This is the second of a seven-part series on the Microsoft Business Center, a benefit of Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Business1. Over the next few weeks we will publish detailed descriptions of the business apps below and how your business can leverage them to save money, improve customer service, and do business from anywhere.

We are also hosting a live demo of the Business Center on July 19, click here to register.

Jump back to the introduction.

Microsoft Connections

Connections is an email marketing platform that help you send polished newsletters and announcements. But probably the most unique feature of Connections is the ability to grow your email marketing lists with referrals.

Once you have a base of customers you can create a campaign and send an email to your customer asking them to refer their friends via email, Facebook, and Twitter. The kicker is that you can add discounts for referrer and the referee.

So, if you email your customer Bob asking him to refer his friends and Kelly signs up for your email list Bob will get an email with a referral code for X% and Kelly will get an email for Y% off their next purchase. The percentage discount for either party can be modified, the default is 10% for the person referring, and 5% for the referee.

One the back end, when you go to invoice Bob or Kelly you will see a message letting you know that they have a coupon code they can use. The amount and details of the offer will be displayed and you can automatically apply the coupon with the click of a button.

Creating an invoice with Invoicing

You can also track the success of your campaign. Connections tracks the number of customers emailed, deliveries, whether or not you email was opened, how many people signed up for your email list, how many referral coupons were redeemed, and the total number of new customers from the campaign.

Campaign results

Besides this referral feature Connections is a polished and professional (but lightweight) email marketing platform for newsletter and announcements. Your logo is displayed at the top of your email with the option to add headlines, pictures, text, and customizable buttons. And you can select an accent color.

If you need custom HTML/CSS or other advanced features you will not find them.

Creating an email template

Some other important features:

  • You can create multiple email lists and allow new customers to select which email list they would like to be added to, for example you could have a monthly newsletter just for parents, or just for students, etc.
  • A landing page where customers can sign up. This is where customers have the option to select which mailing list they would like to be a part of. You can also import contacts from Google, Outlook, QuickBooks, or CSV. And when all else fails you can manually add contacts.
  • Automated unsubscribe. Every email you send with Connections will have a link at the bottom that allows customers to unsubscribe if they so choose.
  • When you compose an email you can use field such as first name which are automatically filled in for each contact. You can also save emails that you frequently send so that you only need to write those emails once and quickly send them as-needed.
  • There is also Android and iOS apps so that you can manage all of this from a mobile device.

Continue to Part 3: Outlook Customer Manager (coming soon!)

1. Microsoft 365 Business on