Publishing a Newsletter in Microsoft Dynamics CRM


CRMcustCentricBanner

One of the marketing issues I’ve run into in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is that of the routine publishing of a newsletter. Sending newsletters to customers and prospects is a common marketing strategy and one that some Microsoft Dynamics CRM marketers have found perplexing. Some of the reasons for this are as follows:

  • In Microsoft Dynamics CRM you must ensure that every subscriber has been properly configured to receive your newsletter. You also have to provide the means for them to “opt out” if they don’t want to receive it. This issue is complicated by the Microsoft Dynamics CRM architecture that requires (with good reason) that accounts, leads, and contacts (the folks you want included in your subscriber list) are distinctly maintained. Therefore, you cannot create just one list of subscribers (marketing list), you possibly need three.
  • Composing a newsletter in Microsoft Dynamics CRM can also be a challenge. The e-mail templates available out-of-the-box in Microsoft Dynamics CRM are configured to be text-only. While quality text-only newsletters are in distribution, many marketers want to use images and complex formatting. Using images from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM is limited to web-based images. Sometimes marketers can become annoyed that they cannot simply drag and drop images inside Microsoft Dynamics CRM, like they do in Outlook or Word, but have to use images already available or published on the Web. The process for using web-based images is simple, getting used to it is the human factor.
  • Also, marketers that have complex formatting requirements must use Microsoft Word or Outlook (or some other compatible tool) for newsletter composition. This means they might need special templates, knowledge of Mail Merge, and should posses some problem-solving skills to overcome any unique issues that arise while composing and distributing their newsletters over a vast range of possible platforms.
  • Once all of the above issues are addressed, attention must be given to tracking subscriber responses to the newsletter. We’ve already published several articles about campaign responses and generating metrics around the marketing process. These are also available by drilling down into the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Resource Center. (Under Areas, select Marketing.) In addition, there are a host of third-party products that could be used to extend functionality in meeting tracking and metric requirements.

I am preparing a new article for Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers that I hope will collect all of the newsletter issues in one place and bring clarity to the detailed process of publishing a business newsletter from Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It’s draft title is 4 things to know about managing e-mail newsletters in Microsoft Dynamics CRM OP or Online. Look for it in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Resource Center in the next few weeks, I would appreciate any comments you might have to share with me.

James Matteson

Comments (19)

  1. James, i really like your bio,

    we recently upgradet from CRM 3.0 to 4.0 hoping that email templates can contain other attachments then word.xml e.g .pdf etc., my marketing manager tried out all ways quick campaign, mail merge, templates and still did not have a solution she can use for creating a normal newsletter with an attachment, not speaking of a an html newsletter that seems to much to ask for. Also the built in unsubscribe function is completly usless if the sender has to process all unsubscribe email manualy, if you want we send you our evaluation per email.

    Best Regards

    Joerg Keplinger

  2. Hi there James! We have been developing and testing our MS CRM 4.0 and we have spent nearly 80% of development time solving newsletter/marketing process issues and developing some interesting work arounds. We should talk! Feel free to contact me!

    Joerg I the unsubscribe functions actually works but only under specific circunstances. I will explain those circunstances in my next blog post. I will run some tests in order to double check what I have just said.

    Regards, thank you,

    Sergio Coelho

  3. James,

    You have done a great job of explaining the problems associated with using MS CRM as a newsletter tool…  but did not address any of the solutions.

    We have been building the newsletter including pictures, publishing them to the web and then copying and pasting into CRM for delivery.

    Is their a better way?  It this point, we find ourselves suggesting to clients that they use an ASP service to send the email from an exported CRM list…  which illustrates this as another major CRM flaw.

    Thoughts?

  4. rldonnell says:

    James,

    You have done a great job of explaining the problems associated with using MS CRM as a newsletter tool…  but did not address any of the solutions.

    We have been building the newsletter including pictures, publishing them to the web and then copying and pasting into CRM for delivery.

    Is their a better way?  It this point, we find ourselves suggesting to clients that they use an ASP service to send the email from an exported CRM list…  which illustrates this as another major CRM flaw.

    Thoughts?  Robert

  5. James E. Matteson says:

    Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the response.

    It is possible that a workflow could be created to recognize an incoming unsubscribe response because I know we can create an automatic unsubscribe acknowlegement to the customer. Perhaps the generation of the acknowledgement could kick off a workflow that would then turn off the Send Marketing Materials = (Yes or No) setting for that account, lead, or contact. I am checking with engineering to see how easy that may be.

    Regarding creating an attachment for the newsletter – that is an issue I didn’t address. I did not consider an attachment as an essential newsletter component. Out-of-the-box I do not believe that CRM e-mails can have attachments. However, if you were using the Outlook Client for newsletter distribution, I think you could add an attachment. I just never tried it.

  6. James E. Matteson says:

    Robert, the blog just tried to define the issues. I am addressing the solutions in the article which should be published within a couple of weeks from the resource center.

    Actually, I used to do something similar in another situation where I used Outlook to distribute the newsletter. In my forthcoming article, I hope you will be pleased with the ideas I provide.

  7. James E. Matteson says:

    Regarding Automating Unsubscribe Requests

    Joerg and Sergio, I’ve checked with some engineers and it appears that a plugin for the workflow using the SDK might be needed to use the campaign response channel to set the donotsendmm property on the Parent Customer to “No”. Until someone tries and succeeds with this method, it appears that automation of the unsubscribe request will remain manual for now.

    However, I published a internal newsletter for a mid-sized corporation with under 500 subscribers and unsubscribe requests per month never exceeded .5 – 1% of the distribution list. Of course, if you have 10,000 subscribers, 100 unsubscribes per month could be manually challenging.

    Joerg, I’d be interested in seeing your evaluation.

  8. E. Haubrich says:

    I was shocked to see that the newest version of Dynamics CRM did not include rich text editing or image functionality. I find it very frustrating trying to get even the simplest layouts to display properly. It’s as though Microsoft forgot that they have Outlook and Word to use as examples. Even the open-source CRMs have this functionality built in – When do we get a patch?

  9. Gary Kellett says:

    I would also like to see Rich-Text of HTML editing capabilities in MS CRM.  One of the other features that I would LOVE to see is the ability to reference attributes in URL’s.  This way, you can can put a hyperlink into an email, along with a contact’s ID, which can then be tracked within your website.

    Maybe in the next release?

  10. James E. Matteson says:

    Gary Kellett and E. Haubrich, thanks for your comments. Of course, this blog is about my work writing Help and articles for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Product suggestions are very welcome and, to be responded to most effectively, should probably also be placed in the Product Suggestion site at: http://rc.crm.dynamics.com/rc/regcont/en_us/onlinedefault.aspx.

    My article on publishing newsletters through Microsoft Dynamics CRM is due for publication late this week. I hope that all of you with an interest in this subject will feel free to share your remarks about the published version in this space.

  11. Steve Noe says:

    The best way to send a newsletter via CRM is to publish it on the web under the same url each month, then have an email with the link to it in there. You can use either a CRM email template template or the workflow generated email for this as shown in my blog. This has the added advantage of allowing you to measure response & read rates on the newsletter.

    Steve Noe MCT-CRM

  12. Leslie Miiller says:

    I have just created two marketing lists, because just one isn’t possible?  Now I want to send a custom CRM email template to these contacts/leads via MS CRM 4.0.  I have read forums and Resource center documents.  I can’t find the process to to select all the contacts, select my email template and click "Send."  All I can can find is how to do a Mail Merge with Word, or Create and edit my template or create and edit my marketing list.  Can someone please tell how to send a mass email using a email template to my marketing lists?

  13. I am a user with similar frustrations.  I have had luck creating a template and selecting a list and using direct mail to send to a list.

    Anything you can filter within a list can be sent email this way.

    Of course, a template is PLAIN TEXT only?

    That’s right…  CRM does not do images easily and not ay all in a template.  (Hard to believe when their competition seems to be able to manage this)

    If you want images – the the paragraph at the top of this page – and do it this way.

    A good CRM 4.0 book has what you can and cannot do with each type of email capability.

  14. David Finley says:

    James… cool post on the problems with bulk email in CMR… keep up the good work!

    Just thouth I would let readers know that we have developed some solutions that go a long way to addressing this problem. While we still have a busy 2 months further of development time before us before we take on packaging a solution designed specifically to address this.

    We had decided to keep it all under wraps, but I found after reading this post that I could not help but to jump the gun and explain a true solution to the CRM shortfall.

    We have an email marketing solution that we market as “Bulk Emailer”. The solution is a module that taps into the web technology known as DotNetNuke. I assume many of you would have heard of this product. In any case, the module is a fully featured and comprehensive bulk email marketing module. Unsubscribe, bounce management, tokens for profile data, but even more impressive is an MS word to MHTML send method. (details available at: http://www.interactivewebs.com.au/bulkemailer”>http://www.interactivewebs.com.au/bulkemailer )

    What we have been doing over the past 8 months is integrate this technology into CRM Dynamics 4.0. The net result of which is the ability to send email newsletters and other bulk email messages to everyone in your CRM system. Without bogging down your email server, and with proven reliability (sends in product have been regally done to over 87,000 email addresses in one hit). Still with an auto unsubscribe process, and an ability to override this if desired (emergency communications etc).

    We have taken much care with this solution to ensure that it is viable for as many resellers and CRM implementers as possible. So the solutions is doing some cleaver manoeuvring that…

    Uses no applications on the CRM server.

    Uses no plains on the CRM server.

    No scripts on the CRM server.

    So the really cool feature of this solution is that it can be use on any IFD deployment, including MS CRM Live (or whatever MS are calling it this week). With passport authentication, and or form based authentication.

    To send an email message, the user would login to a URL (that could be I framed into the CRM system) and create with MS Word, html rich text editor, or MHTML an email message to pump out to CMR contact. Send and.. you are all done! The website will take care of the entire process.

    While I mention, we are not quite ready to go on this. If anyone reading this would like to know more and is not just “kicking the tyres” then please feel free to contact us via our website at: http://www.interactivewebs.com.au

  15. Interesting Blog. I have a customer who needs to have a newsletter solution integrated with the Dynamics CRM 4.0 to be used in his Marketing Activities.

    So does anyone found any Newsletter Solution integrated with Dynamics CRM 4.0.

  16. does anyone know any Newsletter solution integrated with Dynamics CRM 4.0

  17. anj@crmg.dk says:

    Hi Mohamad,

    This company should have a intergration to CRM 4.0.

    http://www.zoomio.dk/Default.aspx?tabid=114

    Regards,

    Anders Jeppesen

  18. Harold Naparst says:

    While quality text-only newsletters are in distribution, many marketers want to use images and complex formatting.

    Is this a joke, or just someone from the 18th century.  I think images started being used in advertising well over 100 years ago?  Microsoft obviously does not want to be in the CRM business at all if they don’t make newsletter composition easy and professonal.

    Dynamics CRM 4.0 does not support auto-unsubscribe at all.  Rather, the person sending out the e-mail must manually process unsubscribe requests.

    Completely unbelievable.

  19. Kurt says:

    I agree w/ all the frustrated comments.  It seems MS hurried this product and undermined the user requirements on an unimaginable scale. I’d like to see someone from Microsoft leave a comment here, to let us know some of these concerns are being addressed.   CRM involved a very complex installation as well, and considering the cost, and really slow performance, you wonder why anyone bothers to use the product…

Skip to main content