Only 2 Days Remain for Microsoft Big Easy and Cloud Easy Offers

If you have not taken advantage of the Microsoft Big Easy Offer or Cloud Easy Offer, now is the time to strike. A portion of all eligible purchases will be returned to you in the form of subsidy checks that you can redeem at an authorized Microsoft Partner like xRM (www.xrm.com). On Friday, May 31st both of these cost-effective subsidy deals will expire. There is no better time to buy additional Microsoft server or end-user applications if you are a small to mid-sized business (SMB). 

The main difference between the two deals is that Microsoft Big Easy Offer applies only to on-premise licenses, while the Cloud Easy Offer applies to Microsoft Online Services such as CRM Online and Office 365. Both programs allow you to enrich your Microsoft solution.

The Big Easy Offer rebate checks can be used to hire a Microsoft Partner to setup and configure new hardware, educate system admins, or train new users. The check can also go towards purchasing innovative tools such as xRM Constant Contact Integration and xRM Web Gateway, which make Microsoft technologies even more effective. You can redeem the Cloud Easy Offer rebate check with xRM consulting or training offerings including xRM hourly consulting, prepaid consulting, or Quick Start CRM Training. These services and products will ensure that your CRM deployment is successful and reap rewards for your company.

Microsoft Big Easy Offer applies to the purchase of one to five new service licenses or five to 200 user licenses. Please read the full terms and conditions to make sure you are eligible for this offer. To determine your subsidy amount, use the Big Easy subsidy calculator to estimate your savings. The Cloud Easy Offer also applies to the purchase of at least five user licenses and up to 200 user licenses. In addition, the offer only pertains to purchases made between March 1, 2013 and May 31, 2013, and the rebate check is redeemable up to 30 days after product purchase. You can estimate your rebate with the Cloud Easy subsidy calculator. For more information, read the full Microsoft Cloud Easy Offer Terms and Conditions.

Ready to start saving money? Click here to take advantage of the Microsoft Big Easy Offer 10 with xRM or here for the Cloud Easy Offer with xRM.

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Constant Contact Email Marketing

The business value of email marketing is inarguable. Few advertising alternatives can even come close to providing the same value for every dollar invested. Email is not just a generator of new sales either. It also helps keep your business on the minds of consumers and builds brand loyalty. When your targeted messages reach customers’ in-boxes, those messages provide you with opportunities to influence your customers’ behaviors, whether that is to encourage them to click a link, buy a product, or simply to think about your company.

The benefits of email marketing are clear. However, once you have created an email template, crafted the message, and fired it off, you are left with nagging questions. How many of my email messages ended up in spam folders? How many recipients opened the email? Did they click any links contained in the email? How many recipients unsubscribed? Did anyone forward my message to new potential customers?

If you are using a standard CRM system to manage your email marketing, you most likely are not receiving the answers to these questions. CRM systems, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce.com, or SugarCRM, typically include some level of email marketing functionality as part of their marketing areas. However, this functionality is relatively limited, and does not include the kind of advanced analytics that you need to make informed decisions about your email campaigns.

Standalone email marketing services handle the task of creating and managing email campaigns better than CRM can, and Constant Contact Email Marketing is one of the best.

Constant Contact Email Marketing Features that Rock

Constant Contact Email Marketing features a user-friendly email editor with customizable templates and drag-and-drop editing that makes it incredibly easy to design professional-looking emails. The email editors that come standard with many CRM applications are usually serviceable but not adequate for companies that are serious about effectively marketing their products and services through email. The Constant Contact email editor and templates make it much easier to craft great looking emails with no HTML knowledge necessary. Constant Contact also makes it easy to integrate your social media into your emails.

The email editor is great, but the metrics that Constant Contact provides make the service a virtual necessity. If you are using the email marketing features in most CRM applications, you can utilize the included HTML editor to create an email, create a marketing list using your contacts, and schedule the email as part of a campaign. Once the emails have been fired off, however, you have very little information that allows you to analyze the effectiveness of your campaigns. Unless the recipient responds via email or calls, it is very difficult for you to make informed decisions about your email marketing.

Constant Contact email metrics include bounces, opt-outs, opens, clicks, and forwards. This information allows you to analyze your email campaigns and make informed decisions. Constant Contact lets you know how well your email messages are being received. Trying to conduct effective email marketing campaigns without this information is virtually impossible.

Constant Contact Integration

Another benefit of Constant Contact Email Marketing is that it can be integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, as well as with several other CRM applications and services.

If you are using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage your important relationships and Constant Contact to get your messages into your customers’ inboxes, Microsoft Partner xRM has created an integration tool. This tool allows you to synchronize your CRM contacts to your Constant Contact and push many Constant Contact metrics into the CRM system that you already use to make many of your critical business decisions. xRM Constant Contact Integration saves you time, ensures that your Constant Contact marketing lists are accurate, and eliminates the burden of managing multiple databases. To explore other integrations, visit the Constant Contact Marketplace.

Constant Contact Pricing

Constant Contact Email Marketing pricing begins at $15 per month for companies with 0-500 contacts*. The company offers discounts to organizations that prepay and an even greater discount to non-profit companies that prepay.

This table shows the standard monthly pricing.

Number of Contacts Monthly Price
0-500 $15
501-2,500 $30
2,501-5,000 $50
5,001-10,000 $75
10,001-25,000 $150
25,000+ Call

*Pricing accurate as of 5/1/2013

Click here to learn more about Constant Contact Email Marketing.

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Is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online HIPAA Compliant?

At xRM, we frequently hear two questions from our customers who work in the medical industry, whether are they doctors, dentists, clinics, or health insurance companies:

  1. Is Microsoft Dynamics CRM HIPAA compliant?
  2. Will Microsoft provide a signed HIPAA-BAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act and The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act are two federal laws that govern the handling of personal health information (PHI) Personal Health Records (PHR). The laws require that all hospitals, insurance providers, and medical offices (known as HIPAA-covered entities or entities for short) maintain control of and security over this personal information. The acts require that vendors that provide services to HIPAA-covered entities comply with the regulations as well. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online meets all of the requirements of HIPAA and HITECH.

A Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is a contract between a HIPAA-covered entity and a vendor that provides that entity with services. HIPAA and HITECH impose regulations on those vendors who use and disclose PHI. Microsoft will provide a signed HIPAA-BAA for any of its CRM Online customers who request it. You can request a signed HIPAA-BAA here.

You can read more about Microsoft’s commitment to security and privacy by visiting the Microsoft Trust Center.

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How Secure is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online?

The words “cloud” and “online” can generate a considerable amount of consternation for some people who worry about the security of data stored in those systems. Customers of xRM.com frequently ask us the same question: How secure is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online? The people that ask this question aren’t luddites. They have legitimate concerns about the security of their data in online systems.

Microsoft is the largest software company in the world, and it has put its considerable resources into ensuring that Dynamics CRM meets the strictest security standards in the world. Back in August of 2012, we wrote about the appearance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online on the Security, Assurance & Trust Registry created by the Cloud Security Alliance. At the time, CRM Online was one of only 1% of cloud-based solutions that had met the requirements and registered. To this day, it remains the only online CRM solution on the registry.

In addition to joining the STAR registry, Microsoft has ensured that CRM Online continues to meet the strictest security requirements:

Certified for ISO 27001

The ISO 27001 standard, created in 2005, is the standard for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) for any kind of organization, large or small, for-profit or non-profit. ISO 27001 specifies requirements for the “establishing, implementing, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining, and improving a documented Information Security Management System.” The BSI (the organization that certifies ISO compliance) regularly audits Microsoft to ensure that CRM Online meets the ISO 27001 standards for information security.

CSA Cloud Controls Matrix

The Cloud Security Alliance Cloud Controls Matrix provides a framework of security principles designed to help cloud service providers ensure that their services offer the highest level of security. The matrix also provides customers with a way to evaluate the security practices of the cloud service providers whose services the customers are investigating.

Click here to read how Microsoft meets the security, compliance, and risk management requirements of the Cloud Control Matrix.

Safe Harbor

The European Union, which has stricter privacy rules than the United States, created the Safe Harbor requirements in 2001 to govern the transfer of personally-identifiable information out of the EU countries. Companies that wish to do business with EU customers must abide by the Safe Harbor standards. Microsoft recertifies its Safe Harbor compliance every twelve months.

EU Model Clauses

Microsoft has also made a major commitment to follow the requirements of the EU Model Clauses, which govern the transfer of personal data of residents of the European Union to locations outside the EU. Organizations that deal with the personal data of EU residents must make sure that their cloud service providers understand and abide by the conditions of the EU Model Clauses. Microsoft will also back its commitment with a signed contract. While the EU sets a high standard for the security of transmitted data, you don’t have to be an EU citizen to benefit from the EU Model Clauses.

If you are considering a cloud-based CRM solution, please visit xRM.com to learn more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM. xRM has a variety of resources including Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online webinars and a self-help video library devoted to Dynamics CRM called the Success Portal.

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