Dynamics 365 Marketing was launched in response to the increasing demand for Microsoft to provide a marketing automation tool to its customers. The application is for both marketers and day-to-day system users looking to deepen relationships with customers through the use of automation and its relevant tools.
In today’s digital world, it is becoming more and more important to utilize both an inbound and outbound marketing strategy, and Dynamics 365 Marketing offers the tools to create both. Microsoft chose to leverage their existing strong-arm in the world of data and AI to aid teams in all departments to deliver the right content, through the right channel, at optimal times- offering tailored experiences across the entire customer journey. In this post, I’ll provide a list of the new Wave 2 Release functionalities inside of Dynamics 365 Marketing. I’ll also go into detail about how these new functionalities can be leveraged in your day to day operations. Whether you’re a Marketing Director, Content Creator, Social Media Manager, or Marketing User, the outcome of this blog post should be the same- understanding the arsenal of tools available to you and your team in an effort to drive more efficient processes, better relate to your customers, and ultimately, stay competitive in today’s digital world.
Through the Dynamics 365 Marketing application, Microsoft offers users a 360-degree view of their customers, including real-time transactional information, profile information, interaction data, and more. In 2020, Microsoft saw an increased demand for digital channels, and thus prioritized bettering the Microsoft Teams integration, to deliver virtual events. Microsoft also recognized the importance of social media, and for this reason, invested in improving the social posting and relevant analytics inside of Dynamics 365 Marketing. Another key takeaway from 2019, was the usability of the application. To address this, Microsoft also focused the Wave 2 release on creating a revamped customer journey designer experience. In this post, we’ll go through the most important features being released and I’ll make sure to include their general availability. You can expect the features to be released anywhere between October 2020 through March 2021. As always, delivery timelines are subject to change at any time, so please stay tuned.
This blog post will cover the following features:
The first feature we’ll be discussing is the ability to use natural language when creating segments inside of Dynamics 365 Marketing. You may be wondering, “What are natural language queries?” Let me give you an example- Let’s say that you’re looking to create a complex segment that includes contact attributes as well as interactions or behaviors. In the past you would have to first select the entity, then select the field, and then set your conditions. Now, you can easily type in a simple language phrase like “customers who live in the US but not in Colorado, and also work in retail” and let AI do the rest of the work for you. Dynamics 365 Marketing will analyze the phrase you put in, and offer entities and fields it believes you are searching for based on the words it picked up.
This helps in a multitude of ways- First, you’re able to use language that is familiar to you to target the right audience in a campaign, without dealing with complex syntax. But let’s put ourselves in the shoes of other users in the system. Let’s say that you have created a few segments, and a new marketer is coming into the system trying to “read” or understand the segments you have created. It would be exhausting to have to decipher the syntax. Instead, users can now understand the logic of the segment by reading it in a natural language. From there, they can better understand whether or not it meets the target audience they’re looking to send a campaign to. This feature will be enabled for end users by admins, makers, or analysts and though a general availability date has not been set, you can expect a public preview in October 2020.
Several times now, I have found myself in a sticky situation while creating a customer journey. I’ll give you an example of one- I’m inside of the Customer Journey tab, designing an email blast to deploy, when I realize that I forgot to create a Segment to send the campaign to. Rookie move, right? Each time I made that mistake, I had to Save the Customer Journey, exit it, and click into Segments. With this new release, marketing users no longer have to navigate away from a customer journey to access forms, segments, or emails in an effort to update content. You can now edit content on-the-spot with what Microsoft calls “In-place editing”. This is a HUGE time saver, and you’ll now be able to both create and edit supporting elements within the context of the customer journey you are creating.
How does this feature work? Let’s say that you’re inside of a customer journey, creating a flow. You could select a tile of your choice, and then edit the content directly from the customer journey screen. The content you are editing will simply pop-up as an overlay to the customer journey, and you’ll be able to save it on page. Microsoft found a way to do this, all while preserving the full capabilities of each content designer. Meaning, if you are editing an email from the customer journey page, you’ll still have all of the functionalities of the email designer.
I want to add that this feature isn’t just inside of the Customer Journey module. You’ll also be able to create or edit event-related marketing forms from the event module. You’ll be able to add last-minute registration forms, directly on page, saving you time and a lot of frustration.
This feature is going to be enabled for Admins, makers, or analysts and will be enabled automatically, without you having to update your Dynamics 365 Marketing instance. The in-place editing feature will be available in October 2020.
Creating dynamic campaigns shouldn’t be the end-all for your marketing team. The next step is always the analyzing of your campaign’s success to continue driving improved and relevant marketing strategies. Dynamics 365 Marketing offers a collection of robust analytical tools to collect and dissect your data.
Though it needs to be set up, Dynamics 365 Marketing comes paired with Customer Insights, which is a business intelligence service build on Azure and designed to help you dig deeper into your data. It comes loaded with data visualization tools, such as graphs, dashboards, and heat maps. The best part is that it’s already integrated with Dynamics 365 Marketing, so you can see your data as it moves across channels. The only missing piece to this beautiful puzzle, was the ability to leverage this data in your marketing campaigns. In October 2020, the puzzle will be complete and marketers will be able to leverage data from several data sources across the organization.
Users will be able to build segments directly in Customer Insights and use them inside of Dynamics 365 Marketing to make campaigns as targeted and efficient as possible. One of my favorite parts of this feature release is the dynamic updating of these segments. Meaning, as long as Customer Insights and Marketing are connected, the Customer Insights segments displayed in Marketing will be dynamically updated based on your database’s interaction, profile info, etc. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have static segments. Customer Insights offers the use of snapshots to create static segments in the Marketing application. Once you have created static or dynamic segments inside of Customer Insights, you can pull the segments directly into your customer journeys, just like you would with normal segments in the Marketing application.
There were a few standard email designer features missing inside of the Marketing application. Microsoft is adding an improved call-to-action button, and background image support in Outlook. Outlook as an ESP has always been a struggle for marketers when it comes to design. Microsoft has prioritized increasing device compatibility with better responsive email support for both Outlook mobile and Windows.
Finally, they made sure users could load emails quickly by boosting email editing performance including faster loading and faster element interaction. At the end of the day, we all know that the better your campaigns look, the more likely your audience is to interact with them. By making these changes, Microsoft removes the need for complex HTML and in-line CSS and helps you create beautiful customized and responsive emails quickly and with ease. This feature was automatically enabled for end users and came out for early access on August 1, 2020. It will generally be available in October 2020.
With popular social media posting platforms like Hootesuite, Sprout Social and Loomly, Microsoft had to find a way to compete in the space. With the newest social posting update, users can now easily create rich content for the most important social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
This includes a full re-design of the post creation experience. The posting feature now allows you to choose with page (LinkedIn & Facebook) you would like to post to, include media, and preview what the content will look like on that specific channel. The scheduling experience was also modified, helping users create more consistent streams of content across several channels at once, instead of having to schedule them individually. Microsoft also included insights per post, so you can view all social interactions and performance. The calendar function gives you a 360-degree view of your upcoming content, by channel, helping you stay organized, relevant and ultimately, efficient in your social strategies.
Most marketers are familiar with the concept of automation, and with automation, comes the creation of complex, multi-step campaigns. This can sometimes feel intimidating and can be very time-consuming, especially when switching marketing platforms. By launching the customer journey canvas, Microsoft hoped to provide a friendly interface, with better preview capabilities, and better insights. Dynamics 365 Marketing also offers the ability to adjust the canvas view, to adapt to whatever device you may be working on.
In the past, users had to constantly switch back and forth between the customer journey canvas and the toolbox while clumsily dragging tile elements onto the canvas. Users can now build directly into the canvas, with an in-place journey menu. You can also choose to view the journey in both horizontal and vertical layout options, offering the versatility you need in visualization.
Previously, users only had the option of dragging in scheduler tiles. Dynamics 365 Marketing is adding in simplified time-based journey actions, including a “Wait for” and “Wait until” tiles that allow you to space out your campaigns and drive action based on important customer interactions. Microsoft is also adding negative journey path conditions, allowing you to drive actions to users who don’t meet certain conditions. For example, if you’re looking to target a user who did not engage with an email, the new feature will allow you to do so.
All of these new features will be enabled by admins for end users, makers or analysts with early access coming out in September 2020. The features will be generally available in October 2020.
There were already a few robust integrations existing between Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Teams, but with COVID-19 coming into play, Microsoft recognized a need for a Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 Marketing integration. In today’s new world, events have moved to a virtual format, and many companies have found webinars to be the key to their marketing success. With this new feature in place, Marketing application users can now manage registrations, reporting for webinar and virtual meetings hosted in Teams, directly from the application.
In the past, the only available option to run webinars in Dynamics 365 Marketing was an expensive third-party platform integration. Now, you can create and host live events using Teams as the webinar provider. You can also integrate those Teams webinars directly into your marketing events, to be able to manage registrations, and target registrants with effective campaigns. Instead of having to control settings from the Teams application, the webinar creator can add event “producers” and “presenters” directly from within the Dynamics 365 Marketing applications. The new Microsoft Teams webinar feature also allows you to post-date events inside of the application, so you can plan accordingly and register attendants early. The new feature also allows event check-ins for live events and meetings, showing you clear visibility to online attendance. That last sentence is huge considering in the past, you couldn’t see meeting attendees on Teams if the users existed outside of your organization (which is the case for most of your customers).
This feature will be enabled by admins for end users, makers or analysts and went into public preview on August 3, 2020. The new features will be generally available to application consumers in October of 2020.
Data can be an exhausting thing to manage. In the past, forms had to contain entities that existed inside of your database. So if you had a one-off field that you were using for a specific campaign, you couldn’t just include it on a form as a “throw-away field”. Second, forms had to be connected to either a lead or a contact entity. Now, you can instead create the entity and its relevant fields inside of CDS, then enable the entity in Dynamics 365 Marketing. This made for a frustrating process that often pushed users to instead use form plug-ins available on their CMS, like WordPress of SquareSpace. Now, you can collect data under other entities and then trigger workflows based on that data. Easier mapping of forms allows users to enhance their processes of bringing new data into their system.
This feature will be enabled by admins for end users, makers, or analysts. Early access will begin in September of 2020 and the features will become generally available in October 2020.
As you’ve read, there are some incredible features to anticipate in Dynamics 365 Marketing for the year 2020. These new features will allow marketers to experience automation in a streamlined way, deepening customer relationships with end-to-end experiences across your favorite Dynamics 365 applications- Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Commerce.
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