The world of marketing is ever-evolving. The practices of sending simple bi-weekly unrelated emails or cold calling prospects with data bought from mysterious sources have been outlawed for years.

These outlawed practices replaced with a desire to build unique, carefully curated customer journeys. Customer journeys that don’t just showcase your product and offers, but rather harness your technical team’s knowledge to solve complex business problems.

Building these journeys can prove taxing for marketers. Not just regarding the research, planning, and development but also in sheer logistics. Without the right tools in place, marketers are often expected to manually carry out tasks that can;

A. Lead to errors, missteps, and general annoyance, or

B. Eat into valuable resources

Fortunately, we live in the time of Marketing Automation.

In this article, we explore Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. Firstly, what it is, and its two main modules, before finally exploring which module/approach is the right one to build and automate your customer journeys.

Dynamics Overview 

Dynamics 365 Marketing elevates customer experiences. How? By allowing you to create personalised journeys across multiple touchpoints. Designed to strengthen relationships and earn loyalty. The Dynamics 365 Marketing app works seamlessly with Dynamics Sales, Customer Insights, Microsoft Teams, and other products, allowing you to make faster and better decisions using the power of data and AI.

Dynamics 365 Marketing consists of two primary modules, Real-Time Marketing and Outbound Marketing. Both of which include capabilities to create emails and design interactive customer journeys to support your campaign activities.

“Real-time” marketing

Also reffered to as Customer Journey Orchestration by Microsoft. This module includes event-based customer journeys, custom event triggers (think opened an email, visited a web page, etc.), SMS and push notifications. It can be programmed by a marketer to trigger customer journeys in real-time based on the signals and data you collect from your customers, allowing you to pick the right channel for each individual, and connect in the seconds that matter.

  • Respond to customer actions as they happen: Respond in the moments that matter with real-time, event-based journeys.
  • Hyper-personalise your messaging: Personalise messages with dynamic text and images to suit the individual, not the masses.
  • Connect with customers in the channels they actually use: Use mobile channels to create text messages and push notifications that reach your customers where they are.
Outbound marketing

Pulls together the marketing tool kit we use every single day. Think of it as your email marketing, customer journeys, lead scoring, marketing pages, and social posting, allowing you to seamlessly connect your marketing and sales processes, all in one portal.

  • Convert prospects to leads: Capture leads, qualify them with automated lead scoring, and manage them through a custom business process, that works for you.
  • Leverage the power of social media: Post to all your favourite channels, without having to jump back and forth. Capture valuable leads from LinkedIn.
  • Gather vital customer feedback with Customer Voice surveys: Quickly build surveys and from there design customer journeys based on their responses. This feature is bundled with the Marketing app but is also available separately as an add-on for other Dynamics 365 products.

Outbound marketing also includes advanced in-person and webinar event planning features.

When to use real-time and when to use outbound

Real-time marketing and outbound marketing do have areas of overlap. Both can be used for the marketing automation we were promised many years ago. With the ability to send personalised emails, rules to ensure you are compliant and provide actionable analytics to help you take the right action, at the right time.

So, what’s the difference?

Real-time marketing is a scalable platform that allows you to engage with customers at specific moments. Engagement takes place through email and mobile channels and is based on customer signals and rich profile data. In other words, journeys are customer-led.

Communication starts when a customer acts. For example, if your customer scans a concert ticket or connects to your in-store Wi-Fi, these can trigger the delivery of personalised messages. You can start journeys with predefined event triggers, or you can create custom events.

Custom events allow to bring in data from other systems with just a few simple lines of code. Meaning you can design personalised experiences as and when customers interact with marketing, sales, service, and other departments across your organisation.

Real-time marketing also supports segment-based journeys, allowing you to orchestrate traditional marketing activities such as seasonal campaigns targeting your more loyal customer base.

The outbound marketing module was made with B2B marketing automation in mind. You can schedule and send emails and newsletters, create forms and landing pages to capture leads that you can score, grade, and then hand off to sales, the dream, right?

It also has a great feature for managing in-person events and webinars including seamless integration with Microsoft Teams. Out of the box, outbound marketing provides email and social channel capabilities, but you can also build custom channels if it doesn’t have the channels you need.

Now, which is right for your business?

The approach you choose will be different based on your current situation and what’s best for your business (if you’re unsure one of our experts can help you figure this out).

Most people will actually utilise elements from each module but let’s look at your experience first.

If this is your first-time using Dynamics 365 Marketing:
  • Explore the real-time capabilities and determine if they fit your campaigns. The module is flexible and supports both event trigger-based and segment-based customer journeys.
  • If you are looking to collect new leads, use the forms and page features in outbound marketing together with real-time marketing to collect data and trigger campaigns.
  • For lead capture, scoring, grading, and a seamless hand-off to Dynamics 365 Sales, start with outbound marketing.
  • Layer in real-time marketing to continue digital interactions with your customers in combination with the human interactions provided by your sales or service organisation.
If you are already using Dynamics 365 Marketing:
  • You may discover that real-time customer journeys unlock experiences that were difficult to realise using outbound marketing alone. Don’t worry, existing customer journeys will continue to be supported!
  • Layer in real-time marketing to continue digital interactions with your customers in combination with the human interactions provided by your sales or service organisation.
  • As the real-time and outbound areas gradually merge, you will find capabilities that will make it easy for you to move and reuse the assets that you have already built.

Wherever you are on your marketing automation journey, Dynamics 365 Marketing can help you surpass internal expectations and the expectations of your leads. By designing customer journeys in both the Real-Time Module and Outbound Module you get to capture the information your sales teams need, whilst delighting prospects with the right information at the right time.

If you want to learn more or see the platform in action book a call with one of our Microsoft Certified Consultants here.