Book Review: Packt Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Marketing Automation

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Introduction and Disclaimer

It must be the season for it because I have two book review requests backed up which I have sat on for a few weeks. Finally I have two seconds to scratch myself so here is the first one for Packt’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Marketing Automation (the second is for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Unleashed which I will blog about in the upcoming weeks). As usual my compensation is a free copy of the book. Here is the link and this is what it looks like.

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In terms of the authors, Alok Singh and Sandeep Chanda, I do not know them so extracting a free drink for a good review will have to wait until the second book review.

Overview and Structure of the Book

The book is reasonably short (128 pages) compared to many of the weighty CRM tomes out there and the chapters are:

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Getting Started with CRM Marketing
  • Chapter 2: Segmenting with Marketing Lists
  • Chapter 3: Marketing Campaigns
  • Chapter 4: Campaign Response and Performance
  • Chapter 5: Marketing Metrics, Analysis, and Goals
  • Chapter 6: Enhance CRM Marketing with Marketplace Solutions

Preface

The claim is the book is for new marketers looking to understand the essentials of sales management and for veteran marketers wanting to create advanced marketing strategies. This is a big claim in that it is a lot of ground to cover.

Given the inherent limitations of Dynamics CRM for mass communication e.g. a lack of an html editor for outbound emails, it is good to see that the final chapter reviews the, arguably, two most common CRM add-ons to assist with mass email marketing: CoreMotives and ClickDimensions. Two obvious omissions are ExactTarget (possibly because it is now owned by Salesforce, although my understanding is the management are still autonomous and will be supporting Dynamics CRM in the foreseeable future) and Dynamics Marketing (perhaps it was too new to be included).

Chapter 1: Getting Started with CRM Marketing

The chapter begins with its definition of marketing: “The process of engaging with the target customers to communicate the value of a product or service in order to sell them”. Having a wife who has worked across the length and breadth of marketing, I object to this definition. It does not cover things like brand marketing (communication of the values and beliefs of an organisation) and pull marketing (communicating with an unknown audience). It does provide a reasonably good definition of product push marketing which is the strength of traditional CRM systems or, if you like, direct marketing.

The chapter does touch on social media, which is good and, given, pre-Spring release this was a weak area for Dynamics CRM, it will be interesting to see if this is covered in more depth later on in the book.

The chapter then goes on to cover some of the key challenges of marketing, giving a quick overview of how CRM system can assist in tackling some of them.

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There are a few more lines about what marketing is e.g. “the marketing team owns the message and the sales team owns the relationship” which jar with me but the idea that sales and marketing (and, in my opinion, most other areas of the business) can benefit by sharing information in a central system is a sound one.

The basics of the sales funnel are covered and the idea of sales stages is introduced although specific sales methodologies e.g. Solution Selling is not touched on. The summary suggests the sales funnel review was a ‘deep dive’ and, while it is a good summary of the key elements in sales funnel management, the depth is arguable.

Overall, despite my misgivings, a good summary of the elements of sales management and marketing as it relates to a traditional CRM system.

Chapter 2: Segmentation with Marketing Lists

This chapter covers Dynamics CRM Marketing Lists and begins with some of the key limitations of Marketing Lists e.g. only certain entities can be used, a list cannot have multiple entities etc. To this day, while we can specify an entity in CRM as being ‘emailable’, this does not make it available to be used with Marketing Lists.

The chapter then talks about how to populate static Marketing Lists i.e. lists with specific members as opposed to rules-based lists. It talks at using CRM’s Advanced Find functionality but does not go into detail as to how so you do need to be familiar with the Advanced Find functionality of CRM before tackling this part of the book.

The chapter, again, covers some of CRM’s limitations although does not mention the lack of visibility of dynamic lists against the contact or that, for email, you are forced to use email address 1.

In terms of a high-level summary of Marketing Lists, the chapter does well but, again, we do not venture too deep e.g. the construction of Advanced Find queries.

Chapter 3: Marketing Campaigns

The chapters do wonders for putting me off in the first paragraph. In this case the opening line is “A campaign is the actualization of your marketing strategy; all the careful planning and ideation that go into marketing is brought to life with a campaign”. ‘Actualization’ and ‘ideation’ are real words although a proper marketing strategy is more than just a marketing campaign. The word ‘ideation’ just means the ‘generation of ideas’ and has been around for about 200 years. I am not a fan of the word but perhaps this is me being fussy; ‘thought’ strikes me as perfectly serviceable in this context.

Moving on from my pedantry, the chapter provides a summary of CRM Marketing Campaigns, including Quick Campaigns. The essentials for setting up a campaign are covered and, again, finer details such as setting up an email template are mentioned but not explored. The storage of activities against individuals, and the interdependence of Word and the Outlook client are not mentioned.

The chapter provides a reasonable summary of the key functions and operations of campaigns.

Chapter 4: Campaign Response and Performance

In my opinion, there is no room for contractions in formal documents. So when I see “Any marketing campaign doesn’t end with the successful execution…”, I see red. Again, this may not be a big deal to you but immediately puts me off.

Campaign responses are a small passion of mine (it obviously does not take a lot) because no one uses them to their full potential. The trick to unleashing their power is to realise a campaign communication e.g. a phone call or email can be directly converted to a campaign response. The way most people use them is to click ‘Add New Campaign Response’ and then drive themselves nuts filling in all the fields. Thankfully, this chapter covers both methods of creating a campaign response and a third (creating a campaign response automatically from a reply).

The chapter also covers converting a campaign response to a lead or opportunity, which is also often overlooked but essential for transparency on the opportunities generated from a specific campaign.

So far, this is my favourite chapter in the book in that it covers how to properly manage campaign responses. Well done authors.

Chapter 5: Marketing Metrics, Analysis, and Goals

This chapter reviews key marketing measures commonly employed to assess the effectiveness of direct marketing campaigns. It then talks, albeit briefly, on the out of the box charts available to measure some of these metrics. The creation of new charts is not covered but the use of the report wizard is reviewed, as are the out of the box marketing reports and dashboards. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the report wizard as it is severely limited, compared to the full SSRS development suite. I would have preferred to see a quick review of chart and dashboard creation here, or the use of Excel to bring the data into an alternative analysis tool but this was not the case.

A high level review of goals management is also included in this chapter with some friendly screenshots to help in setting them up. Given the complexity of goals though, even this may be insufficient for the less experienced user.

Arguably the lightest chapter in the book but one that does give a taste of the BI tools available in CRM.

Chapter 6: Enhance CRM Marketing with Marketplace Solutions

ClickDimensions and CoreMotives are reviewed with some of the elements which are not available out of the box being covered (although many are now available via Dynamics Marketing).

It is not a bad high-level summary and I learned a few things about what can be done with CoreMotives. However, the overview is not exhaustive. For example, survey and form management in ClickDimensions is not covered. Also, costs and licensing are not summarised.

Conclusions

As a high-level review of the Marketing module of Dynamics CRM 2013, the book does reasonably well and certainly goes deeper than, say, Microsoft’s free User Guide. As a guide for strategic marketers especially those who are already familiar with CRM, the book will leave the reader wanting. Also, this is not a book for developers. There is no code in this book, nor references to how a developer accesses the marketing functionality from the back end.

Finally, despite speaking at the growing importance of social media to marketers at the start, there is little content about how this can be handled in CRM e.g. Social Listening or Parrot.

Is it worth $14? My thinking is, if you need a book which covers all of the functions of CRM, you are better to go with the ‘weighty tomes’ mentioned at the start e.g. my next book review, “Dynamics CRM 2013 Unleashed” costs $38 for the e-book and is over 1,000 pages in length. However, if you need a high-level review of Dynamics CRM’s out of the box marketing capability, $14 is not a lot to spend.

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