With 2020 in full swing already, it is time for Microsoft’s first release wave of the new year.

Microsoft have just announced the content of their 2020 Wave 1 Release, and we can say with confidence that irrespective of whether you are already an existing D365 Marketing superuser or just thinking about adopting it, the new release has something for you.

Microsoft constantly collects feedback and suggestions from its wide pool of Dynamics 365 users around the globe. Internally they use these suggestions to help shape new functionality and platform improvements. They implement changes and release these in waves twice a year. Release notes detail the changes that will come into force in these waves. The latest release notes summarise the functionality which will be released between April and September 2020.

So, what can we expect to see new and improved?

Brand new event management

There are a lot of positives to be said around the existing event management capabilities within Dynamics 365 Marketing, however it is going to get even stronger. The speed and concurrency of the events registration process will see huge improvements. Previously to alter the event portal required some back-end coding. Going forward events managers can use marketing forms and its simple user-friendly drag and drop interface to take care of the event registration process and forms. These forms can also now be embedded on an external customer-facing site.

screengrab of Dynamics 365 Marketing events

Closing the feedback loop with Forms Pro

Surveys in Dynamics 365 Marketing has been a hot topic for quite a while now. With the Forms Pro general availability released in July 2019 and Voice of the Customer (the previous D365 Marketing survey capability) getting deprecated in July 2020, Forms Pro is clearly here to stay and will better integrate with Marketing with the new release.

Forms Pro allows marketers to create personalised and branded surveys, get the valuable feedback they need and make data driven decision on the back of their findings. With smooth integration to Dynamics 365 Marketing, users will be able to use out-of-the-box capabilities to use survey feedback as criteria for segmentation, lead scoring and branches in customer journeys.

Marketing Insights – export, analyse, act

One of the biggest asks marketers have had has been to be able to export marketing results, insights and behaviours into Excel. Previously to be able to achieve that we needed to lean on the capabilities of Power BI. Going forward the release notes suggest that we might be able to do all of that from within Marketing.

Additional GDPR assurance

With the new release marketeers get even more support and visibility around the history of their subscription-lists and GDPR consent-level changes for all of their customers. Another exciting improvement is the ability to consolidate opt-in confirmation messages combining several notifications and confirmation requests in a single message, rather than sending them separately. These improvements will enable marketing teams to rest assured that they are compliant with stringent GDPR regulations.

Stronger, stress-free email marketing

The email designer within Marketing has been getting better and better with each release. Going forward we will be able to make use of new and enhanced templates, picture-over-picture and button-over-picture capabilities, accessibility design and testing built into the designer, as well as custom email preheaders and rounded corners for images, borders and buttons.

With this release, Dynamics 365 Marketing can send context-rich, personalised email messages triggered by business transactions such as purchases, returns, or payments. This helps you easily add that personal touch to your marketing campaigns.

Another enhancement to emails comes in the area of the test function. Marketing users will benefit from additional confidence than before as the new test function will have improved error checking, as well as fully rendered dynamic content (including dynamic field values, entity relationships, loops and conditionals) based on a selected sample contact record.

Last but definitely not least, going forward we will be able to configure a preheader text in a marketing email, independently of the email body. The preheader text is that small line of text that appears after the subject line in an email inbox and it is important, because with so many emails bombarding and overwhelming customers, having a meaningful and catchy preheader can make the difference between somebody opening the email and engaging or just deleting it.

Easier targeting

Segmentation wise, new enhancements are coming both to the way we build static and dynamic segmentations. To name just a few, there is a recently viewed relationships and hybrid segments that will enable marketers to build their segments much quicker than before, as well as new redo and undo buttons in the segment designer. On top of that static segments can now contain many more members than before.

screengrab of Dynamics 365 Marketing

Hands-free marketing campaigns

Customer journeys in Dynamics 365 Marketing have been very sophisticated since the product’s launch, allowing marketers to automate key aspects of campaigns and free up significant chunks of valuable time. What the new release adds to this is the ability to  set time-sensitive email messages to expire after a specified time to prevent outdated reminder messages getting sent. As well as the Forms Pro integration with customer journeys, tese features further sophisticates your organisation’s marketing efforts.

Next steps

These features become generally available in April. However, early visibility and release kicked off at the start of February. As a Microsoft Inner Circle partner, Incremental are already test driving them, if you want to know more about them and how they can enhance your marketing efforts, please get in touch. To find out more about Dynamics 365 Marketing, discover our product guide.