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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Platform Shows Significant Growth; Convergence Event Highlights Sales & Marketing Integrations

Screen_shot_2012-03-27_at_1.31.42_PMMicrosoft Corp. last week hosted its Convergence Event in Houston, TX, highlighting a variety of added functionality and integrations for sales and marketing teams.

Marketing automation vendors cite a rapidly growing interest among customers in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform, which, according to industry insiders, is now ranking as the number two platform behind Salesforce from an adoption perspective. Industry insiders point to unique capabilities of the Dynamics CRM platform, such as closed loop marketing, lead importing, campaign response capture and dashboards, as drivers for the growth.

Screen_shot_2012-03-27_at_1.31.42_PMMicrosoft Corp. last week hosted its Convergence Event in Houston, TX, highlighting a variety of added functionality and integrations for sales and marketing teams.

Marketing automation vendors cite a rapidly growing interest among customers in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform, which, according to industry insiders, is now ranking as the number two platform behind Salesforce from an adoption perspective. Industry insiders point to unique capabilities of the Dynamics CRM platform, such as closed loop marketing, lead importing, campaign response capture and dashboards, as drivers for the growth.

SalesFUSION, an integrated marketing and CRM solution, has participated in the Microsoft Convergence event since 2009, when the company releases its first connectors for the Dynamics platform. SalesFUSION has seen a steady increase in Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform adoption at both enterprise and mid-market levels. Today, Microsoft Dynamics CRM integrations comprise about 40% of SalesFUSION’s active client base, according to VP of Sales & Marketing, Kevin Miller.

“Dynamics has been a great platform for SalesFUSION to create new and innovative integration points between marketing and sales,” Miller told DemandGen Report. “We have found it to be very flexible to develop in and the Dynamics community of resellers and independent software vendors (ISVs) are like a family in a way. You’re never short on new ideas from the channel.”

According to Miller, Dynamics platform users expect more functionality to be embedded natively inside the CRM platform.

“Drip and nurture-based marketing are very important, but you have to be able to incorporate these more complex B2B campaign into the dynamics campaign features in order to be successful selling to this market,” he noted.

Pardot, a provider of marketing automation technology primarily focused on the SMB market, also noted an increased interest in marketing automation among CRM users at the event. 

"Many of the marketers we met were using basic batch-and-blast email systems, and were excited to learn that they can develop more targeted and sophisticated online marketing programs through marketing automation and lead nurturing," said Laura Horton, Marketing Manager at Pardot. "A topic that came up frequently was the need for an easy-to-use email system which marketers without HTML experience could use.  Along these lines, our recently released email builder with pre-defined templates was very well received."

Right now, Horton said, about 10% of Pardot clients with an integrated CRM are Dynamics users. Pardot tracking data is available within a Dynamics CRM interface, including social profiling data and the LeadDeck alert system.

"One thing we've noticed about the Microsoft Dynamics CRM community is that businesses that offering multiple high-value products often use their web sites as a part of the sales processes," she told DemandGen Report. "For them, targeting based on product interest is really important. The ability to segment their prospects and market to them appropriately can make or break a sale, and the tracking provided by marketing automation systems goes a long way toward helping them do that."

During the Convergence event, Silverpop, a provider of email and marketing automation solutions, announced its acquisition of Atlanta-based CoreMotives, a marketing automation solution that operates completely within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. CoreMotives offers an on-demand, SaaS application that operates within the Windows Azure cloud. The company was founded in 2009 and has rapidly grown to serve 800 accounts in 34 countries, according to a Silverpop press release. The terms of the transaction will not be disclosed, and CoreMotives' current staff will join Silverpop's growing employee base of more than 450 globally. Silverpop also will release a Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration for its Engage platform, to be available later this year. The integration is designed for marketers with large databases, more sophisticated campaigns and higher email volumes.

Integrations Launched For Social, Mobile Channels
During the Convergence event, Microsoft and InsideView announced a Social Intelligence Alliance, whereby Microsoft will integrate InsideView’s social selling solution into the Dynamics CRM platform.

InsideView analyzes data from social media, news, and company sources and alerts sales professionals when opportunities for relevant engagement arise. Focused on ramping up the effectiveness of traditional cold calling, Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers can license full InsideView capabilities to enable key operational efficiencies, including enterprise-wide connection sharing; new social and key business content; people and company alerts; and sharing within collaboration streams.

“Today’s leading companies are becoming social enterprises,” said Umberto Milletti, CEO of InsideView, in a company press release. “As a leading force in business, our partnership with Microsoft allows more businesses than ever before to benefit from the rich insights provided by Microsoft Dynamics CRM and InsideView.  Together, we are helping these companies participate in and benefit from the social transformation we are experiencing today.”

Microsoft Corp. also recently announced as part of the next Dynamics CRM service update, customers will be able to access the complete platform functionality on virtually any device with a new cloud-based, cross-platform, native mobile client service for Windows Phone 7, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry mobile devices.

Brainshark, a cloud-based software provider, also announced the Brainshark Connector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The software enables the addition of voice — as well as video clips, survey and test questions and attachments — to PowerPoint decks and other static documents, to create online video presentations. This video content is automatically formatted for optimal viewing on desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and tablets.

Now, when logged into Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft’s online customer relationship management (CRM) software, sales reps and marketers can share Brainshark video presentations with leads and contacts in the system, and customize the content for various audiences. Users also can send emails with integrated presentation links, and track viewing activity and content effectiveness.

Brainshark also offers detailed analytics, including who viewed the presentation, when, how much was consumed, what type of device was used and how any questions were answered.

“We chose to align our offerings with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to help joint users improve sales and marketing outreach, identify and prioritize more leads, and boost communications productivity,” said Kate Skelly, VP of Corporate and Business Development, Brainshark. “With our new Connector, we’re happy to make the benefits of Brainshark just clicks away from Microsoft Dynamics CRM users.”