It’s finally time to get serious about integrating your Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement and marketing automation platforms. Way to go! Aligning sales and marketing is a critical component of maintaining success and achieving sustainable, long-term growth. And a key part of this alignment is making sure your marketing and sales systems align as well.
But first you need a sound integration strategy to ensure your Dynamics 365 and the
No two businesses are exactly alike, and the more complex your marketing campaigns are, the more technically robust and flexible your data integration needs to be. Nonetheless, even the simplest integration works best with a plan in place before you sync up. With that in mind, we’ve provided four items you need to consider to foster a successful integration between your Dynamics instance and marketing automation platform.
- Bi-directional Data Integration and Syncing Capabilities
Integration is about bringing your teams, tools, and data together to function together in a unified fashion. To achieve this, you need to be able to sync the necessary data about any Contact, Lead, website visitor, or Account in a way that translates the data to the people who need to know it (e.g., Sales or Marketing). Typically, data flow between your Dynamics and marketing automation platform can either be one-way, which is triggered by events and flows in one direction only, or two way, which involves syncing data between both systems, making it accessible on each platform.
Your Dynamics and marketing automation integration needs to be able to update and maintain records in both systems. This requires field-level syncing capabilities—both for custom fields and for system fields (more on that later). Sometimes you need one system to be the source of truth and not the other—in that case, you want to be sure that you can control which system can overwrite data—and which can’t.
Ideally, your integration will be able to match up identifiers across Dynamics and your marketing automation platform, which helps to minimize false merging of profiles and organizes data under one common profile, creating a single source of truth for your customer data.
It is also important to realize that, because prospects reach out to your organization in different ways, there is always a chance that contact information will be entered into your system more than once. If an email address that appears in marketing automation already lives in Dynamics, or vice versa, you want to be sure that your system easily connects the dots. You don’t want to bloat your system or cause reporting issues by creating duplicates across your marketing stack.
- Mapping Marketing Lists
The ability to create Marketing Lists to support lead nurturing is made more powerful through your marketing automation platform integration. When looking at Leads in Dynamics, being able to identify those that are ripe for a nurturing campaign allows marketers to build Marketing Lists based on specific Fields or actions. Once your Marketing List is built, campaigns can be created and launched at a CRM-oriented trigger in your marketing automation platform based on what field you targeted in Dynamics.
In addition, being able to create custom fields in Dynamics allows for increased flexibility and better targeting (segmenting) when building Marketing Lists. Once a campaign is ready, your integration needs to be able to map your Marketing Lists to your marketing automation platform—so be sure your marketing platform allows for custom field creation if you plan on using your Dynamics custom fields in your marketing campaigns.
- Making Sure Key Marketing Data is Visible to CRM
Even after a Lead has been delivered to Sales, Marketing will continue to be involved in the sales cycle. Sales needs to have visibility into which key marketing programs each Lead or Contact is interacting with. These marketing activities can inform sales discussions or help drive urgency at a particular sales stage. As your Marketing team nurtures, you’ll want to explore what types of marketing data your marketing automation platform will display in a Dynamics record.
every marketing activity needs to or should be shared with sales. Only activities immediately relevant to the sales process should be made available in the Activity view. Once viewable, sales reps can use it to track marketing activities along with other sales developments, such as details around individual sales calls. But it’s important to talk through what is useful information for Sales first.
A key marketing activity that a sales rep would need visibility into might include potential trigger actions, like a visit to a specific website, or a download of some high-value content, like a case study or solution brief. Ask if your marketing automation platform can add these activities to your records for easy visibility.
- Control Over Inbound Lead Creation
Not all inbound leads are created equal. Some may be ready to feed into Dynamics immediately, while others may be in more of a nurture state. While early funnel leads are great candidates for an email nurturing campaign, they aren’t quite ready for Dynamics primetime. That’s why it’s important that you maintain control over which marketing-ready leads become true Dynamics-ready Leads.
Think for a moment about the quality of website form submissions you get on a given day: some of them are people selling lists or spamming you with non-sales-relevant content. If every website form submission creates a new Lead in Dynamics, you could be looking at a messy situation. You may also want to consider your required fields in Dynamics and how those fields will get entered by your marketing automation platform forms living on your website or landing pages—can your platform accommodate things like Owner or Lead Source? If so, see if you can use non-visible fields to accomplish these tasks. Otherwise, your marketing hours may get spent updating information that is autopopulated incorrectly.
As you explore options for integrating marketing automation platforms to your Dynamics 365 instance, taking a moment to understand what data you need, where you need it to live, and how you’re going to use it can go a long way toward a successful integration. And if you need help with next steps, be sure you bring both your Partner and your marketing team to the table (more on the marketing part of that conversation here).