Set up subscription lists and subscription centers

Applies to Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps version 9.x

A subscription center is a marketing page that known contacts can use to manage their communication preferences and contact details with your organization.

All marketing email messages that you create by using Dynamics 365 for Marketing must include a link to a subscription center, and they will fail the error check if you try to go live with a message that lacks this link. There are two good reasons for requiring a subscription center link in all marketing email messages:

  • Legal requirements: Many countries/regions have laws that require all marketing email messages to include an unsubscribe link.
  • Deliverability: Spam filters and internet reputation monitors can identify marketing email messages, and might remove those that don't include an unsubscribe link.

All subscription centers include a do not email check box. When a contact chooses this option, the do not bulk email flag gets set on his or her contact record and Dynamics 365 for Marketing will never send any marketing email messages to that contact. Optionally, your subscription center can present several additional subscription options, such as a list of available newsletters. By presenting several different mailing lists on your subscription center, you gain an opportunity to learn more about your contacts' specific interests while also giving contacts more options beyond the legally required "do not bulk email" option.

Each subscription list exists as a static marketing list in Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, while do not bulk email is an explicit attribute of the contact entity. That means that do not bulk email overrules subscription list memberships, but it also means that list memberships will be reactivated if a contact later clears do not bulk email.

The only way a contact can access a subscription center is by clicking a link sent to them in email. Email links are always personalized for the recipient, which means that Dynamics 365 for Marketing always knows which contact has requested the subscription center and therefore populates it with that contact's current details and subscriptions. Note that you can also add subscription lists to standard marketing pages, which enables inbound (previously unknown) contacts to sign up for one or more mailing lists at the same time they register.

How and where to publish your subscription centers

A good subscription center is vital for any organization doing email marketing. As mentioned previously, the feature is required by law in many jurisdictions, and you must link to it from every marketing email you send. You can run as many subscription centers as you like, for example to support various brands or product families, but you must always have at least one. Each subscription center can offer as many different subscription lists as you like, but each subscription center must provide an option for contacts to opt-out of all marketing emails.

The default subscription center

A default subscription center is provided with every Dynamics 365 for Marketing instance. This default page runs natively on the service fabric for your instance and doesn't require a Dynamics 365 portal or external website. This is to ensure that all organizations running Dynamics 365 for Marketing can provide this essential feature, even if they don't have a Dynamics 365 portal or external website.

To find, customize, and view the default subscription center:

  1. Go to Marketing > Internet marketing > Marketing pages to open a list of available marketing pages.
  2. Find the page called Default Marketing Page in the list. This is the default subscription center.
  3. Select the Default Marketing Page to open it.
  4. Go to the Summary tab and look at the Full page URL. Note that this URL uses the same domain as your Dynamics 365 for Marketing instance. Select the globe button here to open the page in a new browser tab.
  5. The page is already live by default. If you'd like to customize it, select Edit in the command bar and then work with it just as you would with any other marketing page. More information:
  6. Select Save when you are done customizing. The page automatically publishes your changes and returns to the live state.

Important

Never delete the default subscription center page! This is the only page that is published on the service fabric rather than on a portal or external site. There is no way to create a new page that is published in this way, so if you delete the default subscription center, you'll need to create an alternative on your portal or external site.

As with all marketing pages, the subscription form on the default marketing page is a marketing form that is defined separately and placed on the page using a form design element. You can edit the form directly and don't need to open the page to do so. To find, customize, and view the default subscription form:

  1. Go to Marketing > Internet marketing > Marketing forms to open a list of available marketing forms.
  2. Find the form called Default Subscription Center Form in the list. This is the default subscription form.
  3. Select the Default Subscription Center Form to open it.
  4. The form is already live by default. If you'd like to customize it, select Edit in the command bar and then work with it just as you would with any other marketing form.
  5. Select Save when you are done customizing. The form automatically publishes your changes and returns to the live state. All pages that use the form will now automatically use your updated version.

Custom or additional subscription centers

You can publish subscription centers as a native marketing page running on a Dynamics 365 portal, or set up a marketing form that's embedded on an external site. You can use either of these types of pages as your primary subscription center if you prefer not to use the default one.

Create a subscription list

Subscription lists are based on the standard (static) marketing lists feature of Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement. To create one:

  1. Go to Marketing > Customers > Marketing lists.

  2. You now see a list of existing marketing lists, if any. On the toolbar, select New to create a new list.

  3. The New Marketing List page opens. Make the following settings (at minimum):

    • Name: Enter a descriptive name
    • List type: Set to Static.
    • Targeted at: Set to Contact.
    • Locked: Leave set to No.

    How to configure a list as a subscription list

  4. On the command bar, select Save to save your new list.

  5. After saving, the Subscription field becomes unlocked (provided you've set the List type to Static and Targeted at to Contact). Set Subscription to True.

  6. Select Save on the command bar to save your new list as a subscription list.

Add a subscription list to a subscription form

Now that you have a subscription list available, you can add it to a subscription form. The procedure is nearly the same as when you add other types of input fields to a form.

  1. Go to Marketing > Internet Marketing > Marketing Forms.

  2. You now see a list of forms. On the command bar, select New to create a new one.

    Tip

    You could instead edit an existing form by choosing it from the list, but for this exercise we'll describe how to create a new one. Note that if you edit an existing form, your edits will affect all marketing pages that use that form because forms are imported by reference, not copied to the page like template content.

  3. The Marketing form templates dialog box opens, which helps you find and choose a template to help get started quickly. Select the Filter button near the top of the dialog box.

  4. The Filter panel opens. It's important to select a template of the correct type (subscription center), so start by filtering the template list by setting the Form type to subscription center. Then select the close button of the Filter panel to view the results.

    Use the filter to find subscription center templates in the gallery

  5. Select one of the subscription forms now shown in the gallery. We're using the heraklion template as the example in this procedure, so choose that if it's available. Then choose Select.

  6. Your selected template is now copied to your new form design.
    Edit the heading inserted by the form template

    As you can see, the template has already provided the following:

    • A basic contact-information form that includes several typical fields
    • A Do not email check box (which is required for all subscription forms)
    • A Submit button (which is required for all forms)
    • Two headings with placeholder text surrounded with square brackets.

    Work directly on the canvas to select each of the placeholder headings (including the brackets) and replace them with actual headings (for example, Update your contact information and Newsletter subscriptions).

    Tip

    Many of the supplied templates for emails, pages, and forms employ this convention of using square brackets to mark instructional placeholder text. They also typically use pseudo-Latin ("lorem ipsum") text as a placeholder for body text, and sometimes example text for headlines, but these don't use square brackets because the text isn't instructional.

  7. On the Toolbox tab, scroll down until you find the Subscription lists heading. You should see the subscription list that you just made listed here, plus any others that were already in your system. Drag it from the Toolbox to the space under the Newsletter subscriptions heading.
    Add a subscription list to the form

    Tip

    Only forms of type subscription center show subscription lists in the Toolbox.

  8. On the command bar, select Save to save your new form.

  9. On the command bar, select Go live publish the form, which makes it available for use on marketing pages.

Create a subscription center marketing page

Go to Marketing > Internet Marketing > Marketing Pages and create a subscription center page by using the same basic procedure that you used to create a landing page, but be sure to do the following:

  1. Make sure the page Type is Subscription Center, or choose a marketing page template where Type is Subscription Center.

  2. Include a Form element that references the subscription form you just made. Configure the form's Submission behavior with relevant messages and a Redirect URL.

  3. Enter values for all other required fields (Name and Partial URL).

  4. Select Check for Errors and address any issues reported.

  5. Select Go Live.

For a detailed walkthrough of how to create a marketing page, see Create a landing page with a form.

Identify a subscription center in content settings

Content settings hold common values that you can place into an email message as dynamic text by using assist-edit (or by typing the correct code). You can create as many content-settings records as you need, and you must assign one to each customer journey. Because of this architecture, you can use the same email message in several customer journeys, but the subscription center link (and other content settings) included in the message can be different for each journey.

To work with content settings records, go to Marketing > Templates > Content Settings. This brings you to a list of current content settings. As usual, you can edit any listed record or select New on the command bar to create a new one.

Tip

Like email messages and customer journeys, content settings must be published to the Dynamics 365 for Marketing email marketing service (by selecting Go Live). If you need to edit a live content-settings record, choose Edit on the toolbar after opening the record, make your changes, and then select Save; on save, it automatically publishes your changes and returns to the live state.

Each field shown here (besides the Name and Default setting) can be referenced dynamically in your email messages. The two fields, Address Main and Subscription Center must be referenced in all marketing emails, so they are likewise required here.

Content-settings settings

To specify a subscription center in the content settings:

  1. Select the Subscription Center field.

  2. Select the assist-edit button </> for the Subscription Center field.

  3. The assist-edit dialog opens. Select the Static radio button.
    Assist-edit with Static selected

  4. From the Select an option combo box, select Marketing page.

  5. From the Choose a record combo box, select the name of the subscription center page you want to use. If you have a large number of pages, you can enter some text here to filter the list, which can make the page you want easier to find. You have now identified the marketing-page record that will be your subscription center for this content-setting record.

  6. Select Next to continue.

  7. Select the Property radio button. .
    Choose a specific marketing page

    Note the code shown at the bottom of the dialog—this is the actual expression that you have built based on your choices so far

  8. From the Select field combo box, select FullPageUrl. This is the field from the marketing-page entity that holds the URL for the marketing-page record you identified on the previous page.

  9. Select OK to add the dynamic expression you have built to your content settings.

    Tip

    The expression you just created by using assist-edit is of the form:

    {{EntityName(EntityID).AttributeName}}

    This expression evaluates to the value of the named attribute (in this case, the URL of a marketing page) from a record of the named entity and ID.

    Using similar techniques, you can also reference a Forward to a Friend page and you can even construct Address Main by grabbing field values from an account record.

  10. Make other content settings as needed. When you are done, Save, Check for Errors, and then Go Live.

For more information about content settings and the assist-edit tool, see Add dynamic content to email messages.

Identify the content settings to use in a customer journey

As mentioned, content settings are defined on the customer journey level, and apply to all email messages sent by that journey. To view and edit the content settings applied to a journey:

  1. Go to Marketing > Marketing Execution > Customer Journeys.

  2. Find your journey in the list, or select New in the command bar to create a new one.

  3. Go to the General page of the customer journey record.
    Where to set content settings for a journey

  4. Use the Content Settings field to choose the Content Setting record that applies to the current journey.

To add a subscription center link to a marketing email:

  1. While working in a text element, add some link text (such as manage subscriptions) at an appropriate place.

  2. Select the anchor text, and then select the Link button The link button from the floating toolbar, which opens the Link dialog box.
    The email Link dialog

  3. Select the assist-edit button for the Link field. In the assist-edit dialog, select Contextual and then ContentSettings on the first page. Select Next and then pick Property and msdyncrm_subscriptioncenter on the second page. Select OK to place the expression {{msdyncrm_contentsettings.msdyncrm_subscriptioncenter}} into the Link field.

  4. Select OK to create the link.

More information: Create a marketing email and go live

Test your subscription center

To test your subscription center, you must send yourself a subscription-center link in a live email from a live customer journey. The subscription center won't work correctly if you open its URL directly, or click a link sent in a test message.

Subscription centers only work when they "know" who they are talking to. This enables the subscription center to display existing contact information in editable fields (like name and email), and also to indicate which of the available subscription lists the viewer already belongs to. The only way most people will be able to open the subscription center is by selecting a link sent to them in a marketing email from a customer journey, and links such as these include an ID that lets the subscription center know which contact has requested the page. (In fact, all links in marketing emails include an ID that's linked to both the contact and the message, which enables the system to report which link each contact has selected in each message.)

If you open a subscription center by opening its URL directly (or by using a link sent in a test message), the page will load, but the form will be empty, all subscription lists will be cleared, and you won't be able to submit it. To fully test your subscription center, set up a simple customer journey that targets a single contact record with your email address and sends out a simple marketing email that links to your subscription center (similar to the journey presented in the previous section, but be sure to use a very limited segment). When you receive the message, select the subscription center link and test its features.

See also

Create and deploy marketing pages
Create a simple customer journey
Use customer journeys to create automated campaigns
Customer journey tiles reference
Working with segments
How Dynamics 365 for Marketing uses cookies