Overview: Working with Leads


Updated: November 1, 2016

Applies To: Dynamics Marketing


Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is scheduled to be retired on May 15, 2018. After that date the service will no longer be available. Please plan accordingly. For details, see the blog post Microsoft Dynamics Marketing service will be discontinued, and learn what’s coming next.

This topic introduces the lead creation, scoring and assignment system provided by Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. Use these features to identify, track and nurture your best prospects and to track which of your marketing initiatives are having the biggest impact.

Leads represent an expressed interest in a product or service by a marketing contact or company. This interest is expressed through interactions that marketing contacts have engaged in during the course of a journey from first contact to customer. Therefore, in Dynamics Marketing, leads are their own type of record that can be associated with a specific individual or company, but also with other types of records and metadata that have contributed to that lead. This provides a flexible system for managing leads that allows both for B2B and B2C sales related to a wide variety of different products and services. For example, leads associated with a given account (company) can be set up so that they collect communications and interests expressed by several individuals that work for that company, which is especially important when multiple contacts are involved in a single purchasing decision. If your organization markets several very different products, a single contact might be associated with several different leads, each of which maps to a different product, campaign or program.

Each lead record includes a set of data fields that are unique to it and separate from its linked contacts, including score, status, priority, due date, and more. Likewise, each lead record can have several relations to other types of records, including the mentioned marketing contact, but also to relevant interactions, files, emails, notes and opportunities; it may also have a relation to a single division, program, campaign, event, etc.

Leads remain linked to the campaigns, landing pages, advertisements and other marketing initiatives that generated the lead, thereby enabling you to identify your most effective strategies and tools.

There are three ways that you can create new leads in Dynamics Marketing:

  • Manual: You can create a new lead record at any time from the Leads list page and then enter any required metadata and set up associations to contacts, campaigns, etc.

  • Automatic: Any time a marketing contact does something for which a lead-interaction record is created, a new lead may also be created if required. If a lead already exists for the same marketing context then the interaction will not create another new lead (though it may affect the existing lead’s score).

  • Import: You can import lead data from a CSV file created by an external system or program. More information:Prepare and import data

Automatic lead creation is based on the lead-creation scope and strategy defined for the site company or client company that will own the new lead. To control this, you must establish the following for the site company and each client company:

  • Creation strategy: Establishes whether you will create leads at the campaign, program, or company level. This answers the question of how broad your marketing strategy is. For example, all of the campaigns for a company that makes a single, highly targeted product will probably be aimed at the same audience, and any customer interested in one campaign is likely to be interested in all of them; in this case, you would want lead scores to accumulate across all campaigns for that company. For larger companies with a broad product offering, a customer that is interested in woodworking equipment (for example) is not necessarily a good lead for kitchen appliances, even when the same company makes both types of products. This company’s campaigns are probably targeted at just one or the other type of customer and their lead scoring model should reflect this by creating different leads for each campaign (or for each program, which is a collection of campaigns).

  • Creation scope: Establishes whether you market to accounts (organizations in which several individuals may be involved in a single buying decision) or to individual contacts. For a per-contact scope each lead is associated with a single marketing contact, while for an account each lead is associated with a marketing company. The score for the account-scoped lead can therefore reflect interactions by all contacts (typically employees) associated with that account.


Leads are only auto-created in response to new lead-interaction records, which are themselves created in response to a new landing-page submission, event registration or event attendance. Leads not associated with a landing page or event must be created and configured manually. Furthermore, new lead-interaction records will only be generated for those landing pages and events that are configured to allow it. The feature is enabled by default whenever you create a new landing page or event. To disable it for a given item, clear the Create lead or interaction checkbox on the relevant landing-page or event maintenance page. If leads are not being created as expected, check this setting for the relevant landing page or event.

To help salespeople prioritize their efforts, each lead includes a score—the higher the score, the hotter lead. You can furthermore establish a schedule of grades based on the score and choose the grade at which the lead is to be considered “sales ready”. Dynamics Marketing provides a rich collection of tools for establishing lead scores based on email interactions, event attendance, demographic data, manual input, and more. Nearly all of these are collected automatically based on interaction records, behavioral-analysis data and/or associations made in other parts of Dynamics Marketing.

If you are integrating with Microsoft Dynamics 365, then lead that attain a sales-ready grade will be synchronized and highlighted for salespeople using Dynamics 365 to pick up and act on.

The following types of entities can affect a lead’s score:

  • Lead field values: These values are part of the lead record itself, and include data such as priority, status, and due date. Also included in this category are field values that create relations to a specific campaign, event, program, etc.

  • Email results: Dynamics Marketing records how each recipient reacts to your marketing emails, recording opens, clicks, forwards, bounces, unsubscribes, and more. Any or all of these actions can affect a lead’s score. For account-based leads, the score will accumulate based on results for all contacts associated with the account company.

  • Website visits: Dynamics Marketing is able to record visits to any webpage that includes a Dynamics Marketing website behavioral-analysis script. In those cases where Dynamics Marketing is able to correlate a specific web visitor with a specific marketing contact, this behavioral-analysis data can be used to score any associated leads. For account-based leads, the score will accumulate based on results for all contacts associated with the account company.

  • Lead-interaction records: These are discrete records of an action taken by a contact associated with a lead. They represent a special kind of lead interaction, which can also include richer metadata (compared with other types of behavioral-analysis and interaction data). There are three types of lead interactions: landing page, event registration and event attendance. These records will often inherit values from the contact, landing-page and/or event records related to the interaction. Unlike email results and web visits, you can manually add landing-page interactions to any lead.

  • Custom contact fields (market segments): For individual-contact leads, you can score based on custom-field values for the associated contact; this type of scoring rule is not available for account-based leads. For more information on custom contact fields, see Create custom contact fields for market segmentation.

Each lead’s score is calculated based on rules collected into the lead scoring model that applies to that lead. You might have any number of models defined, and each model might include any number of scoring rules based on the types of data outlined in the previous section. However, at most one model will apply to each lead. Once you have established a model, you must assign it to the companies, programs and/or campaigns where it applies. Then, each time Dynamics Marketing scores/rescores a lead, it figures out which scoring model to use as follows:

  • If the lead record has a campaign defined, then it uses the model configured for that campaign. If no scoring model is set up for the campaign, the lead will have no model and therefore no score (even if models are defined for the parent program and/or belongs-to company).

  • If the lead record has a program defined (but no campaign), then Dynamics Marketing will use the model configured for that program. If no scoring model is set up for the program, the lead will have no model and therefore no score (even if models are defined for the parent belongs-to company and/or child campaigns).

  • If the lead has neither campaign nor program defined, then Dynamics Marketing will use the model configured for the company that the lead belongs to. If no scoring model is defined for that company, the lead will have no model and therefore no score (even if models are defined for some or all of that company’s campaigns and/or programs).

Go to the relevant Lead maintenance page to see the model Dynamics Marketing is actually using for that lead. Note, however, that the model is always calculated according to the above rules; you can’t specify it manually for the lead.

All leads can be assigned to a specific salesperson for follow-up. Typically, an organization will assign specific salespeople to work with specific products, regions, etc., and would therefore like to assign leads according to this structure. You can therefore establish logical rules for assigning leads, or simply assign them manually by working directly with the lead records.

Automatic lead-assignment rules work similarly to lead-scoring rules. You can create them to assign leads based on a variety of contact demographic values, lead values and/or campaigns. When a given rule is triggered, it can also update the lead record itself to indicate a new status, territory, priority, etc. in addition to the assigned sales contact.

Each time a new lead is created, Dynamics Marketing runs the lead-assignment rules that belong to the same company as the lead itself. Any time you edit a lead and save it without an assigned-to contact, the assignment rules will also be run on that lead automatically. The first rule that evaluates to true will apply to the lead. You can re-run the assignment rules at any time to update any or all leads.

Opportunities are deals in progress. These are no longer yours to win--they are yours to lose. They already have a potential order sketched out, together with the potential income it would generate. Opportunities in Dynamics Marketing fall into one of the following categories:

  • Opportunities synchronized from Dynamics 365: These are leads that salespeople working in Dynamics 365 have promoted to opportunities. The relevant sales staff are probably already on the case, but marketers may still wish to provide select, targeted communications to help close the deal.

  • Opportunities promoted directly in Dynamics Marketing: These are most likely leads for new marketing clients in situations where the site company is a marketing agency. In this scenario, the agency is using Dynamics Marketing to run campaigns on behalf of their clients, but is also using it to market their own services to these and potential new clients. Furthermore, the agency might not be using a separate Dynamics 365 system, so their own internal salespeople would then be tracking leads and opportunities directly in Dynamics Marketing. A similar situation may apply to (typically smaller) in-house marketing organizations that use Dynamics Marketing to manage sales, marketing, invoicing, inventory and more.