Microsoft has officially unveiled three tools that will augment small businesses’ email marketing campaigns, as well as listings and invoicing, namely; Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings and Microsoft Invoicing.
Microsoft Connections is an email extension for Office 365, the firm’s cloud-based subscriptions service that features Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, Access and Outlook. It can be interpreted that the Redmond-based tech giant wants to offer a native alternative of email marketing solution from the likes of MailChimp.
The Microsoft Connections app is available on Android, iOS and web and will have features such as managing subscribers and monitor campaign performance (clicks, open rates, new member and so forth) in addition to creating marketing campaigns. Furthermore, Connections is packed to the brim with templates for newsletters, announcements and customer referrals and subscription sign up pages. Clearly, this is a robust approach to email marketing, and while rival solutions such as the aforementioned MailChimp offer additional services, Connections gains ground by being free – but for Office 365 users (Microsoft has billions of dollars to burn so a free product will not hurt its pockets).
It should be noted that a lot a lot of organizations are doing emails marketing with little knowledge about the intricacies of how it works. In a nutshell, email marketing differs from ordinary email (normal mail is conversation based – people exchange text and files, meaning it is not a one-way approach) in that it is a process that incorporates short and specific emails that wants to strike curiosity on target customers to initiate a conversation. Once a conversation is established, a marketer can then ask for a meeting with his potential client.
As its name suggests, Microsoft Invoicing will do just that – create invoices as well as estimates. Small businesses can use its offerings such as PayPal integration to process credit card payments. Equally important is its QuickBook connector that allows integration of accounting software.
Lastly is Microsoft Listings that will offer management tools for businesses to police their business listings on Google, Facebook, Yelp and of course, Bing to check out online reviews and views. There are tens of similar tools out there, and if you are using them, you should be fine without Listings unless you have heavily invested in Office 365.