Dynamics 365 for Marketing – ABM Redux

I recently wrote a couple of posts about Dynamics 365 for Marketing, that some may have deemed negative. I, like many other partners and customers, had a few issues with it. But make no mistake, I am a huge fan of the offering, and I am confident those hiccups will be resolved… some steps have already been taken. But for many, the application, as delivered is actually perfect.

An ABM Engine

I wrote a post over a year ago about Account Based Marketing (ABM). Well, what is old is new again, and ABM is having quite a renaissance. Dynamics 365 for Marketing is tailor-made for ABM. Some have complained that it does not engage with “Leads”, but Leads is a CRM construct, it is not a Marketing term in the Account Based Marketing approach. In ABM, it is all about Accounts and Contacts, and delivering far more personalized and targeted messages.

Origin of Leads

I can imagine, way back in the day, before Leads was a thing, that it was all about Accounts and Contacts. Prior to email, in a B2B scenario, you got new business from referrals, and good old fashioned beating the pavement. You would be lucky to get 500 prospects to work on. There were companies that you could hire called “Clipping Services”. These companies literally scanned newspapers, and clipped out articles that would meet your criteria, like a new building announcement for your concrete business. Once a week you would get an envelope in the mail, that had maybe a dozen clipped articles in it. Then along came email, which transformed from a business productivity tool, into a marketing tool overnight. Suddenly your message could reach thousands of people at once with a single keystroke! Forget going to the local chamber meeting and shaking hands, I can blast the whole world from my desk. The mad scramble was to get email addresses, and there were plenty of companies that could provide them. Back then, we didn’t hide our email address… we put it everywhere, and it was scraped over and over again. Suddenly, I have 100,000 email addresses of complete strangers. I don’t even know if they are possible buyers of my product or service… but it costs me nothing to send them a message. This new “category” of unknown person became what we now call Leads.

Leads are a Cancer

Hell, I did it… everybody was doing it. I had a half a million email addresses of strangers, that we regularly blasted unwelcome messages to, for whatever crap was slinging back then. My generation “invented” spam in the early 90’s. Your welcome! Why “SPAM”? Some said it came from a Monty Python skit where a waitress repeats the word SPAM from the menu, and a group of Vikings in the corner sing “SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, lovely SPAM! Wonderful SPAM!”. SPAM singing was drowning out conversation and SPAM itself was unwanted. Who knows, but it’s here now. Leads were that pile of poor bastards that received these SPAM messages. Fast forward to today, and in spite of many laws enacted, Spam is more prevalent than it ever was. A driving force of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is Spam, in addition to personal privacy, which of course Spam tramples all over. So, in almost all cases, most “Leads” in a CRM system are simply… structured Spam targets.

Epidemic to Pandemic

GDPR is a law of the European Union. So, if you are in the United States you might think you don’t have to worry about it. And in many cases, you would be right. But if you have EU based people that you engage with, customers, vendors, employees, and yes, Leads, you are subject to this law. But, mark my words, GDPR will become the standard for future global regulations. The end of the Spam era is on the horizon. Even Facebook is taking steps to curtail Spam in their platform. “But Steve, there will always be law breaking spammers”. Maybe, but with today’s ability to track down spammers, and the fines that will be levied, it will take a huge chunk out of it. It seems the EU at least, has actually gotten serious about it. You might say the whole concept of “Leads”, as I defined it here, is about to be deprecated.

Is ABM the Alternative?

In a nutshell, to be effective with ABM, you have to get quite “personal”. It is impossible to get “personal” at scale, so the numbers will go way down. You will still be engaging with people you do not know, but at least you will know they are actually prospects for your products or services. For some industries this is a normal way of business. Take, for example, an Aircraft Seat Manufacturer. They can probably count on two hands the total number of prospective customers for their products. For that business, it is all about personal and specific messaging. I gave an example of the content of the type of message I am referring to a year ago in that other post, but since you are too lazy to click on the link above, I will copy it here:

“Hi Bob,

I heard that you are new in role at Acme, but poking around I noticed that you had experience in experimental widget development when you were at OldCo. I can see why Acme brought you on board, given their new focus on widgets. Clearly CompeteCo has been making some strides in this area also, based on their latest patent filings. It seems to me that given Acme’s history, being the first to come to market with a Whatsit, Acme should be able to leverage that at the upcoming World Widget Symposium in Chicago. I also noticed that Acme recently acquired WidgetCorp, who has done some pretty amazing things in the Widget space. I also read a few of your blog posts on Experimental Widgets, and found your comment that “Widgets will rule the world one day” to be interesting. I was hoping that we could schedule a time for a brief chat so I could learn more about your goals for expanding Acme’s Widget line, and see whether our Widget Blaster Solution could assist you with that. Would you have any time in the next week for a call?

Account Based Seller”

Obviously, this will probably get more attention than what Bob typically sees today, for example:

“Hi %FirstName%,

I repersent Intergalactic Mop Company. I don’t know if you even wash floors, but if you do, we have the best mop for it.

Please reply, and I will call you immediately to discuss your Mop needs, and a special offer just for our %INDUSTRY% customers!

If you don’t have anything to do with cleaning floors, but you know someone who does, kindly reply to me with their email address.

If you don’t want to hear about Mops, reply with “remove” in the subject line, and we will promptly ignore that.


Seller who wasted a keystroke sending you this”

To be fair, regardless of the message sent, if sent to someone you do not know, and who did not consent to receive it, it’s still Spam. And that is the Catch-22. How does one consent to receiving your messages in the first place? I’ll let you chew on that one.

A New Numbers Game

Why is it that I still get emails from Nairobi, letting me know that the King needs my help with a $565,000 money transfer, and I can keep half of it for assisting? Because some damn fools click it. Still? Do they live under a rock, and only crawl out to check their email every 10 years? How can these scams, that everybody on the planet now knows about, still work? Apparently… not “everybody” knows. To find that .01% of the global population that dwells in caves, you gotta send out a shitload of spam. It is a pure “Numbers” game. Like multi-level marketing, but that’s another topic.

ABM is about numbers also, but much, much smaller numbers. Even against those numbers, you will want to Segment tightly, and track every single interaction. Again, Dynamics 365 for Marketing is built for this.

Dynamics 365 for Marketing

There will be some who insist on using Leads, I get that. We have kind of been programmed for that for many years, and it will take many more to de-progam our thinking. Obviously, Microsoft did not intend to build a Spamming Engine, but they also cannot stop you from improperly using the product. Circling back to GDPR, Dynamics 365 in general has built-in GDPR Compliance capabilities, which are focused on Contacts, so marketing against another disconnected entity like Leads, could present some compliance challenges for you. If you insist on using Leads, Microsoft has written a post on how you can use Leads, and associate them with Contacts so you can stay compliant. Here’s a link to that.

There is certainly a lot of buzz around Dynamics 365 for Marketing, and I think there is quite a bit more to come. I know I’ll be watching closely.


Add your thoughts below, just don’t pimp your stuff on my blog :)


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