Have you ever been frustrated by trying to synchronize your outlook to a different computer or your phone?

Have you ever needed an email from your work computer, and had to drive to the office just to get that email?

Old-style email has outlived its useful life, and the future is with purely online webmail systems.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s “Brandable” / “Skinnable”. The biggest concern people have is that Bob@Accounting.com is going to show up as TequilaShots@gmail.com – this is not the case, if you don’t want it to be. There are 2 ways to ensure that you use Gmail as a web-client and as the postman, but not as your sending address. More on this in a bit, but rest assured, I can send email as roger at swiftcrm dot com, but I’m technically using gmail’s web interface. You can even send as several different accounts if needed from within one webmail account.
  2. You can still use Outlook or Thunderbird – the trick here is to leave your email on the server. I do NOT recommend this, as it defeats some of the benefits below – but it is an option, and may prove helpful for a brief transition. Both Gmail an Yahoo and probably hotmail allow Pop3 & Imap.
  3. It’s always synchronized. Access your email from your phone, different computers, home, work, the car, and it doesn’t matter: it’s all in front of you, and it’s all searchable.
  4. It’s cross platform. It doesn’t matter if you have a PC at the office, an iPhone, your wife has a mac – you can check your mail from any online device, even WebTV, Ubuntu powered netbooks, etc. and it won’t matter.
  5. The future is more automated. SwiftCRM is heavy into automation – we believe it’s Web 3.0. You set up logic online, and get more done with less work.
  6. It helps you create better email habits. If you have more than 200 emails in your in-box, chances are high your inbox is out of control. I used to have thousands of messages, then a few times a year, would delete hundreds at a time. I’d miss sales opportunities, simply because they fell off the main pane of my email. I missed events. It was horrible, ineffective, and sloppy. Now I practice “inbox zero”, a concept put forth by David Allen’s landmark book “Getting Things Done”, in which he calls most inboxes a complete mess of unsorted tasks, worthless junk you are going to later ignore anyway, requests for information you simply haven’t mentally processed yet, etc. – so take back control, read that book, and you’ll quickly find your inbox should only be a staging area or collection area. As selling opportunities come in, you need to immediately put them into the correct tool for the job – SwiftCRM – so they are correctly followed up on, and furthermore, that followup is largely automatic. Read the book to get the full concept, but in short, your inbox should be small. To be honest I rarely get fully to zero, but I am almost always under 100 messages and I am fully in control of my communication, tasks, calendar, etc.
  7. You’ll have fewer problems. If you’ve ever seen the annoying “send error” messages from old-school devices like outlook or thunderbird, you’ll welcome working online, where you simply don’t see them. Let the pros at Gmail, hotmail, or Yahoo mail take care of that stuff, so you don’t have to.
  8. Email is evolving, but desk-based-tools are not (as fast, anyway). Case in point: Google Wave. While I and many mostly yawned at Google Wave, that’s really only because it’s not integrated. As online communication in general evolves, web-based-tools are better suited to evolve with the internet – with Google Buzz, twitter, Linkedin.com, etc. becoming more integrated as simple asynchronous communication (one person to many readers) you’ll see these systems become less alienated and more a part of the tools we use daily. It’s already happening on phones, and I think the web based email systems are likely to evolve as more programmers develop plugins for them.

Next, let’s assume you’re sold and want to make the switch. How? Here’s how, for a single user or small company using the “simple forwarding method” (free).

  1. Setup Gmail addresses for each employee including yourself, and perhaps one or two boxes that multiple people can access, i.e. faxes. This is free, at Gmail.com. Tip: Either use people’s phone extensions i.e. YourCo-33@Gmail.com, or their firstname i.e. Swift-Bob@gmail. Remember, they’ll never need to give this out to anyone outside your company, so don’t worry about the details just choose something easy to remember and that will work consistently for your company.
  2. Setup Forwarding so that YourBox@YourServer.com redirects to YourNewGmail@Gmail.com
  3. Enable branding by…
    1. Login to Gmail
    2. Click Settings top right
    3. Click Accounts & Import
    4. Go to “Send Mail As” 2nd section down and click “Send Mail from Another Address”
    5. Enter YourBox@YourServer.com.
    6. Verify your email address
    7. Set the default settings to YourBox@YourServer.com if you prefer.

That’s it! You’ll probably be briefly annoyed for about 2 days while learning the new system, and you’ll still need to access some of the emails off your old system – but push through it. The payoff is absolutely worth it.

There is a 2nd method of note, which is called “splitting the MX record”. In short, your system administrator will make an adjustment to your server that tells the world your web traffic belongs there, but your email belongs at some other server, i.e. gmail or yahoo or GoDaddy, etc.

Once you do this, you have greater control but will also need to pay for email hosting at that secondary service.