In our last post, we talked about the differences between web-based and desktop-based email. Ultimately, we favor web-based email because it can everything you need it to, you can easily access it from anywhere, and there tend to be less issues with it.
Today, we’re going to get a little more specific.
Today we’re talking about our favorite email platform: Gmail.
A Little Bit About Gmail
Gmail, created by Google, is an email platform that was released to the public in 2007 after a few years of private beta testing. Though it was still considered a work-in-progress at the time, it didn’t take long for Gmail to gain a strong following.
Gmail offered a sleeker interface, more inbox storage, and superior security compared to Hotmail and Yahoo.
Today, Gmail is the most used web-based email service in the world with over 425 million active users.
Why is it so popular? Why do we recommend it to our clients? Let us tell you…
The Many Perks of Gmail
It’s hard to decide where to start with Gmail.
Like pretty much any email system, Gmail will store your contacts, emails, calendar events, reminders, etc. You can create event invites that go out to other people and you can even create entire shared calendars.
Additionally, Gmail has a built in chat feature that many refer to as g-chat. With the chat feature, you can instant message your contacts for quick replies and discussions. Those chats are then saved in an inbox folder so you can reference them later.
With the chat feature, you can also start a Google Hangout (video chat) with up to 10 people (15 if you have a premium account). In a Hangout, you can talk face to face, share you computer screen, upload documents, and more. If you don’t have a camera, you can also do voice chats.
Sounds pretty great, huh? But wait…there’s more!
The Google Suite
Truth is, Gmail is actually just one piece of a bigger product. When you create a Gmail, you’re actually creating a Google Account. With your Google Account, you get access to everything Google has to offer.
If you’re an Android user, you have the added benefit of syncing everything directly to your phone. Don’t worry, iPhone users can still sync up their Gmail and calendars with their phone. It’s just not quite as seamless.
Your Google Account can be attached to your business’s Google+ page, YouTube Channel, Analytics, AdSense, and more. It also allows you to give Google reviews and comment on YouTube videos.
Attached to your Google Suite are two other big tools: Google Drive and Google Docs.
Cloud Storage for the Win
Drive is Google’s cloud storage system. With a free Gmail account, you can store up to 15GBs of files, documents, etc. online, where they can be accessed from anywhere you can find an internet connection.
You can also easily share files from Drive with anyone you want. If someone sends you a document in an email, you can save it directly to your Drive.
Drive can also be installed on all of your electronic devices. If you use multiple computers, this makes it very easy to start a project on one computer and finish it on another.
Personally, I have three computers and my phone, all of which are synced with my Drive. I never have to worry about accidently leaving work at the office or losing important files if my computer crashes. It’s pretty great.
Drive also integrates easily with Google Docs.
Fewer Downloads. Better Collaboration
Technically speaking, Google now considers Drive and Docs to be one tool, but for the sake of explanation, let’s separate them. Google Docs is essentially an online version of Microsoft Office.
With it, you can create text documents, spreadsheets, slideshow presentations, etc. They aren’t quite as robust or powerful as Word or Excel, but for most, they can do what you need them to.
Also, they’re free.
But the best part about the Google Docs tools is convenience. If someone sends you a Word document, and you want to edit it and send it back, rather than downloading it, editing it, re-uploading it, and sending it, you can just do it all online.
No downloading necessary.
Or you can have multiple people working on and editing a document or spreadsheet simultaneously. Changes happen in real time, and you can even see who is accessing the file.
Gmail (and the Google Account that comes with it) is absolutely free. However, if you want a professional email such as tim@radiatedigital, you will have to get a Google Apps account.
With Google Apps, you get all the features listed above and more. For $5 a month (or $50 a year), your Apps account comes with 30GB of online storage. If you’re going to be storing a lot of files in the cloud, you can grab a $10 a month account that comes with unlimited storage (and a few additional bells and whistles)
Are You Convinced?
You’re probably wondering if Google paid us to write this post. They didn’t, nor did they secretly buy us.
The truth is, we use Google for pretty much everything, and it works great for us , and we have no doubt it can work great for you too. We have yet to encounter a client who went with a Google account and was disappointed in the end.
Even the ones who just use it for their email.
Do you use Gmail? What other Google Apps do you use? What email service would you recommend?