Guide

Benefits of email and the internet

Advantages and disadvantages of using email for business

Email is an important method of business communication that is fast, cheap, accessible and easily replicated. Using email can greatly benefit businesses as it provides efficient and effective ways to transmit all kinds of electronic data.

Advantages of using email

Email can increase efficiency, productivity and your business readiness. Using email in business is:

  • cheap - sending an email costs the same regardless of distance and the number of people you send it to
  • fast - an email should reach its recipient in minutes, or at the most within a few hours
  • convenient - your message will be stored until the recipient is ready to read it, and you can easily send the same message to a large number of people
  • permanent - you can keep a record of messages and replies, including details of when a message was received

One of the main advantages of email is that you can quickly and easily send electronic files such as text documents, photos and data sheets to several contacts simultaneously by attaching the file to an email. Check with your internet service provider if there is a limit to the size of email attachment you can send. Some businesses may also limit the type and size of attachments that they are willing to receive.

You can gain further advantages and increase your efficiency by setting up your email software to:

  • automatically create entries in your address book for every message you send or receive
  • respond to incoming emails automatically, eg to confirm receipt of an order, or to let people know that you are on leave or out of the office

Disadvantages of using email

Despite the host of benefits, there are certain weaknesses of email that you should be aware of, such as:

  • Spam - unsolicited email can overwhelm your email system unless you install a firewall and anti-spam software. Other internet and email security issues may arise, especially if you're using the cloud or remote access.
  • Viruses - easily spread through email attachments. See how to detect spam, malware and viruses.
  • Sending emails by mistake - at a click of a button, an email can go to the wrong person accidentally, potentially leaking confidential data and sensitive business information. You should take care to minimise the likelihood of business data breach and theft.
  • Data storage - electronic storing space can become a problem, particularly where emails with large attachments are widely distributed.

Less formal nature of email can lead to careless or even libellous remarks being made which can damage your business. To minimise these risks, you should create and implement an email and internet acceptable use policy for your business.