Every business needs email. It’s one of the primary ways that your customers and clients expect to be able to communicate with you. The good news is that you can set up business email at no charge or included in a service you are already using.
First, Consider the @
The first thing to think about when you are setting up a free business email is whether you want your email to have your business name after the @ symbol (this is called a branded email) or if you want something like Gmail after the @ symbol.
If you prefer branded email, you need to own a domain name the same as your business name. If you don’t have a domain name that reflects your business, you can start with a free account at Gmail. Generally speaking, branded emails are better for business purposes, but having a Gmail account is better than no email at all.
Free Email Options for Small Business
There are several ways that you can get free business email. Some are starter plans and require upgrades as your email list grows, others stay free throughout the growth of your business.
Gmail is easy to use, free to set up and has plenty of storage—which makes it great for people who want to set up a business email address fast.
However, there are a few limitations. Free Gmail can’t send autoresponder types of emails and your email address will be something like "firstname.lastname@example.org". So, you won’t have a branded email address.
If you are just starting out or if your business doesn’t have a website then this is a good option.
Email Through Your Hosting Service
If you have a domain name and are building a website, in most cases selecting a host that has cPanel can give you free business email. Many web hosting companies, like Hostgator or LiquidWeb, provide cPanel with your hosting package.
cPanel is a service many website hosts provide that gives site owners and admins an easy way to control many website functions, including setting up email to go with the domain name.
Typically, you can create as many email addresses as you like for your account. You will manage them with a service like SquirrelMail. You can select the management software from a list when you set up your email addresses.
The interfaces offered with cPanel can be a bit clunky and can take some getting used to, especially if you are used to email clients with strong user interfaces.
Zoho email is a good alternative to emails set up through cPanel. Some hosts, like Kinsta, don’t offer cPanel with their hosting accounts. If you don’t like working with cPanel or if your host doesn’t offer it, setting up email with Zoho email can be a solid option.
Zoho has both paid and free options, and their free option has a nice interface that is fairly intuitive to use once you have the system set up.
If you are looking to set up automated email sequences or want to send broadcast emails to a group, then MailChimp has a free CRM platform for up to 2,000 contacts.
If you are sending mostly personal correspondence by email, then one of the other options may work better for you. You can also use a combination of MailChimp as an auto-responder software and one of the other options to send personal emails.
Outlook isn’t quite free, but it does come bundled with the Microsoft 365 suite, and you can set up business branded email in Outlook. So, if you already have or need Microsoft 365, then it can be a good way to go for your business without incurring extra cost.
Outlook works best as an app on your computer, although you can access it online with Microsoft 365 as well. However, the online version has more limited options.
The Bottom Line on Free Email for Business
There are several solid options to set up email for your business that are free, nearly free, or come with other services you might be paying for already.
If you have a website, then you will be able to set up a branded email. Without a website you will need to use a more generic email like Gmail.com to create a free business email.
You may also want to consider whether or not your email solution offers an email app to make sending and checking emails easier when you’re on the go.