to the minimum amount required to provide a good user experience, and the email provider should have transparent data privacy policies explained on their website.

  • Check out the customer support resources and availability

If you ever have a problem with your email provider, you want to be able to get the help you need to resolve it.

So, check to see that the email platform you want to use has a variety of support options available.

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For instance, look at the website to see if it has a robust help center with self-serve support documentation that you can use to resolve common issues and answer FAQs that you may have.

There should also be at least one way to directly contact the email provider’s customer service, either via email, support ticket, or phone.

Look at the pricing options

Any business tool you sign up for should have a variety of pricing options, so you can choose the plan that best suits your needs and budget.

When it comes to your email service provider, it’s great if there’s a free plan that you can start with, so you can get a feel for the app and make sure it’s a good fit for you and your startup.

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However, free versions of services usually have limited features, so you also want to ensure that any email platform you’re using has a couple of paid tiers you can upgrade to when you need certain features.

It’s also great if the email provider’s site mentions that there are special enterprise prices for large teams, for when your company outgrows its startup phase!

Check for priority email filtering

No matter how careful you are about giving out your email, you’re bound to get sent a number of low-priority emails, including newsletters, notifications, and spam.

These types of messages can quickly clutter up your inbox and make it harder to find important emails.

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So, make sure any email provider you choose has priority email filtering that automatically sends low-priority messages to another folder, so you can focus on what’s important and deal with the other stuff later.

Look for other integrated collaboration tools

Chatting or meeting online aren’t the only ways you and your team should be collaborating to get more done at your startup.

Things like collaborative notes, tasks, and to-do lists are other essential business tools you should be using to collaborate with your team, and having them integrated into the email platform you use helps reduce the time you spend switching contexts throughout the day.

Context switching is a term for the amount of time you spend toggling back and forth between a bunch of different apps and screens to perform different tasks and activities.

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The more you can do from one place, such as an email app with lots of integrated features, the less time you spend switching contexts — and the more you’ll get done in less time!

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