Dynamics 365 Marketing: Real-time vs. Outbound Emails


It’s no secret that the most innovative features today for emails in Dynamics 365 Marketing are found in Real-time marketing, but are they better than what you’ll find in Outbound? We break down a few key differences (along with some tradeoffs) between the two designers.

(Not sure if Real-time marketing is for you? Start with these FAQs.)

Where You’ll See Differences (+Benefits!) in Real-time Marketing Emails

Trigger-Based Design: The Real-time marketing email designer allows you to create emails that are dynamically populated based on specific triggers or events. These triggers can include actions taken by individual customers, such as website visits, form submissions, or specific interactions with a marketing campaign, allowing you to meet your customers at each signature moment throughout the buying journey.

Personalization: Outbound marketing includes a useful but limited dynamic content builder, with the ability to pull in the value from fields that live either directly on the contact or one hop away—assuming the table doesn’t have a one-to-many relationship (e.g., leads). For anything beyond that, you’ll find yourself manually coding it directly within the HTML of the email.

Real-time marketing takes it up a notch, with a native dynamic + conditional content builder that can leverage contact, lead, or trigger-based attributes—even segment membership. Conditions and Lists also allow access to more tables (and table hops), making it easier to add highly nuanced personalization. The best part? It’s all within the designer, eliminating the need to go directly into the HTML to personalize your emails.

Brand Profiles: A new addition to Real-time marketing, brand profiles allow you to leverage social links, default senders and other reusable links for each of your company’s brands at the email level. This makes for more scalable production. Go further with custom values that you can use when creating content; for example, to include the current year in your email footer, you can add the field to a brand profile, allowing you to update in only one place whenever needed.

In Outbound marketing, some of this info is stored within Content Settings, which is used at the journey level, meaning that all emails within your journey will direct to the same social links + preference center.

We keep it honest here. As with any new rollout, there are some tradeoffs:

  • Test sends can only be sent to one address at a time. This is an inconvenience but not a deal breaker for clients who’ve made the switch.
  • The preview feature is limited to contacts only. This means that if the audience for your email is leads or Customer Insights profiles, test sends are the way to go.
  • QR codes for events are not yet available. While Real-time marketing does offer a nifty QR code generator to be used similarly to CTA buttons, the QR code functionality tied to a specific event registration is not yet native functionality in Real-time marketing.

No matter when you decide to make the jump to Real-time marketing, Coffee + Dunn can help. Contact us today to learn how leading companies are taking advantage of Real-time marketing to help drive growth for their business.