Although established businesses rely heavily on email marketing, for start-ups that tool tends to get lost in the mix. Entrepreneurs quickly build a Facebook and Twitter page to hype their services while operating from personal email accounts. Besides being invaluable for in-office communications, a dedicated email system lends credibility to a business. Four times more customers are acquired by email as compared to four years ago, and social media customers have been shown to be less valuable than email marketing. Email packages vary by features, associated software, price and support. Before choosing a provider for their business email accounts, owners of start-ups need to look into a few key factors.

Support

Many would argue that price is the bottom line, but a discounted service that leaves a business unable to communicate with potential clients during downtime can be far more costly, especially in the early growth stages. Tech businesses, or start-ups with a dedicated IT department, may be able to get by with a minimalist contract. For others, it’s a valuable investment to find a host with 24-hour tech support. Often this can be provided via phone or live chat, leaving more time free to deal with day-to-day operations.

Price

To ensure that they get the best value, clients should look at email vendors with a list of requirements in hand. Budget, the main uses for the service and the average level of tech savvy in the office are all good parameters for identifying a good fit. Email hosting packages can be found in nearly any price range, including free. To make it worthwhile for the vendor, free packages often contain ads, sometimes subtly in the form of a dedicated domain name that will give their business and the start-up equal billing in communications (such as [email protected]). Other potential pitfalls of free or very inexpensive hosting include a lack of reliability, limited organization features, and incompatibility with major programs like Outlook.

Scalability

Scalability is one of the many issues that makes running a start-up different than running an established midlevel company. A five-year or even five-month plan may have huge levels of variation to account for growth. Although some start-ups fail, others take off exponentially, tripling staff and customers in a short amount of time. Buying a service more costly than the current situation requires is foolish and can put a struggling business deeper in the red. Of course, going for the most limited option can lead to scrambling to accommodate rapid growth. The best option involves discussing scalability issues with the email host. A service that allows for quick and seamless additions of new features, and one that can handle increased traffic, will allow marketing and IT dollars to be used correctly.

Read more: Email Options For The Start-up

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