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Email Newsletter Marketing with ClickDimensions and Microsoft Dynamics CRM

This is the first in an occasional series of posts looking at how Opsis use ClickDimensions, the number one marketing add-on for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  Today we're looking specifically at email newsletter marketing.

In later posts, we'll look at how Opsis use other ClickDimensions marketing features including:

  • Web visitor tracking and social media capture
  • Online data capture through forms
  • Landing Pages
  • Autoresponder Emails
  • Nurture Programs
  • Email Newsletter Marketing with MS Dynamics CRM – the challenges

MS Dynamics CRM is a powerful tool for sales teams, with functionality and structure strongly aligned with the buyer's journey.  It's also fantastic for customer service and looking after existing customers, especially with the recent Spring 2015 release.  But it's not designed for easy email newsletter marketing.

You can't email to Leads and Contacts at the same time. Instead you have to send two separate emails
Personalising bulk emails (mail merge) is a cumbersome process.  You need to have CRM for Outlook installed, and you have to switch between Microsoft Word and CRM.  (Step-by-step instructions here for anyone who needs them.)
Designing emails in MS Word means you have little visibility of how they'll look in your prospect's inbox.
Managing subscriptions is manual by default, or requires additional automation.
email newsletter marketing CD menu 2011

So most marketers don't even try to send email newsletters from CRM.  Many use specialist email solutions like MailChimp, AWeber or Constant Contact.  But now you face the challenge of data silos - different email respoitories for the email data and ther sales data.  And it is very difficult to track which were the more successful emails.

email newsletter marketing CD menu 2013

Enter ClickDimensions. It has all the above functionality by default, it has four different email editors, and it integrates so completely into CRM that you don't even see it as a separate product.  You get email marketing functionality right within your CRM.

Email Newsletter Marketing with ClickDimensions – The Opsis Experience

Opsis always wanted a regular email newsletter.  But like many businesses, we have limited time and resources.  We used to send emails sporadically, when we had something particular to say.  It wasn't until we bit the bullet and implemented ClickDimensions that we actually started sending email newsletters regularly.

It's been fantastic for us, so we thought we should share.

Creating ClickDimensions Email Newsletters

An email newsletter needs great content.  It also needs to look good in many different email inboxes.  So it needs great code.

Some marketers code.  Many of us don't.

With ClickDimensions you can choose an email editor to suit your coding ability.

At Opsis, the marketing team are not great coders, so we use the Drag and Drop Editor.  We started by deciding on a base template – single column header and footer with a two column newsletter.  That gave us a design built up of various 'content blocks'.  We can add, remove or change blocks dependent on whether we have more or less content, and whether it's images or text - all with simple clicks.

Here's a snapshot of the Drag and Drop Editor.

email newsletter marketing CD drag and drop editor

Best of all, it's really easy to clone an existing template.  So we don't have to start from scratch every month.  We just clone last month's email newsletter, then set about updating the content.  How easy is that?

ClickDimensions also offers two options to preview your email.  email newsletter marketing inbox preview

There's a generic preview button, which gives you the overall idea.  There's also a cool 'inbox preview' feature.  When you use this, ClickDimensions actually test sends your email to a range of email programs and versions, takes screenshots and delivers them back to you.  So you can be sure that whatever your readers are reading the newsletter on it will look good.  Great way to test the robustness of the HTML – especially if you're custom coding!

Sending your ClickDimensions Email Newsletter

Sending the email is even easier than creating the template. We create an Email Send – this process works exactly like the standard MS Dynamics CRM process for creating an Account, or a Contact, or a Lead. We attach the Email Template, we attach the Marketing Lists we want to send to and we're ready to go.

What's more:

  • We can attach lists of Contacts, Leads and Accounts, all to one Email Send.
  • We can schedule the send time to whenever we want.
  • We can choose who the email comes from. A generic address, one person for the whole email, or the record owner depending on who it's being sent to.
  • We can set up an A/B split test to compare different formats, content, subject lines or so on.
  • The email is sent via ClickDimensions routers, so it doesn't clog up our email system either.

Managing Subscriptions for Your Email Newsletter

Email delivery and subscriptions are managed automatically by ClickDimensions functionality.
An unsubscribe link is included in every email you send.  Note that the default link is a blanket unsubscribe which means that people are unsubscribing from all of your emails.  We've set up a more complex 'subscription management page', so that users can decide for themselves which emails they want to get.  This was a bit tricky, but we only had to do it once.  Now all our unsubscribes process automatically in the background, so we don't have to worry about spamming.

Reporting

ClickDimensions records activity related to email marketing within Microsoft CRM.  So we can see who received emails, who opened them, plus who clicked on which links.  That's perfect for digging down into what individual recipients are doing.  (Just what Sales need when they're following up on an enquiry. Especially since ClickDImensions lets them see every other Opsis webpage the prospect visited as well.)

email newsletter marketing email events report

There's also a summary statistical report for each Email Send, showing key metrics like open rates, click rates and unsubscribes.

email newsletter marketing stats report

Email Newsletter Marketing Results So Far

Opsis have been sending monthly newsletters since September 2014. It's long enough to start seeing a pattern. To start analysing results. And this is what we've found.

Open rate

Our open rate is hovering around 20-22%.  This is close to the industry average for consulting and professional services, so we're doing OK, but we'd still like to do better. (At Opsis, we always want to be better than average!)

Click rate

We started off with a really low clickthrough rate.  Our email newsletter just wasn't interesting. We had to do something about that.  So we reviewed:

email newsletter marketing click rate chart

What kind of content people were interested in?

Overwhelmingly, they liked the blog posts, where we share news, insights and practical tips to get more out of your CRM. We've added more of that.
What wording we use for links. Now we try to make the link text explain not only what's behind the link, but what's in it for you the reader.
And we're happy to report that our click rate has doubled since we started.

New Business

The most important measure of all!

From our first 8 newsletters, we've so far generated 5 new clients.

Given the size of our list and the relative complexity and cost of our services, it's a great result.

We've barely dipped our toe in the water when it comes to email marketing, but already, we're getting solid return on investment.

Next Steps for Email Marketing

For Opsis

We have two immediate goals.

1. We want to improve our clickthrough rate.

Right now, we're in the middle of an A/B split test of newsletter format.  We're comparing a short, single-column format to our established two-column format.  We send each format to a test sample, then the balance of the subscription list get the format which has the best click rate.  This is all part of the basic ClickDimensions functionality.

We're running this format test over 3 months (at least) to be sure we have a statistically valid result before making any final decisions.

As a second stage, we want to test a more frequent, shorter email against our current monthly bumper edition. That will be a bit harder to organise, but we're planning it.

2. We want to increase our list size.

For this, we're using other features of ClickDimensions. Registration forms. Landing pages. Surveys. All tied in to more active promotion of useful Opsis content via online advertising, social media and offline too. All capturing visitors' details and inputting them directly into our CRM. We're also implementing our first nurture programs. But those are topics for another time.

And for you?

  • Can ClickDimensions help your marketing in the same way it's helped Opsis?
  • Would you like more leads, and more information about existing leads, directly in your CRM?
  • Would you like to communicate easily with all your Leads and Contacts – and see what they've been clicking on in newsletters and on your website – all from within CRM?

Or if you can't wait that long, contact us now and we can arrange a one-on-one chat to discuss your situation.

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Phone: +61(2) 8212 3480

Email: opsisinfo (at) opsis.com.au

Skype: opsiscrm

Postal address: GPO Box 2479, Sydney, NSW 2001

Office Address: Suite 1a,
993 Pacific Highway,

Pymble, NSW 2073

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Opsis is an expert Microsoft Dynamics 365 consulting company. Our focus is your Microsoft Dynamics 365 success - not licence sales or billable hours. As Principal Consultant, Gill oversees all business operations and strategic planning and execution, yet she still believes in offering personal attention to each and every client, so as to understand their needs and offer tailored solutions.  We are based in Sydney, with clients in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and across Australia.  We offer Microsoft Dynamics 365 strategy, Microsoft Dynamics 365 scoping, Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 technical support, Microsoft Dynamics 365 advice and guidance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 training and mentoring.