The Best Google Groups Alternatives
Google Groups is a fine multi-purpose tool for small internal mailing lists. This list of Google Groups alternatives will help you scale when you need more features.
Many businesses or organizations want to communicate with multiple users at once, whether that’s with employees, customers, or members of a community group. Businesses are interested in software that allows them to send or receive email to many participants and essentially function as a “group”.
When you want to send updates to many individuals and facilitate exchanges at the same time, regular email simply doesn’t cut it. Long email threads become confusing and overwhelming, and the original intent behind the message can become lost as more and more people reply.
An alternative to long email threads was developed as Google Groups, which evolved as a way for groups of users to hold discussions. Google Groups is a fantastic way to disseminate information to groups of users, but has significant limitations when it comes to business messaging.
Learn more about Google Groups, and the alternative tools that can help your business take group discussion to the next level.
What is Google Groups?
Google offers software called Google Groups as part of its suite of apps that allows businesses to send and receive messages to potentially large groups of participants through online discussions. Google Groups users can be part of a shared inbox and have access to group communications.
Google Groups is good for organizations that want to host discussions around shared topics or a common interest, which can include something to do with the business. Many businesses have adopted Google Groups as a way to keep people inside or outside their company informed with important updates.
So Google Groups can be used for personal discussion forums or applied in a business setting. Some groups also use Facebook groups for a similar purpose. One of the big advantages is how versatile Google Groups is and its adaptability for several different use cases. You can access your shared messages either through email or a web-based interface, and control the level of updates you receive through the platform.
When you have discussions around topics that can all be grouped together, Google Groups is superior to email in that it offers more of a public forum, with multiple users participating at once.
The different types of Google Groups
Google Groups can be used in a number of different ways to enable teams to collaborate on group discussion.
First, Google Groups is used as a collaborative inbox, which is Google’s version of the shared inbox. This use case of Google Groups allows teams to manage shared email from a single collaborative interface which they use inside Google Groups rather than Gmail. This means that an email can be sent to a single email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org and then accessed by many users.
Collaborative inbox could be used by company teams such as customer support or sales, to enable employees to deal with incoming inquiries.
As the name might suggest, Google Groups can be used as a platform for a discussion forum to take place among groups of users who are united around a single topic. The topic might be gardening, a specific software release, or an upcoming event. Users can post messages through email or via the web-based platform, and access archived discussions for content that has been posted in the past.
Google Groups is a good way to conduct group conversations and have the posts remain available to members.
You can treat Google Groups like an email list by keeping your clients updated on your business’s activities. You can invite users to your Google Groups and send your email to a particular email address which is then distributed to multiple users. This approach works either for groups who want to keep their members informed about scheduled activities or professional teams who need to organize their members.
Using Google Groups as an email list is better than simply sending long email chains via your email client.
The cons (or downsides) of using Google Groups
Now, while Google Groups may be effective for group discussions, you start to notice its biggest limitations when you attempt to use it as a shared inbox.
Not suitable for high volumes of email in a shared inbox
When you start to receive high volumes of email through Google Groups, such as when managing large pools of customers, Google Groups becomes inadequate. Team members collaborating on email through a Google group start to become confused and customer inquiries get lost, especially when you start to grow past two or three team members. Google Groups just lacks the collaboration features necessary for teams who want to manage shared inboxes with high email volume.
So while it might be tempting to use your Google Group as a shared inbox, there are other tools out there that do the job better.
It isn’t accessed through Gmail
You might think that using Google Groups for a shared inbox will keep you in a familiar interface, but the reality is that Google Groups is not accessed through Gmail. When you set Google Groups up as a shared inbox your team has to learn a whole new platform in order to manage their group email discussions.
While Gmail is very user-friendly, using Google Groups for group email is less so.
Need to switch between Google Groups and Gmail
If you want to use the full functionality of Google Groups and Gmail, you need to switch between the two platforms, which is a process that doesn’t offer the best experience in terms of usability. Valuable productivity is lost and, in an attempt to combine these two platforms, many team members will opt to receive Google Groups messages into their Gmail inboxes.
Google Groups doesn’t present an end-to-end tool for collaborative email management.
Long email lists can become overwhelming
If an organization doesn’t require much engagement on the email lists it is sending out, then Google Groups can often be a valuable tool. If, on the other hand, recipients need to engage and collaborate on their responses, such as for customer support email, then Google Groups soon becomes unwieldy. Forwarding or cc’ing emails as you reply to them is just not good business practice for customer service teams.
Important information gets lost in the chaos if you are relying on Google Groups.
Hard to assign emails to particular team members
When you have a large team of individuals managing a shared mailbox, Google Groups offers limited options for assigning email. Being able to keep track of who exactly is managing your email and responding to customers becomes difficult with Google Groups, and team members don’t benefit from their own personal mailbox where they can see email assigned to them.
So while Google Groups’s collaborative inbox can be good for some things, it falls short for customer support.
Google Groups alternatives
Here are some alternatives that you might want to consider if you feel you’ve outgrown Google Groups, or just want to try something different.
First of all, we can recommend our very own Keeping as a Google Groups alternative. If your plan is to use Google Groups as a shared inbox for customer support teams, then you should know that Keeping has the answer. Working right on top of Gmail, Keeping has the solution that Google Workspace users have dreamed of when it comes to your customer service operations.
Keeping offers all the features that you need to collaborate on email within a shared inbox, including assigning emails to team members, updating email statuses, private messaging, and much more. Keeping is geared towards customer service departments who want to make customer email a team effort.
Unlike Google Groups, Keeping includes analytics to help you keep track of vital email metrics such as average response time and inquiries per day. When you have access to the data you can plan your team’s resources accordingly and ensure that requests are managed.
The ease of use and affordability of Keeping make it a top choice for customer service teams using Gmail.
If you want another viable and simple Google Groups alternative, then you’ll want to consider Groups.io. With a set of productivity features including calendar and file-sharing, the main selling point of Groups.io is the basic email group platform which you can use to communicate with your community members or team.
Groups.io presents its email groups as a positive alternative to the chaos of instant messaging. Instead of requiring team members to be online all the time, the power of email groups is in eliciting more thoughtful responses at times that are more convenient.
Have control over your Groups.io subscription by managing specific topics and deciding how often you want to be updated with new messages. Their premium subscription allows you to integrate their platform with other tools such as GitHub for whenever code is submitted to a repo, or Trello for updates on any actions that are taken on a board.
Groups.io offers a free plan for up to 100 members.
Drag is a shared inbox software that also works in Gmail to help you turn email into a collaboration tool. While Drag is fundamentally an email system, it contains productivity features such as Kanban or list view for upcoming and historical tasks, and the ability to upload files to Drag to share with your team.
If you want a shared inbox tool that integrates with other productivity apps such as Trello and DropBox, then look no further than Drag. Drag is suitable for all sorts of teams from Marketing, to Sales, to Customer Service, to manage shared email and collaborate on inquiries from within Drag.
The advantage of Drag is to avoid having to switch between multiple tools just to get tasks done. When all of your systems are integrated, you can work faster and ensure nothing gets missed as you strive to help clients, colleagues or customers.
Drag starts at $0 for small teams of three.
It’s unlikely that you haven’t heard of Slack, which offers a great alternative to your typical Google Groups. Suitable for both internal team communication and public groups, organizations of many sizes are using Slack to interact through messages which are organized as threads in channels, and private conversations.
One of the advantages of Slack is that it is so versatile, and on every plan you can even use it for video calling or restricted channels to communicate with other companies or individuals. Slack also integrates with hundreds of other apps, such as Google Drive to quickly reference docs and files, or Wrenly for managing employee engagement.
What many people like about Slack is its sense of fun, with occasional comments from their Slackbot and the ability to upload custom emojis. Although Slack can be whimsical, it is primarily intended for work and helps teams with their productivity when they cannot all be in the same location.
Slack starts at $0 per month for the most basic plan.
Another Google Groups alternative for customer service teams is Help Scout, a help desk and shared inbox software that also includes a knowledge base and live chat. Team collaboration over customer communication is made easier when you use the Help Scout features such as automations, prioritizations and multiple inboxes.
With Help Scout, groups of people can collaborate on incoming mail as well as support customers through alternative channels. Simple and easy to set up, Help Scout is perfect for smaller teams as well as larger organizations who want to manage customer inquiries.
When you use Help Scout, you’ll find that customer information is displayed alongside their request, which gives any member of your team visibility into who they are helping. Use Help Scout’s reporting to gain insight into customer satisfaction, and stay on top of how your team is doing.
Help Scout starts at $20 per user per month.
Front is a great choice for teams who want to coordinate their customer communication. Instead of using personal email to talk to customers, Front is both a help desk and an email platform that offers features to help you expand your customer operations while maintaining the personal touch.
Front brings together multiple channels of communication to enable you to handle your conversations in one place. Automation rules allow you to get messages to the right person without manual intervention, and assign them to whoever you like.
Comments, notes and tagging allow you to have conversations about emails directly within Front, so there’s no need to turn to an external tool. You can see how each team member is performing in terms of their messages, as well as following Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and CSAT score.
Front starts at $59 per user per month.
Gaggle Mail is another alternative to Google Groups which you can use to conduct email discussion lists without the usual hassle. It’s easy to create new email groups and control how you receive new updates. Gaggle Mail’s support team is highly responsive and anyone can join your group as long as they have an email address.
When you want to find an older message, simply search the message archive to locate previous discussions and easily send them again. It’s simple to moderate the emails that can be sent so you can control your discussion list and protect it from spam.
Gaggle Mail provides a great experience for users joining your list, from a tailored welcome message to a specific footer inserted into every email. If you want to keep email addresses private, you can enable group members to interact with each other without being able to view what their address is.
Gaggle Mail is free for groups of up to 1,000 people.
Disciple is a community management app that allows you to bring together groups of members to consume content and share discussions. It’s an alternative to Google Groups because it facilitates group interaction without the downside of busy email lists. You can use Disciple to turn your members into subscribers and add real purpose to your communities.
You can have as many groups as you like and threads keep your discussions organized. Having access to analytics means you can gain insight into how engaged your members are and how they are interacting with your content.
Groups can be broken down into more granular discussions, ensuring every topic remains relevant for its members. Members can manage each other privately as well as tag other members on public threads, making Disciple a good platform for group conversation.
Disciple is $49 a month for 100 members.
The birth of Google Groups meant groups of users could use Google’s services to collaborate and communicate with one another in a community platform. While Google Groups may be useful for some things, it certainly wasn’t designed as a shared inbox for teams. If you want to manage email together, you’ll want to consider some alternatives to Google Groups such as Keeping.
With Keeping, you have the familiarity of Gmail combined with the power of a help desk solution. Groups of individuals can communicate through email without the hassle of cc’ing or forwarding, meaning you can keep customers informed and up-to-date with their requests.
Email is a useful tool for teams when it is managed properly in a solution like Keeping.
When you use Keeping, you know that each new email can be tracked and prioritized, with each user of the platform can handle queries without stepping on each other’s toes. You can retain what’s good about Gmail while turning it into a collaborative help desk that enables you to manage group email.
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