Dynamics 365 and Power Platform April 2019 Release – Marketing Suite first impressions

It feels like Christmas to me, and I’m tearing open my presents. Welcome to my ‘unboxing’ blog series on the upcoming D365 and Power Platform April 2019 Release. Over the next few weeks I’ll be going through the April 2019 release, module by module.

I’ll be specifically looking for those gold nuggets that I think will make a big impact, as well the leaps in innovations that haven’t been seen before in the industry.

Today let’s delve into Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Marketing suite.

Marketing

  • Personalised landing pages.

Personalised Landing Pages

In the above example, this is a landing page for different client types.  For those not familiar with landing pages, these are the links that appear in marketing emails.

First impressions this looks great, and what most marketing clients are demanding today.   The look and feel applied in the above example looks great, so it appears that some artistic license can be applied to your landing pages.  The docs site also mentions it will be possible to add local weather and other localisations to your landing pages.  What an amazing innovation.

  • Post to social channels direct from App.

So it appears as though a new entity called Social Post will be available within the app, it will also allow for Posting From handles, and scheduling.  Media controls that include audio and video as well as emoticons are supported.  It will be interesting to see a comprehensive list of channels that will be supported (we know Twitter and LinkedIn are confirmed).

  • Simplified Trial Sign ups.

Simplified Sign Up Process

There’ll be a new Trial process that will get you running in a few simple clicks (see above screen grabs).

Although I haven’t really had any issues with the existing trial sign up, except for the rare occasion where the provisioning of the associated marketing portal has not completed successfully (thankfully pretty quickly resolved by a Microsoft Support Ticket).

More of this type of quick trial – would be most welcome by the community, partner and clients alike.  I’d love to see this rolled out to other apps also.

Sidenote: If I could suggest a minor enhancement for Microsoft Trials, it would be that any location preferences selected are carried over to deployments (e.g. selecting UK, Australia during trial establishment will automatically preselect the correct telephone prefix for the phone verification step, and subsequent localisation preferences within the trial instance itself).

  • New APIs (that help you create target segments)

New APIs that allow us to build new target segments would be a great improvement over how Marketing Lists are currently managed through the API – with the current API allowing for addMembers, copyDynamicsToStatic, etc.

Hopefully this will enable us to build workflows that allow us to take advantage of creating complex segmentations.  This is something to look forward to, and as always there’ll be good documentation and best practices from the API team around this.

  • Enhanced event registration and check-in (registered at session level)

Events Registratio

Event Management is getting an uplift.  Some of the new features include session management for free events, session wait lists, QR codes that can be embedded into emails (think e-ticketing), and there is a mention of a check-in app (which we’re keen to see more of).

  • Marketer friendly segmentation (across demographic, firmographic, transaction and interaction data)

While we’re yet to see specifics of how this will work, it is clear that we are  moving away from simple segmentation (based on static and dynamic lists), to more multi-dimensional segmentation required for this market.

Microsoft mention firmographic details can be used to build segments, but what is that exactly?  Here is a simple overview from from Tim. J. Smith editor of the Wiglaf Journal, who explains this concept well.

http://www.wiglafjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/Firmographic_Variables-550x567.png

In CRM terms, I can already access the first three circles (industry, location, size) relatively easily from our Account entity.  However transactional data, performace data, status and structure has always been a little more challenging with the existing marketing.

Keen to see how this has been implemented, as this could be a game changer for the marketing app.  Bring it on!

  • Smart scheduling (across certain times of day, also uses AI to discover preferred time for each contact)

Smart Scheduler

At first glance this appears to be basic scheduling, as you would find in other marketing automation suites, but taking into account the individuals preferences and behaviour, it appears as though AI helps discover the best time to email (hopefully other channels too) your customers – for me that’s likely 2am-4am between baby feeds.

Another seriously cool innovation and great use of AI.

  • Segment boost – find contacts who ‘behave’ like your best customers. Include them in campaigns.

This sounds like a logical idea, and surprising how little it is done within many industries any tools that help marketing and sales identify their next star customer would be greatly appreciated.

  • Spam scores – determines your spam score based on sender address, subject line, contents, embedded links etc.

Spam Scores

Determining spam heuristics based on certain variables is not new, but combining this with Microsoft’s long history in managing exchange servers and junk mail this could be powerful. I would be interested to understand whether the technology taps into other data sources such as spamhaus.

  • Mixed reality

This is a step in the right direction. And my understanding is that you can use your mobile device as an Augmented Reality platform.

Though it should be noted that that the AR/VR industry has not standardised across devices and platforms yet, for instance, you can create and import your models using Microsoft 3D Paint, but to view the models you’ll need Windows 10 Creators edition on desktop along with a HoloLens Devices (other devices such as HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift are currently not supported – which is a shame as they make up the majority of consumer VR devices on the market place at the moment).

But back to the implementation, it looks simple enough based on the following screen grabs. Drag and drop from your media library and you’re ready to go. It would be good to see if we can extend this in a SketchUp 3D Warehouse fashion – with support for auto rotate, speed, auto play animations etc.

Summary

That sums up my initial thoughts on the Marketing module for Dynamics 365, and honestly I am surprised by the amount of innovative features that they have been able to squeeze into this upcoming release given the initial version of Marketing was released not that long ago. So it’s obvious that Microsoft are taking customer feedback seriously and building their roadmap appropriately.

Other References:

Key Dates to remember:

  • Generally available April 5, 2019.

Links: