Dynamics 365 for Marketing – I have More to Say

I think I beat up the team pretty good with my last post on the licensing model for Microsoft Dynamics for Marketing. But there are a few other areas that deserve some attention too, that are going to keep this otherwise awesome product from being relegated to the, “That’s too bad, I would have bought It” category.

Pissed Off

First, I had a few people reach out to me privately after my last post, along the lines of “Aren’t you worried that you are pissing off Microsoft?”. Frankly, they should be pissed off, but not at me. I’m pissed off! With all of the herculean efforts that James Phillips and his team are putting into “raising the bar” for business solutions, they should all be mad as hell that the result of any their awesome efforts will be DOA, because of some bits of sheer stupidity. I have leveled my concerns to anybody at Microsoft who is even remotely attached to this product, but to be honest, I was not feeling a sense of urgency. So yes, I will use every tool at my disposal, to apply enough pressure, until they act, for me, partners, customers and themselves.

What is a Lead?

Dynamics 365 for Sales assumes a specific process. Sure, you can change that to whatever you want, but as we always tell our clients, you may want to understand the wisdom first. Leads are their own thing. They sit next to, but not in the way of, real business. If you have an identified target customer base of 100 companies, then you probably don’t need Leads at all, you should investigate Account Based Marketing. But most of our customers are driving efforts to get as may people as possible, to peek in their front door. Email campaigns, webinars, attending or sponsoring events, etc. All of these activities are designed to generate “people of interest”. There is no specific business Opportunity yet. Dynamics 365 for Sales assumes that these types of people are Leads, and that you will get them into the system as such.

Once a Lead is in your system, you would have a “Process” for moving that Lead towards becoming an actual customer, or disqualifying them and moving on. What that “Process” is, will vary significantly from one business to another, but typically it will include: Marketing efforts. Drip campaigns, more events, telesales, waiting outside of their office, etc. At some point in your process, you hope that a Lead crosses a threshold, and becomes either a Marketing Qualified Lead for the Sales team to take over, or gets “Qualified” straight into an Account, Contact and Opportunity for real business. Once qualified, it joins the ranks of all of your other Accounts and Contacts that you actually do business with and have a relationship with.

A Contact that has been created by Qualifying a Lead, may still be the target of ongoing marketing efforts, but these will be more specific efforts, towards generating new Opportunities. Accounts and Contacts will generally represent your existing customers (with the exception of Account Based Marketing), but may also include many other types of Businesses and People, including Vendors, Partners, Influencers, etc.


It is pretty clear from the above description that Dynamics 365 for Sales was built for the journey to start with Leads. This is not a new concept, nor is it exclusive to Dynamics 365 for Sales, it is CRM 101. But Dynamics 365 for Marketing was hard-wired to market to Contacts. You cannot even engage with Leads using Dynamics 365 for Marketing. How did this left-hand not know what the right-hand does? Myopia.

The teams that built, and designed the licensing model for, Dynamics 365 for Marketing, over-focused on the competing solutions, without regard for their own adjacent solutions. It was built as though it would only ever be, a standalone solution. As a standalone solution, it measures up to the competing solutions rather nicely. Most of them use terms like Contacts, to refer to what Dynamics 365 for Sales refers to as Leads or Contacts. The only reason a person is in their databases, is to be marketed to, regardless of their current status with you. Even the licensing that I ranted about in my last post makes more sense for a standalone solution. But the messaging we always get from Microsoft is to sell the whole stack. As James Phillips likes to say, “MarketingSalesServiceOperatonsFinanceandTalent”. Yes, he has said it so many times it comes out as a single word now.

A Case for Contacts

If could be that marketing to Contacts only was by design. The last thing Microsoft, or any other marketing automation platform wants to be is a spam engine. If you are like me, you get 5 emails a day from someone wanting to sell you a list of contacts in your industry. At a recent event, another partner asked “what about the list of 100K contacts that my client bought?”. Clearly, sending an email blast to these contacts would be considered spam in any country, and is outright illegal in most. Based on my inbox, this is still a pretty common occurrence, regardless of possible penalties. Maybe Microsoft was trying to draw line in the sand that your Leads are more likely to meet this spamming profile, than Contacts… nah, that wasn’t it.

I’m still fat, but you’re still ugly, and I can still diet.

Fortunately, like the licensing blunder, this too can be easily fixed. Sure, they will have to go under the hood and rewire some things, and they probably need to move to a consumption licensing model for this to work also. But it’s Microsoft! If there is a will, there is a way. Right now, we are 0 for 3 with customers, who were prime candidates, had seen the demos, loved the tech, but said no when they saw the licensing model and lack of Lead engagement. In one of those scenarios, Adobe was a more economical option!

I am a huge fan of the product. If Microsoft moved to a consumption model and brought Leads not the picture, this would crush anything else out there. As of right now, I am almost afraid to bring it up to customers. I picture myself having to come back later with my tail between my legs, assuming Microsoft fixes the issues, trying to re-engage a customer, who previously shot me down in flames. I am not a fan of having a sales conversation, where my starting point is less than zero.

I believe Microsoft and their Partners could make a ton of money on Dynamics 365 for Marketing… if they can just get out of our mutual way.


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


  1. Bernard

    I was disappointed to find that the Marketing Email entity is NOT defined as an activity entity. One of the disadvantages of ClickDimensions for me is that “Sent Emails” cannot be set regarding a certain record and they do not show up in the Social Pane.

    • Ramon Vorne

      We are using Dynamics 365 for Marketing because of its tight integration with Dynamics 365 Sales and have found that a lot of the marketing-specific information is tracked in a new data repository for “interactions”, probably because of the sheer volume of data that can be generated (e.g., tracking every web page visit). I am wondering if you could achieve what you are looking for by triggering a workflow when you send an email (e.g., customer journeys support workflow tiles). Also, the Contact Insights form that is added by Dynamics 365 for Marketing does have a nice overview of “marketing” interactions (such as web, email, and marketing form interactions).

      • Bernard

        I really would like to have one place where I can see all the communication with a contact. I want to be aware that he/she talked to a colleague last week and also that he/she received the Email with the latest offers yesterday.

        • Ramon Vorne

          I agree – and would like to see the same thing. I’ll ask if there is a better way to achieve this than creating the activity with a workflow (which I think might be a reasonable workaround).

  2. Nicholas Plant

    Steve, wondering whether you have heard anything to indicate that Microsoft might have got the memo about the fact that it is destroying its market with the way it is currently licensing the marketing app. I’d love to get started with it tomorrow – but with the way it is currently licensed no way !!! and I really want to avoid the complications of creating islands of information just to get over the fact that the way they have licensed it is completely nonsensical.

    • Ramon A. Vorne

      We have forged ahead despite the licensing model – so we could take advantage of a unified database across Sales and Marketing. But now challenge number two – it is really buggy. So much so that we felt compelled today to purchase “Professional Direct” support. And while the email editor superficially looks nice – it is extremely limited in functionality. Microsoft built a responsive framework that can really only be accessed through their templates, so we needed to have our engineers dive deep into the underlying HTML to create a template that matches our corporate branding.

      • Steve Mordue MVP
      • Lucy Muscat

        Is this MDM all over again? Buggy? Email editor is limited?

  3. Rocky Pavicevic

    Summa summarum….we will have to keep waiting for a D365 Marketing package that we can dive head first into and commit resources to learn and promote to prospects/clients.

  4. Neil Barrett

    Yep. I can’t believe they thought it would be a good idea to position this product as they have. DOA indeed.

    Until this product incorporates leads for marketing campaigns and is charged by send/interaction volume, we’ll be sticking with the 3rd party product we already have which already does these things sensibly.

  5. Roland Horwood

    Wow! The licensing model just about fitted our business, so we were still considering the product, but i didn’t realise it only interacted with leads! That just doesn’t make sense, at all. Looks like it’ll be click-dimensions for us after all (unless things change in the next 2 months).

  6. Boris Belousov

    Or happily go for ClickDimensions.com, I do not understand why MS did not acquired ClickDimensions.

  7. Ramon A. Vorne

    Great observations.

    The documentation for Dynamics 365 for Marketing is quite good – very detailed. But there is no mention of how to integrate its features with Dynamics 365 for Sales. We believe one of the main deliverables should be to build a seamless process between marketing and sales.

    Leads as an expression of product interest – so a Contact can have multiple Leads (the Dynamics 365 for Marketing approach) is an interesting concept – but I much preferred the approach we had been hoping to take…Lead as someone in the realm of automated marketing and Contact as someone in the realm of personalized sales (more like Dynamics 365 for Sales).

    Microsoft also didn’t seem to anticipate someone trying the Preview version of Dynamics 365 for Marketing would actually want to continue on to use the product. We are a week in and still unable to add Dynamics 365 for Marketing to our Dynamics 365 instance.

    I hope Microsoft makes changes as you are outlining…or back we will have to go to Act-On (and awkward islands of information)!


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