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Email providers: here’s how to select the right one

Business email is so critical to today’s world, it’s hard to imagine a time that we ever lived without it.

But while email seems timeless, there’s been a huge change in how businesses are powering it: more and more, they’re getting it from the cloud.

That’s because there’s no hardware to buy, no software to license and no time to invest in maintenance and upgrades. You stay focused on business, and your email provider does the rest.

But there are a million email hosting providers out there. How do you choose the right one?

Intermedia is the world’s largest independent provider of hosted Microsoft Exchange. (“Exchange” is the back-end software that powers nearly 500 million business email mailboxes around the world.) So business email is our business.

And when I speak to customers who are looking for hosted email providers, I tell them that it’s easy to find the perfect one. They just have to ask four simple questions.

4 questions to ask paid email providers

As you seek the best hosted email provider, just ask each of the candidates these four basic questions. Their answers will tell you everything you need to know.

  1. How much experience do you have? 

    It’s not easy to host business email. There’s a lot of technical skill that goes into setting up accounts, migrating customer data, handling support issues, maintaining the datacenters and infrastructure, enabling user mobility, and so on. Even though email seems basic, provider experience truly matters.So make sure you ask all potential hosted email providers about the level of their experience. Email is so critical to your business, this is not the place to save money by choosing the new guy on the block.

  2. How will you support my admins and my users?

    A lot of email providers say they offer 24×7 support. Great. But who is answering the phones? Are they Microsoft-certified technicians? Or are they some third-party outsourcing service? Make sure your email provider is giving you the best support possible, not handing you off to someone else to cut their own costs.

  3. What other integrated hosted services do you offer? 

    The more cloud apps you use, the harder it is to get them all to work together. So ask your provider what other integrated hosted services they offer. Look for collaboration tools, anti-spam services, email archiving, and others (such as file sync and share or even phone services). When you get them all from the same provider, you save money. But you also cut down on IT integration headaches and free up time that’s better served actually growing your business.

  4. What is included in my contract?

    Make sure to get complete understanding of what is and isn’t included in your contract. Will migration and onboarding be covered? (They should be included.) Do you have to pay extra for support? (You shouldn’t have to!) Do they charge extra for additional admin accounts? (Red flag!)Finding out at the beginning means you won’t be caught by surprise when an unexpected bill shows up.  Getting a complete picture of the cost—including migration, which is the most overlooked cost—will also make it easier to compare pricing between providers.

Now, these are the top four questions, but there’s much more you should know. A research firm named Osterman Research has built an in-depth guide to evaluating hosted Exchange providers. Not only does their report offer cost comparisons, but it provides more than 40 further questions you can ask your potential business email providers. You can download it for free.

business email provider evaluation white paper

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One more thing: when you’re ready to start interviewing email providers, consider Intermedia. We offer 24/7 expert phone support, free migration, 15 years of experience, a complete suite of integrated services, and no surprises in your contract. Call us today at (800) 379.7729 or learn more about Intermedia’s hosted Exchange.


About Kirsten Barta

Kirsten Barta is Sr Marketing Communications Manager at Intermedia