Microsoft has introduced a preview of its latest small business tools. Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing — all of these now join the company’s stable that includes Microsoft Bookings and Outlook Customer Manager.
Microsoft Connections allows users to create professional-looking email marketing campaigns thru the web, and on iOS and Android apps. It monitors campaign performance, including clicks and open rates, and manages subscribers.
At this time, specific details on how it works are vague. Microsoft says it will give users templates for newsletters, customer referrals or announcements, and easier ways for them to join or leave a mailing list. And it will come free of charge.
Microsoft adds that you can use Connections to create segments to effectively reach out to your target audience. It has performance charts and updates that track open rate, clicks, signups, new customers, redemptions and unsubscribed numbers for email campaigns.
Microsoft is using its Office 365 ecosystem as an alternative to rival services such as MailChimp.
Small businesses that already have Office 365 subscriptions will value this new tool.
Microsoft Listings publishes business info on top sites like Google, Facebook, Bing and Yelp, and monitors online reviews and views.
Getting listed online helps achieve the visibility you need to potential customers. Listings eases the job, as it sets up your online presence, keeps relevant information and monitors performance across all listing sites. It also presents your ratings and reviews thru a single web dashboard, making it easier to gather feedback and bolster online reputation.
Microsoft Invoicing helps create invoices and estimates. It has offers a candid experience. And small businesses will appreciate its PayPal integration feature, a faster way to accept credit card payments.
Invoicing also comes with a QuickBooks connector to sync catalogue and customer data, and transfer invoices to your accountant.
Office 365 Business Center
The Business center is a place where small business owners can manage all three business apps and offers a better view of the entire business. It brings together Bookings, Connections, Invoicing and Listings under one roof.
A unified dashboard shows key metrics like the number of scheduled appointments, total unpaid invoices, impressions (Google, Facebook, Bing and Yelp), the number of sent email campaigns and the number of new subscribers.
The Business center has an activity feed that shows activities within each app and suggests the next actions to take.
Each business app can recognize contacts from the other apps, and you can control who gets access to each business app and related information.
MileIQ is a mileage tracking app for car owners. It tracks and reports your miles automatically for easier expense reimbursement and tax deduction. It also classifies each trip as either personal or business.
You can log unlimited monthly drives with MileIQ thru Office 365 Business Premium.
You can avail of the three new apps and Business Center through the Office 365 First Release program. Microsoft will roll these out in preview over the following weeks to Office 365 Business Premium subscribers in the US, UK and Canada.
For early access, visit Microsoft’s support page to join the Office 365 First Release program.
MileIQ Premium is already available in iOS and Android for all Business Premium subscribers in those countries. To activate it, go to www.mileiq.com/office365.