I LOVE sitting at the intersection of marketing and technology – but it can be frustrating too, especially when every solution that drops promises more, better, faster. The real trouble is, uses of these new pieces of technology take months, and sometimes years, to implement correctly and roll out across departments fully. We’ve learned through countless client engagements that successful adoption of technology comes down to cultural change – to people – and not by simply learning a new platform.

So, you’ve invested in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and you’re itching to pull the trigger on a marketing add-in. Great! But that’s another subject for another blog. (Have an add-in you’d like us to preview or discuss? Drop us a line at luck@c5insight.com.) Today we’re going to take things back to basics and talk about what you can do from day one, using CRM without any add-ins or even custom configurations. There is absolutely no need to wait the necessary months to begin to realize the benefits of a CRM system.

Let’s jump in and discuss what you can accomplish from day one!

Leads, Contacts, and Accounts

While this topic is as much a business process specific to your organization as it is out of the box functionality, it’s included in the marketing area of CRM, so I would like to briefly touch on it. Think of leads as your starting point – the first touch-point, the first way someone has interacted with you. A lead may come from a website, an event, a webinar, or a phone call. While you may know some basic information such as their title, organization, and first method of or reason for contact, little else is known. Typically speaking, a qualified lead is converted to a contact, which is tied to an account. Many organizations put the hand-off from marketing to sales at the conversion from lead to contact/account. Leads that are not quite ready to be actively worked can be disqualified, or set to nurture until they’re a little more ripe and ready for active work.

Marketing Lists 

Now, you’ve got some leads, contacts, and accounts in your CRM. Instead of them all floating around, it’s time to put them into relevant groups to make sure you’re sending the right information to the right people.Marketing List  New Marketing List

Marketing lists are either static (meaning adding or removing inclusions is a manual process) or dynamic (which entails setting up a query which will work to add new leads/contacts to the marketing list as they’re added to the system). They can be built across a broad range of factors, for example: geographic location (show me all leads in Charlotte, NC), or role (include all leads with “Marketing” or “Sales” in their title), or member of a campaign (let’s email everyone that we met at the June Marketing Conference) just to name a few of the hundreds of ways a marketing list can be segmented. Marketing lists are the building blocks of many important marketing functions in CRM, and maintaining clean, well-segmented lists will make for more productive work.

[One note – Marketing lists can contain either accounts OR leads OR contacts, but never a combination.]


Campaigns are party central! They house all the different components necessary for successful marketing execution, tying together a variety of components into one view. Let’s review this area in CRM:

Campaign  New Campaign

For example, we have a C5 Insight Website Visit campaign – anyone who fills out a form at www.c5insight.com is added as a member, and their activities are logged both in this campaign and on their lead record. Or, say we meet new leads while sponsoring at a trade show. I can set up a campaign for that show and go to one area to manage the marketing lists, leads, budget, schedule, and activities – how we interacted with those leads AND how they interacted back with us. Have you ever attended a C5 Insight webinar? Yup, those are campaigns too!

Building further, there are also Quick Campaigns. If Campaigns are the party house, Quick Campaigns are the party bus. Quick Campaigns in CRM are single activities, for example follow-up phone calls or emails, distributed to a selected audience. Responses to these activities can be tracked as Campaign Responses in both Campaigns and Quick Campaigns.

Outlook Templates

I’m going to step outside of CRM’s Marketing area for my final (and perhaps favorite) out-of-the-box use of CRM. We’ll need to talk about add-ins such as Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and ClickDimensions for full email templates designed for mass email sends. But using your CRM as-is you can quickly put together email templates for your entire organization to use. Best of all, when your CRM is tied to Outlook, you’ll be able to track the emails directly to the Activities on the Lead or Contact record which is important for both your internal collaboration AND your employee engagement. A CRM is a corporate memory, after all.

Templates are set up in the Settings area.

Templates   Microsoft Dynamics CRM

In addition to tracking emails (and responses) to CRM), I’m a fan of these templates for 2 primary reasons. 1) I can control the brand standards. 2) I can help save time for my client-facing teams, so their time is invested in closing deals and not typing email responses. Because these templates are inserted directly into an Outlook email, your team members will have the opportunity to customize/personalize, but a template will still save loads of time vs. typing from scratch or copying and pasting.

Project Planning & Support

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, CRM implementations are not an overnight process. Many organizations have found success by putting less emphasis on configuring the specific piece of technology selected and more on the upfront planning, as well as ongoing training and support of their new system. To this end, C5 Insight has developed several free tools that may prove relevant to the success of your own CRM platform. Click here to visit our downloads page and get your own Roadmap Rating Guide, Support Gap Analysis, or click here for our comprehensive CPR for CRM Study.