Best Email Service For Small Business: Gmail, ZohoMail or Outlook?

You need email to run your business. It’s most likely integral to your daily operations, so the solution you choose matters. You need the service that delivers the features you need, the storage space and the¬†integration’s.

Let’s take a close look at some options of the best email service for small business, how much they cost, and what they offer.

Gmail (Google Apps for Business)

It’s the world’s top email service provider, offering an impressive suite of features to everyone for free. Business users pay between $50 – 120 per year per user for an enhanced version of Gmail and the associated apps with more storage space than free users.

  • Storage: You get 25 GB worth of storage per user, plus 5 GB of Google Drive space.
  • Custom Email Address:
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee: Almost never goes down. If you can’t trust Google’s servers to stay up, who can you trust?
  • Security: Strong encryption on your email, antivirus scans on attachments, and two-factor authentication when logging in.
  • Business controls: Manage your employee’s accounts, security and settings.
  • Compatible with desktop clients: If you use a desktop email client, like Outlook, Apple Mail, or Mozilla Thunderbird, you can keep using it with Gmail.
  • Ability to disable ads

At the higher price point of $120 per year per user, you get Vault. Vault’s features include:

  • Retention policies: Define retention policies that are automatically applied to your email and chat messages.
  • Email and chat archiving: Your email and chat messages are archived and retained according to your policies, preventing inadvertent deletions.
  • E-discovery: Be prepared for litigation and compliance audits with powerful search tools that help you find and retrieve relevant email and chat messages.
  • Legal hold: Place legal holds on users as needed. Email and chat messages can’t be deleted by users when they’re placed on hold.
  • Export: Export specific email and chat messages to standard formats for additional processing and review.
  • Audits: Run reports on user activity and actions in the archive. Searches, message views, exports and more are shown.


When we compare ZohoMail to Gmail, there are a lot of features in common. You’ve got instant chat, you’ve got a calendar, tasks, notes, custom email addresses, and even the 99.9% uptime guarantee.

However, ZohoMail has no ads at all, was designed for business users and it integrates with their multitude of business apps. They have too many business apps to list here, but apps for which Google has no equivalent include a CRM app, an accounting app, an invoice app, a recruiting app, and the list goes on. However, these apps are not included in the price of ZohoMail. As an example, Zoho Writer, the Google Drive equivalent on Zoho, which deals with text documents, presentations and spreadsheets, costs between $3 – 5 per user per month.

ZohoMail itself is cheaper than Google Apps for Business, at between $2.50 – 3.50 per user per month, or free for up to three users. However, you’re getting less storage space (10 and 15 GB, respectively).

Thus, if you need a solid email client without too many bells and whistles, and you don’t need the extra ten or fifteen gigabytes of space per user, you can save some money here. But to get what Google is offering you, you’ll end up spending more money and you still won’t get all the way there (because ZohoMail tops out at 15 GB, and there’s no video chatting, etc).

It’s true that Zoho offers a lot of business apps that Google doesn’t offer, but you don’t need ZohoMail to use their other apps. Zoho’s apps integrate with Gmail.

Outlook/Exchange Online

Microsoft has been working like a demon to bridge the gap between Google Drive and their own Office suite. And they’ve done it. With Office 365, their Office applications are available as web apps. Anything you can do with Google Drive, you can definitely do with this suite of apps.

With Office 365 Small Business, for $5 per user per month, you get the Office web apps, and familiar email features: shared calendars, 25 GB of storage space per user, and the ability to use your own domain name. You get web conferencing, 24/7 customer support, that good old 99.9% uptime guarantee and management features like that of Google’s Vault.

The email services can be had a-la-carte for between $4 – $8 per user per month, if you don’t need the Office suite.

Microsoft’s email services have recently had a significant upgrade, with a redesign and theoretically bottomless inbox space and attachments up to 100 MB on for free users. These space upgrades do not seem to be part of the Exchange Online services you’d receive with Office 365 Small Business, but Microsoft’s is still a very robust offering, exceeding Google’s services in some aspects.

In the end, it all depends on your personal needs. If you need a lot of storage space and a simple solution, Google Apps for Business might be your best bet. If you need integration with a more powerful suite of word processors and spreadsheet apps, Office 365 could be the way to go. And if you need no bells and whistles, just simple email for a good price, ZohoMail can help you out.

Let us know in the comments about your experiences with these services and which your business uses!




About Vincenzo Ravina

Vincenzo Ravina is a writer, journalist and giraffe enthusiast from Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can learn more at his website,, or follow him on Twitter at @RavinaSBT.

  • Lucas Olsky

    Great article Vincenzo. Not listed, so i add it: mxHero. Definetely. My favorite app when i have to optimize my gmail. It has its own Chrome extension with lots of features such as attachment trackin and private delivery, and it grows everyday! you should try it:

  • Alain Hernandez

    awesome breakdown, I liked it very much!

    • Ramon Ray

      Hi Alain – thanks – we try to help guide as much as we can!

      • Alain Hernandez

        awesome, I subscribe so that I can stay engage with you. Good job!

        • Ramon Ray

          Thanks Alain. I look forward to earning your trust

  • Hotel GoTo

    What are your thoughts on thexyz –

  • Amy Swackhamer

    Does Outlook/Exchange Online allow you to manage your employees accounts, monitor emails, run reports on activity, etc?

    • Ramon Ray

      Not sure about Outlook but 3rd party tools for sure – like Skydog

    • Thomas

      Amy, this is what we use to accomplish such tasks with our business email:

  • Vinay –

    This is a great write up, thanks to this we chose Google Apps, we just wrote a post on the different email clients we used too for desktop and mobile –

  • tropicaltech
    • Dobby

      But this is an email client and not an email service for businesses!

  • Dobby

    Does anyone know of a good email service for 15-20 people? As far I see all these options are pretty expensive for my need. Gmail/ Outlook : $100/mo. , Zoho: $70/mo.

    • levelwu

      If you can’t afford the tools…then you are doing something wrong with your ‘business’…but maybe you get paid to post plugs?

      • Dobby

        Well.. Nobody paid me but its a relatively new entry. Came up while I googled for ‘high storage email hosting’. The UI is pretty basic but easy to use. The webmail looks really nice. And the email works without any problems. The guy who runs it is very responsive and I don’t have to deal with GoDaddy’s “awesomely” shi**y support, it costs way less and as a relatively new business with over 30 clients now we actually need an email partner that fits our budget. But then again, according to you something’s seriously wrong with my business because I don’t like to spend a lot of money on something like email.

        • levelwu

          $6/user/month is cheap for 50GB mailbox with O365 or $5 for GApps so I don’t know where your math comes from.

          If you can’t afford this then use free tools and don’t complain how tools you take for granted (“…something like email”) are expensive.

          Good luck though, if your post is real. Truly.

          • Dobby

            Yeah. GApps is good for the $5 price. But when you consider 30 people, 30 x 5 = $150/mo. And, we don’t really need 30 GB per person for email. I liked Mailcheap’s service and the way they price it made sense. I took their $20 starter plan w/ 250 GB storage. That’s enough for our current needs. 5 GB x 30 people = 150 GB. I posted the EDIT because I know a lot of people with a new business and lot of clients / team members would benefit. I don’t know if you have ever started out a new business but not all businesses start out with huge capital from big investors. Most small/ medium business like mine need the extra cash that we can get.

          • levelwu

            I have, I do and have also built & supported email servers for 100+ employees.
            Stop thinking of yourself as ‘small business’ if you have 20-30 employees.

            You can also host your own by getting a webhosting plan with unlimited storage and bandwidth for a fraction of a cost, roll your own webmail-roundcube etc. but it costs time, energy and knowledge.

            Gmail is free and so is Zoho(15gb and 5gb respectively).

            Ultimately, my point being these companies need to charge at one stage of usage because $ doesn’t grow on trees.

          • Dobby

            I used to use Zoho’s email before I jumped ship to Mailcheap, good company, good support but only allows 10 free users w/ custom domain. I just wanted sth like that. Gmail’s free version does not support custom domains which is what businesses want and they charge $5 / user.

            I found a lot of companies w/ unlimited storage, web hosting and email. I couldn’t even believe it since I was moving from GoDaddy. But, the Mailcheap guy said its not really unlimited like with Bluehost which is a pretty reputed company but only allows certain number of files or sth. Its complicated but Mailcheap explains it on their site and my technical guy corroborated the same after talking directly to Bluehost. We also tried another reputed company with unlimited service and they had a limit on the number of emails sent per hour or sth.

            In a gist, my conclusion is this:
            Free email: – upto 10 users w/ 5 GB. Can’t go wrong with it!

            Paid email : – Starting at 250 GB for $20. Private server, unlimited domains and users/mailboxes.

            Ultimate best paid email (GApps Vault): $10 per user/month.

            Finally, the conclusion I have come to and appreciate is the fact that Mailcheap completely does away with the ‘per user/month’ pricing of other corporates and replaces it with a ‘do what you want with your server’ approach which means small or large teams or businesses with more than 10 or so clients can easily get their own email server without the technical know-how and can have as many users or domains as they see fit for their storage/ plan.

          • levelwu

            Glad you are not a troll and that you found your solution and that is all that matters.

            You might want to check out Merak Mail Server (now IceWarp) though I have not used it for yrs. It was a great mail server that was easy to manage.

  • Raylan

    Very helpful article Vincenzo. I would like to recommend since I am using it myself for different projects in SA. The thing I appreciate the most is that I can have as many domains/ users as I want. So currently I have a team of size 35, 15, 13, 12 and 1 on 5 different domains and it costs me only 20 USD/mo for my own private email server with 250 GB storage. You could also go with Zoho if you need just 1 domain and less than 10 users. After all, its free!