How to Use Account Based Marketing in Dynamics 365 for Marketing

What is account based marketing?

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is defined by LinkedIn as “a strategy that directs marketing resources to engaging a specific set of target accounts.” At its base, ABM means using a significant amount or even majority of marketing efforts, and often sales efforts too, towards a few existing customer accounts. These efforts include tailored blogs and content, customized email marketing campaigns (customer journeys), account-dedicated consultants and/or salespeople, and using particular communication channels, among other things. ABM utilizes quite different tactics than inbound marketing, where companies cast a wide net to capture as many leads as possible, whether or not they are necessarily qualified. ABM fixates on existing customer accounts or gathering new leads that fit a highly specific mold.

Why would a company want to use ABM?

ABM can be extremely valuable to organizations who accrue a significant portion of their revenue or profits from just a handful of customers. If a few clients are revenue drivers for a company while others consume resources without returning similar profits/margins, why should they direct similar amounts of marketing and sales efforts towards them?

It’s a common misconception among small and midsize businesses that ABM won’t work for their business. This can mostly be attributed to cost in time & resources, a feeling that ABM simply isn’t worth it and other initiatives will prove more valuable, or some mix of the two. Any company with enough time to sit down and identify one or a few of their most value-adding clients can make use of ABM and get going in Dynamics 365 for Marketing in a matter of weeks.

87% of marketers agreed that ABM delivered a higher ROI than other, more standard marketing initiatives. Similarly, companies utilizing ABM saw up to 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts than those not using it. ABM also resulted in an increase in pipeline opportunities for 66% of companies, larger deal sizes for 91% of companies, and a 50% reduction in wasted sales times.

Account-based capabilities in D365 for Marketing

The high-level ABM capabilities provided by Dynamics 365 for Marketing include segmenting, customer journeys by account, personalized emails & content, account-specific insights, and account/contact lead scoring.


Accounts chose for ABM should  generate the most revenue, return the best profit margins, have the highest budget, are in a period of rapid growth, or some mix of all these. Getting started with ABM requires a segment to be built that includes all accounts and contacts that have been identified as a target. Segments are marketing lists based on contact attributes, whether it be their location, industry, products/services they’re looking for, or a combination of these & other variables. Segments can either be static (will never change) or dynamic (fluid segment that will update and change).

To define a segment in Dynamics 365 for Marketing, go to Customers > Segments and click the +NEW button located in the command bar. A new segment will appear in Designer mode, which allows users to name and define segment parameters.

Note: It’s important to click the close button in the top right of the Designer area before beginning as it will open with defaulted settings.

The segment designer in Dynamics 365 for Marketing allows users to create segments that are static and will always remain the same, or dynamic ones, which are queried based on contact fields and will remove and/or add contacts as they change to fit the description or no longer fit it. Static segments are built by marking the checkbox next to the name of every contact that will be added to the segment. The segment designer can be used to filter through contact lists and display only the specific ones. Dynamic segments are created by applying logic in the form of clauses to single out the one or few accounts that fit your organization’s criteria. No boxes need to be checked or marked, if the contact fits the criteria, they will be included in the segment. As accounts and contacts change over time, they will be added to or removed from the segment according to how they fit the criteria.

A simple dynamic segment set up

A simple dynamic segment set up

Select an entity from the profile or relationship drop-down list. In this case, the chosen entity could be a profile like Accounts or Contacts, or a relationship type, such as Account -> Contact (Primary Contact). This relationship will list results by Account but only include the Contact that’s been designated as the primary. Narrow down your list of accounts by pre-determined requisites like annual revenue, business type, industry, or other characteristics your organization. Click the +And button to continue adding logic to trim down the list. An example of a highly refined list would be Accounts with Annual Revenue > $1 million, working in the retail industry, located in the United States, with a project budget greater than $50,000. The last field, project budget, would have to be custom-built and exist in all Dynamics 365 applications.

Account Customer Journeys

Customer Journeys in Dynamics 365 for Marketing can be thought of just like drip campaigns, but more complex. Any number of journeys can be made in Dynamics 365 for Marketing for any type of campaign, including journeys for a specific account. When a customer journey’s Target type is set to Account, Dynamics 365 for Marketing will treat the account as a single unit and send the email or content to all contacts associated with that account. When the Target type is set to Contact, each lead is processed one at a time and will only send to the contacts specifically listed. You can read more in-depth about Customer Journeys and their functionality in Dynamics 365 on another blog post here.

There are 5 distinct types of tiles used in Dynamics 365 for Marketing customer journeys – Content-type, Action, Target, Flow-Control, and Custom Content – each with a number of sub-tiles underneath them. Tiles represent each step of a customer journey like emails, decision points, workflow triggers, and other activities. Some tiles behave differently depending on how the journey is set up and the target type (account or contact). The below sections will compare how tiles act between account and contact based customer journeys.

Trigger Tiles

Account: Trigger tiles treat accounts as single units so all contacts associated with an account follow the same journey

Contact: Contacts are processed one at a time by trigger tiles, so contacts from the same account can all follow their own unique journey

Activity tiles

Using the ‘Create for each’ setting in customer journey activity files, organizations can choose to have this tile create an activity one time for an account or for each individual contact. When created by Account, activities can be assigned to the journey owner, account owner, or account created-by user.

Launch-workflow tiles

Launch for each Account: The workflow will launch only once for each account that passes through it. Additional contacts that pass through from the same account will be ignored.

Launch for each Contact: The workflow will launch for each individual contact that passes through regardless of the account they’re associated with or how many times its already been launched.

Create-lead tiles

Account: Create leads for an entire account. If additional contacts from the same account flow through this tile they will be ignored after the first lead has already been generated.

Contact: Create-lead tiles generate a contact-based lead associated with each contact.

Account Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a common business practice for ranking and qualifying incoming leads and assessing how serious they are about purchasing. Dynamics 365 for Marketing allows organizations to automate their lead qualification process by assigning points to the interactions and activities that a lead engages in. Leads are not considered qualified until they reach the company-established threshold by accumulating lead scoring points. A full description on how lead scoring works and its exact rules can be found here, on our other blog post. There are some significant discrepancies in how lead scoring works between account-based and contact-based scenarios described below.

  • Lead scoring models can be applied to either contact-based leads or to account-based leads

  • Interactions made by a contact related to an account contributes to the score of the lead as a whole. For example, each contact from an account that opens an email message would increase the score of the lead associated with that account. Contact-based lead scoring

Note: In order to use lead scoring, a lead must be associated with at least one account or contact.

Account-Personalized Email Marketing

Personalizing the emails that are sent to clients and leads is both important and standard in most marketing solutions. Mass emails are easily identifiable and are a surefire way to lose out on a lead or opportunity. In the Dynamics 365 for Marketing email designer, handlebar expressions are used to personalize email content. The standard expression to draw names from contact records is below.

Here, contact identifies the contact record, in this case the email recipient. <relation> defines the connection between the contact entity and another entity. contact_account_parentcustoemrid is used to connect to the account entity. <attribute-name> is the field name being used from the Account entity

To place an email recipient’s name in an email, the actual handlebar expression would be:


Insights by Account, Contact, Segment

Insights in D365 for Marketing are organized by entity including account, contact, lead, segment, customer journey, and more. Account insights provide an aggregate view of all contacts associated with that account and their engagements, while contact insights ignore the account and look purely at that single person’s interactions.

  • Overview: Timeline of interactions taken by type

  • Email Interactions: Results of emails sent including opens, clicks, bounces

  • Web Interactions: Pages visited and session length, referral links and URL’s

  • Event Interactions: Timeline of events attended, registered for, interactions at event, etc.

  • Marketing Form Interactions: List of forms that have been submitted and content type

  • Subscription List Interactions: Subscription lists that account or contact has signed up for, when, and any unsubscribes

Sign Up for a Free Demo of Dynamics 365 for Marketing


Account-based Marketing is just one of many ways companies can use Dynamics 365 for Marketing. The comprehensive solution enables you to accomplish whatever goals your sales and marketing teams have. Fill out the form below to sign up for a free, 60-minute demo of Dynamics 365 for Marketing with our team of Dynamics 365 consultants.

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