The Dynamics 365 for Marketing February 2019 update and spring-release preview features are available now

The February 2019 update of Dynamics 365 for Marketing is released and available  for customers to install and update starting now! This update includes several new features, plus plenty of performance and stability improvements.

We’re also releasing a few preview features that are scheduled to be part of the upcoming major release in April 2019. These must be installed and enabled separately if you want to try them out.

Keep reading to learn how to get this update and which new features it includes. 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 update

To benefit from this update, you must manually apply it to each of your Dynamics 365 for Marketing instances as described in Keep Marketing up to date.

How to get the preview features

Preview features aren’t installed as part of the standard February 2019 update, and should only be used on non-production instances until they are made generally available. For instructions on how to install and enable the preview features on one of your test instances, see  Activate and use preview features for April 2019.

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.

More information: Use content settings to set up repositories of standard and required values for email messages

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.

More information: Authenticate your domains and Best practices for email marketing

Usability enhancements

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.

More information: Analyze results to gain insights and the Insights glossary

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.

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