I am about to take the MB2-719 certification, this certification covers the Dynamics 365 for Marketing Application. I plan to create a series of blog posts that collectively should help anyone else preparing for this exam. In my first post we reviewed the initial install process. Now we have a working Marketing application I plan to explain concept around subscription centers.
You can see in the extract from the skills measurfed statement below that subscription centers have their own section of the exam, this is because they are an important topic!
What is a Subscription Center?
A subscription center is “just” a marketing page! But a special one that allows contacts to manage their communication preferences. (In fact clicking on an unsubscribe link and accessing the subscription center will be the only way your contacts can maintain their own contact preferences.)
Allowing contacts to maintain their communication preferences and contact details will probably form an important part of your strategy to achieve GDPR compliance. Making the use of subscription centers not just important but mandatory. All marketing messages MUST include a link to a subscription center. Additionally spam filters may identify marketing messages without an unsubscribe link, so adding a subscription center will help ensure your message gets delivered to its intended recipient.
As a minimum ALL subscription center must include a “do not email” check box and a submit button. Clicking submit will the “do not bulk email” flag on the associated contact to “Do Not Allow”.
Note: Setting this field to “Do Not Allow” will block all marketing emails to this contact but emails tagged as transactional will still be sent. To block all emails you’d change the “Do Not Email” flag manually to “Do Not Allow”. (This change would normally be done outside of your subscription center.)
It is still possible to override any setting entered via the subscription center by manually editing the contact directly. Although doing this may infringe compliance rules!
Additionally, subscription centers can optionally be used to maintain more granular preferences. By using subscription lists to the subscription center you can allow contacts to maintain preferences to individual message types. (Such as mailing lists for news letters, product updates, latest offers etc etc.)
It should be understood that the “Do Not Bulk Email” flag will take precedence over any subscription list settings, meaning it is the ultimate driver for email delivery. Additionally if the “Do Not Bulk Email” flag is reset then any messages would revert to using the information last stored in any subscription lists.
By default your content settings will link to a default marketing page, as shown below. This default is very simple and will probably need to be amended to include additional fields and branding according to your requirements.
The subscription center will include the follow component parts …
Marketing Form Fields – any fields (such as email address) that are required in the subscription center will exist as marketing form field. These form field link the fields shown in marketing forms to the correct attributes in the contact (and lead) entities.
Marketing Form – you will need a marketing form of type “Subscription center”. This form will include any fields that need to be maintained (such as email address), the do not email check box and a submit button. Additionally you can add any required subscription lists. (I will cover these in greater detail in a second!)
Marketing Page – your subscription center marketing form will be included in a market page. It will also need a type of “Subscription center”. This page will include your marketing form but may also include any branding required. (Such as company logo etc.) Additionally the marketing page will include properties to be applied to the marketing form including a mandatory error message.
Content Settings – Content settings define many fields connected with your content. Including two mandatory fields, these being the physical address of yoru organisation and the subscription center (aka marketing page) to apply. Initially you will have a set of default content settings but additional variations can be created as required,
Customer Journeys – Each customer journey will link to a content setting. (And in turn the marketing page and marketing form that make up your subscription center.)
Additionally (optionally) your subscription center can include one or more subscription lists. Understanding how to create a subscription lists is specifically referenced in the skills measured statement! So let’s look at that next;
Create a Subscription List
A subscription lists is actually a “special” type of marketing list. You may be familiar with the standard marketing options that have existing in “CRM” for many years! This simple marketing capability includes a concept of marketing lists which are leveraged to provide us with the subscription list functionality within Dynamics 365 for Marketing.
Note: Currently the maintenance of marketing lists is not include in the Unified Client Interface (UCI) style app used by Dynamics 365 for Marketing. Meaning we need to access marketing lists using the classic web interface!
To access the classic web interface use the navigation (shown below) to find one of your applications that includes maketing lists. (Dynamics 365 – custom or Dynamics 365 – Sale should do the job!)
Now you can navigate for marketing lists, which is an option you’ll find in the marketing area of the classic web interface;
To create a subscription list, create a new marketing list give it a name and set the “Subscription” field to true. Doing this will default the marketing list to be a static marketing list that targets contacts.
You can create multiple subscription lists in this manner. As a test, below you can see that I have created three subscription lists;
Add Subscription Lists to Subscription Center Form
Once you have created your subscription list you will need a marketing form / page that will make use of the lists.
In my example I created a new marketing form. I set its type to “Subscription Center”. Doing that will automatically include the “Do not email”, email and submit buttons for me. Next I can add my subscription centers onto the form. (And “play” with any formatting.) I selected a blank template but you could select an existing template if required. (You’d just need to ensure that the template has a type of “Subscription Center”!)
Additionally other fields such as contact name could be added to the form. (If you want to allow contacts to maintain other attributes.)
Having created you marketing form, you will need to create a marketing page that uses that form. Its type will be “subscription center”, the same as your form.
You’ll need to assign a partial url. (As this page will load from your marketing portal and will need a name!)
Next you can add any branding required. I simply added an image as an example.
And include your marketing form on the page. Once ready you can “Check for errors” and “Go live” with the form.
Tip: Having added your marketing form to the marketing page you will need to set the properties on the form. It is mandatory to include the text you’d like to show for an error message. You may also want to redirect the user after clicking the submit button successfully.
Now I have a new marketing page which uses my newly created marketing form, I will need to add it into a content setting. You will find the content settings option under templates in the Dynamics 365 for Marketing app.
Below you can see that I have created some new content settings. The mandatory fields are physical address and subscription center.
Tip: To help select my subscription center I used the assisted edit option. “</>”. When doing so I select the name of my marketing page and then selected the “msdyncrm_full_page_url” option.
Once my content settings are live I can now associate them to customer journeys as required. (I will cover customer journeys in a future post!) Hopefully you can see that using this approach I could offer differing branding and options on my unsubscribe link as required.
My quick test of the subscription center resulted in an unsubscribe page results in the page shown below. It isn’t pretty! But then it was a quick test. By taking some time over my branding and field positions it would be fairly simple to generate something that would be fit for purpose.
Using Subscription Lists in Segments
So you have a subscription center that makes us of subscription lists …. How do you use this information to create segments that target the correct contacts?
You can see below that I have created a segment that finds all contacts that are within my subscription marketing list called “Daily Update About Neil”. I can now use this segment in customer journeys to target the contacts who have signed up for a daily update about Neil!
Notice that the first line in my query has selected that marketing list entity. And then I have also select contact and set the filtering to all. This is because I want to return all contacts that are in my subscription list.
Tip …. When you create a new segment. It will already have contact shown as the entity. To swap to working with market lists (or any entity) you will need to select “X” to clear the contact selection. You can then select an alternative entity as the start point of your query definition.
As the process of creating / maintaining a subscription center includes several steps, I have created the graphic below to help summarise the process;
Subscription centers (like segments) should be an important part of your revision for MB2-719. I suggest creating your own version of a subscription center (as I have done) to experiment with the various options. In this post I have referenced customer journeys several times! These are another key subject that I will cover in a future post.