How can I import Marketing List Members into Dynamics CRM?

Problem: I utilise an external Data Warehouse to identify marketing list members for a mail out, how can I load these into CRM to utilise the campaign functionality?

Initially when posed with this question, I thought development as you can not use the standard import tool to do this, but when stood back and looked at Marketing Lists, I realised there was a simple solution. The solution hinges around the fact that Manage Members utilises advanced find to perform a search to identify members, so we just need to be able to have something to search on, without needing to update the existing record.

In fact their are 2 options, as follows:

  1. Create a new entity named “External List”
  2. Create a relationship (lookup) to Contact, Account and Lead if you are creating marketing lists for all 3 types.
  3. Create a second relationship to Marketing list entity as a n:1
  4. Save and publish
  5. Now from the external source export your list, that must contain a unique attribute for each record that matches what is stored in CRM
  6. Create a marketing list in CRM or copy the name of an existing one for which you want to import members into
  7. Add to the export you did in step 5 a new “Name” and “Marketing List Name”column
  8. In the name column enter a unique name for the external list records that the import will create. In the marketing list column enter the name of the marketing list created in step 6.
  9. Import this file into CRM into the new entity “External List”, mapping the new relationships created in step 1 and 2 to the appropriate column in the csv file. I.e. Map the unique attribute for the CRM record to the Account, Contact or Lead for which it refers to.
  10. Now open the marketing list created in step 6 and use Manage members to perform a search on all Contacts, Accounts or leads (depending on what you are referencing) where an External List record is associated to them that is related to the Marketing list you created in step 6.
  11. Add the found members to the List.
  12. You have now imported members to a marketing list, you can now always view which members were added via the external list process and which additional members were added via standard CRM processes
  13. As a time saver, save the data import as a new template for future use

The second option is similar to above but you instead of creating a new entity you use Connections and import a new connection linked to the marketing list and use this to perform an advanced find on. The only downside of this approach is that can muddy the water if you use connections for other purposes.

I hope this solves a common dilemma.

Resizing the Social Pane in Polaris

If you like me then you want to maximise the screen real estate, to reduce screen scrolling and to present all the pertinent information in a single location. In the Polaris user interface you may have noticed that the social pane takes up quite a lot of space, but when you try and change the properties in the form designer you can not.

So how can I reduce the size, well it is not obvious but is possible. See the steps below:

1. Select the Social Pane section and click remove in the ribbon
2. Add a new section in its place
3. Highlight the section and in the insert ribbon tab click on insert note
4. This is in fact not just the note but the activity posts, activities and notes
5. Now this is the trial and error stage of the process as you have one attempt before the area becomes locked down again and you have to start from step 1 again! Click on change properties of the notes area, select hide label, and then change the number of columns and rows to be used. I would recommend using 1 column and around 8 to 10 rows.
6. Click OK and save
7. Now preview the form and you will notice that the notes area is in the fact the social pane component.
8. You will also notice that you can no longer change the properties of the notes area, so if you want to increase or change the properties you will have to start again from step 1, frustrating but simple enough to do.

That is it, a hidden gem, and hopefully a great tip to saving that precious real estate.

Do you know who you are using as a reference? Do you know how many times and the win rate of using that reference? If not track it in CRM

Reference customers are critical to a service provider business model, but how do you keep track of requests, usage and success of reference customers?

The answer is that it is quite easy if you keep it simple! Follow my simple steps below to keep a record of requests, usage and success.

  1. Create a new solution for your reference entity, or open up your existing solution
  2. Create a new entity “Reference” and specify type as Activity
  3. Add required fields to the new entity i.e. Account and related contact who will do the reference, type of reference Case Study, Reference, Speaker etc, Organiser as the person who has requested the reference and Owner who is the owner of the related account or contact. See screen shot below
  4. Reference Entity
  5. Once you have created the entity, update the associated Account and Contact forms to move the new reference relationship down into Sales area of the navigation.
  6. Optionally may want to create a workflow to auto update the Owner of the reference to the owner of the Contact, leaving the organiser as the person who is requesting the reference usage.
  7. You now may also want to create some charts around status and due dates or even as in the example dashboard below a chart showing references by opportunity revenue and status to see how well your references are performing
  8. Reference Dashboard
  9. Once you are happy you can publish your configurations.
  10. Once published you will need to train your CRM users to create a new reference activity when a reference required and if related to an opportunity create it from an opportunity so that the regarding in populated. You can manage the status and performance of your references using standard views, you can now view which customers are being referenced the most and finally manage who have or are proposed to provide Case Studies for you. In addition you could set the regarding against a Campaign if you are using a contact or account as a speaker or case study for an event.

Keeping track of references and usage across the business ensures happy long-term customers. I hope this has been useful.