Have you already used Google Groups? It’s a service focused on communication and collaboration, where you can create forums and emails. The main idea of this tool is to be a place where people can interact with others that share the same interests.
According to Google, it’s a tool where “you can send an email to everyone in a group with one address, invite a group to an event, or share documents with a group. You can also create an online forum to discuss a popular technology or answer questions about a product”.
If you are considering this tool for any of these purposes, spend a little time examining this guide, to understand how Google Groups can be useful to your business.
What can you do with Google Groups?
If you’re thinking about using Google Groups for your business, learn about its best use cases and see if they fit on your strategy.
You can use the email list on Groups to send newsletters to your clients, or releases to the team. It’s a way to mass communicate with people and keep a relationship with the customers, partners and providers.
Good examples of use cases for this use case are setting business meetings with your partners (via a partners@ Google Groups), or even releasing a new product to your clients (via a client@ Google Groups).
It’s actually the first reason why Google Groups was created, a web forum where the group members can interact with one another. Usually is divided into topics, which made some teams to adapt it for sharing tasks. In this kind of group, it’s possible to discuss the assignments for the whole team.
Google Groups was not designed to be a Shared Inbox, but many teams are adapting to use it for this purpose.
The Google Collaborative Inbox consists in a group where people can send emails to an alias and these emails are distributed to a team. For example, imagine customers sending emails to a Google Group “firstname.lastname@example.org” asking for help. All of the people from your customer support team will receive these emails and will be able to reply to threads.
This collaborative inbox is commonly used as a chatroom, a place where the team can communicate between themselves.
How to create a Google Groups account?
The first thing you should learn is how to create a Google Group. You need to be logged in your Google’s account and then access Google Groups’ site. Then follow our step by step of how to config your new account:
1. Click on the button “create a group” at the page’s header.
2. Enter your group name and choose an email address that fits to the purpose of the group. Also enter a brief description, so people can know what it is about .
3. Choose your Group type from four options:
Email List: Allows you to send an email to all the group members at once.
Web Forum: Where group members can create and answer to topics.
Q&A forum: The Group members can post questions and answer them. It seems like Quora.
Collaborative Inbox: In this group option you can assign tasks or topics to the group members.
4. Configure the basic permissions of your group: visibility, view topics, posts and who can joy the group.
5. Click on the red button “Create” at the top of the page. Now you’ve created your Google group.
What are the main Google Groups limitations?
Especially if you are considering using Google Groups as a shared inbox, you should really know about its limitations. After all, the decision of sharing your company’s inbox must be well-thought-out, because there is a lot at stake.
1. It’s not inside Gmail
If you like your Gmail inbox, we are sorry to disappoint you. As you’ve already seen, you need to have a Google account to access and create your group. Even so, your shared email won’t be inside Gmail but totally separated from it. A shared inbox inside Gmail may be a better idea to simplify your work. It can also help your team with the well-known user experience oo.
2. It can get messy
On Google Groups everybody on the team receives the same emails simultaneously. This almost reaches the concept of a shared inbox. Yes, almost, because of a big problem with the way how this tool tries to do it.
Google Groups works with the “one-to-many” model to share the email inbox. In practice when a client sends a message to the team’s email address, everybody receives it, and each person can start a different thread with this same email.
So imagine that the whole team receives an email from a client complaining about something related to a product. One person sees it and starts a thread answering this email. Meanwhile another two people had the same idea of replying to it. There is no way to know if the problem was solved. Even if the person that replied CC the rest of the team, it won’t work. It’ll just generate lots of emails in everyone’s inboxes.
Two different people responding to the same email won’t do good for your company’s image nor reputation. You need an organized interface and software where you won’t have this issue.
Remember that Google Groups hasn’t been created for this specific purpose, just adapted by users. So you can understand why it doesn’t work very well.
3. You don’t have your own identity
If you don’t have a G Suite account your Google Groups’ email domain will be @googlegroups.com. The email domain with your company’s name can help your clients on having a better experience and also a good impression of you. So before opting on using Groups, have in mind that you should acquire a domain on G Suite.
4. Tasks visibility
Google Groups doesn’t have the functionality that permits us to know who’s working on which task. So it’s possible that lots of misunderstandings can happen, as a task being done twice, by different team members, for instance.
5. Unknown sender
Since Google Groups doesn’t have properly shared inboxes and people need to forward each other inside the team all the time. Sometimes email threads get so long and confusing that people no longer realize who sent a specific reply to certain emails.
On the other hand, there are other softwares options like Drag. It allows you to keep everyone in the same conversation and just assign a person to reply to specific emails. This keeps work simple and no one will wonder who sent what.
6. Google Group’s interface
If your team is used to the Gmail interface, they will certainly find some inconveniences with the Google Groups’ one. It differs significantly from the usual Gmail interface, which can be time-consuming for everyone to learn how to use it.
Another thing that really can ruin the user experience is that the emails may seem unattended even if a team member is working on it. The system doesn’t have a way to signalize it, what can make double doing tasks a recurrent problem.
Also, it’s impossible to make a distinction between external and internal communication, a separation that needs to be done in order to keep the workspace organized.
What is the best Google Groups alternative?
If you didn’t like the cons we mentioned, you should look for a Google Groups alternative that will certainly provide all you need. We present you Drag: an app that is far beyond a shared inbox. A complete solution for teams that want to integrate their communication through Gmail, managing tasks,
A real shared inbox
Of course, if you are looking for a shared inbox tool, this is the first aspect we have to clarify. For people that don’t like the email interface on Google Groups, we have the solution: Drag works inside and integrated with your Gmail account.
A great thing about Drag is that you receive shared emails, but it’s possible to control who is replying to them. This is also integrated with a task manager that we want to describe more detailed next.
Tasks in a Kanban mode
With Drag you can organize your tasks in a Kanban board. This means you can see all of your tasks in cards, which makes organizing a to-do list a lot easier. Tracking down your progress becomes much better with this mode too. It’s also possible to use the Kanban mode for your emails, to organize them the way that better suits your necessities.
Here are some other features you can add to your cards in a Kanban board:
- Delegation of tickets;
- Customer info, such as phone number and company;
- Progress bar;
- Due dates;
- Internal notes.
More than just emails
Drag is so much more than just a place where you can receive and share emails with your team. It’s a platform developed to help you run your business, and become a collaborative workspace inside Gmail, to unify all your processes in only one spot.
On Drag, you can set due dates, have an internal team chat, add tasks to your inbox. Creating checklists and notes and also have integration between Google Calendar and Gmail are also some other Drag functionalities.
Yes, Google Groups is definitely a useful tool for businesses, but it’s not being used in an optimized way by some teams. And by saying this we mean that it wasn’t created for certain uses, that’s why it doesn’t work as expected. It may lack important details that will make a huge difference on your work’s performance.
Drag is certainly the best alternative to Google Groups, since it offers good solutions not only to your email management, but to your business in general.
Drag is The Everything Inbox for Teams – one single place to support customers, manage tasks and close deals, from the place teams love – Gmail. We are Techstars-backed Company, trusted by 30,000 users around the World.