What is customer-centric marketing automation? Simply put, it's the ability to execute and track all of your email and digital marketing efforts right in your CRM, where your customers live.
While Microsoft Dynamics CRM does have basic email activity tracking, it lacks important features you'll need for true marketing automation. Fortunately, several add-on solutions are available, and in the rest of this note I'll provide a primer on why you should consider customer-centric marketing automation, and how my favorite add-on solution can help you realize its game-changing potential.
Here are the most important reasons to complement Microsoft Dynamics CRM's built-in features with a marketing automation add-on solution:
- Email delivery. For direct emails and small marketing efforts, Microsoft Dynamics CRM's built-in capabilities work fine. But for most organizations' corporate email servers, outbound emails delivered to hundreds or thousands of contacts are a strict no-no. Specialized email marketing services relieve your servers of the delivery job, achieve significantly higher delivery rates, and minimize spam tagging.
- HTML editor. While Microsoft Dynamics CRM features a basic email template editor, it does not support HTML features such as style sheets, tables, graphics and the like. For all but the most basic communications, you will need an add-on template editor.
- Response tracking. After you execute an email campaign, how do you know what happened? Out of the box, Microsoft Dynamics CRM doesn't do much in the way of response tracking, but add-on solutions tell you everything you need to know: time-stamped opens and clicks, bounces, opt-outs handled automatically.
Most CRM systems have a similar goal: a single version of the Truth about your customers. There are several compelling advantages of integrating your marketing automation tightly within your CRM, all of which support this important goal.
- All marketing efforts - from list and campaign creation, through to execution and response tracking - happens in your CRM. No messy exports of contacts to a separate application, no tricky imports of campaign results.
- Outbound marketing efforts and responses, all attached directly to your customer records. From all of the communications received by a customer, to all of the activities they've taken in response. Everything visible from a customer's form, contributing to that single version of the Truth.
- Tight integration means you can create custom, marketing-driven workflows. Whether a customer clicks an email link, fills out a web form, or responds to an online ad - with CRM-centric digital marketing these can all trigger customMicrosoft Dynamics CRM workflows. Notify your sales team automatically and in real time as customers indicate their interest in your offerings by their responses to your digital marketing efforts.
- Integrated analytics gives you detailed metrics about web traffic and content consumption, again, tied to your customers in CRM. Web analytics tools can be used to track site visits, web page views, referring sites, inbound links and the like. But unlike Google Analytics, these are tied directly to your customer records. It's good to have metrics about your web site. But once these metrics are attached to your customer records, you will never again want to be without the data!
I've been doing in-CRM marketing automation for about five years, and it's transformed my organization's marketing and sales efforts more than anything else we've ever done. Two years ago I switched to the ClickDimensions add-on and in my view it’s the best customer-centric marketing automation app there is.
Let me know if you'd like to schedule a demonstration -- I'm a true believer in the transformative potential of customer-centric marketing automation, and I'd be thrilled to help you understand how you can apply it to your goals.
By Richard Knudson, Magenium Solutions,