Microsoft recently announced three new tools they are rolling out to Office 365 Premium small business subscribers and to everyone by end of the year. Currently Microsoft offers 365 small biz subscribers a booking tool and customer management tools that keep them in the Microsoft eco system. The newly announced Microsoft Connection allows its users to create do it yourself email marketing campaigns. This new email marketing service, which is available on the web, Android and iOS, will offer similar features like MailChimp and Constant Contact’s email marketing campaign tools, including the ability to manage subscribers, monitor campaign performance (open rates, clicks, new customers, redemptions, etc.) and campaign creation. Microsoft says it will offer users a number of pre-designed templates for their newsletters and simple opt in features. In our Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) study of small businesses we asked small businesses what email marketing services they use, the majority, 60% use their own email (Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.) Not only do small businesses use their own email, nearly 60% have it in digital format on their computers. And their lists sizes are not small.
Microsoft is smart to bridge the gap from productivity to marketing in the cloud. Small businesses are increasing looking for ways to automate their marketing and business management. The two other tools, invoicing and listings management fit into some of the core areas small businesses struggle to manage. Invoicing tool can help businesses can easily accept credit card payments and with the QuickBooks connector, small businesses can integrate accounting software. Microsoft listings allows small businesses to publish and manage their business information on Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp. Microsoft benefits from a large subscription base of small businesses for Office 365, Microsoft said that they add 50,000 new small businesses a month to the service.