The February 2019 release of Dynamics 365 for Marketing includes several new production-ready features, plus plenty of performance and stability improvements. Keep reading to learn about the new features we are adding for the February release. For more information about this update, including known and recently fixed issues, see the Dynamics 365 for Marketing readme page.
How to get the February 2019 release
IMPORTANT: The February 2019 release features are automatically available on any new production instances created since February 1. These features are also available with the public preview of the upcoming spring 2019 release, which also include several preview features. You can install (and update) the preview on a trial, sandbox, or test instance starting now—for details, see our blog post for the spring 2019 preview.
Updates to existing production instances are not currently available because we are working to update the update system itself. We expect the improved update system to be up and working very soon, and we’ll let you know as soon as you can start updating your production instances to the latest version. Keep your eye on this blog for the latest Dynamics 365 for Marketing news and announcements.
Email marketing enhancements
Custom code elements make dynamic content easier to design
We’ve added a new design element to the graphical email designer—the custom code element. Use it to position logical commands (like if-then statements and for-each loops) between your other design elements, thus making your email designs fully responsive to each recipient, with content and layout that can vary according to each recipient’s name, city, account, loyalty plan, and more.
This basic capability was already present in Dynamics 365 for Marketing but required you to work in the HTML view rather than the design view of the email editor. The custom code element makes dynamic code easier to work with, more reliable, and easily visible to designers while working in design view.
More information: How to enter advanced dynamic content in the designer and Custom-code elements
Extensible content settings give you more control over standardized email content
Content settings provide a dynamic repository of common values that you often use in email messages, such as your organization’s street address, links to common online resources, and more. This lets the system confirm the presence of required content during error checks (like a subscription center link), and provides a central repository of often-used values that can vary dynamically between customer journeys.
Until now, the collection of fields provided in the content settings was fixed, but now you can add your own, custom fields to this entity using the standard customization controls of Dynamics 365. In the February release, you can only add text (string) fields, by we expect to extend this to other data types for the upcoming major release in April.
Improved tracking of link clicks for customer-journey automation
You could already use trigger tiles to direct contacts down one of two customer-journey paths based on whether they clicked on a specific link in an email message. However, the previous solution tracked each individual link from your message as unique, even if some of them were set to open the same URL. Now, if all you care about is which URL was opened rather than where in the message each contact clicked, you can set up your triggers accordingly.
More information: The trigger tile
Domain authentication with DKIM improves email deliverability
Sender authentication is becoming increasingly important for ensuring email deliverability, and one of the key technologies that major email providers are using to confirm it is DKIM. With DKIM, the internet DNS system will be able to confirm that your organization owns all your email sending domains, and that Dynamics 365 for Marketing is also authorized to send on your behalf. Email messages that fail this test are increasingly likely to be filtered away as spam.
Previously, you needed to contact Microsoft Support to get help setting up DKIM for Dynamics 365 for Marketing, but now the app provides a self-service solution that will walk you through each step and provide all the information you need to register with DNS to authenticate your messages and help ensure deliverability.
In addition, each time you go live with a new email message, Dynamics 365 will check to make sure the from-address you’ve used in the message has a domain that has been authenticated with DKIM. If you try to send a message that uses an unauthenticated from address, you’ll see a warning that prompts you to authenticate that domain or use a different from-address.
Improved marketing insights make it easier to evaluate and learn from your campaigns
We have improved usability, consistency, and discoverability of the marketing results, insights, and KPIs reported throughout the application. Improvements include:
- Tooltips for all insights make it easy to find out what each result means.
- Insights are now shown on standard tabs, rather than on separate form views, which makes them easier to find and use together with related settings and other information for the same record.
- A new and consistent color scheme for interaction types helps make it easier for users to identify related results.
- Standardized terminology makes it easier to recognize similar results reported for different entity types.
- General improvements in design, groupings, navigation, and more—plus a few new insights for some entities.
A more consistent lifecycle for go-live entities
Go-live entities (like customer journeys, marketing emails, content settings, marketing pages, and others) have a lifecycle that brings them through stages such as draft, going live, live, stopped, live edit, and more. These are features that you design using Dynamics 365 for Marketing but then publish (go live) to an external service, where they become available for public use on the internet.
Though the go-live concept and stages are similar among the various entities that use them, each entity was designed to work slightly differently when the product was first released. We are now working to make all go-live entities more consistent to ensure that each of them presents the same stages, controls, and transition options throughout their lifecycle. Our goal is to make the application more consistent and therefore faster to learn and easier to understand. We are planning to complete this design change in time for the next major release in April, but already in February we are introducing the following improvements:
- Customer journeys can now be deleted or deactivated when in the stopped or draft state.
- Segments now include a live-edit state and common ribbon commands. They can also now be deleted or deactivated when in the stopped or draft state.
- Marketing forms now provide full control over their go-live process and include a live-edit state. They can also be deleted or deactivated when in the stopped or draft state.
More information: Go live with publishable entities and track their status
Improved customer journey insights, featuring insights into incomplete journeys
In addition to the many insights improvements already mentioned, we’d like to call special attention to customer journeys, where we’ve added entirely new insights that help you find out which contacts didn’t complete a journey, and why. Also, journey results are now better organized to make it easier to categorize and analyze email results—such as delivered (and what happened next) or not delivered (and why).
More information: Customer journey insights
Improved image and template galleries
The image gallery is shown when you select images to add to an email or page design, and when you go to Marketing > Marketing content > Files; it lets you browse and select images already uploaded to Dynamics 365, and lets you upload new images. For the February 2019 update, we’ve improved the image gallery to make it faster, more attractive, and easier to use. Improvements include:
- Improved sorting and filtering controls to help find the image you’re looking for
- Larger preview images
Similar improvements are also being added to the template galleries for journeys, emails, pages, and forms.
Add hidden fields to marketing forms to better capture submission context
Hidden fields are a standard HTML technique that enables form designers to add extra information that form users don’t see, but which gets submitted together with the form. Dynamics 365 will store all hidden field values together with the submission, which can help add more contextual information to each submission without exposing it to from users to view or edit.
More information: Design elements for forms.
Session-level event registration lets attendees build their own schedule
The event website enables internet users to read about and then register for the events that you are managing with Dynamics 365 for Marketing. You could already implement full event registration, and sub-event registration based on session tracks, but starting in February you’ll also be able to allow registrants to choose any combination of sessions when they register for a free event. This will enable attendees to reserve their seat for the sessions they are most interested in—which will help your planning while also provided a record of what your contacts are most interested in.
For the February release, session-level registration is limited to free events. For paid events, use event passes linked to session tracks instead (for now). Note also that waitlists are not yet supported for events using session-level registration.