An Early Look at Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing


Microsoft's new Dynamics 365 for Marketing app was released as a public preview in February 2018 and in this post we take an early look.

The new app has been built on the Dynamics 365 v9 Customer Engagement platform and is accessible through the new unified user interface. This means the new marketing app works with Dynamics 365 for sales on the same platform with common data and processes - a crucial difference in contrast to the unloved Microsoft Dynamics Marketing.

We'll share more detail about this new app in future posts but let's get started with some initial points to call out:

Email Designer

Dynamics finally gets a drag and drop editor!

In preview, the app includes 50+ email templates that can be personalised while there is a less appealing option to start with a blank template.

Consistent with any drag and drop editor, the Dynamics 365 for Marketing email editor enables blocks to be quickly cloned, customised and re-positioned to structure each design layout.

Additional blocks can be dragged in for text, images, dividers, buttons as well as other components within the marketing app, namely links to surveys, web pages and events.

Within the text editor, the field look-up will dynamically personalise each message with data from contact fields (it is important to note that leads are not currently supported with this app). An obvious example will be 'first name' but other field data can be just as easily applied and because everything sits on the same platform none of these fields need to be synchronised or pre-configured - by default the full table of contact fields is listed.

Landing Pages & Forms

More templates and drag & drop controls are available to create email landing pages and web forms. 

These entities can be combined by dropping a form component on to landing page, for example a form would be inserted into a gated landing page with accompanying content. 

Segments

In the Dynamics for Marketing app an audience is defined as a 'segment' which differs from the legacy 'marketing list' function in the Sales app. 

A collection of segments will reflect different audiences, for example 'our customers', 'people who registered for our event', 'sales contacts','customers working in the financial services industry'... 

By defining these as a dynamic segments, membership will continually change as contacts are added and removed in line with these rules. 

A segment might consist of just one group but these can be combined with as many groups as needed for advanced email personalisation through complex queries that add and remove members in line with these rules.

Journeys

In the new Marketing app, every email is sent within the context of a 'journey'.

A monthly newsletter will be a journey, albeit a short one, while a nurture campaign will be another journey that will likely stretch over several weeks at least with actions being triggered as recipients respond (or not, as the case may be).

Each journey is mapped out by dragging toolbox tiles onto the canvas. This will define this process by prompting actions in response to tracked behaviour.

For example, start a journey by dragging in a segment of contacts who will be the audience. Next, send an email to this group which asks them to click to landing page and submit the embedded web form to receive a PDF resource. A trigger rule will then check to see if a recipient has completed this action within a defined period of hours or days. If they have submitted the form, a 'thank you' email would immediately be sent with a link to the promised PDF, if not a reminder email will be sent. 

Lead Scoring

To identify sales ready leads, Dynamics 365 for Marketing includes lead-scoring models. These can be based on demographic detail to match a target profile, as well as behaviour data and represent how recipients have interacted with marketing messages. For example: opening emails, submitting forms or attending events.

Each action automatically receives a defined score and a lead is defined as sales ready when a score target is reached.

The app enables multiple lead scoring models to be applied concurrently whereby several factors will determine the sales readiness of leads. For example, one model could be based on a specific target profile e.g business owners in the UK while another scoring model is focused on interactions. Only when the score targets from both these models are met will a lead be classed a 'sales ready'

Events

Dynamics 365 for Marketing includes a dedicated events module to manage webinars, training sessions, conferences and other types of events.

Events are published through a Dynamics 365 portal which includes a brand new event based template which is exclusive to the marketing app. As well as collecting registration detail, the event portal template can share event resources including detail about speakers and schedules which is pulled from Dynamics 365.

Once registered, portal users can update information and share more detail about themselves which is written back to Dynamics 365.

Within Dynamics 365, event planners are able to follow a guided process flow for managing each step and stage pre and post-event. Native event functions include the management of session tracks, sponsors, speakers, location, passes, financial costs and post-event surveys.

For webinars, Dynamics 365 for Marketing has native integration with ON24. 

Surveys

Dynamics 365 for Marketing uses the Voice of the Customer survey tool which we have previously featured in an earlier post.

Power BI

New pre-built content packs will be available in Power BI to help marketers report on this data and gain insights from chart and dashboard visualisations.

LinkedIn Lead Gen Form Integration

Dynamics 365 for Marketing includes a free connector for LinkedIn Lead Gen forms to sync leads and lead information generated by the LinkedIn Lead Gen tools directly with Dynamics 365 enabling sales and marketing teams to develop these. 

What next?

Dynamics 365 for Marketing entered full production as part of Microsoft's Spring 18 release and we have shared licensing information in a separate post.

Based on our early impressions, the new app is a significant leap forward in comparison with Microsoft's previous marketing release, both in terms of usability and integration with Dynamics 365 though this is somewhat undermined by its licensing model.

For marketing teams who don't currently have their email marketing connected with Dynamics the new app offers considerable potential for saving time and improving performance through fully integrated processes. 

Comparisons will also be sought between the new app and ClickDimensions which has embedded email marketing and marketing automation within Dynamics 365 / CRM for many years. Clearly, pricing will be a factor but because this will be v1.0 for Dynamics 365 for Marketing it is inevitable there will be gaps between the two solutions and perhaps a more rounded comparison will have to wait until the release of v2 or 3.


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