A common mistake I find with businesses is that they set up the wrong type of email account. It becomes a nightmare to manage and ends up costing the business dearly. Simply, the email account setup does not achieve its purpose.
It is most evident when looking at users of Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365. These platforms charge customers a fee per account. Businesses often purchase more accounts than is necessary and therefore end up paying more than they need to.
A way around this, as I have done for many of my clients, is to consolidate the accounts by setting up an account as an alias or group account. The option of this setup already exists in a standard account so no extra payment is required.
Google Apps is by far the most popular cloud email solution for businesses with more than 5 million customers. I am definitely a strong advocate of Google Apps. In this article, I will explain the differences in the set up and uses of account email addresses in Google Apps.
A user account is assigned with an email address and their own inbox storage. The account comes with an associated suite of applications including Google Drive/Docs storage, calendar & contacts list, Google+ and Google Hangout.
The basic storage capacity of the account is 30 GB of shared email and Drive/Docs data. The cost is $5 per month or $50 per year. More storage capacity can be obtained at an additional cost. A Google Vault backup and archive can also be associated with a user account.
User accounts are typically for single users. Most businesses will have every employee with their own paid user account. A typical user may look like email@example.com.
Often businesses want a generic email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org or info@, accounts@. However often this is not necessary and is simply a waste of money. A smarter more cost effective approach is to create a free email alias or Google Group.
An email alias is a forwarding email address. The email alias is setup as part of your standard account and you are allowed up to 30 email alias per account. It does however not include domain aliases.
For example, my standard email is email@example.com. However I may want to receive all emails from an former employee John so I would set up email alias firstname.lastname@example.org. Google Apps would then deliver all emails sent to email@example.com to my standard email inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org. The emails would therefore be consolidated into one account.
The beauty of this feature is that if I wanted to reply as John, Google Apps provides for this function. The email would actually be sent from email@example.com but the email address that comes up in the recipient’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. For instructions on how to set this up click here
Groups provides a convenient way for users to send messages to groups of people who they are frequently in contact. A group contains the email addresses of its members, so users can send a message to all group members using the single address for the group. The difference between alias and groups is that aliases will only be delivered to one person, while groups are designed to be delivered to many people.
For example, a standard business contact on a website can be email@example.com. Instead of filtering all emails into one email account, the emails can be forwarded to multiple accounts such as firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com. It is particularly handy if for example the manager would like to keep track of potential sales coming in being processed by sales staff.
The other fantastic feature is members in the Groups do not have to be inside the same business domain. Using the example above, you can add someone from a non-onsitehelper.com email address. They can someone from another organisation who would have a different domain email address.
Further, for those businesses concerned with security, there is an option to lock down the email groups to only allow internal email addresses to be added. This also helps prevent potential spam of employees by external sources. To do this you simply do not enable the option “Also allow anyone on the Internet to post messages” .
Groups can also be used to manage access to your documents, sites videos and calendars. Users can share their content with groups instead of entering individual addresses. It is a huge time saver!
All Groups you create are free and you’re able to create unlimited number of groups with unlimited number of members in each group. For instructions on creating Groups in Google Apps, click here
Addon domains in Google Apps allows you to have an additional domain name in your Google Apps account. It will allow you to assign new email addresses to it or link aliases from an existing domain name email address. This is more ideal than having to create a new Google Apps subscription for each new domain name.
For example our primary domain name with Google Apps is onsitehelper.com. We also own domainhelper.com.au. If we wanted to setup email accounts using domainhelper.com.au we can do this with Addon Domain. To keep emails from these domains separate, I would create a new account firstname.lastname@example.org which has its own inbox. This would be a paid account. An advantage of this setup is that I can easily share my Google Drive documents and calendar sharing between email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org as they are both in the same Google Apps account. It is simpler more cost effective way to setup and manage my accounts with more control over security.
Domain Alias combines the function of Domain and Alias accounts. It allows you to add additional domain names to your Google Apps subscription. It automatically creates a free alias for every one of your accounts however users are only able to login using their primary account and not the alias.
For example, If I had 10 email addresses in my Google Apps account and I added domainhelper.com.au as a domain alias, all 10 email addresses would automatically have an alias with their email@example.com as well as their regualr firstname.lastname@example.org. This makes setting up users very fast and the great thing is it is free. For instructions on creating Addon domains and Domain aliases, click this link
Optional exceptions with shared inbox’s
Many businesses like to have the benefit of a shared inbox for collaboration purposes. In the Groups example where we had a generic email address email@example.com, we had each staff member receiving a copy of the email sent to this email address. However, how do you keep track of whether or not that incoming email has been responded to or dealt with.
This is where a shared inbox is the prefered method. Instead of setting up firstname.lastname@example.org as a Group, we could instead setting up an email account with its own 30GB storage inbox. Email delegation for users can be setup up to grant access this inbox. It would then be clear to all those with the permission to access the shared inbox whether or not an email has been dealt with.
Even better, emails can be sorted into folders/labels removing it from the inbox. This setup requires a paid Google Apps account for each one of these generic email accounts so you may wish to do it for some and a free Google Group option for others. For instructions on setting up email delegation, click this link
I hope this document helps you understand the difference when deciding how to set up your email account. If you have any questions or need some assistance with setting up email for your business, please feel free to email me at GoogleAppsSupport@onsitehelper.com or call us on 03 9999 3106.