Microsoft announced what many had been expecting: it will pull the plug on its Dynamics Marketing in May 2018 PHOTO: William Warby

Last October, Microsoft told its Dynamics 365 and CRM ecosystem it would stop offering new customer contracts for Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (MDM) in November 2016.

On Aug. 18, 2017, the Redmond, Wash.-based vendor took this a step further and announced it will discontinue MDM as of May 15, 2018, or when a customer's subscription runs out, whichever happens first. Until then, Microsoft is offering fix-break support to customers.

MDM’s Expiration Date

MDM is an integrated marketing management solution which provides customer insights, control over budgets and resources, and the ability to create automated marketing campaigns.

The move will likely create considerable discomfort for any organization currently using MDM. Think marketing and you have to think data, so any organization with an MDM instance will have a large amount of data stored in the application to develop campaigns.

To help these customers out, Microsoft is offering a 90 day grace period to retrieve data following the discontinuation date, which gives organizations until the middle of August 2018 to get their data out.

To compensate users and to “lessen the financial impact,” the company will stop charging for use of MDM as of Oct. 1, and will offer pro rata credits for prepaid licensing fees following that date.

Alternative Marketing Suggestions

On top of the credits and grace period, Microsoft is offering a number of suggestions for a replacement marketing solution. 

Unsurprisingly, the first one is from Microsoft itself.

The company is suggesting organizations wait for the launch of its new online service, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing, which has an expected release of Spring 2018. Businesses also have the option to sign up for a preview edition as well.

Dynamics 365 for Marketing, while not yet visible, is reported to support email marketing, events management and landing pages. Additionally, the application will have deep integration with Dynamics 365 for Sales.

It will also be much easier to configure and extend than MDM but the transition for existing MDM users will require re-implementation of whatever solution they decide to use.

However, this solution will only meet the needs of small-to-medium sized businesses. For larger organizations or companies with more complex needs, Microsoft is recommending Adobe Marketing Cloud:

“We suggest that enterprise customers or customers with more advanced marketing needs consider Adobe Marketing Cloud,” a blog post about the demise of MDM reads.

“We also recommend that you refer to AppSource to help you find additional applications built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 that may align to your business or department needs.”

MDM, Doomed From the Start?

It was inevitable that Microsoft would discontinue MDM. It acquired the technology when it bought MarketingPilot in 2012. Its interest at the time was the MarketingPilot marketing automation system for the mid-market.

MarketingPilot also offered integrated marketing management solutions, which helped organizations better understand their customers, manage and streamline marketing operations, and create automated and measurable multi-channel marketing campaigns.

However, Microsoft reportedly found it difficult to integrate the software into Dynamics CRM, which made it fall out of step with Satya Nadella’s strategy to pull Microsoft technology tighter together.

Though the enforced migration will inevitably cause some initial difficulties, in the end it will probably end up being a better bet for organizations.

For any company that heeds Microsoft's advice to move to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing, they will reap the benefits of its easy integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, allowing them to manage not only their entire marketing campaign, but also their entire sales cycle from a single platform.