Marketing Automation Goal Management, Part 2


In part 1 of this series I explained how you can apply the goal management features of Dynamics CRM 2011 to marketing automation scenarios. I use the ClickDimensions add-on solution, and the goals I discussed in the first article were for email marketing clicks; specifically, how to build and track progress against goals for clicks from my monthly Dynamics CRM News You Can Use emails. The end result was a chart like this one:

Clicks are nice, and as I said in the first article they are a necessary starting point. But for most organizations they aren’t enough, since they’re usually just a stage in a larger process. For example, suppose you visualize an email marketing pipeline with a funnel chart like the following one:

The great thing about an add-on like ClickDimensions is that all of these actions are tracked in CRM, and they’re all associated with your customer records. Last time I showed how to track progress against click goals. In this article we move on to conversions.

Background: ClickDimensions Forms

After an email recipient clicks a link, what do you want them to do next? Well, if they click through to a form you generally want them to provide some information and click the submit button. You can think of converting a click into a more committed activity: maybe it’s a purchase, a request for a discount coupon or for a white paper. In the scenario I’ll describe next, it’s a registration request for an upcoming webinar I’m delivering on April 4, Convergence 2012 Highlights.

Building a Form

Like the rest of the components in ClickDimensions (CD) marketing automation add-on the form designer is simple to use and gets the job done. In CD terminology, forms are a type of Web Content, which is a custom entity contained in the CD solution. (The other types of web content are surveys, landing pages, and subscriptions.) Here’s the form designer, opened from the context of the Web Content form for the Convergence 2012 Highlights form I wanted to create:

Designing a form is a simple drag and drop process. Forms are designed to capture information to the lead or contact entities in CRM, and you can map form fields to system or custom CRM fields, as you can see from the custom “Coupon Request” field in the previous figure. In addition to data fields, you can drop other components such as HTML or a CAPTCHA widget directly onto a form. You can set field and overall form properties, preview the current version of the form, optionally create an auto-responder using a CD email template, and a few other things.

Deploying a Form

When your form’s ready, you can click the Embed button to copy the Iframe code to the clipboard, then paste it into the HTML of a web page. Here’s an example of a deployed form (the Convergence 2012 Highlights form I mentioned previously):

Posted Forms

Once a form is deployed you start to really appreciate the advantages of having forms integrated with a marketing automation solution. The following figure is pretty much the money shot:

The two highlighted columns (I made them skinny to obscure the names) are Contact and Lead. The way CD forms work, a search is performed when a form is submitted (when a Posted Form record is created, in CD lingo). If a contact record is located, the posted form is associated with that contact. If not, a new lead record is created and associated with the posted form. And if the lead record is then qualified to a contact, the posted form is associated with both!


Now that we know how to build and deploy forms, and how the posted forms come into CRM, we’re ready to set and track progress against goals. Establishing goal targets for clicks (the topic of the previous article) can be difficult, especially when you’re just starting out. It gets easier over time, as you get more experience and gather more data, and especially if you send marketing emails on a regular basis. But in some scenarios it’s easy to set a goal target. For example, for my upcoming Convergence 2012 Highlights webinar, I’d like about 50 attendees. Since there’s always some drop-off for a free online session, I’ll go with a target of 60 and a stretch target of 70.

Remember, the form I’ve referred to a couple of times allows a visitor to request registration for the webinar. When the form is submitted the request comes into CRM as a posted form record, so the goal I create needs to be for posted form records.

Building the Goal Metric

And if you know a little about goal management, you know that means you need a goal metric for the posted form record type. Here’s what mine looks like:

The metric type is count, I selected the Track Stretch Target option, and I defined a single rollup field for the Posted Form record type. Notice that there’s an actual rollup field but no in-progress. That’s because, like clicks, form submits are discrete events: they either happen or they don’t, so there’s no in-progress state. Here’s what the rollup field looks like for a goal metric like this one:

Building the Goal and the Rollup Query

With the goal metric in place, I can create the goal. The following figure shows the General, Time Period and Targets sections of my goal form:

Here are the things to notice from the previous figure:

  • It’s based on the Form Submits metric reviewed above.
  • The custom time period ends the day of the seminar. Unlike the previously discussed goal for clicks, a goal for webinar registrations has a clearly defined end date!
  • The Stretch Target field shows up because I selected that option on the goal metric.

The following figure shows the Actuals and Goal Criteria sections from the bottom of the form:

If you read the previous article, you probably guessed that this goal would require a rollup query. In this case, the rollup query is required to specify which posted form records should roll up to the goal. It looks like this:

It’s defined for the posted form entity type, and the query specifies that only posted forms related to the Convergence 2012 Highlights form should roll up. (Remember: the form entity is the parent of the posted form, so we can use that relationship to build the query.)

Charts and Dashboards

As with other goal management charts and dashboards, the ones I use for this scenario are quite specific. The following figure shows a dashboard I find useful; all it does is add a single Goal Progress chart for form submits (webinar registration requests, that is) to the one I showed at the beginning of this article.

Summary and Homework Assignment

I’ll close with a couple of related points. First, even a cursory glance at the goal progress chart for webinar registrations indicates I’m not where I should be. Since this goal has such a short time period (from March 1 to the April 4 webinar date, remember) the Today’s Target metric is actually interesting. And with 13 requests (22% of the 60 target value) my actual is less than the Today’s Target value of 27. But I’m not overly concerned yet: Convergence 2012 is next week, and that’s the perfect time to send my special March 2012 Convergence edition of Dynamics CRM News You Can Use, which will prominently feature links to the Convergence 2012 Highlights page, and should drive plenty of requests.

This brings up my second and final closing point. You may wonder what any of this has to do with email marketing, the marketing pipeline funnel and all that. All I’ve done so far is built and deployed a form, created a goal for form submits and talked about tracking goal progress. Where does the marketing come in? That happens next week. So far the registration requests have all been from what you might think of as organic traffic: I published the page on Tuesday and had 13 registration requests on Wednesday and Thursday. So how does the goal measure marketing efforts? Well, my blog is a marketing vehicle, so it does measure that, but it doesn’t really measure email marketing efforts.

That’s the homework assignment: the goal I described here is an overall webinar registration goal, but if I want one to focus in specifically on email marketing’s contribution, I need to narrow it down a bit. Let me know if you’ve got the perfect solution to this. I’ve got at least one in mind, and there’s a clue in the screenshot in the Posted Forms section above.

In the meantime, if you’d like to participate in my ongoing experiments in Dynamics CRM-centric marketing automation, fill out this form to become a subscriber.


  1. Kevin McFarlane Said,

    March 19, 2012 @ 6:20 am

    Richard, I’ve been perusing some of your business processes posts. What’s the latest publication estimate on your book?

  2. Anders Said,

    April 9, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    Well it’s all about getting the email of the participant (or reader of your site), when that is registred in CRM you can start up the marketing enginge…

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