When it comes to choosing the best email service for your company, one thing is for sure: you have plenty of options. Despite the overwhelming amount of choices, Gmail and Outlook continue to be two of the most popular email services available to both individuals and companies. Whittling your choices down may be easy, but how do you choose between these two top candidates?
First, let’s get a few things out of the way. Both Gmail and Outlook offer free and paid service, and fundamentally, many of the features that draw users to one or the other remain the same from free to paid versions, with the exception of storage and custom domain (which we’ll get to). In this article, we’ll be focusing on Gmail and Outlook.com, though the paid services, GSuite and Office 365, respectively, will be discussed.
The email service you choose will guide the way you interact and collaborate with your employees and clients, and so it’s essential that you take inventory of your workplace and understand how your email provider will integrate with the processes and programs you have in use.
For Microsoft Office lovers, Outlook is likely to be more suited for your workplace needs; this is particularly true if you rely heavily on Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint. Outlook offer seamless integration with the aforementioned, empowering your employees to make on-the-go decisions, edit documents, give presentations and collaborate easily all from the email interface.
If your company does not frequently use the MS Suite, if you don’t have designated laptops or desktops for each employee, or if you are looking for an email service as well as somewhere to store reports, documents and presentations, then Gmail may be the better fit. Gmail offers apps that are comparable and often compatible with things like Word and Excel, and all of the storage remains online in the cloud.
Chat & Video Conferencing
The ability to instantly connect with employees and clients is something many business owner value, and so chat features and video conferences are another aspect that should guide your decision. It’s true that you can adopt another platform for this, but if you’re the kind of person who likes the efficiency of an “all-in-one” approach, then utilizing an email platform with a chat service is a must.
Both Outlook and Gmail offer a way to chat or conference with people all over the world. Outlook utilizes Skype for this functionality, and if you have a lot of clients who do the same, this is another plus for Outlook. Skype allows users to conference with up to 25 users, and if those users also have Skype accounts, connections are free.
On the other hand, Gmail utilizes its Google Hangout feature for chats and conferences. Unfortunately, the unpaid version only allows up to nine individuals in a video chat, but if you enroll in the GSuite paid platform, the limits match those of Skype.
Some industries have no need for emailing images, but if your business does (architecture, fashion, graphic design), you may want to consider the differences in image display and management.
Both Outlook and Gmail allow users to view photos within the body of an email, but Outlook provides an image gallery within the email, allowing for quick viewing and easy access. This is particularly helpful for businesses that rely on images to close sales, communicate with customers or make important decisions. Of course, Gmail does include images inline, but it’s not quite as convenient, and if you or your employees need quick access, then Outlook would be your winner here.
Filtering & Labels
Some of us leave our email as it is, never bothering to categorize or filter, but if you’re like me, filters and folders are essential to communicating efficiently.
This is one area where Gmail really manages to shine. Each Gmail account is separated into five tabs (Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums and Primary) that intuitively sorts through and categorizes your email for you. This is really great for handling accounts that receive a lot of email, specifically cold-calling or promotional emails (or spam). Beyond that, Gmail is super customizable, and for those who really like to streamline or organize their inboxes, Gmail is pretty unbeatable. That’s not to say Outlook doesn’t offer filtering and categorizing options, but it’s nowhere near as robust.
You may not think this is a big deal early on, but over time, you’ll feel the crunch of dwindling space, especially if you or your employees are apt to save and archive emails.
Gmail is pretty straight forward with its storage policy. Free accounts have 15GB of storage across Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photo. Those who wish to access more space would need to consider their premium paid platform, GSuite, which provides 30GB at the basic level. Outlook is a little less clear on its free storage policies, but most agree that it starts with 5GB and then expands over time to meet your needs. Unfortunately, what that means is not easily determined. However, the default Office 365 Business Essentials (paid service) offers 50GB as a default.
If you don’t want to pay for email service, you’re not going to like what comes next. Neither Gmail nor Outlook offer customized domains (Email@YourCompany.com) with their free services, so you’ll need to sign up for premium accounts to access these.
Gmail users can do so for $5 user/month. Outlook’s paid service, Office 365, also provide provides the ability to create custom domains if you sign up for the Office Business Essentials plan, which is $5 user/month. Access to a custom domain and the Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) will run users $12.50 a month.
Choosing between these two email services is a matter of reviewing your unique needs and determining which service has the features and applications to match it. If you do think that a paid service is best (i.e., if you want to customize your domain or need a lot of storage capacity), both programs offer a free trial, and taking advantage of the trials before you make your decision can really help you get a feel for which you prefer.
Need a Premium Product?
This article was originally written on March 17, 2017 and updated on April 5, 2017.