Campaign Activity Distribution: a Tough Nut to Crack?

Whenever you first start using a new product, it takes some time to get it. As a new member of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 team, I’m learning our product the same way you may be doing – playing around in the software, making mistakes, asking for help, and doing a lot of reading. Microsoft CRM is a powerful product, but that means it can sometimes be complicated. One thing I’ve found a bit challenging to understand is the way campaigns work, especially how campaign activities are distributed. After I set up my first test campaign, I opened a fax activity and clicked the big Distribute Campaign Activity button. But then I wondered, “Now what? Did my faxes go out?”


I think I get it now, and I’d love to share my epiphany with those of you who might also be struggling with this concept. When I finished setting up my campaign, Microsoft CRM created activities for each e-mail message, but it didn’t actually send them. Why? In many sales organizations, each salesperson is responsible for further customizing their organization’s campaigns.


Distributing an activity that the salesperson performs, rather than “automagically” sending the faxes or e-mails, gives your salespeople the chance to tailor each activity to the individual needs of prospects and customers. Personalization is all about relationships, after all. What’s the point of a customer relationship management system that doesn’t give you the chance to actually manage your relationships with customers?


Of course, there are times when you just want to send out an e-mail blast, and you want Microsoft CRM to do the activity, not “distribute” it. Microsoft has released an update that lets you do that in a quick campaign, something I’ve described in an article on


Andrew Becraft

Comments (12)

  1. chairwood30 says:


    can you specified were I can find the e-mail blast that lets you do that in a quick campaign.


  2. 365blog says:

    We’ve updated the post to include a pointer to that article. Enjoy.

  3. Brian says:

    You’re actually wrong on that point.  With regards to distributing an Email activity on a campaign, Microsoft has released a hotfix that will deliver each message to the user on distribution.  You can find the hotfix here:

    This shows that the intent for campaign activity distribution was for the emails to be delivered autotmatically… much like a mass mailing.

    I found this hotfix since I also had issue with the original way the Distribute Email Activity workflow was setup.  I hope this helps others.

  4. chairwood30 says:

    Brian, do you think this work on CRM Spanish version?

    – CRM 3.0 ES

    – SQL 2000 ES

    – W2003 ES

    Thanks, for the information. I think you are right about this was intend to originaly be like a mass mailing feature. Reading at the hotfix, Microsoft describes it as "only intended to correct the problem"

  5. Maybe I just do not get create a marketing campaign then create the activities and then tell your sales people to go check them out and send them? I do not meet many sales people who would go through this process,

    Surely the campaign activity design should be locked down as ready to go then you build the campaign and send the activities automatically.

    imagine I create a campaign to 1000 contacts..if I have 10 sales people are they really going to review 100 each, 50 each?

    Open to opinions here but every time I speak to any organization using marketing campaigns they all want to email automatically.

    I even worked with a 15 man marketing company in NY…they regularly emailed 15000 contacts to gather business intelligence. You cna imagine their horror when it was suggested they would have to manually send the activities.

    oh well at least there is a fix 🙂

  6. My experiences with the marketing module are that it is a 1.0 release very reminiscent of CRM 1.0/1.2 with lots of promise but of very little use in the real world.  I’m hoping that the development team focuses on a major interim release for the module in the near future.  It’s under documented and like SNL not ready for prime time yet.  

    My company is in the process of moving into a new state of the art facility and therefore we need to send Change of Address letters to thousands of customers and vendors.  We also need to send updated Terms and Conditions letters.

    I set up a campaign to handle The CoA and T&Cs and instead of thousands of personalized form letters that we could print and mail to our customers; I was left with thousands of activities to do it.  All of these duplicates wreaked havoc on my activities list and were daunting.  I would much rather see one activity with the distribution list attached rather than individual activities for each account targeted.  Psychologically speaking, 6800 activities scheduled for the same day isn’t a pleasant sight in your to do list.  

    The framework was there but the campaign setup lacked substance.  Since there was no reply needed an option for that would have been nice in the setup, as I’m afraid later on down the line the lack of results may hinder reporting on more traditional marketing campaigns.  

    The campaign must not only feature mail merge capabilities, it needs to be built around those features.  Setting up the campaign did not shorten the amount of time I spent generating the form letters to send.  No one in corporate America is going to buy in to a system that adds work with no apparent return which is what happened in this case, especially since there were no replies expected.

    I suggest a user friendly interface providing radio buttons to select mailing labels or envelopes and check boxes for contact inclusion and other options including whether or not this mailing expects a customers reply.  

    But don’t get me wrong I see lots of promise here especially if its worked into workflow, allowing auto-generated late notices and phone campaigns for past due balances and the like.   Anyhow if CRM 3.0 is any indicator of what Marketing could mature into I am very excited to see it in the next release.  

  7. Cole says:


    I understand that the direct marketing functionality of CRM is vast, but what about tracking offline referrals?

    If I had a campaign that involved several key billboard locations, driving calls to my sales team – how would I capture and subsequently measure the referral success of these activities?

    Trying to set them up as campaigns, or marketing activities just sends me round and round with assigning unecessary tasks.


  8. John Diamond says:

    We tried to make the registry changes and there is no mscrm subkey on our laptops, but it is on our desktops.  What should we do?

  9. Dating says:

    Whenever you first start using a new product, it takes some time to get it. As a new member of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 team, I’m learning our product the same way you may be doing – playing around in the software, making mistakes, asking for help

  10. Gary Harman says:

    I’m trying to add a campaign activity. I’ve created the campaign, have associated the marketing list with it, but when I try to add an activity it does not see my list when I search the target marketing lists. Any ideas?! Thanks.

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