Since the early versions of the product, Dynamics CRM has offered users the ability to create different lists (“Marketing Lists”) of contacts, accounts or leads to be used in variety of ways by different people or teams. Email marketing is one of the primary ways these lists are used and, naturally, Dynamics CRM makes it easy for users to create a campaign for a specific purpose, compose the message and then perform an email “Mail Merge” based on one or more assigned lists. The emails are sent from the CRM server to the company’s email server for distribution to the intended recipients and the world is a much happier place as a result.
For the most part, this out-of-the-box email marketing functionality from Microsoft can be valuable (and even useful) to companies needing to send occasional, low volume, text based emails and who are not concerned with analytics such as bounces, open rates, click-throughs, etc. However, if a company is regularly sending email marketing campaigns through CRM there are a number of limitations to be aware of.
HTML formatted email templates not possible.
This has been a long-wished for feature of the product but as of CRM2016, it still isn’t possible without a lot of hacking and keyboard pounding. Here’s to hoping the rumours about Dynamics365 marketing module are true!
Implementing modern email marketing best practices is difficult.
Due to the limitation in the HTML formatting, it’s difficult to include links to subscription forms. In fact, Dynamics doesn’t have a subscription management landing page so companies would need to build & host it and then write some fancy code to ensure the user’s subscription preferences are written back to CRM for next time.
Here in Canada, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) which went into effect on July 1st 2014 poses other challenges for marketers using Dynamics CRM’s marketing functionality. Part of the legislation outlines the rule for auditing un-subscribe requests as well as for ensuring that contacts who unsubscribe are not sent too again. Penalties for non-compliance for businesses can be up to a maximum of $10 million dollars. (Yes, I said a “million”.) So, the challenge is ensuring a) a recipient has a way to opt-out, and b) the request to opt-out is recorded, and c) the recipient who opted-out is excluded from future marketing lists.
Campaign Success Rates & statistics
The current out-of-the-box functionality for reporting on email marketing campaigns is grossly underpowered for modern marketers. Statistics like open and click rates are obvious KPIs that are missing. Again, Dynamics365 holds promise in this area but we aren’t quite there yet.
Nothing stresses out your IT partner or Network Administrator more than trying to get their IP address or domain off of a global spam blacklist. Yet we still see companies sending bulk emails through CRM via their company domain email server to thousands of recipients without any attention to the quality of the email content, CASL compliance, frequency of send or the quality of the recipient list. Doing this regularly is a fantastic way to tip off the spam watchdogs who, without warning, will add your domain to a global list of spammers. This can cause all kinds of trouble for legitimate day-to-day corporate emails with customers, vendors, etc.
We always recommend companies who are doing frequent bulk email campaigns to use trusted 3rd parties for outgoing emails and to avoid sending from their own email server.
Most of these limitations can be overcome with some magic (ie. code) and/or manual workarounds but supporting and maintaining an assortment of band-aids can be frustrating to the users and typically expense to support and maintain. In future releases of Dynamics365, the functional roadmap suggests that news things are coming with respect to marketing features baked directly into the product however only time will tell. Companies needing a robust marketing feature set today or who are using older versions of Dynamics CRM should look at 3rd party add-ons such as ClickDimensions to satisfy their current needs.
ClickDimensions is a software-as-a-service marketing automation solution that adds email marketing, web intelligence, nurture programs, lead scoring, social discovery, event management, campaign tracking, and form and survey capture functionality to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. And guess what? It solves the four major limitations we mentioned above.
- Drag & drop email templates and complete HTML control of the look & feel. Bonus: Mobile friendly without any extra work.
- Hosted subscription forms. Global unsubscribes. Opt-out/in tracking. Updates CRM records in real time.
- Statics for opens, clicks, unique views, forwards, Google analytics. Dashboards & reports.
- Emails are sent from ClickDimensions trusted email servers using email marketing best practises to minimize the risk of mails being delivered as spam.
Additionally, ClickDimensions is natively built into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Email marketing and marketing automation features are fully embedded in Dynamics CRM. Features are accessed through the CRM interface, and data is stored in your CRM database, providing a seamless marketing, sales and customer relationship experience.
Vertical Lift BSI has partnered with ClickDimensions to bring this industry leading marketing solution for Dynamics 365 and Dynamics CRM to clients in Canada. If you are Interested in learning more about how the ClickDimensions marketing automation solution can streamline your sales, marketing and customer engagement efforts? Our ClickDimensions certified consultants can help develop an effective strategy unique to your organization. Contact us for a no obligation consultation.