This week Google has announced it will be charging small businesses to use its web-based group of tools, Google Apps, which includes Gmail. New businesses with 10 or fewer employees will now be charged Â£30 a year to use the suite, which may not sound a lot, but it’s certainly an extra cost small businesses could do without!
Google Apps, and in particular Gmail, has so far been a great way for small businesses to operate with a relatively powerful webmail setup for free, but Google has said it feels businesses will benefit from the upgraded services offered which includeÂ 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime.
However, the question some people may now ask is: “should small businesses be using Gmail and other free webmail services anyway?”
Many people have been won over by the ease of use and slick appearance of free webmail. Let’s face it, they are generally very good at what they do and are very reliable. However, they are not great at projecting a reliable and professional image for your website and consequently your business.
After spending the time and effort of developing your business ideas, strategy, and then a website that perfectly targets your ideal customer, it seems unlikely that something so minor as a webmail address could undermine all that work, but that’s exactly what it does.
Everybody knows that anyone can sign up for a webmail address and have one running in two minutes and it is that knowledge that instantly creates the image of a ‘fly-by-night’ business when you see a webmail address after clicking through to the Contact Us page.
As we all know, getting to the point where a customer decides to contact you through a website is not easy. The customer will be filled with stories of disreputable online businesses and needs to feel secure that doing business with you is safe. An email address that looks legitimate and reputable may only be a small part of that, but it can literally be a deal breaker.
Apart from this, there are other practical reasons for not going with a free webmail email account, and the most important one is security. Hackers will target free webmail accounts because the sheer number of users make their chances of success far greater. And it’s one thing having your personal details exposed, but quite another to open your clients’ details up to hackers.
Ultimately the question is that of professionalism, and projecting a professional brand identity to your customer base. There are thousands upon thousands of competing companies and it is up to you to make sure you are doing everything you can to appear more appealing than your competitors. The fact that so many small businesses are choosing webmail products is a fantastic reason for you to do better than that!
Rosco Digital Media’s web packages each come with 5 email accounts that you can customise to reflect you company name and generate trust with visitors to your site.