Running a small business is a lot of work. Finding a way to streamline business processes will lighten the load. The good news is you don’t have to spend a bundle on specialized software that helps you manage and improve your business – you might already have access to business apps that provide the features you need.
This post covers several Microsoft Office 365 business apps for email marketing, business listings, customer relationships and more. They’re included in Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions, or are available as individual subscriptions for a modest fee.
Getting the Word Out
Is your company easily found by searching the web, or nearly invisible? About 80% of people who want to get information about businesses head to the internet, and more than 60 million businesses have a Facebook page. If your business doesn’t come up in web searches, you’re missing a lot of opportunities and potential sales.
According to the Local Marketing Institute, about 56% of retailers operating locally haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing, roughly 66% aren’t listed on Yelp, and more than 82% aren’t listed with Bing. More concerning to a company’s online reputation is an unofficial Facebook business page you might not know exists. These pages are created automatically when someone “checks in” to your business from their smartphone, essentially leaving an incomplete placeholder page.
Use Microsoft Listings to get your business listed with Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp. Listings ensure that your company’s information is consistent across those sites, and you can track what people are saying about your business in the comments sections and reviews.
Once the public can find your business, the next step is to launch a marketing campaign to help you drive sales and boost revenues. The Microsoft Connections marketing tool lets you send branded, personalized emails to current and prospective customers in your email list. You can then track performance of those emails (the number delivered, opened, click-through rates, and whether a new recipient signed up to be on your list) so you know whether your campaign was effective.
Keeping Contacts Organized and Customers Engaged
Having pieces of customer information here and there is a pain point for most small businesses. When you’re ready to make a follow-up sales call, for example, you need to know when you spoke to a customer or prospect last (and a few details of that call) and a list of emails you’ve exchanged. Having that information in one organized place increases efficiency, reduces wasted time and lets you engage more effectively. Outlook Customer Manager is a customer relationship management feature you use within Outlook, or as an app on your mobile device. Once enabled, you can use it to log phone calls and meetings with business contacts, track emails and even track deals you’ve offered.
Scheduling, Logging and Invoicing
If your company is service oriented and involves a lot of customer appointments, retain more customers by making the scheduling process simple. Microsoft Bookings is a scheduling tool for customers, which lets them make, break and reschedule appointments on the fly.
Speaking of service, your company drivers, service technicians or an employee who regularly heads to the office supply store will benefit from the MileIQ mileage reporting tool. This mobile app automatically logs miles and provides reports, letting you more easily reimburse employees or report miles on your taxes.
Finally, are you still generating invoices using Word or Excel? There’s a better, more elegant way, which can get you paid faster than your current manual process. Microsoft Invoicing lets you create professional invoices, and includes a PayPal link to accept online payments (as long as you have a PayPal account set up), and then, track invoices to see at a glance what’s been paid, is pending or overdue. The app generates quotes as well, which you can convert to invoices when the work is completed.
Using Office 365 business apps just makes sense for Office 365 subscribers. The learning curve should be lower because your employees are already familiar with the suite’s productivity applications, and therefore how menus and common features work. And these business apps integrate with the software already in use.