Live Events in Dynamics 365 for Marketing
Virtual events are one thing, but live, in-person events are a whole different beast. They require far more planning, more money, and more logistics to be considered than their virtual counterparts. Dynamics 365 for Marketing is a comprehensive marketing automation solution from Microsoft with features to handle email marketing, social media, drip campaigns, and event management. This blog will focus on the capabilities within Dynamics 365 for Marketing to manage & host live, in-person events. If you’re interested in learning about managing online and virtual events with Dynamics 365 for Marketing, read our post here.
WHAT IS THE EVENT?
Before diving into Dynamics 365 for Marketing, the vital details surrounding an event, like its location, times & dates, speakers, and sponsors need to be determined. These items and more are required in order to create the event record in Dynamics 365 for Marketing.
Live Events in Dynamics 365 start with the creation of a root record that will track all information associated with an event. Data in a root event record will be allocated to one of five tabs on the record - General, Agenda, Registration & Attendance, Additional Information, or Post Event. Each tab has several required fields under them that prevent a user from saving the record until they’re filled out. The root record also provides a timeline to help guide managers and planners through the stages - from gathering preliminaries to promoting, launching, and following up with attendees post event. Event records can be saved as templates in the case of recurring and/or similar events in the future.
Now that the event has been recorded in Dynamics for Marketing, the next step is to create and promote an event website. Even though this will be an in-person event, a website is essentially necessary to promote an event. This website is where visitors will view event details, register themselves, select the sessions they’ll attend, and pay for their admittance.
The website solution is installed when Dynamics 365 for Marketing is downloaded the first time. Websites are built on angular framework, customizable on both the front and back end, and hosted on Dynamics 365 portals, though they can be hosted elsewhere if an organization chooses to do so. Information and the pictures/graphics displayed on the site are fetched from the root record created earlier, so as much information as is available should be submitted. With an account through a third-party payment provider, online payment can be supported on event sites.
When a visitor to the site registers for the event, Dynamics 365 will analyze the information entered on their profile and check for a matching lead or contact in the system. If a contact exists, the record of their registration will be tied to that contact and if one does not exist, Dynamics will create a new contact and enter it as a lead using the information from their account.
One requirement to make use of online payment are event passes. Event passes can be thought of as tickets to the event and companies can use just one or as many different pass types as they want. If only one pass type will be used, that pass will contain every occurring session during the event. If multiple will be used, then organizations will need to assign appropriate sessions to each different pass. Making use of multiple passes will likely be best for in-person events that take place in multiple rooms and have different types of attendees. Visitors will be able to view sessions associated with each pass and select the one that fits with their schedule/the sessions they’d like to attend. Passes can be shown on sites for events that are using session-level registration. Visitors will be able to view sessions associated with each pass and select the one that fits with their schedule/the sessions they’d like to attend
By default, the registration form will include fields for First & Last Name, Email Address, and Pass Type, but its likely that many companies will want or require more information than that. Minor details like industry and job title can give sales teams more to work with, and often times events provide food, so any dietary restrictions or food allergies would be important to gather beforehand and track in the system. To place fields for this info on the registration from is pretty simple – navigate to the event record and select ‘Custom Registration Fields’, select NEW and fill out the required fields
Owner: Name of the user who created the record
Text: Name of the field, exactly how it will appear to site visitors.
Is Required: Determine whether registrants must provide an answer to this field
Type: Choose the type of input this field will be. Simple Text lets visitors type in a value, Boolean creates a checkbox, Single Choice puts a drop-down list in place which visitors can choose one selection, and Multiple Choice
Choices: The choices available to visitors when Type is set to single or multiple choice
Since this is a live event, and the venue it’s taking place at likely has a maximum capacity, organizations may need to create event and/or session waitlists. To do so, users will navigate to the event, go to the General tab, and turn ‘Waitlist this event’ to Yes under the Venue constraints area. Doing so will reveal a few more waitlist settings.
Number of invitations per slot: When space becomes available, determine how many contacts the system sends an invite to
Automatically register waitlisted contacts: Set to Yes to automatically register whoever was next in the waitlist queue. By setting this field to No, registrants will be able to choose if they want to be automatically registered or receive an invite.
Contact can choose to be registered automatically: This setting will only appear when automatic registration(above) is NOT in use. Set to Yes to provide a checkbox to registrants where they can choose to be registered automatically. Choosing No will enable manual registration for all waitlisted contacts and provide no checkbox option.
There are two options for setting waitlists in Dynamics 365 for Marketing - by event or by session. For larger events with sessions occurring at different times, places, and on different topics, it may be beneficial to use waitlists for individual sessions rather than the event as a whole. To enable waitlists by specific session, an organization must first be using session-level registration, allowing registrants to pick and choose the sessions they wish to attend. This is set on the Agenda tab by changing ‘Allow registrants to create their own schedule’ to Yes. With session-level registration activated, each session will now require a max capacity to be set. To set the max capacity of an individual session, users will open the Agenda tab, scroll to the Sessions area, and enter the appropriate value for ‘Maximum Session Capacity’.
As events and/or sessions reach their capacity of attendants the waitlist is activated and will hold the list of contacts who register after that event or session is fully booked. It’s almost inevitable that not everyone who signed up will actually attend the event, and that’s why waitlists record the exact time and date that people register. When new space becomes available and the setting ‘Automatically register waitlisted contacts’ is marked Yes, those first in line in the waitlist will be automatically registered for the event. If set to No, they will become eligible to be invited. In either case, this person must be notified of the newly available space and/or their automatic registration.
Using the segmentation and Customer Journey features of Dynamics 365 for Marketing, the process of notifying those in the waitlist can be easily automated. Instructions on building segments and the logic/clauses necessary to reach a specific segment of contacts are provided by Microsoft here.
DAY(S) OF EVENT
When a person registers for the event, Dynamics 365 for Marketing generates an event-registration record which includes the their event profile, attending sessions, and event passes. This registration record includes a unique ID which Dynamics 365 encodes into a QR code to be sent to the registrant in an email. On the day of the event, organizers can use a QR scanner or mobile application to scan attendee’s QR codes to query the event database to validate their registration and check them into the event.
Note: Custom development is needed to create a scanning application and integrate it with your Dynamics 365 environment.
HOTELs & SPONSORS
In Dynamics 365 for Marketing, room allocations represent a block of rooms that a hotel has made available to your organization for use during the event. Each allocation record specifies the exact number of rooms as well as the type. This means that allocation records must be built for each room type that will be available – Single, Double, Suites, etc.
The vast majority of events that take place have a number of sponsors providing financial or other forms of support. Dynamics for Marketing helps keep track of that too. To view, edit, and create sponsorship records, navigate to Event > Sponsorship Management > Sponsorships. Sponsoring companies must exist in the Dynamics 365 for Marketing database. Sponsorship records hold information about the sponsorship deal including what type it is, its value, and so forth. If a company will use sponsored articles, those can also be controlled from D365 for Marketing, but they must be tied to the sponsoring parent company and include price/quantity data.
EVENT FOLLOW UP
At the conclusion of an event, organizations would be wise to follow up with those who were in attendance. In Dynamics 365 for Marketing, this can be accomplished in a few different ways. The first one would be to hand off gathered leads and opportunities directly so sales teams so they can get in contact with attendees as soon as possible after conclusion. If an event organizer would like feedback related to how attendees felt about the event and what they did or didn’t like, the new Microsoft Forms Pro will come in handy. With Forms Pro, anyone can develop surveys that use advanced methods and act dynamically according to how questions have been answered. Forms Pro is integrated with and included in Dynamics 365 packages. To review internal event results, go to the Financials area of the Additional Information tab. This section contains 10 inputs that reflect how well the event met expectations, including target revenue, budget allocated, total event revenue, and total costs of event activities, among other things.
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