Dynamics 365 for Marketing spring-release preview now updated with expanded features

In April, we will release the next major update for Dynamics 365 for Marketing, but customers and partners who would like to get an early look at some of what’s coming can set up a preview instance already now! We released the initial public preview in February, and now we’ve expanded the preview to include even more upcoming features.

We’ve also added a several new production-ready, generally available features, and these too are automatically visible on updated preview instances.

IMPORTANT: updates to the February or March versions are not currently available for production instances because we are working to update the update system itself. Preview instances, however, can be updated all the way up to the latest preview version at any time. New production instances installed will include the newest production-ready features available at the time of installation.

How to get the preview

You can enable the preview on any trial, test, or sandbox instance starting now, but you shouldn’t enable it on production instances because some of the preview features may not be fully tested yet. When you enable the preview on an instance, you will also update that instance to the latest version and will therefore receive the latest generally available features together with the preview features.

For instructions on how to install and enable the preview on one of your test instances, see  Activate and use preview features for April 2019.

Updates are enabled for preview instances, so if you enabled the preview in February then you can update to the March preview version by using the standard update procedure.

Public preview features

This section describes all the preview features that we added in both February and March.

Preview: Provide personalized marketing page content

Personalized marketing pages show content that varies according to who opens the page. When a known contact visits the page, it can fetch values from that contact’s content record and show those values on the page—or use them to modify page layout or content. For example, you could greet the visitor by name, show the logo for a visitor’s company, or display the photo and contact details of the visitor’s personal sales contact.

The system uses cookies to identify known contacts. The required cookie is set the first time a contact submits a landing page, or when a contact visits a subscription center using a personalized link sent to them in email. Page personalization itself is based on JavaScript, so you have the full power of JavaScript available to you when designing your personalization features.

The feature uses field white lists and contact opt-in to help protect contacts’ data and privacy preferences.

More information: Activate and use preview features for April 2019

Preview: Bring your own CMS with expanded support for externally hosted forms

The current version of Dynamics 365 for Marketing already lets you create marketing forms that you can embed on your own, external website, but with a few limitations. We’re working towards removing these limitations to enable you to create fully functional marketing pages that can run on your own, external website or CMS system. The following elements of this functionality are now available as preview features:

  • Enable prefill on embedded forms
  • Run a subscription center as an embedded form
  • Use external forms for inbound customer journeys
  • Create customer journey triggers that react to external form visits and submissions

Additional features for integrating with external CMS systems are planned for the April release, so stay tuned!

Preview: In-app social posting to Twitter and Facebook

In April we’re planning to introduce social posting, which will enable you to schedule and post messages to a variety of popular social media channels right from Dynamics 365 for Marketing. You can preview this capability already now. In February, we previewed the ability to post to Twitter, and in March we are adding the ability to post to Facebook. We expect more social channels to be available in April.

More information: Activate and use preview features for April 2019

Preview: Track your marketing contacts quota and usage

Dynamics 365 for Marketing is priced, among other things, according to how may marketing contacts are stored on your tenant. Dynamics 365 for Marketing now lets you keep an eye on your marketing contacts by showing the total number you have purchased and the total number that are using. To see these values, go to Settings > Advanced settings > Other settings > Quota limits.

More information: Activate and use preview features for April 2019

Preview: Segmentation API

Developers and system integrators can now interact programmatically with segments in Dynamics 365 for Marketing. The segmentation API leverages the standard Dynamics 365 API for manipulating entities or messages.

More information: Basic Operations on Segments using Segmentation API

Generally available features added in March

In addition to the preview features, we’ve also released several production-ready features, which are generally available for all production instances installed since March 8, including instances that don’t have the preview enabled. These features are also available on preview instances updated after March 8.

The March release includes all the new production-ready features that were introduced in February, including instances that don’t have the preview enabled, plus all preview instances. For details about the February features, see our blog post for the February release.

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.

Improved assist-edit for creating dynamic email content and field values

We’ve greatly improved the user experience for placing dynamic field values in your email messages with assist-edit. The feature was previously very compact, but a bit tricky to use—especially when traversing database relations. Now, we’ve implemented assist-edit as a two-step wizard that makes all dynamic values easier to place. It also makes relations much easier to identify and can now help you select fields from related entities.

As before, you can use assist-edit to display values in text elements, and can also place field expressions in some settings fields, such as the email subject, sender email address, image URLs, link URLs, and more—anywhere where you see the </> button.

More information: Use assist-edit to place dynamic field values

Improved inbox previews for email messages

The Dynamics 365 for Marketing inbox preview feature provides real-world inbox previews that show your email designs exactly as they will appear in a wide variety of target email clients and platforms. The feature was included in the initial release of Dynamics 365 for Marketing, but we’ve added several improvements to it for the March update, including:

  • Improved authorization flow
    Your Marketing license includes a limited number of inbox previews. Once those are consumed, users who would like more inbox previews must integrate their own Litmus accounts. We’ve now improved the flow for integrating your own Litmus accounts.
  • New preview clients
    We’ve added several new email clients to the list of available inbox previews.
  • Recently used inbox previews
    The inbox preview page now shows up to 10 recently used previews in a section at the top of the list to make them easier to find.

More information: Use the advanced inbox preview feature

Improved segment designer makes data relationships easier to find and use

The segment designer in Dynamics 365 for Marketing enables you to set up detailed logical expressions for finding the contacts to include in each segment. You can even traverse across database tables to find contacts associated with a wide variety of related entities, such as event registrations, accounts, leads, and much more.

Previously, it could often be challenging to identify and navigate database relationships using the segment designer. But now we’ve replaced the long and cryptic relationship names with more intuitively understandable names. And we’ve streamlined the selection process for creating queries against related objects.

Segment relations

We’ve improved the experience for choosing values from lookup fields, so now you can view, search, and choose from among the available lookup values rather than remembering them or entering index values instead. (Lookup fields are actually just simple table relations, so the related table must be synced to the customer-insights database for the values to be available to the segment designer.) You can even specify multiple lookup values at once, together with an operator for combining them, such as:

  • Is / is in: finds records that have any of the values specified
  • Is not / is not in: finds records that don’t have any of the values specified

Lookup field in a segment

We’ve also made static segments easier to work with by making it possible to add or remove members while the segment is live. All changes go live immediately on save.

More information: Working with segments