Updated : Dec 14, 2023
11 Mins Read

Shared Mailbox vs Distribution List: Differences Worth Knowing in 2024

Reviewed By :

Drashti bhadesiya
Shared mailbox vs distribution list: Learn the difference between a shared mailbox and a distribution list.

Shared Mailbox vs Distribution List: Differences Worth Knowing in 2024

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For any organization, internal team communication is vital, as effective communication is the key to success. Moreover, smooth team communications can also help solve issues quickly and efficiently. This increases the overall productivity of the organization.

Of course, technology has gifted us with numerous communication channels like emails, chatting, and phone calls. Out of all these mediums, email communication heads first for effective organizational communications.

Now, many of you might not be well aware of the different ways in which emails can be fruitful for organizational communications. Well, email gives us innumerable ways in which distribution lists, shared inboxes, and shared mailboxes are given top priority. And, today, we are going to share some valuable insights related to these three email communication methods.

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What Is a Distribution List?

Distribution list
Distribution list

Email distribution lists become very helpful when you need to share important information with your teammates. You just need to select a list of your recipients, click the send button and your message will be delivered. 

Moreover, it has any kind of sending limit. You can send your message to as many as thousands of recipients on the go. However, you can use a distribution list for conducting one-way communication. So, it becomes an effective way to send newsletters and pass some important information to your teammates. 

Although distribution lists cannot be considered effective for leading email campaigns, now, you might think why. Well, the only reason is its speed. In email marketing, you need to create numerous distribution lists. Besides this, you need to be quick and efficient in sending emails, which the email distribution list format could not achieve.

In such a scenario, email marketing applications like Mailchimp, Mailerlite, and Sendinblue can help you out (Just ensure your landing page is perfect).

When to use a distribution list?

As distribution lists help you send messages to multiple recipients, they impart good efficiency in communication. You can imagine a situation where you must send an important message to your clients and teammates. At that time, the distribution list becomes your saviour.

Moreover, it saves a lot of your time, as you do not have to manually select every recipient to pass your information. You will have your prepared recipient list by your side and just have to type the message and send it. So, you can think how fast it will be.

Such distribution lists also help you to keep a perfect track record of your communication. This becomes utterly helpful in finding out the people who are missed for passing the information. That’s why distribution lists always hold great importance for organizational communications.

Also read: How to Choose Best OMS Software for eCommerce

What is a Shared Inbox?

What is a shared inbox list 1
Shared inbox

The shared inbox commonly means one inbox is shared among multiple people. Like any other email inbox, it will be able to share and receive emails, but its features, like a calendar, will be accessible to multiple people.

Mostly, organizations use the shared inbox functionality for leading customer communications. For example, you might have seen email IDs like ‘[email protected]’ or [email protected]. Such IDs are pointed out to be shared inboxes.

The shared inbox functionality becomes very helpful for the customer support teams of any organization as it supports a two-way communication system. So, whenever your customer is going to fire a query on your shared inbox, it will reach all the team members of your customer support.

Whosoever agent will be free, he/she will reply to the customer. Your customer would not have to wait for hours. You can think how Shared Inbox can increase the productivity of your customer support process.

Apart from this, a shared inbox is a good way to watch your customer support process. You get to use a wide range of message templates. Besides this, you even get to monitor the performance of your customer support teams as shared inbox stores data where you get to know which email is responded to by which person.

When to use a shared mailbox?

Through a shared inbox, every teammate will be able to monitor every process. So, everyone will know already sent emails. This will prevent the chances of any sort of redundancy. Moreover, as it is a two-way communication channel, the team members can share and receive information on the go.

So, whenever you are required to share any information with your client, you will not be required to search for that information. It will be already present in the inbox. All you need to do will be to forward that information to your client. 

Also, shared inboxes have become a good way of sharing any sort of confidential information with teammates. So, you can think about how a shared inbox becomes a good means of communication for any organization’s teammates, whether internally or externally.

Adding to these is that team members can hold each other accountable concerning their email-oriented activities, as well as sharing information about progress. This will ensure that there is no conflicting data sent to customers as it will be kept in order.

Finally, using a mailbox shared by all parties involved in customer service could make it simpler to accomplish that task. This makes it possible for them to quickly respond to customers’ queries even before they can complete juggling through many conversation records concurrently. Teams are therefore able to boost customer satisfaction as well as reduce the average time taken for response. Hence, when should you use a shared mailbox – hope this point is now clear.

Benefits of Shared Mailbox vs. Distribution List

Benefits of a Shared Mailbox

Now, after knowing the shared mailbox, it’s time to know what its benefits are. For understanding its benefits, threads become useful for it. We are considering threads because it is one type of shared mailbox.

Threads will store your organization’s digital communication data in a single dashboard, like email copies, phone call transcriptions, and automated messages. This data is accessible among your teammates. They will need a username and password to log into this dashboard. So, you can see how a single dashboard becomes accessible to multiple team members.

So, a shared inbox ultimately saves our time by eliminating the need to create individual email accounts for each teammate. If a new team member is hired, he/she can easily access the email handle through the password.

Benefits of a Distribution List

Nowadays, distribution list functionality has become a common thing for email communications. The only reason for its popularity is it becomes a good resource for sharing useful information with your teammates. Besides this, as distribution lists promote one-way communication, you can use them for sending newsletters to your clients.

However, the same mistake tends to occur in the one-to-many structure as understood by a shared mailbox vs distribution list. A common mailbox supports different recipients sending and receiving the mail in one centre. The distribution list differs in that it sends emails from one address but is not identical to a shared mailbox.

Consider the following example. The users will see one mail with a thread when they get a shared mailbox response. However, whenever the person responds, it results in sending one copy to every email address that the person addresses. This leads to confusion when one sends replies through distribution lists.

Shared Mailbox vs. Distribution List: Core Differences

Shared mailbox vs distribution list
Shared mailbox vs. Distribution list

Communication Purpose

One thing where both the shared mailbox and distribution list differ is their communication purpose. This is the main point where the two-part their ways.

In the shared inbox functionality, multiple people can access a single email handle where they can share confidential information internally. Also, they can respond to various client queries. You can think of shared mailboxes to greatly help team collaborations and conduct client communication.

On the contrary, distribution lists are commonly known for sharing useful information among multiple people. As it is a one-way communication method, you cannot expect your recipients’ response. So, you can see how shared inboxes and distribution lists have a major difference in terms of their communication purpose.

Email Handling

When it comes to email handling, shared mailboxes and distribution lists have different purposes. In terms of email handling, a shared inbox gives you the complete authority to send, manage, and view emails. So, it becomes utterly useful for team collaborations and communication where they can share useful insights among themselves.

Moreover, such an email system becomes useful for conducting a seamless customer support process where your team and clients can communicate with each other.

Distribution lists hold a single-sided communication. So, it becomes perfect for sending informational news to your teammates and clients. Distribution lists can be solely used for leading one-way communication where you don’t want your recipients to respond to your email.

Shared inbox becomes a Hubspot for team communications and collaborations. At the same time, distribution lists act as a broadcaster for you.

Collaboration Features

As distribution lists do not allow email responding, it would not showcase any special collaboration features. While shared mailboxes, being a two-way communication means, do have some collaborative features.

In shared mailboxes, everything will be shared and accessible among the teammates. You can share client contact details among yourselves by having a common address book where all your team members can access the information.

Through calendar sharing, you can notify your team members regarding important meetings. It becomes a great spot for managing your team projects where you can allot, track, and update tasks for your teammates. Overall, shared mailboxes help you out in numerous ways for leading effective team communication and collaborations. 

Instead, distribution lists are designed to deliver the information to a specific group. Although useful for spreading information, distribution lists do not have the advanced collaborative elements of shared mailboxes. They are best suited in situations where one-way communication is required and there is no necessity to elaborate on the collaborative features. 

Organizations are better able to make appropriate decisions regarding which tool is suitable for their particular collaboration needs through understanding these differences.

Email Storage

As shared mailboxes and distribution lists are two different functional ways, they have their ways of email storage. Shared mailboxes have an organized way of storing emails. They will store all the emails at a single location. This centralized way eases much of your tasks of email tracking. Moreover, it also helps you find any email on the go when you need it urgently. 

Distribution lists, on the other side, have a cluttered email storage way. Emails will be stored at different locations. Although it is an efficient way of transferring informational data, its email storage management sometimes becomes confusing. As emails are going to be stored at different locations, retrieving and tracking them would become difficult.

You will need to manually visit everyone’s mailbox to get the communication history. So, you can see how shared mailboxes and distribution lists have two different paths in terms of email storage.

Sender Identity

Sender identity plays a crucial role in terms of building trust in your recipient’s mind. Shared mailboxes will have a unified identity as they will have the organization’s name on them. This would reflect the collaborative approach of your organization on your recipient’s mind. They would think it to be a trustworthy message.

This would become a good means of enhancing client communication. This also becomes useful for sending confidential information among the team members.

In the case of a distribution list, building trust in the recipient’s mind might become somewhat challenging as the email address would have an individual’s identity. Trust would not be an issue in the case of your teammates who already know you.

However, it might become an issue for the people who would be receiving your email for the first time, especially the clients. Down the line, shared mailboxes are building a trustworthy reputation in the recipient’s mind as they reflect the organization’s name, while distribution lists might find it challenging.

Management and Administration

In contrast, the administration of distribution lists is generally simpler. The focus is primarily on managing the list of members and controlling access to the distribution list itself.

While this simplicity streamlines the administration process for distributing messages to predefined groups, it may lack the granular control and feature-rich management options found in shared mailboxes. Recognizing these differences empowers organizations to select the management approach that aligns with their specific administrative needs and preferences.

Distribution lists, on the other hand, do not have much complex management. It is going to have a single user. So, security is not going to be an issue here. Here, all you need to manage is your distribution list’s member list and access controls.

It is, of course, a simple task. However, you might miss some highly embarked management options in distribution lists, which you would see in shared mailboxes. These are a few minor differences between administrative management of shared mailboxes and distribution lists.

Conclusion: Distribution list vs Shared Mailbox

Choosing between a distribution list and a shared mailbox is going to impact the efficiency of email management for businesses using Microsoft services. While distribution groups prove to be sweet for sending messages to multiple users at one shot, there’s a bit of compromising – they lack the collaborative features and centralized control a shared mailbox offers.

If you’re seeking a solution to let a group of users efficiently manage incoming messages and work collaboratively within a single email client, the shared mailbox will be your apple pie.

You can ensure multiple users have synchronized access to relevant information when you can use a shared inbox and streamline communication through a butter-smooth collaborative approach.

Besides adding extra stars to overall email management, you enjoy a more organized workflow. This way, choosing to use distribution lists or a shared email is certainly a big decision for any business.

A good rule of thumb: Use a distribution list when sending to a group of recipients who have the common or almost related title (All staff, All pastors, All admin assistants). Use a shared mailbox if all recipients work for one particular division within an organization.

In such a case, sending an e-mail containing only information or an announcement will be your best way to go. You should use a shared mailbox that is assigned to that department if the email consists of tasks requiring action and collaboration with other individuals.

Gaurav Nagani
Gaurav Nagani
As Founder & CEO of Desku.io, Gaurav has made a distinct mark in the customer support and ai bot field. His commitment to AI-enhanced solutions and his industry experience have been instrumental in modernizing customer service.

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