In the current challenging market conditions, it's important to focus on initiatives that can improve your strategy and help grow your business. One key approach to reaching your customers and making an impact is through marketing automation and the personalisation of your marketing messages and content.
Marketing automation steals the show in Microsoft’s latest marketing features, released in 2022. Over half of the new features released from February to August 2022 focus on real-time marketing, personalisation and customer journey automation, with several new and improved integrations to make data capture/usage and output more effective.
There have been over 20 new features released so far this year and more still to come in the Wave 2 release expected from October 2022.
With improvements and changes being released constantly, it can be hard to keep up with what's new and figure out how to use these new features. That's why we've put together our top picks of the new features now available in Dynamics 365 Marketing, with insights and links to help you get started.
Note: based on my experiences, I've ranked each feature in terms of effort level to implement, complexity and its potential impact level on business processes. These ratings may differ depending on your company's needs.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ = highest
⭐ = lowest
- Measure campaign effectiveness with a new Channel Analytics dashboard
- Use outbound subscription centres in real-time journeys
- Continue the conversation with your customers by actioning their SMS replies
- A unified view of customer activity
- Raise triggers from a journey to run another journey or Power Automate flow
- Add conditions to a journey based on attributes captured as part of the event trigger
- Create conditional dynamic content with easy to use no-code experience
- Create more personalised journey variations using multiple journey branches
- Trigger journeys based on data changes in any Dynamics 365 app
1. Measure campaign effectiveness with a new Channel Analytics dashboard
Measuring the effectiveness of marketing is always important and often tricky. Dynamics 365 Marketing already offers several ways to monitor specific actions such as analytics for emails and a dashboard for customer journeys, as well as Power BI templates for more comprehensive view of activity, but it's always good to see the data from another point of view.
This dashboard gives a new view of real-time activity across your channels so you can track your metrics across the channels, zoom into a particular channel, or look at trends over a specified time period.
Effort level: ⭐ out-of-the-box (OOTB) dashboard with some great stats
Complexity: ⭐⭐⭐ you'll need to take some time to understand the filters
Impact level: ⭐⭐ a good overview of real-time channels
2. Use outbound subscription centres in real-time journeys
If your reason for not moving to real-time marketing has been the availability of subscriptions and consent, then now is the time to look at this again. Today, real-time marketing has the same flexibility of outbound marketing to capture customer consent preferences for different regions, brands and business lines.
To enable this new functionality, you need to switch on the new configurable compliance setting in Feature Switches. This will give you an option to create a new compliance setting with a subscription centre. Once this is set up, you can select this compliance setting from an email created in real-time marketing.
Effort level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ you'll need to set up the new subscription centres for real-time marketing
Complexity: ⭐⭐⭐ simple to select the subscription centre setting from an email
Impact level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ no excuses for not diving into real-time marketing now
3. Enhanced email creation
Email creation tools in Dynamics 365 Marketing have had a makeover this year with several updates to make the experience quick and easy to use. New content blocks provide advanced elements, layouts and personalisation that can be saved and reused.
The email personalisation process has been updated with the ability to provide predefined dynamic text, provided by Microsoft or created by your administrators, to save users time searching for the right fields. Plus, the entire menu has been reorganised to provide a better user experience.
Effort level: ⭐⭐ good improvements that can be used directly in the interface
Complexity: ⭐⭐ easy to access and easy to use, but watch your naming conventions to help users search for the content blocks
Impact level:⭐⭐⭐ improved personalisation options
4. Continue the conversation with your customers by actioning their SMS replies
If SMS is one of your main channels of communication with your customers, this new feature will be a welcome addition. Customisable keywords, stored in D365 Marketing, now enable you to ask for and react to customer responses via SMS.
Effort level: ⭐⭐⭐ set up of the keywords required
Complexity: ⭐⭐ a keyword strategy with options for all responses will be required
Impact level: ⭐⭐⭐ a step forward in the SMS functionality with some limitations
5. A unified view of customer activity
One of the most popular requirements of a CRM system is gaining a 360-degree view of your customer data. Now, as well as D365 Sales and D365 Customer Service activities, you'll be able to view all the marketing interactions for a contact, giving a broader view of early interactions and ongoing event, web and email interactions. This provides your sales and marketing teams with a full view of customer contact and communication.
Real-time and outbound marketing activities can be seen on the timeline and users can filter activities to easily find the information they need.
Effort level: ⭐ No effort required, automatically included in the contact timeline
Complexity: ⭐⭐ Easy to view and filter
Impact level: ⭐⭐⭐ Good view of marketing interactions but no ability to use the timeline data
6. Raise triggers from a journey to run another journey or Power Automate flow
This new feature improves the flexibility and the combined power of customer journeys and triggers to cover many scenarios where you may need to trigger custom actions or additional journeys from dynamic content. For example, a complex customer journey can be split into sections, with each section triggering the next, depending on the customer interactions, to keep the sections more understandable and easier to edit.
With the inclusion of Power Automate, these triggers provide endless options that can be tailored depending on your business needs. The option to include a new journey tile is only available in real-time marketing.
Effort level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ you'll need to understand the potential, design the options and create the triggers and flows
Complexity: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ can be complex depending on your requirements
Impact level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ very powerful automation with lots of possibilities
7. Add conditions to a journey based on attributes captured as part of the event trigger
Following their low-code strategy, Microsoft have developed a feature which allows users to create qualifying logic for event triggers without the need for a developer. This boosts your ability to filter triggers to further qualify who can enter your customer journey.
Effort level: ⭐⭐ simple to access in the customer journey
Complexity: ⭐⭐ well laid out
Impact level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ a great option to limit the contacts in a customer journey
8. Create conditional dynamic content with an easy-to-use no-code experience
Conditional dynamic content is key to providing your customer with highly personalised and appropriate content. Historically, providing sections of content specific to customer interests and preferences was complex and required coding. Now, this new conditional content experience provides marketers with an easy method to provide a unique message to each customer or segment.
To switch on the conditional content options, your administrator will need to enable it with one of the new feature switches in the settings area. The conditional content can be a section or an image.
Note: this feature is still in preview.
Effort level: ⭐⭐⭐ some effort required to create the optional content
Complexity: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ testing necessary to ensure all the options are correct
Impact level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ simplified process for a complex task
9. Create more personalised journey variations using multiple journey branches
Creating finely tuned customer journeys that cater for all the options a customer may choose often requires more than two branches. Now, at each step in the journey, multiple branches can be designed without the need to nest options, allowing for a simpler customer journey that engages the customer at every stage.
The branches can also now be brought back together to common steps at the end of the journey.
Effort level: ⭐⭐ automatically available at each step
Complexity: ⭐⭐ easy to add new branches
Impact level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ simplified process, easy to create hyper-personalised journeys
10. Trigger journeys based on data changes in any Dynamics 365 app
There have been several updates to marketing triggers this year, providing significant enhancements to real-time marketing and the ability to deliver powerful customer journey orchestration. Real-time marketing now offers three types of triggers; custom triggers, interaction triggers and business triggers:
- Custom triggers can be defined by users to capture an action or event through the generation of a code snippet
- Interaction triggers represent customer interactions from email, SMS and push notifications, helping provide a logical continuation from a previous step in the journey
- Business triggers represent changes in Dynamics 365 applications such as D35 Sales or D365 Customer Service
There are a few out-of-the-box triggers available, or you can build your own.
Effort level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ understanding triggers requires some effort but it's worth it
Complexity: ⭐⭐⭐ OOTB triggers are easy to use, custom triggers are more complex
Impact level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ powerful interactions with a large potential for impact
For more information on all of the features released in 2022, please visit the Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform release planner.
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