Walkthrough 3: Behavior analysis and campaign automation

 

Applies To: Dynamics Marketing

Important

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing has been discontinued and is no longer available. All customer data related to this product has been permanently deleted from all Microsoft servers and is no longer available for extraction. This documentation is being provided for historical purposes only.

In this walkthrough, you’ll learn about the behavior-analysis features of Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, some of which you’ve already seen when interacting with emails in Walkthrough 2: Create, send and monitor a marketing email. You’ll be able to see how the background details associated with behavior analysis come into play during an automated campaign.

Introduction to behavior analysis

The behavior-analysis features of Dynamics Marketing enable the system to analyze how contacts interact with your emails, websites, events, and campaigns. 

How are interactions recorded?

Dynamics Marketing makes use of the following technologies to collect behavior data: 

  • Email graphic (invisible GIF)
    Dynamics Marketing automatically embeds an invisible GIF into all marketing emails. The GIF itself is hosted on the Dynamics Marketing server, so the email client must request it when a contact opens the mail. The image link is constructed so that it submits an ID code together with the image request, thus identifying the contact and email message to Dynamics Marketing. (If contacts don’t choose to allow images to load, Dynamics Marketing won’t register the mail as opened. As a result, you might sometimes see results where there are more “clicks” than opens. Therefore, it can be a good idea to design graphically rich emails that include useful images, thus tempting contacts to load the graphics.)

  • Redirect URLs
    All links that you embed in your marketing emails are coded to link to Dynamics Marketing first (which records the click and associates it with a specific contact and email message) and then forwards the user directly to the expected URL.

  • Cookies
    Cookies enable a web server to uniquely identify a specific browser program and computer. It’s an important technology for enabling website sign-ins and ecommerce. The cookie itself is a string of text and associated metadata sent from a given web server and stored in the browser. The cookie metadata identifies the server that set it and specifies an expiration date. Whenever the browser communicates with a server it has a cookie from, it automatically sends that cookie back to the server together with each page request, thus identifying the client. For more information about how Dynamics Marketing uses cookies, see Cookies and privacy issues.

  • Website behavioral-analysis scripts
    Dynamics Marketing is able to generate behavioral-analysis scripts, which interact with cookies as a contact browses a site, thus enabling Dynamics Marketing to record site visits. The script must be included on each page where you wish to record visits.

  • Direct interactions with landing pages, subscription centers, forwards, and other forms
    Dynamics Marketing generates several types of pages that interact directly with contacts, including subscription centers, forward-to-a-friend pages and landing pages. Each of these provides a form that interacts directly with Dynamics Marketing. Here, Dynamics Marketing is receiving input directly from a contact and is able to associate that input with a contact, campaign, email, lead, website and other elements. 

What’s recorded?

Dynamics Marketing uses the previously mentioned technologies to record the following actions: 

  • Email opens and clicks
    Dynamics Marketing emails automatically include an invisible GIF and redirect URLs, each of which contacts the Dynamics Marketing server when activated and identifies the email message and the individual contact. This data is used to analyze the engagement of individual contacts and to measure the success of individual email campaigns. (Clicks on plug-in links are not counted as email clicks; these interactions are recorded separately.)

  • Website visits
    Website behavioral-analysis scripts and cookies enable Dynamics Marketing to record website visits. Cookies enable each browser to be uniquely identified, but the actual contact will remain anonymous until he or she submits a landing page, thus enabling the anonymous cookie ID to be mapped to a Dynamics Marketing contact ID.

  • Landing page visits and submissions
    In Dynamics Marketing, a “landing page” is an HTML form that enables visitors to enter and submit contact details such as their name, address and email. You might typically use them to enable people to sign up for a mailing list, event, webinar, download, etc. The landing page should include a website behavioral-analysis script to enable Dynamics Marketing to log the visit and to associate the newly registered contact with any existing, anonymous website behavioral-analysis data. On submission of the form, Dynamics Marketing matches the incoming first name, last name, email and belongs-to company against existing contacts; if all four values match an existing contact, then that contact is recorded as having submitted the form (which could then be used to create and score a lead linked to that contact). The landing page also stores its own cookie that encodes all user-submitted values, thus enabling it to remember and display these as default form values if the contact returns to the form in the future.

  • Offer response
    Offers are a special type of managed link that you can include in your marketing emails. The link is a redirect URL, which not only registers that a contact has engaged with the email and offer, but also can redirect to different URLs depending on whether the offer is valid (according to date range and claims limit (if any)). Dynamics Marketing records how many times an offer was delivered and claimed.

  • Mail forwards
    Dynamics Marketing provides a forward-to-a-friend email plug-in feature, which can provide a link to a forwarding form hosted by Dynamics Marketing. When a contact clicks on the link, Dynamics Marketing displays a form in which the contact can enter one or more email addresses. Dynamics Marketing then logs each entered address as a “forward” and sends copies of the original mail to each address. Dynamics Marketing is not able to record when contacts use the forward button in their email client.

  • Unsubscribes
    The Dynamics Marketing subscription center enables contacts to add or remove themselves from mailing lists. A link to a subscription center must be included with all marketing emails. Dynamics Marketing records which users unsubscribe in response to which marketing emails.

How is behavior and interaction data used?

Once collected, behavior and interaction data is used in Dynamics Marketing as follows:

  • Judge email performance
    For each marketing email you send, Dynamics Marketing records the number of opens (via the invisible GIF), clicks (via redirecting URLs), forwards (via forward-to-a-friend) and unsubscribes, plus several other factors that aren’t related to contact interaction (such as bounces).

  • A/B testing
    This feature enables Dynamics Marketing to send two similar emails to different sets of recipients and then compare the performance of each version to choose a winner. You can configure the victory conditions, but they will be based on the same metrics as those presented for judging standard marketing email performance.

  • Lead scoring
    Most types of behavior and interaction data can be used to create lead-scoring rules. Lead scoring can also use many other types of information beyond behavior (such as demographics, event attendance, and much more).

  • Campaign automation
    Behavior and interaction data is used in campaign automation in two ways: to display counts on canvas tiles (such as number of emails or offers that were opened) and as input to triggers (for example, to trigger a follow-up email for all contacts that submitted a landing page).

  • Landing pages
    Landing pages combine information submitted by the contact with a cookie ID collected by the website behavioral-analysis script to map previously anonymous website visits to an actual contact.

Walkthrough: Create an automated campaign with a landing page

An email campaign that features a landing page touches on nearly every aspect of the behavioral-analysis system. In this walkthrough you’re going to set up a fully featured landing page and then include the page in a simple automated campaign and observe how these features present and make use of behavioral-analysis data.

Prerequisites

To complete this walkthrough you must have the following elements available: 

Step 1: Create a website behavioral-analysis script 

In Dynamics Marketing, a “website” is a simple database record that associates a given website with a website ID, which is encoded into a behavioral-analysis script generated by the feature. When included on a webpage, the script will record visits, associate each visit with the script’s website ID, and report activity back to Dynamics Marketing. Note that the actual website’s URL isn’t part of this equation, so if you include the same script on multiple domains, all visitors will be registered in Dynamics Marketing as being on the same “website.” Similarly, you might use two different Dynamics Marketing website scripts in two different sections of a single, large domain, thus registering the two sections as being different “websites” in Dynamics Marketing. 

Website behavioral-analysis scripts are important for landing pages, too. Here, they are responsible for linking a contact’s actual identity (which becomes known when the contact submits the landing-page form) to the anonymous ID used by the script.

  1. Go to Marketing Execution > Internet Marketing > Web Sites to open the Web Sites list page.

  2. Select the New button New button from the toolbar on the Web Sites list page. A new Web Site maintenance page opens.

  3. Fill out the form on the Web Site maintenance page. At a minimum, make the following settings:

    • Company: Set to the name of the fictional client company that you created for this walkthrough (see also the prerequisites).

    • Name: This is the name by which the website will be identified within Dynamics Marketing. Choose a descriptive name that you will recognize later as being part of this exercise (for example, “WalkthroughWebsite”).

    For more information about these and other settings on this page, see Create a website behavioral-analysis script.

  4. Choose the Save button to save your settings while keeping the maintenance page open. The page reloads, now showing the generated script. You must copy and paste this script onto any webpage that you want to monitor as being part of this website. You can also associate this record directly with any landing page in Dynamics Marketing to include the script on that page (you’ll do this later).

Step 2: Initialize a campaign 

Campaigns are a central element of Dynamics Marketing. You will use them to collect all kinds of information about your marketing campaigns, record responses, compute returns and more. The feature also enables you to create automated email campaigns, as you will soon see in this walkthrough. In this step, you’ll set up a campaign workflow which, when finished, will look something like this:

Campaign Canvas example 1

The workflow begins on the left side with a marketing list, then sends an email with a linked landing page to each member of that list. The landing page is an online form that invites contacts to sign up for an offer (for example, a whitepaper download). Then a trigger waits for contacts to submit the landing page form; each time a contact submits the form, the trigger passes that contact to the last tile, which is a follow-up email (containing, for example, a link to the promised whitepaper).

In this step, you’ll set up the basic workflow. In the remaining steps of this walkthrough, you’ll configure each tile and then test the result.

  1. Go to Marketing Execution > Campaign Management > Campaigns to open the Campaigns list page or calendar. Dynamics Marketing remembers the view (list or calendar) you used last time you were here. If you’re looking at the calendar, choose the Summary Summary top-level tab button top-level tab to go to the list.

  2. Select the New button New button from the toolbar on the Campaigns list page.

  3. The Template page opens. Make the following settings:

    • Template: Leave this blank.

    • Company: Choose the same fictional client company that you have been using so far.

    • Division: Leave this blank.

  4. Choose Submit to continue to the Campaign maintenance page for your new campaign. Make the following settings:

    • Name: This is the name by which the campaign will be identified in Dynamics Marketing. Choose a descriptive name that you and others will recognize later (for example, “WalkthroughCampaign”).

    • Start Date and End Date: These are the dates during which your campaign will be active and the automation steps will run. Set the Start Date to yesterday and allow the campaign to run for a week.

  5. Choose Save to save your campaign, but keep it open.

  6. Select the Automation  top-level tab Automation tab button to go to the campaign-automation canvas.

  7. Drag a Static marketing list tile Static Marketing List activity button from the Activities column to the first position on the canvas (where it says “Add marketing list”).

  8. Drag an Email action-type tile Email activity button in Dynamics Marketing from the Activities column and drop it to the right of the list tile.

  9. Drag a Landing Page tile Landing Page activity button in Dynamics Marketing from the Activities column to the right of the new Email tile. Note the link icon now shown between the two tiles, indicating that the landing page will be linked in that email. 

  10. Drag a Trigger tile Trigger activity icon from the Activities column to the position after the Landing Page.

  11. Drag an Email action-type tile Email activity button in Dynamics Marketing from the Activities column and drop it to the right of the green circle (upper path) of the trigger tile.

Step 3: Configure the marketing list and sign-up email tiles

All automated campaigns begin with a marketing list, which establishes the group of contacts that will be targeted by the campaigns. In this step, you will choose a target marketing list and create a marketing email to send to that list as part of the campaign.

  1. While still working in your new campaign, double-click the Static tile from your workflow to open its Properties in the right column. Here you’ll see a list of static marketing lists that are associated with the same company as your campaign. Choose the marketing list that you created in Walkthrough 1: Create marketing contacts and lists and then choose the Select button to apply that list to the tile. Note that the tile updates to show the selected list name and the number of members of that list.

  2. Double-click the Email tile from your workflow to open its Properties.

  3. Choose the New button New button in the Properties area. A fly-out slides open, showing the Template settings. Choose the template that you created in Walkthrough 2: Create, send and monitor a marketing email. Note that the Company is read-only here and preset to match the company for which you are creating the campaign.

  4. Choose Submit to go on to the Email Marketing maintenance page, which shows its design view. You should see the content here that you established for the template from the email walkthrough. Choose the Summary top-level tab Summary top-level tab button here to go to the summary settings for your new mail. Note that many of the settings here have been inherited from the template. Enter/note the following values:

    • Name: Enter a descriptive name of the mail so you will recognize it later, for example, “WalkthroughSignUpEmail”

    • Designation: Note that this is set to “Campaign Automation” and is read only (because we are working from the campaign-automation canvas itself). All marketing emails must have this designation in order to be used with the campaign canvas. Because the send list and send actions will be controlled by the campaign automation, emails with this designation do not allow you to add lists to their local Lists/Queries settings and do not include a Send button.

  5. Choose the Submit button at the bottom of the fly-out. Your new email design is saved and the fly-out closes. You return to the canvas with the Properties tab open in the right column. You should now see your newly created email design listed here by the name that you entered. Choose the new design from the list to open a small preview of the message and then choose Select to apply that message design to the current tile.

  6. Your new email tile should now show the name you assigned to your email design together with some statistics. Choose Activities in the right column to go back to the Activities list, but keep your campaign open.

Step 4: Configure the landing page

A landing page is an online form in which new and existing contacts can enter contact details to sign up for mailing lists, offers, events and more. By including a landing page in a campaign and linking to it from a campaign email, you can encourage the targeted contacts to fill it out and then program the automated campaign to react when contacts submit the form.

  1. Double-click the Landing Page tile from your workflow to open its Properties in the right column.

  2. Select the New button New button from the toolbar in the Properties column to open a fly-out for creating a new landing page.

  3. Fill out the Landing Page form shown here. At minimum, make the following settings:

    • Name: This is the name by which the landing page will be identified within Dynamics Marketing. Choose a descriptive name that you will recognize later as being part of this exercise (for example, “WalkthroughLandingPage”).

    • Web Site: Choose the name of the website behavioral-analysis script that you made earlier in this walkthrough. The result of this setting is that the behavioral-analysis script will be included on the landing page. This is important because this enables Dynamics Marketing to record the landing-page visit and also makes it possible to link the registered contact to any existing anonymous website-visit data.

    • Company: Note that this is pre-set to the same fictional client company that you chose for the campaign and is read-only because you are already working inside the campaign.

    • Campaign: Note that this is pre-set to the current campaign and is likewise read-only.

    • Lead Management > Create lead or interaction: Expand the Lead Management heading if it is not already open and make sure this checkbox is marked (it should be by default). This enables landing page interactions to create new leads and/or increase the lead score of contacts who use it. Less obviously, it also makes it possible to use landing page interactions as a trigger in campaign automation, which is what you want to do in this walkthrough.

    For more information about these and other settings on this page, see Create and customize landing pages.

    Note

    Many organizations prefer to embed the landing page (which is generated and hosted by Dynamics Marketing) onto their own website using an iframe. This is fine, but the behavioral-analysis script linked in the landing-page configuration will not work when the page is imported using an iframe. In this case, you must place the behavioral-analysis script manually onto the same local page that is also hosting the iframe.

  4. Choose the Save button to save your settings while keeping the fly-out open. The fly-out reloads, now showing the related-information tabs (which you won’t use right now), and also generates the landing page itself (and a link to it).

  5. Expand the Content heading if it is not already open and note the link shown here. Choose this link to preview your landing page in a new browser tab. You should see a plain page with a fairly long form. This is good enough for now, but if you like you can explore the various settings under the Content heading to experiment with the layout and content of the page. (For example, on a real landing page you should use the smallest possible number of fields because large forms intimidate users and lower response rates.)

  6. Choose the Submit button at the bottom of fly-out. Your new landing page is saved and the fly-out closes. You return to the canvas with the Properties tab open in the right column. As with your email design, choose your new landing page from the list and then choose Select to apply it to the current tile.

  7. Your new landing page tile should now show the name you assigned.

  8. Double click on the email message to which your new landing page is linked. As before, the Properties tab opens in the right column, showing information about your message. Choose the Full Editor button Full Editor button here to open the message design in the fly-out.

  9. Note that the content of your email message has updated to include the landing-page link at the bottom.

    Tip

    The email editor also provides controls for adding landing-page links if you prefer to have more control over where the link is placed, but this design will work for now. Note also that the name you assigned to the landing page becomes the link text here; consider this when choosing your landing page names in the future.

  10. Choose the Close button to close the fly-out and then choose Activities in the right column to go back to the Activities list, but keep your campaign open.

Step 5: Configure the trigger

The trigger adds logic to your automated campaign, enabling it to react differently based on contact interactions and/or other criteria.

  1. Double-click the Trigger tile from your workflow to open its Properties in the right column.

  2. Mark the Landing Page > User Registered radio button. This programs the trigger to react when a contact included in the campaign’s marketing list submits the landing page, thus sending that contact along the green (user-registered = true) path. Note also the following:

    • The red (false) path of the trigger always includes a Scheduler tile. You could use this path to set a time (for example, four days) after which the trigger will stop waiting for landing-page submissions and send all unresponsive contacts down that path (perhaps to receive a follow-up email). In this walkthrough, you’ll allow unlimited time to respond and therefore do nothing with the scheduler and negative path.

    • People not included in the campaign’s marketing list might also submit the form. In this case, Dynamics Marketing will collect the details and create a new contact in its database, but will not otherwise draft this new contact into the campaign, so the trigger will not process this contact, nor will he or she receive the follow-up email. 

  3. Choose Activities in the right column to go back to the Activities list, but keep your campaign open.

Step 6: Configure the follow-up email message

In this step you’ll set up a thank-you email, which will automatically be sent to contacts who submit the landing-page form. In some scenarios, this mail might include a link to a download, a webinar invitation or other incentive designed to encourage contacts to submit the form with a valid email address. 

  1. Double-click the last Email tile from your workflow (to the right of the trigger) to open its Properties in the right column.

  2. Like you did when setting up the sign-up mail, create a new message using the fly-out and configure it as follows:

    • As before, based the email on the template that you created in Walkthrough 2: Create, send and monitor a marketing email.

    • On the Summary top-level tab Summary top-level tab button, set the Name to a descriptive name you will recognize it later, for example, “WalkthroughThankYouEmail”.

    • On the Edit Content top-level tab Edit Content tab button, choose Settings in the right-hand column and set the Subject to a relevant thank you message.

    • Also on the Edit Content top-level tab Edit Content tab button, edit the body text to include a simple thank you message (but be sure to keep the subscription center and physical address plug-ins).

  3. As before, save your new message design and apply it to the new email tile.

Step 7: Activate the emails and the campaign 

All of the elements of your automated campaign are now in place. All that is left is to activate the emails and then the campaign itself.

  1. Test your campaign by selecting the Validate button in the upper-right corner of the page.

  2. You should now see a red exclamation-point icon on each of your email tiles, which indicates that something is wrong with those elements. Hover your mouse pointer over the red icon to see what the problem is.

  3. As the message says, your emails need to be activated. Double click on your first email message to go to its Properties and choose the Full Editor button Full Editor button here to open the message design in the fly-out once again.

  4. Choose the Activate button in the upper right corner. Dynamics Marketing checks your mail for errors and displays the Validation Results. Fix any problems reported (for example, by editing the plain-text version) and try again until no errors are shown. Then choose the Activate button at the bottom of the Validation Results pop-up. The following now occur behind the scenes:

    • The email design is processed and moved from your Dynamics Marketing server to our bulk-mail server.

    • The activated version of your design is made available to the campaign canvas.

    • The email design remains visible in Dynamics Marketing, but is now locked because the active version is no longer available on the Dynamics Marketing server. (You cannot deactivate the mail again, so if you need to change the design after activating, you must create a copy and work from there.)

  5. Choose the Close button to close the fly-out.

  6. Repeat the previous steps to activate your thank-you email.

  7. Try again to Validate the campaign. This time, the red warning badges should disappear from the mail tiles. (If more errors are found, read each error message, fix the problem, and try again.)

  8. Choose the Activate button to activate the campaign. Note the following:

    • Processing will begin on the Start Date configured for the campaign and continue until the End Date is reached, after which it will be deactivated.

    • If any new contacts are added to the marketing list while the campaign is active, those contacts will also be processed by the campaign.

    • Campaign automation is not instantaneous, so several minutes may pass before the emails arrive and, likewise, several minutes may pass between each tile.

Step 8: Interact with the campaign and observe the results

Your landing page, email and campaign are now up and running. Now you’ll interact with them and see how your actions affect the campaign and are reported by Dynamics Marketing.

  1. Open the email inbox for the email address that you assigned to the contacts in the campaign send list. After a minute or two, you should see the emails sent by the campaign.

  2. Open one of the messages and load images, but don’t click any links.

  3. Go back to your Campaign canvas and look at the tile numbers. At this point, they should resemble those shown here, for a campaign sent to two contacts.

    Campaign Canvas example 2

    • The List tile shows the number of contacts included in the campaign.

    • The first Email tile shows the number of emails sent (which should now match the number on the List tile), the number opened and the number bounced. You should see that the email was opened once.

    • The Trigger tile shows the number of contacts waiting to be processed by the trigger. In this case, the trigger is waiting for contacts to submit the landing page. Since none have done so, you should see the same number here as the number of sent mails.

    It can sometimes take a few minutes for the tile displays to update. If your numbers don’t match the preceding descriptions, wait a minute or two and then choose the Refresh button Refresh button in the navigation bar. After one or two tries, you should see the numbers update.

    Tip

    Each tile has its own execution schedule, which affects how often its display is updated to reflect recent events. To see the execution schedule for a tile, double-click it to open its Properties tab and look at the Runtime Information shown at the bottom of the tab.

  4. Go back to the message that you opened in your email client and choose on the landing page link. This brings you to the landing page you designed earlier. Fill out all of the required fields in the landing page.

    Important

    • The first name, last name, and email address that you enter must match exactly those of the contact that received the email. Dynamics Marketing will compare these to the contacts included in the campaign; if they exactly match an existing contact that is part of the campaign, the landing-page submission will be credited to that contact and the contact will pass through the trigger. 

    • If any of these three values don’t match an existing contact, Dynamics Marketing will instead create a new contact, but won’t attach the new contact to the campaign.

    • For other fields, for example, city or phone number, you can enter any value that you like; this updates the record for the existing contact (with matching fist name, last name, and email).

    Note that this list applies to the default duplicate-detection setting in Dynamics Marketing. It is possible to configure the system so that email address alone uniquely identifies a contact on landing pages and elsewhere. For more information about the Duplicate Detection setting, see Configure site settings.

  5. Submit the landing page form and return to your email inbox. After a short time, you should receive the thank you email.

  6. Go back to your Campaign canvas and look at the tile numbers. The trigger tile should now show one fewer contacts as waiting and the thank you **Email **tile should show that a thank you mail has been sent. If you opened the mail (and loaded images), this should also be indicated here. Again, if the number displays have not updated yet, just wait a few minutes for the various logs to propagate through the system.

Explore other areas where behavior and interaction data is shown

You have now covered all of the minimum requirements for setting up an automated email campaign with a landing page, behavior, and interaction reporting. You have, in fact, generated even more data than you have looked at so far. If you are curious, try some of the following:

  1. Go to Marketing Execution > Internet Marketing > Online Visitors. Here you can find information about all website interactions on pages where a Dynamics Marketing behavioral-analysis script was present. You should be able to find sessions associated with your landing-page visits here. If you reload the landing page a few times in your browser, you’ll be able to observe the changes here, too. More information: View web visitors and their activity

  2. Go to Marketing ExecutionMarketing Database > Marketing Contacts and remain in the list view. Select the check box for each contact that you included in the campaign and then select the Marketing Engagement button Marketing Engagement button from the toolbar. The Marketing Engagement page provides an overview of the various ways in which the selected contacts have interacted with your marketing initiatives. More information: See how contacts are engaging with your campaigns

  3. Go to Marketing ExecutionMarketing Database > Marketing Contacts and find one of the contacts you included in the campaign. Open the contact’s maintenance page and then choose the Email Marketing related-information tab. Here you can see details about each marketing email that contact has received. More information: Manage contacts

  4. Go to Marketing ExecutionEmail Marketing > Email Marketing Messages and find the invitation mail you made for this walkthrough. Open its maintenance page and then open the Performance related-information tab. Here you can see even more details about how the mail was sent and how contacts interacted with it. Open the Contacts related-information tab to see which contacts received the mail. (Note that you can also see this information in the fly-out for the email directly on the campaign canvas.) More information: Create or view email marketing messages

  5. Go to Marketing ExecutionCampaign Management > Marketing Calendar. This opens a Gantt chart that shows all campaigns that are currently running, including the one you just created. Expand a campaign to see its components. Choose on the campaign name (or the name of any of its components) to view details of your selected item in a fly-out.  More information: Keep track of company-wide projects with the marketing calendar

See Also

Feature Walkthroughs
Walkthrough 1: Create marketing contacts and lists
Walkthrough 2: Create, send and monitor a marketing email
Walkthrough 4: Lead scoring
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