With the change of season from summer to fall upon us, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing application is also experiencing changes with the upcoming October Release.
Before we address the changes coming for the application, let’s do a quick review of the application and learnings from the first product release cycle.
Dynamics 365 Marketing Review
Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing was introduced to the marketplace in April 2018.
This new application replaces the Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (MDM) product that was the previous marketing automation solution provided by Microsoft.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing allows the user to run automated email campaigns, plan and promote events, create lead generation forms, score leads, gather customer feedback and increase overall collaboration between marketing and sales teams.
The core features of the marketing automation product include:
- Customer Segments & Lists
- Forms & Landing Pages
- Email Marketing
- Customer Journeys
- Lead Scoring
- Event Management
- Survey Management
As with any new product, there are bound to be a few bumps with a brand new release and this product was not shielded from that bumpy road. During our initial tests with the product, the following issues were uncovered:
- Marketing to the lead entity is not supported. All records must be created as contacts and lead data needs to be replicated in the contact entity to allow for marketing activities to be initiated.
- Pricing was based on the number of contacts in your contact entity (active & inactive), rather than those that you are actively marketing to.
- To use the marketing form functionality you need to use the Dynamics 365 forms. Customers cannot easily use their current web forms and pass data into the marketing application without using custom SDK coding to pass the data.
- The webinar connector options are limited to On24 only.
- The social tool is limited to Social Listening only. Social publishing features are not available.
- While the use of surveys is available via the Microsoft Voice of the Customer application, the ability of that data in the marketing application is not currently available, limiting the ability to create specific marketing actions based off of the data collected.
- The technical deployment of the application is more complex in comparison to comparable marketing solutions. Within the Dynamics environment, the deployment of this solution will add 50 solution files to your environment. In addition, the number of security roles is complex to manage.
- Finally, when you provision the Marketing application during the technical setup, it creates an Azure subscription and this is what is used to create the customer segmentation and capture the marketing interactions (web tracking, email tracking, etc.) The information is stored in Azure and then surfaced in Dynamics. With this structure, the data is not actually in Dynamics 365, and these interactions cannot be queried via a CRM Advance Find if needed.
While this may paint a grim picture of this application, the October Release will begin to address some of the product shortcomings, and it is anticipated that the application will continue to mature with future releases as well making it a closer contender to more established marketing automation solutions.
Here is a summary of the upcoming release changes:
October Release Changes:
Contact Pricing Structure
The biggest news in the release is the change to the Contact pricing structure.
The new pricing structure will only charge for contacts that you are actively marketing to.
Users of the platform will now have better control of their pricing structure as a result because the organization can control the number of contacts they are marketing to instead of being charged for all of the contacts included in the contact entity, as was the case in the initial product rollout.
Account Based Marketing
This release will add Account Based Marketing features to the application.
With Account Based marketing capabilities, you will have the ability to target marketing communications to a specific set of accounts to ensure that you are providing information that is relevant and valuable to them.
This can help to increase your return on investment on both your marketing and sales activities by focusing your time and energy on high-value accounts and create better engagement by personalizing the communications.
With Dynamics 365 for Marketing, the following Account Based Marketing features exist:
- Identify and create segments of high-value accounts.
- Identify key stakeholders to reach within each account.
- Create personalized content, such as emails, based on account.
- Generate account-level leads and nurture them through the demand-generation funnel.
Continuously measure account engagement and optimize your messaging.
Reusable Content Blocks
Reusable Content Blocks enable Marketing users to define and store reusable blocks of content that are easy to add to email and page designs.
You can also protect some or all of a block’s content or design to restrict other users’ ability to edit them.
This is a great feature enhancement for a couple of reasons.
First of all, this creates efficiencies for the Marketing team by allowing content to be created once and then repurposed for multiple scenarios. For example, if you create a header image for an email and then you want to use that on one of your landing pages, you can use that same block of content without having to recreate it.
In addition, the ability to restrict editing of these blocks create design control and helps to maintain brand consistency.
Social Listening in Dynamics 365 for Marketing lets marketers add relevant social tags to customer journeys, events, and other entities, so they can view the social media response to their marketing initiatives right alongside other marketing insights.
The new release will contain the following:
- A dedicated social tab for every customer journey and event
- A new dashboard for social insights
The social tab will allow you to create a collection of specific phrases that are relevant to the customer journey or event. You will then be able to monitor social media posts for mentions of those phrases.
While this is an enhancement to the product, it is important to note that the capabilities of this product are still limited to social listening and initial post publishing features are not included.
The marketing calendar control lets marketers visualize a variety of marketing activities that have a start and end dates such as journeys and events.
Effectively, marketers can view many elements of a campaign on the same calendar, providing an easy overview of what marketing activities are coming up or what has recently been sent.
Dynamics 365 for Marketing can already sync leads captured using LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms.
It is anticipated in this upcoming release that the following expanded functionality will be added:
- Integrate Dynamics 365 for Marketing segments with LinkedIn-matched audiences.
- Orchestrate journeys that include triggers that react to submission from LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms.
- Evaluate the success of your LinkedIn targeting via engagement statistics in Dynamics 365 for Marketing.
- Generate leads in Dynamics 365 for Marketing on the account level when retrieving form submissions from LinkedIn.
- Nurture leads via lead scoring based on LinkedIn form submission interactions.
Customer Segmentation Improvements
The improved segment designer enables marketers and business analysts to create customer segments more easily and efficiently. A host of new business-centric operators will make it simpler for business users to create complex, business-centric marketing segments, allowing them to easily create segments for targeted marketing.
The improved segment designer provides:
- More operators such as: contains, does not contain, contains data, contains no data, begins with, and ends with. You can now use operators such as: contains at least one of, does not contain any of, begins with one of, and ends with one of.
- Improved user interface performance.
Use Dynamics 365 for Marketing to build custom analytics that supports your organization’s specific business processes, drive good decision making, and deliver results.
Design charts, graphs, and KPIs that you can embed right into the app, where marketers need them most. The solution includes a useful collection of analyzers provided right out of the box to help you quickly start building deeper analytics.
As you consider the usage of Dynamics 365 for Marketing application or any marketing automation platform, it is imperative that you define your marketing strategy and technology requirements in advance of selecting a tool in order to find a platform that is the “right fit” for your organizational needs.
To learn more about selecting the right marketing automation software, download Ledgeview’s NEW eBook: “How To Select The Right Marketing Automation Software“.