Microsoft is adding three high-power tools to its marketing arsenal, poising it to compete with Salesforce.com, its chief rival in the customer relations management (CRM) sphere. Microsoft is introducing CRM capabilities in customer support, marketing automation and social media marketing. These innovations will be available to Microsoft Dynamics customers with the second-quarter release.
The technology of Microsoft acquisitions NetBreeze, Parature, and MarketingPilot helped enable these products, which are designed in response to Salesforce.com’s software tools ExactTarget, Radian6, and Service Cloud.
“At Microsoft, we are very excited about the momentum that’s started to build with our CRM 2013 launch in October, our partnership with InsideView, and the Parature acquisition,” said senior director of Microsoft’s Dynamics Marketing, Bill Patterson.
According to Patterson, MarketingPilot has been overhauled and renamed Dynamics Marketing. This product provides marketers with a drag-and-drop system for designing campaigns across multiple media, including e-mail, social media, and websites. Analytics are incorporated into the program, allowing marketers to assess the effectiveness of campaigns and make midstream adjustments, when indicated. The system is intuitive and visual. Patterson said: “We want to help marketers emphasize their return on marketing investment.”
Microsoft’s new social media monitoring tool has been formally dubbed Social Listening. Being created with technology acquired through its purchase of NetBreeze, former NetBreeze engineers have been incorporated into Microsoft’s development team. The software will trail mentions of brand and product names across Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Social Listening then uses natural language processing to analyse this data to create a picture of consumer sentiment.
Social Listening can provide global businesses with more accurate sentiment analysis because it can process data without having to translate brand or product mentions into English beforehand.
This social media tool is to be priced competitively. Patterson stated: “We want to democratize access to this channel. Price alone has made it an antisocial tool.” While some social media analysis software costs thousands of dollars a year per user, customers with professional licenses of Dynamics CRM Online will receive the tool at no additional charge. Pricing for on-site Dynamics CRM users of Social Listening and Dynamics Marketing will be announced at the March Convergence conference.