How to Nurture Prospects with dotdigital & Dynamics 365

Automated lead nurturing campaigns (often called drip marketing) are designed to drive revenue from a database of leads.

Requiring minimal investment of sales time these campaigns offer huge capacity to enhance marketing processes and improve the utilisation of sales teams by only routing sales-ready opportunities.

Thanks to the dotdigital Engagement Cloud automation studio (formerly dotmailer) and its integration with Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM), marketing teams can use CRM data to trigger and manage these campaigns.

Let’s take a look…

In this scenario a business has exhibited a trade show and captured a series of new contact details for people who visited their stand.

Rather than speculatively phoning every person they will enroll these individuals in a nurture campaign. This aim of this will be to encourage engagement with the organisation’s website and help the company's sales team identify and focus on the most responsive leads.

Enrolling Contacts

Each contact who visited the company’s stand has been added to a Dynamics CRM marketing list:

The CRM marketing list has been activated for email sync which means it will also appear in dotmailer / Engagement Cloud as an address book:

The CRM marketing list in this example shown above is a static type but one cool feature of the dotmailer connector is that it supports dynamic marketing lists. As a result it avoids the need to separately configure CRM workflows that push contacts into a static list to replicate dynamic membership processes which are natively supported with the Engagement Cloud solution.

Now that the marketing list is synchronised a new automation campaign can now be created using its drag and drop controls to define each step:

This begins with some enrolment rules:

In this case, CRM contacts will be automatically enrolled when they are present in the trade show prospects marketing list / address book.

Another way to trigger a  nurture campaign can be to use a Dynamics field value.

Using the Dynamics connector, selected CRM contact and lead fields can be to be mapped to the dotdigital Engagement Cloud.

Imagine we have a CRM lead field called ‘Nurture Status’. This is mapped across enabling nurture enrolment rules to be defined using values on this field. As the screenshot below shows, contacts will be enrolled if value of the mapped Dynamics nurture status field is set to ‘Trade Prospect’:

Further field logic conditions can include ‘contains’, ‘does not equal’, ‘starts with’ and ‘ends with’.

However, returning to the previous example, in this instance I'll use membership of the CRM trade show marketing list as the trigger basis for this nurture campaign:

There are some additional enrolment controls that can be set...

Next up is a nurture schedule.

This can check for new members on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, on defined days, on a specific date - or this can run on-demand without an automated recurring enrolment process.

When an enrolment criteria is entered this includes a specific time. This level of control is available throughout the campaign giving marketers control over the precise timing of each nurture event:

The final step in the enrolment process is to set an enrolment limit.

dotdigital Engagement Cloud has a control that will restrict nurture enrolment for a contract to only the first time they meet the entry criteria that will prevent the same individuals from being repeatedly channelled through this process.

Other options are to enrol contacts every time the nurture entry condition is met, or to enrol a contact if the entry conditions are met but not if they have been enrolled in the last x days.

Email Templates

Before a nurture campaign can be activated a series of email templates will need to be created.

Using the Dynamics connector, emails can be personalised with CRM data. This can include email subject titles, sender names that dynamically show the account manager name, or even dynamic content that will vary the message for selected recipients based on CRM data, this can include gender, demographic, location and other criteria.

For this campaign we’ll use the following email as the first message to thank people for attending the show which includes a series of links back to the company website:

Nurture Events & Timelines

The dotmailer automation studio will be used to map out each step in a nurture process by dragging program nodes onto the design canvas and connecting these tiles.

As per our enrolment rule dotmailer will look for new members daily at 12:30 who have been added to a marketing list / address book and then send a ‘thank you’ email.

For this nurture we want to identify the top prospects who we define as individuals who click links in two follow up event emails.

Next up is a decision node which runs a query on the previous email send step:

In this instance the process analyses if contacts have clicked the email.

When a click actions is tracked, individuals will be directed to the YES path.

Contacts who haven’t yet clicked the ‘thank you’ email can be held at this stage for a set time. In this example, the nurture will hold contacts at this stage until 10:00 am 3 days later. If a click is tracked within this timescale they will be directed down the YES route, if no click is made they will be channelled down the NO path on the 3rd day.

By zooming out the full nurture process is revealed featuring additional decision queries, email sends and delay controls:

Ending Nurtures

At the conclusion of this nurture the process will remove contacts from Trade Show Prospect address book, and ultimately remove them from the synchronised marketing list which will make sure this will only contain active prospects.

For contacts who have clicked two of the emails sent during this nurture a further subscription control has been defined in the campaign that will add them to another address book / marketing list.

The company’s sales team can then easily use this new list to identify the most engaged prospects and focus efforts accordingly.

Moving contacts that have successfully completed this nurture into a new marketing list might also trigger a separate nurture process. For example, suppose this company has another automated campaign that is triggered when contacts are added to the Hot Prospects list which will send a further series of personalised messages with the knowledge that these recipients have engaged with the initial campaign.

Exit Conditions

There will be instances when contacts should be removed from the nurture campaign before the end node is the chart is reached.

One example is if a contact unsubscribes from the mailing list at any point.

CRM data can also be applied to exit a contact from a nurture before it reaches the final step.

Because Dynamics fields and marketing lists are synchronised, these values can be used as exit conditions.

For example, if a contact is subsequently removed from a defined marketing list this might trigger an exit condition.

Or, if the nurture is successful and a prospect becomes a customer before the campaign is completed could also exit the contract from the nurture.

In this instance, an exit condition has been defined using a CRM field called ‘relationship status’, if the field value changes to ‘customer’ that will immediately remove a Dynamics contact from this campaign if they are subsequently identified as a customer:

Depending on the complexity of the exit condition multiple rules could be set including and / or options.

Reporting Nurture Actions in CRM

As we’ve seen one example of an update which can be written back to Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the addition or removal of a contact to / from a marketing list.

Other nurture marketing events shown in CRM include:

Headline nurture campaign metrics including unique open rate, click rate and unsubscribes:

Details of each email sent on this campaign including how many times these messages have been opened, clicked and forwarded, or reporting message bounces and unsubscribes:

A graphical timeline view showing the nurture events for an individual contact including each email click URL:

Hopefully this has given you a useful introduction to the dotdigital automation studio and has fuelled your creativity to plan your own nurture campaigns!

Preact are dotdigital and Microsoft partner and we'll be delighted to provide a demonstration and answer your questions. Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how dotmailer and Dynamics will help you transform your sales and marketing processes.