Set up subscription lists and subscription centers

Applies to Dynamics 365 (online), 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 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, 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 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 with your site.

A default subscription center is provided with Dynamics 365 for Marketing, but it is very simple: it includes the minimum contact fields and the required do not bulk email check box. In this exercise, we'll walk through the process of creating a subscription list and adding it to a subscription form. We'll also point out how to choose a subscription center in content settings and how to assign content settings to a customer journey.

Create a subscription list

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

  1. In Dynamics 365, open the app selector, and then select the Surveys app module. (Marketing lists aren't included in the current version of the Marketing work area, so one place you can find them is in the Surveys app, which is included with Dynamics 365 for Marketing. You could also use the Dynamics 365 - custom app.)
    How to open the surveys app

  2. The navigator for the Surveys app is a bit different from the Marketing app: it's horizontal and displayed at the top of the screen. Use it to navigate to Marketing > Customers > Marketing Lists.
    How to open marketing lists in the surveys app

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

  4. The New Marketing List page opens.
    How to configure a list as a subscription list

    Make the following settings (at minimum):

    • Name: Enter a descriptive name

    • Subscription: Set to True.

    • Locked: Set to No.


      When you set Subscription to True, the List Type is automatically set to Static and Targeted At is automatically set to Contact. Both of these settings are consistent with the requirements of a subscription list, and they remain locked unless you change the Subscription setting.

  5. On the command bar, select Save to save your new 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. If you are still in the Surveys app, use the app selector to go back to the Marketing app.

  2. In the Marketing app, go to Marketing > Internet Marketing > Marketing Forms.

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


    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.

  4. The Select a Form Template dialog box opens.
    How to find a subscription center template

    Do the following:

    • It's important to select a template of the correct type (subscription center), so start by filtering the template list by choosing the Type tab, and then choose Subscription center from the drop-down list here.
    • Choose a template (we'll show the 1-Column Subscription Center for this exercise), and then choose Select.
  5. 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).


      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.

  6. 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


    Only forms of type Subscription Center show subscription lists in the Toolbox.

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

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.

  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

As you saw in Create a marketing email and go live, 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.


Like email messages and customer journeys, content settings must be published to the Dynamics 365 email marketing service (by choosing Go Live). After a Content Settings record is published, you can't edit its values. If you need to edit a live Content Settings record, choose Stop from the toolbar after opening the record, and then make your changes. Remember to Go Live again when you are done editing.

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:

  1. Select the Subscription Center field.

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

  3. A drop-down list opens. Select Marketing Page. This identifies the type of entity you are referencing.
    Choose the Marketing Page entity

  4. Assist-edit adds some code and then opens a new drop-down list that shows each marketing page available in your system. Select the name of the subscription page you want to reference.
    Choose a specific marketing page

  5. Assist-edit adds the GUID (a unique ID code) for the page you selected, and then opens a third drop-down list that shows the names of several relevant attributes from the Marketing Page entity. We are looking for the page URL, so choose FullPageUrl.
    Choose the field value to find with the expression


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


    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.

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

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.

  3. Select the assist-edit button for the Link field, and then choose msdyncrm_contentsettings from the first drop-down list and msdyncrm_subscriptioncenter from the second one to build the expression: {{msdyncrm_contentsettings.msdyncrm_subscriptioncenter}}.
    The email Link dialog

  4. Select OK to create the link.

More information: Create a marketing email and go live

Set up a customer journey that targets a subscription list

After you've set up a subscription list, you'll probably want to send regular email messages to your subscribers. To do this, place a segment tile configured to load a subscription list as the first tile in a customer journey that automates your email deliveries and other initiatives.

To set up a segment tile to target a subscription list:

  1. Set up a customer journey that starts with a segment group tile, as usual.

  2. Select a child segment tile and open the Properties tab.

  3. Set the Segment source to Subscription Marketing List, which activates the Marketing List field. Then set the Marking List to the name of the subscription list you want to use for this journey.
    Set a segment tile to load a subscription list


When a customer journey targets a subscription list, then any contact that unsubscribes from that list using a subscription center will automatically be removed from that journey within about 24 hours, even if they are already partway through it. However, if a Dynamics 365 users removes a contact from the list manually using the Dynamics 365 interface, that contact will continue to be processed by any journeys they already are on, and may continue to receive messages until all active journeys are complete. For this reason, it is usually best to request all contacts to manage their own subscriptions using the subscription center.

Test your subscription center

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, 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
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