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Microsoft has marketing automation "edge" with updated Dynamics CRM

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2nd Jul 2013
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Marketing automation acquisitions may be grabbing the headlines for the likes of Adobe and Salesforce.com, but Microsoft believes it has first mover advantage in this space, and plans to capitalise on it via the launch of the next version of Dynamics CRM in the Fall.

The big money purchases of ExactTarget and Neolane in recent weeks have been big news, while the marketing automation space has also been rich pickings for the likes of Oracle in recent times, with its acquisition of Eloqua.

But Microsoft beat them all to the punch when it snapped up MarketingPilot 18 months ago, and having now integrated these tools into the upcoming Dynamics CRM 2013, the software giant is convinced that it has the “edge” over its rivals in a fiercely competitive space.

“There’s no question that we have an advantage,” says Fred Studer, general manager CRM marketing at Microsoft. “We got there early. We built new capabilities. But we also now have provided the integration and that is the key thing - nobody wants to be app slipping and going to a separate marketing tool and yet another marketing tool and then another one to execute and not having the insight to know how it worked. So we do have an edge there.”

Jujhar Singh, general manager, CRM development, at Microsoft adds: “We definitely have a first-mover advantage. But also with MarketingPilot we have a marketing resource management piece, and none of the other acquisitions are going to fill that gap for our competitors. So we are not only a more simplified integrated solution, but we cover the whole gamut of integrated marketing management, from campaign management, marketing resources management and performance management.”

What is says on the tin

The new offering is being pitched as a solution for ‘matching, engaging and nurturing’ customers.

Engaging with customers at the “right level” with richer interactions is designed to be supported via a new “outcome-driven” UI that has been added, as well as the anticipated introduction of functionality for iOS and Android. Following the release of CRM2013, Microsoft has also announced that it is to offer touch-optimised capabilities for phones including Windows 8 phones, Android and iOS.

The pitch for Dynamics CRM 2013 also suggests it will help business to nurture relationships to foster loyalty, a feat achieved via ramping up collaborative capabilities thanks to the new integration of Lync, Skype and Yammer. The integration of Lync and Skype will allow users to reach out to customers and communities, while Yammer will support customer knowledge sharing.

Finally, the new release aims to assist brands in matching customers with products/services they need. This is where the aforementioned MarketingPilot integration fits in, which is intended to help businesses to better manage marketing campaigns and understand customers’ digital footprints and convert these to leads.

Modern marketing world

“We had some great capabilities discretely within CRM before,” says Studer. “We had some great capabilities within marketing specifically. But what MarketingPilot gave us was a great platform for complete marketing resource management and now we can build on it. It gave us the ability to execute marketing campaigns. It gave us the ability to enter and monitor budgets and then during that campaign execution, we can actually monitor the performance through the budgets so you get really great ROI.

“And the other piece that it does really well is the digital marketing and creative asset management so that we can actually have a very collaborative marketing process of delivering advertisement and search and all sorts of things like that, and thinking about how a marketer needs to go to market in the modern marketing world.”

And Studer adds that with the role of the CMO increasing in importance, and their influence – particular over IT budgets – on the rise, Microsoft knew that it needed to "get there fast”, noting that the recent spate of acquisitions are absolutely aiming to capitalise on these developments.

“It’s all about the increased importance of marketing,” he emphasises. “Dollars are getting so tight. People aren’t getting the right marketing. Companies are spending a lot on marketing and not knowing how it lands. There is the notion of being able to do a better job, not just in the creative aspects of marketing, but really in the automation of it, so that you can get the best ROI. And we really saw a great opportunity it bringing some great capabilities within that set.

“The blending of marketing and selling and engaging is becoming very blurred and so we wanted to build that into a CRM system so that people could leverage the context around marketing and understand exactly where to spend the money, and how to provide collaborative marketing around, say, a focus group, or internally leverage Yammer, be able to annotate on an advertisement and then be able to optimise that and execute in a social world such as on a Twitter campaign, and be able to measure that on a real-time basis. We felt that was really critical.”

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