Dynamics Marketing – Create Workflows for Orphaned Leads

By Mike Springer, Dynamics 365 Senior Consultant

Dynamics Marketing is gaining in popularity– especially for organizations that have 10 or more licensed users of other D365 modules because the subscription is half-priced. Although the cost increases when you have over ten thousand contacts that you market to, the native Dataverse integration is compelling when evaluating competitive marketing automation platforms.

One of the nuances of Microsoft’s platform, though, is that segments, customer journeys, and other Dynamics 365 Marketing features require that each lead has a contact associated with it. In sales-driven setups, however, a sales user may enter a lead that the marketing team would like to include in one of these features and it would not have a correlated contact. The answer is to use a custom workflow process to automatically generate and link a contact record for each new or unmatched lead record.

Microsoft actually states in the user guide:

“In the current version of Dynamics 365 Marketing, the techniques described here must be custom implemented by admins and customizers to meet the specific needs of your organization. In the future, we hope to provide more out-of-the box functionality that will make these customizations faster and easier to implement.”

Let’s hope the future comes soon! This is something we shouldn’t let them off the hook on. It should be part of the platform.

I will mention that PowerAutomate Flow and other methods can also be used to accomplish this. The choice of a solution will depend on your specific requirement complexity and the skill set of the person responsible to architect and implement the solution. I’m sticking with out-of-the-box native workflows because they’re simple and just about anybody can accomplish this.

My version of the solution includes the following:

  1. Workflow to create a “marketing only” contact from a lead
  2. Workflow to remove the marketing only flag when a lead is qualified
  3. Modifications to the published contact views for sales that excludes marketing only contacts

The first workflow is simple and you can elect to run it on creation of a lead or just manually depending on your preference. Since most salespeople will not remember to run it manually when they create a lead, it would be the marketer’s responsibility to manage this.

Mine is running on create and I’m populating minimal fields for marketing (first, last, and email principally). The caveat and most important piece of this is that you have to toggle the “Marketing only” field which is out-of-the-box to “Yes”. This is how we identify a contact who is being nurtured and hasn’t been “qualified” to be visible to sales.

The only other workflow step I have, which is critical, is to update the lead with the “connecting” attribute which is the parentcontactid or “Parent contact for lead”. You have to get the contact value from the process step you just created the contact from. This is a little tricky. Your step won’t necessarily be named the same as mine.

The whole, simple thing looks like this.

The other workflow is even more simple. Just run it on change of the status reason for a lead if the reason is “Qualified” and go back to the Parent contact for the lead and switch the Marketing Only field back to “no”.

In addition to the two workflows, you’ll certainly want to ensure that contact views in your sales app(s) all have an extra filter line that says Marketing only = No. This way, the contacts being used exclusively for marketing features are not polluting the sales views.

There are other business rules and configurations that you may want or need to do for this based on your unique environment and processes, but this is the baseline to get this done. You can now create segments that include leads you leverage through their related marketing only contact record.

I could not find anything about this as a feature being developed or as a suggestion, so I added it to the Marketing Application ideas here. You can vote on it if you think it would be useful.

Mike Springer is a Dynamics 365 enthusiast that has been providing guidance to clients for over 15 years. As a Senior Dynamics 365 Consultant for New Dynamic, Mike is dedicated to helping companies drive revenue and reduce the cost of sales through insightful and collaborative Dynamics 365 Sales solutions.

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