Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Using Marketing Lists to Control Contact Synchronization

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One of the great features of CRM 2011 (and earlier versions too) is the ability to bring down contacts from CRM into your Outlook contacts folder. In CRM 2011 this is accomplished by managing Outlook Filters, where you can set up rules with which to bring down contacts using Advanced Find-esque tools. But as our own Jason Farmer wrote in this blog, “using local data groups to define which contacts sync to Outlook isn't necessarily for everyone”. (As an aside, Jason’s blog covers another way to tackle this as well). So, the trick is to create a local data group that users can then leverage without a lot of effort to manage CRM contacts in and out of Outlook. The answer comes in an unexpected place: Marketing Lists.

Marketing Lists are typically used in Campaigns or Quick Campaigns to control, for example, who gets an email or a phone call. But who says they can only be used for that? Its very easy to add or remove Contacts to or from a Marketing List, especially with the fancy ribbon in CRM 2011. See this screenshot, where I’ve highlighted a CRM contact I want to bring down into my Outlook Contacts folder. I highlight the record, and am about to click Add to Marketing List.


I happen to have a marketing list set up for the specific purpose of Outlook synchronization:


So we’ll add this contact to my Marketing List:


How easy was that? But what about removing someone from a marketing list? What if I change my mind about that Mr. Wingard?

I’ll open my Marketing List like so (filtered to just that record to protect the names of the innocent) and click Remove from Marketing List:


Presto! One less contact in the Marketing List.

But the question remains, how does this help to manage Contacts that come down to Outlook. Outlook Filters tie it all together. Access Filters from CRM like so:


I’ve added this Outlook Filter:


Which leverages my marketing list:


The key is to look for contacts that are part of the marketing list. So now the CRM synchronization process takes over and contacts jump in and out at your whim. If you have any questions about this process, please drop us a line at

Post by: James Diamond, Customer Effective , Florida, Georgia Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner

1 thought on “Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Using Marketing Lists to Control Contact Synchronization”

  1. Hi James,

    This is, in fact, one of the current challenges in my company's MS CRM implementation project. I planned to do exactly what you've stated above to tackle the Contact synching situation, but we have three additional concerns that I haven't quite figured out how to address yet. 1) How to configure that list as a "system" marketing list which is available to all users but also specific to each. 2) How to get the Contacts that users synch up to the CRM to AUTOMATICALLY be on this marketing list. And 3) how to cap the number of Contacts users can have on this list (to control the ability for users to run away with the company's contact database).

    Any thoughts on those challenges?


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