Whether you’re using Microsoft Dynamics CRM or CE/Sales in Dynamics 365, you’re probably using custom fields to capture information that’s relevant to your business model. Out of the box, Dynamics offers lots of fields that are common to most business types, like First Name, Company, Email Address, and mailing address information—but the beauty of Dynamics is that you can create custom fields that are specifically relevant to your business.
Custom fields can help you learn more about your prospects and customers and help you capture information that could be relevant in the sales or relationship equation, but did you know they are also useful for creating and segmenting campaigns for your marketing automation strategy?
By incorporating custom fields into your overall marketing automation strategy, you can create a more personalized, and therefore more impactful, email experience for your customers and leads. Whether you’re triggering campaigns from custom date fields (like competitor contract end date or customer anniversary date), custom lookup fields (like purchase preferences), or anything in between, custom fields are an awesome way to customize your marketing experience.
Let’s examine more closely how these fields are created and how best to integrate them into your marketing automation platform.
The Many Different Options for Field Customization
First, it’s important to understand that in Dynamics, fields are classified in two different ways:
- System fields - standard fields which cannot be deleted, but can be modified.
- Custom fields - fields that are created within the system and are custom to the system being modified. These fields can both be deleted and modified.
Custom fields are capable of capturing all sorts of data points, including text, numbers, date/time, currency, option sets, and more:
You can even add Calculated or Rollup options. In the Unified Interface, your Custom field options might look like this:
Note that fields are unique to a specific entity and cannot be used with other entities (meaning, if you want to use the same custom field on a Contact and Lead record, you’ll have to build a custom field for both entities).
As you can see, there are numerous ways you can customize fields to meet your specific marketing needs. And while it’s unlikely that you’ll want to utilize all of the options available, it’s good to know you have them at your disposal when needs change or your operation grows.
Creating Custom Fields in Your Marketing Automation Platform
Before you jump in and start spinning out a ton of custom fields in Dynamics, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish. You’ll need to have a clear goal behind each of the fields you create. Will your tasks include reporting? Perhaps you want to a custom field to help you to filter or do a search within a contact’s entry. Will your custom field feed a field in your marketing automation platform? Ensure your marketing automation platform supports the field type you’ve chosen in Dynamics.
For example, you might want your marketing automation system to be able to pull from a segment list that includes customers who purchased a specific product from you in the past. You would create a field for that data, then make the field filterable and searchable, allowing you to build a targeted and personalized email campaign to market compatible products or services to these customers.
Above all, make sure you have a specific reason and need for creating each custom field—and a plan for how that field will be populated in Dynamics. Are you syncing that field with an outside data source? Asking sales to input the data for you? Inputting the data yourself? Have a plan for data population or you could wind up with gaps in your data.
Focus on Personalization
By now, everyone should understand the important role personalization plays in the most successful email campaigns. There really isn’t a substitute for making your customers and/or leads feel unique and appreciated on a personal level. These personalized email campaigns will drive your CRM field customization strategy. The ability to use data like past purchases, web page visits, and email response rates allows you to create dynamic, personalized engagement content that is highly targeted. When building out your digital strategy, consider what data you can leverage in Dynamics—you might consider fields like:
- Contract End Date
- Purchase Timeframe
And you may consider syncing system fields as well, like:
- Lead source and/or source campaign
- Owning User
- Contact Score (pushed from your marketing automation platform to Dynamics)
You can use field customization in Dynamics 365 to create dynamic engagement and nurturing campaigns, personalized landing pages, customized forms, and much more (see a few of our favorite triggers here). Experiment a bit to find what works best for your business, then get to work on developing those awesome personalized customer experiences!
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