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Field Notes: Alerts in Dynamics Marketing

Today's guest blogger is Aaron Robinson, an Engagement Manager at Sonoma Partners

With Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (MDM) making its transition from a siloed cloud solution (formally the Marketing Pilot acquisition) and being folded into the Microsoft Office 365 cloud suite, the product team has been making adjustments to the product to fit the solution in their family. Recently we ran into the following scenario with a client related to the alerts functionality.

What are Alerts?

Alerts are both a systematic and personalized way to receive email based notifications of events occurring in MDM. Globally, MDM will provide automatic notifications to a user for specific interactions. For instance, if you are an approver in an approval workflow, you will automatically receive an email notification when the workflow requires your approval at the point of time which is appropriate.

Individual users can also setup their own alerts for many different actions across many different entities.

How do I setup an Alert?

When a user is signed into MDM, there is a cog icon near the upper right hand corner to access the alert settings.


On the Alerts page, you will see a list of alerts if you already have some setup. Click the Add icon to create a new Alert.


On the new Alert window, you’ll be required to enter an Alert name, select a Status (defaults to active), the category, entity and action type. The alert frequency will only be available for certain actions when appropriate. Click Submit to save the task.


What might go wrong?

In our experience, there are some things that happen that aren’t entirely intuitive.

  • You may expect for the creator of a record defined in an alert action to send to the user who initiated the action. For example, if Susan creates a task and assigns to her colleague Bill, Bill will get an alert for a new task, but Susan will not as the creator.
  • You do not receive an email for an alert you are expecting. This may happen for one of three reasons:
    • You do not have an alert on that specific action. To resolve, go to Alerts settings and create an alert for that action.
    • Your email address on your staff record is not your actual email address. To resolve, go to Settings>My Company>Staff and find the staff record and make sure the email address in Email 1 (Primary) is your actual email address.
    • You initiate an action which you expect someone to get a notification for, but they indicate that they did not get an alert. To resolve, check to see if the user has an alert setup for that particular action. All alerts for all users can be seen under Settings>Administration>Alert Settings.


Stay tuned for more Field Notes on Microsoft Dynamics Marketing!

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

Field Notes - Contact Import Best Practices in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (Part 3)

Today’s guest blogger is Ryan Anderson, a Consultant at Sonoma Partners

Welcome back to the next and final chapter in our Contact Import Best Practices Blog series! In Part 1 of this blog series, we covered some basic importing best practices that you and your administrative team should take into immediate consideration before beginning any importing. In Part 2, we discussed how to best prepare your import spreadsheet.

In Part 3, we will go over some additional administrative best practices, “gotcha’s” and no blog series would truly be complete without voicing some cautionary tales. Lucky for you, you are here and won’t run in to those same issues I did. Let’s continue on to the homestretch!


Run a test contact import file to ensure mappings are connected properly

This truly is the best way to verify information is displaying the way you intended. Copy one or two contacts from the main import spreadsheet and paste them into a fresh import spreadsheet template. Save the spreadsheet and go through all the steps in MDM to get familiar with the process.

Page 1:

Page 2:

NOTE – MDM retains the mappings you select on page 2 for next time so this will come in handy when you import the main file.

Page 3:

When the import is complete, verify the data by opening a contact record from the import. If things look off, take a look back at the spreadsheet and mappings. Then start the process over with another one or two contacts. If it looks good and you feel comfortable with the process, feel free to load the main import file. Although, especially if it’s your first couple times doing this, I highly suggest running an additional import with another handful of contacts (around a dozen or so) before.

NOTE – Currently it is not possible to delete/purge any contact data in MDM (more on this in the next point below). If you load one or two contacts on the first import, it’s much easier to amend incorrect data on those records, rather than on hundreds or thousands. Trust me.


Although MDM only imports one spreadsheet at a time, you can queue up multiple spreadsheets so they can run one after another

To queue the spreadsheets, you would follow the exact same process as you would for any other contact import. Before you submit the spreadsheet, you’ll notice a note near the Submit button that says – “There are #__ imports pending. Your data will be available after your import has finished.”


NOTE – After each import has finished, an output file will generate and be sent to the email address associated to the contact who imported the file.



The delete import hyperlink doesn’t exactly “delete” the import

A common and potentially impactful misconception is that if you mess up a large import, you can always delete that import by clicking on the hyperlink contained in the output email and then start over. This is not the case.


If you click that hyperlink, it will actually place all those contact records in an inactive state. This is completely different from a purged/deleted state. While the contact is in an inactive state, the record is technically still in the system. So when you go back and try to import that contact spreadsheet again, MDM will skip over that contact. As we went over in Part 1, it skips based on your duplicate detection rules applied in your Site Settings.


Once you Close and make your final Save on the import spreadsheet – do not open the file back up in Excel

Any special cell formatting applied on the spreadsheet could potentially be lost if reopened again. If there is any worry about this at all, save the spreadsheet and keep it open during the import process. Once the import is complete, Close out.


Always have a backup staff member be familiar with the process in case the usual individual is out of office for an extend period of time

Vacations, babies, honeymoons, jury duty, recent lottery winners -- no one knows when someone might need to leave the office for an extended period of time. But you, now the seasoned expert who is always prepared, expect the best and prepare for the worst. Someone taking over this task without the proper knowledge can potentially delay or impact marketing activities by needing to be ramped-up or making critical mistakes. Better safe than sorry!

With that, I hope you enjoyed my contact import blog series! By now you should at the very least have a few best practices and takeaways to implement in your marketing activities.

I encourage you to post any remarks or questions you may have in the Comments area below. Be sure to check back for future updates and check out the rest of the Sonoma Partners Blog.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

Field Notes - Contact Import Best Practices in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (Part 2)

Today’s guest blogger is Ryan Anderson, a Consultant at Sonoma Partners

Congratulations to you! If you are reading this post than you are well on your way to becoming an MDM importing specialist! In Part 1 of this blog series, we covered some basic importing best practices that you and your administrative team should take into immediate consideration before beginning any importing.

In Part 2, we will dive a bit deeper and discuss specifics on preparing your contact spreadsheet for import. No turning back now so let’s keep moving!

Create a contact import Template to use on all imports

Ideally there should only be one staff member who is in charge of importing contacts. Though for all those risk-takers out there, if you have multiple staff members involved in the process they should all use the same template going forward.

NOTE – A good starting point for creating this template is to export a view with all contact information your business captures. Head to the Marketing Contacts entity (Marketing Execution > Marketing Contacts). This takes you to your View. Customize the columns in your View by clicking the cog iconclip_image001. “Select All” or check the contact fields you want and click “OK.”


You will now notice that your View will refresh with the contact column fields you selected.

To export that View click on the Excel icon clip_image004. Open/Allow the exported file to be opened in Excel and the top row contains the column headers (field names).


Another time-saver suggestion – Copy that entire top row. Open a new Excel spreadsheet document and paste the top row from the exported spreadsheet, to the top row of the new spreadsheet document. Save As a .TXT or .CSV file with a name that identifies it is your contact import template!

Leave out the “First & Last Name” column on the Excel spreadsheet and mappings page in MDM to avoid confusion


The “First & Last Name” is technically the contact’s Display Name, which is a concatenation of the contact’s “First Name” and “Last Name.” Depending on your site setting, the Display Name can also include the contact’s Email or Company.


NOTE – This Display Name setting can be found under the Contact Options section in Settings > Site Settings.


Format the entire column for any data that could start with a Zero

What is the most likely use-case here, you said it – Postal Codes!

Our many U.S. friends on the East Coast and Northeast region have Postal Codes that begin with “0.” You will notice on an Excel spreadsheet, if you type in a Zip Code that begins with “0” (e.g. – 03901), the “0” will disappear once clicked away (e.g. – 3901). To prevent this, highlight the entire Zip/Postal Code column > right click in the gray highlighted area > select Format Cells > in the Number tab select “Text” as the category > click OK.


NOTE – Format the entire column first and then enter in the data.


If your import spreadsheet contains special characters, save it as a .TXT format

You may have contacts that have special characters in their name’s (e.x. – José). If this is the case, save the spreadsheet as a .TXT file and no additional cell formatting needs to take place.

If you’re unsure of which file format to save to, save as a .TXT file

.TXT formats are typically the best way to go because it is a plain-text file. Additionally it is better than .CSV if you require support for Unicode characters.


The current size limit on a contact import spreadsheet is 4MB (or 4000KB)

If your file is larger than this, don’t let that warning sign prevent you from achieving contact import greatness! The easy solution is simply splitting it into multiple files. Be sure to include the top row with the column headers for the mappings in each file. With my experience, if you only have the basic information contained in the spreadsheet (First Name, Last Name, Email, Company, Title, Phone, Address, City, State/Province, Country/Region, Zip/Postal Code), you should be able to fill in about 20,000-23,000 contacts per spreadsheet.

To find out how large your file is, browse to the location on your computer where the import file is saved and open the Properties by right clicking on the file. The size will be listed there. Be sure to save the file first and then check its properties.


NOTE – As a best practice, the file name for each split spreadsheet should be unique.


Remember to stay tuned for Part 3 of the “Contact Importing: Best-Practices and Best “Gotcha’s” from the Field!

Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Topics: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

Field Notes - Contact Import Best Practices in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (Part 1)

Today’s guest blogger is Ryan Anderson, a Consultant at Sonoma Partners

With Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, contact importing is a tremendously convenient feature which you will want to take full advantage of. Granted that there is a firm plan in place and the right steps taken, this process is a huge administrative time savior (especially for those of you in the audience who are dealing with a large amount of contacts). This insider knowledge might guarantee you brownie-points and a number of ego-boosting complements from your Administrative Team and fellow colleagues alike.

Before we get going, a couple Public Service Announcements:

PSA 1 - This blog post is intended for guidance on MDM as a stand-alone product only.

PSA 2 - If your MDM org is new, it is suggested that the marketing “core team” takes the time to define the business and administrative process going forward. This should include determining what contact data your marketing team needs in MDM, how new marketing contact information will be gathered and distributed, and identifying the individual(s) to be in charge of validating and importing contact data to the system.

PSA 3 - Don’t forget to check back next week for Part 2 of this blog post.

Let’s get started!

Have one staff member be in charge of importing contacts

It’s likely some of your internal marketing users will need to create one-off marketing contacts, which is fine. Though when contacts need to be added in bulk, there should be an individual assigned to complete these tasks as the Import Admin. This will increase the likelihood of clean and consistent data going forward.

NOTE – If you need some extra control over who has the ability to import contacts, this can be managed with the “Import/Export Contacts” privilege in Contacts & Companies.


Clean up all data contained in the spreadsheet prior to importing

Who doesn’t enjoy getting things right the first time? This includes formatting, spelling mistakes, and any inconsistencies on data points that should match.

It may not seem like it at first but cleaning data prior to importing saves time on future imports. Additionally it avoids inevitable frustration if post-import mistakes are discovered in the system and need to be remedied though UI (user interface).

Ensure existing company names match on your import spreadsheet

If you are importing contacts that belong to a company already created in the system, ensure that the name of that company matches exactly with how it is spelled in MDM. If it does not match, it will create a brand new company record.

Match the “State/Province” and “Country/Region” fields to the applicable picklist options in the categories area

For example, “United States” instead of “US” or “USA” and “Illinois” instead of “IL.” These picklist options can be found in Settings > Categories.


Name the spreadsheet column headers the same as the field names in Dynamics Marketing OR write them in a way that makes sense to you.

On the second page in the import process, MDM will ask you to map the column names to the field names on a contact record. This will avoid confusion and most importantly reduce the likelihood of errors from data being mapped to the incorrect fields.

For your reference, all MDM contact import field names are listed below:

  • Email
  • Salutation
  • First & Last Name
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company
  • Title
  • Phone 1 (Primary)
  • Territory
  • Leads
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Team
  • Lists
  • Role
  • Primary Address Type
  • Address 1 (Primary)
  • City
  • State/Province
  • Country/Region
  • Postal Code
  • Type
  • Belongs To
  • Phone 2 Category
  • Phone 2
  • Phone 3 Category
  • Phone 3
  • Email 2 Category
  • Email 2
  • Email 3 Category
  • Email 3
  • URL
  • Notes
  • Display Name
  • Client Folder
  • Vendor Folder
  • Staff Folder
  • Language
  • Lead Time
  • Time Zone
  • Create Date
  • Do Not Email
  • Do Not Call
  • Do Not Mail
  • Contact Preference
  • Message Format
  • External ID
  • Account Manager

Import Your Contacts as Leads!

Did my larger, and bolded text grab your attention? I hope so cause this is critical! (My apologizes in advance for all run-on sentences and overdoing the commas but I want to make sure that you understand)

As you may or may not know, before Sales knows to engage a lead, the lead needs to be scored and needs to hit a certain threshold in MDM for it to receive a “Sales Ready” state. For a marketing lead to reach this status, there needs to be a separate lead record associated with that contact so it can be scored and ultimately achieve that “Sales Ready” state.

Here’s the kicker – if a contact already exists in your MDM environment, the only way for a lead record to be automatically created and associated with a contact, is if they submit a Landing Page that has the “create lead or interaction” selection checked (more explanation below). If most of your marketing activities involve a Landing Page, than this might be sufficient enough for you and by all means feel free to stop reading here.

Though if you have other campaigns or activities that do not necessarily use a Landing Page, the only other way to create a lead record in MDM, is to create that lead record manually. So if you are dealing with hundreds of thousands of existing contacts, and you engage those existing contacts with your marketing activities, all leads that come from that need to have separate lead records, so they can be scored.

I can already hear you now, “Ryan, similar to importing contacts, you can also import leads. Why can’t I just import those leads to generate lead records?” My reply, “if you want to create lead records from a list of existing contacts, the lead import option is not possible because the import will skip over those records due to your site’s duplicate detection rules.” If MDM recognizes a lead found to be connected with an existing contact, it will be skipped over during the import process (check your duplicate detection rules under the Contact Options section in Settings > Site Settings).

Conversely and ideally, if you have a list of contacts that don’t already exist the system, when you import those as leads in MDM, the system will create three separate records: a contact record, a company record and a lead record. Therefore using this approach will result in every contact being newly created and linked to its respective imported lead.

Remember that there currently is no way to purge/delete data in MDM so for contacts already created in your system, you cannot use the above approach. Though not all hope is lost because for all new contacts you can!


Remember to stay tuned for Part 2 of the “Contact Importing: Best-Practices and Best “Gotcha’s” from the Field.

Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Topics: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing: A Few Tips and Tricks

Today's post is written by Trent Bell, a Principal Consultant at Sonoma Partners.

I recently found myself working with Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and picked up a few behaviors that help my day-to-day user experience in the application. I thought it might be helpful to share a few of these for those who are new to Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

#1: Always check the “Show View All/View My” icon on any list view

When navigating the landscape of MDM to view lists of records, the “Show View All/View My” icon can trip you up.  Since it defaults to the “View My” state, remember to click on the icon to switch its state to “View All” if you want to display all of the records for this particular entity.  This icon also shows up with related entity lists as well.  An example would be viewing all Tasks associated with an Event record.  The table below shows the icons with their description and function.  


#2: Watch the eyeball icon

Another icon to pay attention to in the list view is the “Show All/Active Only” icon.  It has two states as seen in the table below.  It will default to the “Active Only” state, so if you need to see cancelled or completed records, they will NOT be visible until the icon is clicked and it’s state is changed to “All”.  A common use case for wanting to see inactive records might be with Tasks.  While it is convenient that the system hides tasks that have already been completed or cancelled, one might want to display what tasks have been done for a particular Event, Job, or Program.


In the screenshots below, we have a Job record opened and are displaying its associated Tasks.  In the first screenshot, only “active” tasks are showing because the eyeball icon is in the “Active Only” state.  In the following screenshot, the state has been changed to “All”, so another task appears that has already been completed.



#3: Populating lookup fields

Be sure to type at least three letters of the first word and wait for the system to bring back values.  Sometimes typing beyond the first word causes the lookup to stall. 

WARNING: There is no visual indicator letting the user know that a field is a “lookup” field, so the user only finds this out if they type an invalid value in the field entry area.  An error does NOT appear, but the invalid value is removed and the record is NOT saved.  This is definitely an opportunity for improvement for Microsoft that I expect will be addressed in a future release.


Also, placing your cursor in the field and hitting the down arrow on your keyboard can trigger values to show up.  This is useful when one is not familiar with the choices available.  NOTE: This functionality is NOT active everywhere.

#4: Use “Edit Mode” to edit tasks within a sub-grid

A really nice feature of Dynamics Marketing is its ability to edit multiple tasks within a sub-grid.  In the screenshots below, I have opened a specific Job record and then used the entity selector to show the Tasks associated with this particular Job.  These Tasks are associated with one Job record.  By clicking on the “pencil” icon, one can change into “Edit Mode” for the list of Tasks.


Once in “Edit Mode” the user can edit multiple Tasks at the same time (see screenshot below).  I find this view very helpful when I need to populate the “Next Task” field to sequence a handful of Tasks.


Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is a relatively new Microsoft product, born from the foundations of MarketingPilot. If you're looking to learn more about Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, we're here to help. Get in touch with us to learn more about the application.

Graduating Your CRM Beyond Pipeline Management


Topics: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing