business email applications and services

by Crucible Multimedia

Electronic mail, or e-mail, is by far the most popular use of Internet-based technology and is a fast cheap and convenient way of communicating, both externally and within a company. Used properly it can help you and your business to work smarter and not harder.

What do I need to send e-mail?

You simply write your message on one computer and send it a person on another computer or similar device, either on your IT network or over the Internet. The technology you use to send messages over the Internet depends on how much use you expect to make of e-mail and other Internet applications, and whether you expect to transfer large files, but you can simply use a stand-alone PC with a modem, a dedicated telephone type device or a 'Smart' mobile phone or PDA (Personal Digital Asssistant).

For e-mail sent outside your company your Internet Service Provider (ISP) acts as your central post office, routing your messages to their destination and storing messages sent to you until you are ready to download them. To be able to send and receive e-mail you only need to register with a free online 'webmail' service using any appropriate Internet connected device - but you need an Internet connection to be able to refer to saved messages. To save and store an archive of email 'locally' on your own PC or device you need e-mail software, which you may already have as part of your company's IT network program or operating system. If not, popular packages such as Microsoft Outlook Express or Netscape Communicator can be freely and easily obtained as part of the standard browsers used to access the Web.

The more advanced functions to look out for are:

E-mail isn't just a virtual fax

Initially you may be tempted to use e-mail like a virtual fax, with one person nominated to send and receive messages, and even to print it out messages and distribute them manually. But there are a few differences from fax to bear in mind:

Once e-mail becomes an established part of your business operation you may wish to network it around your office - to use internally like an electronic memo system, and for individual workstation PC users to be able to send and receive external e-mail at their desks. At this stage you may need e-mail server software on the computer that is connected to the Internet or an enhanced service from your ISP.

What are the advantages of using e-mail?

Your company's e-mail address is part of your company's image, so choose it with care. The same applies to the messages you send, so make sure you pay as much attention to them as you would to any paper-based communications - see our information sheets on domain names and netiquette for further advice.

Reviewed January 2011

last updated : 21/01/2011

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