Are you using a Google Workspace shared mailbox? Or perhaps thinking about setting one up?
You’ve come to the right place. This is your ultimate guide to setting up a shared mailbox in Google Workspace.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- What Is a Shared Mailbox?
- 3 ways to Share a Mailbox in Google Workspace
- How to Set Up a Shared Mailbox in Google Workspace
- 8 Reasons to Use a Shared Mailbox
- Why Use Google Workspace for a Shared Mailbox? The Pros and Cons
- Tips for Using a Shared Mailbox in Google Workspace
A “shared mailbox” is what it sounds like.
It’s a type of email inbox that’s shared between multiple people. Each person within the group can log in, read emails, review threads, and respond to messages as if they were the only account owner.
Typically, shared mailboxes are used by companies trying to consolidate the incoming and outgoing messages of a particular team in their company; for example, you might see an email address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emails sent to addresses like these can usually be seen, read, and responded to by multiple individual team members, streamlining the process.
In Google Workspace, you won’t need to set up individual login credentials for each accessing user; instead, each individual user can access the shared mailbox using their own individual email account credentials, making it convenient for everyone involved.
Now, the term “shared mailbox” is pretty generic. There are three main ways you can share an inbox in Google Workspace:
1. Credential sharing.
The simplest and most straightforward option is to simply share your credentials with someone else. If you give them your login credentials, both of you can log into the account, respond to emails, etc.
However, this strategy isn’t recommended (despite its simplicity) because it can easily lead to duplicated efforts and security issues.
2. Delegating Google mailboxes.
Of course, you can also create a “delegated account.” The idea here is to create an account (or use your existing account), and delegate some responsibilities and accessibility to other members of your team.
For example, you could grant limited access to your account to your assistant, who can then help you organize your emails, follow up with people, and more.
3. Use a third-party tool
There are lots of shared mailbox tools which we’ve evaluated and ranked (click that link to see), but you can also just keep it simple and use Google Workspace without any third-party tool support.
Okay, so how do you set up a Google Workspace shared inbox?
Follow these steps to create a delegated Google mailbox:
Step 1. Choose an existing email account or create a new one (ie, email@example.com). Log in.
Step 2. On a computer, open Gmail and click Settings, then go to “See all settings.”
Step 3. From there, click on the Accounts and Import tab.
Step 4. Under “Grant access to your account,” click “Add another account.” This option may not be available to you; if it’s not, contact your administrator, as certain organizations may restrict accessibility to this feature.
Step 5. From there, you’ll enter the email address of your desired delegate. Note that your account must have “Require user to change password at next sign-in” disabled before proceeding to the next step.
Step 6. From here, you can click a button to “Send email to grant access.”
At this point, your desired delegate will get an email asking them to accept your invitation. It can take up to 24 hours for everything to process. They will be able to login to the account using their own email credentials — no need to share the password of the delegated account to them!
At any point in the future, you can remove delegates from the same “Grant access to your account” section you used to add one.
There are plenty of good reasons to set up a shared mailbox:
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1. Easy accessibility for customers and prospects.
Here’s a scenario. You’re a customer trying to get in touch with a business. Is it easier to wade through 20 individual email addresses to find the right person to send a message to, or is it easier to send 1 email to a “customer service” grouped address?
Bundling members of your teams together into accessible groups will make it easier for people sending messages to your organization.
2. Team-based communication.
You want your teams to function like teams, right? It’s not just a loose alliance of rogue individuals. Bringing people together into a group with a shared inbox will allow them to communicate together, as a team.
3. Visibility and transparency.
Shared mailboxes in Google Workspace will increase visibility and transparency in your organization. Your team leaders can see pretty much every conversation that unfolds with your team members, including both incoming and outgoing messages. It’s ideal for improving individual performance and overall team efficiency.
4. Collaboration and context.
Together, your shared mailbox members can collaborate on certain conversations – and get more context for others. If one person has to leave for the day, someone else can tag in and keep the conversation going, skimming through previous messages to figure out what’s happened in the thread so far.
It’s more efficient for everyone involved.
5. Fewer duplicated efforts.
In some situations, it’s tough to avoid duplicated efforts. If two team members are copied on an email for a customer, they might both jump to try and resolve the issue. But in a shared mailbox environment, such an overlap is much rarer, since tasks can be delegated and seen by all.
6. Efficient delegation.
Since shared inboxes allow you to assign emails like tasks, follow up with other team members, and resolve conversations when they’ve been addressed, it’s much easier to delegate work.
You can balance your workloads across your various team members, hand off tasks to specialty experts, and more.
7. Faster customer service.
Fast customer service is important if you want to minimize customer churn and improve your brand reputation – and shared mailboxes help you accomplish it.
If a customer sends an email to an individual team member at the wrong time, they may have to wait hours before getting a response.
But if they send to a shared mailbox, the first available rep can step in to handle the issue.
8. Shifts and coverage.
Shared mailboxes also help you provide 24-hour coverage if you have people monitoring the inbox in different shifts. This is even more valuable if you have team members in different time zones.
There are many software solutions for shared mailboxes out there, including third party platforms that specialize in providing collaborative inboxes.
So why would you use Google Workspace’s shared mailboxes, specifically?
There are a few important advantages to using Google Workspace over a third-party tool:
- Easy setup. Setting up a shared mailbox is easy, whether you’re interested in merely delegating your inbox to someone else or setting up a true Collaborative Inbox from scratch. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s super simple if you’re already familiar with Google Workspace.
- No additional training. You don’t need any special skills, training, or education to set up a shared mailbox – much less use one – in Google. Don’t worry about hours of video tutorials or thick instruction manuals; you shouldn’t need them.
- High security. You trust Google, right? These guys are awesome when it comes to security. As long as you choose the appropriate settings and manage your accounts responsibly, you can count on top security in your organization.
- User roles and permissions. With Collaborative Inboxes and account delegation, you can tinker with user roles and permissions so you can grant access to everyone who needs it – without compromising access security.
- More integrations. Gmail is friendly with third party developers; Google makes it easy to tap into the power of third-party apps and integrations. With this level of customizability, you can use Google’s shared mailbox options to build the perfect system for your business.
- Shared mailboxes work well, no matter whether your business is just starting out with a few people or is operating at international scales. If your small business has plans to grow, this is ideal for you.
However, there are some downsides, such as:
- No built-in email analytics. There’s no built-in solution in Gmail that allows you to analyze your team’s email activity, including number of emails sent and received, response time, and other vital metrics. For that, you’ll need a third-party analytics solution like EmailAnalytics – more on that in a moment.
- Limited collaboration. The collaborative features in Google’s shared mailbox options are somewhat limited. You may not have functionality as robust as you might get in certain other project management and ticket management platforms.
Let’s close with some tips for using a shared mailbox in Google Workspace.
1. Train and educate your employees.
Gmail is super intuitive and I doubt your employees will have much of a problem learning how to use shared mailboxes. But it’s still a good idea to spend some time training and educating your employees. Teach them how to get the most value out of this system and how to use it properly.
While you’re at it, make sure to brief them on email security best practices.
2. Establish a system to resolve conversations.
Next, put together a consistent system for how you want your team members to assign, delegate, and resolve conversations. Everyone needs to be onboard with a consistent, coherent system if you want it to work smoothly.
3. Integrate an email analytics solution.
If you want to get the most out of your new collaborative email efforts, I highly advise you to invest in analytics. It pays to gather and analyze the objective data related to your team’s performance.
How efficiently are your employees working? What are their biggest obstacles and limitations? How balanced are your workload distributions? To answer these questions, you’ll need the help of a third-party analytics tool.
Ahem. Like EmailAnalytics.
With EmailAnalytics, I can review my most important email metrics, such as emails sent and received, top senders and recipients, and even statistics on how long my average email threads last.
But you know what? It’s easier if I just show you how it works, rather than telling you. Sign up for a free trial today and get started with it!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.