Enforce Double opt-in before sending promotional mail

Microsoft Corporation

May, 2015

Summary

This article serves as a primer for the double opt-in process, highlights the benefits of double opt-in for promotional emails, and describes how it can be implemented in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing.

Applies To

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing 2015 Update 1 or higher.

Introduction

Double opt-in for receiving promotional communication implies the subscribers of the promotional communication have confirmed their interest in receiving the communication.

In the parlance of email marketing, a “single opt-in” constitutes prospective contacts registering their email addresses on a landing page. When “double opt-in” is active, the contacts need to confirm the subscriptions by clicking confirmation links sent to their inboxes.

The prospect contact will receive further promotional email communication, only if he/she has confirmed the subscription by clicking the link in inbox.

Benefits of double opt-in

Double opt-in is used when the marketers desire high quality marketing lists. Participants in these lists rarely report the promotional emails as spam and deliver higher response and revenues.

Since the recipients of the promotional emails have confirmed their subscription by clicking the confirmation link, they are valid and willing recipients. Therefore, their response to promotional emails in terms of open rate and click-through rate are enhanced.

With Double Opt-In, the promotional emails are only sent to valid and willing email inboxes. This shields the marketing organization from false or non-existent email addresses. As a result, the email deliverability statistics are also boosted.

Double Opt-In provides more control to the email subscribers so they can decide whether they wish to receive the promotional communication or not. For this reason, Double Opt-In is mandatory or strongly advised by authorities in a few countries. As Double Opt-In makes sure that the newly registered contacts want to intentionally receive the promotional emails. This consent by the contacts is also recorded by Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. The activity of contacts who registered and confirmed the subscription with Double Opt-In link, is available to the marketer for reference in the ‘Contacts’ tab on the Landing Page maintain page. Thus the double opt-in capability in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing helps you remain compliant in your email communications.

Terms definitions

Term Definition

Landing page

A registration page filled out by the new prospect contact with his/her email address as an indication to initiate the Opt-In process.

Confirmation email

An email is immediately sent post registration to the registrant with a link to confirm his/her Opt-In.

Confirmation link

The unique link within the Confirmation email that establishes the Double Opt-In.

Welcome email

The email sent out to the contact as an acknowledgement of his/her registration to Opt-in. This email may contain promotional content.

Double opt-in link

A new type of Email Marketing Plugin has been created to take care of the mechanism that handles sending of unique confirmation link to each subscriber. This plugin needs to be added to the Confirmation email for such a link to be included in the email.

Double opt-in process for email recipient

The following image shows the double opt-in process for an email recipient.

Double opt-in process flow in Dynamics Marketing

Prospect contact registers on landing page

A prospect contact that is new to the marketing organization discovers a registration page. Such pages are often made part of product or service websites where the offerings are described. Often these registration pages promise discounts or vouchers to the registering prospects. Sometimes registration pages are put forth before letting the prospect download product related material online, viz. whitepaper, brochures and so on.

Confirmation period

The following image shows an example of a landing page.

Example of a landing page in Dynamics Marketing

After the prospective contact Randy registers on a landing page, the marketing organization records the contact’s email address. However, it can’t send marketing communications until the contact has been sent a confirmation email, which contains a link that the contact can use to confirm the opt-in.

As part of the confirmation email, typically a unique link is sent to the contact’s email inbox. The contact is shown a message similar to the following message:

“Click the link below to confirm your subscription to promotional emails from Contoso”.

The following image shows an example of a confirmation email.

Confirmation email in Dynamics Marketing

In the email, the link that reads ‘Click here to get access to Contoso Inc. video library’ is the unique confirmation link sent to Randy, after he registered on a landing page.

Double Opt-In confirmation

When the contact clicks the confirmation link, the click is recorded. Since the link is unique, this confirms the double opt-in. It is established that the marketing organization has the contact’s valid email address and the contact is willing to receive promotional emails.

Usually the Double Opt-In process ends with the marketing organization sending a welcome email to the new contact. This email provides information about the organization and provides instructions about how to receive the promised discount, voucher, brochure, or whitepaper.

Create a Double Opt-In process flow

This section walks you through the steps of creating a Double Opt-In process flow within Microsoft Dynamics Marketing.

Enable Double Opt-In

The administrator of the Microsoft Dynamics Marketing instance can switch on the configuration for Double Opt-In for the Site Company or any of the Client Companies.

Note

The double opt-in can be turned on for these companies independently of each other

If the marketing emails sent by the site company need to be sent to contacts who have completed Double Opt-In, the configuration needs to be turned on from the Company Settings page. More information: Set up the double opt-in system

Similarly, if the Double Opt-In needs to be turned on for communications sent on behalf of a client company, the administrator should go to the client company’s maintenance page.

After the double opt-in is enabled for a company, any new contact registering on a landing page won’t be able to receive promotional emails until they complete the double opt-in process. Also, any new landing page belonging to that company will need to be configured to support the Double Opt-In process.

Confirmation and welcome emails

As explained previously, the Double Opt-In process starts when a new prospect contact reaches a landing page. Consequently in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, the landing page should be configured to support the confirmation and welcome emails associated with the Double Opt-In process. These emails are created like the email marketing messages with certain modifications to metadata.

The confirmation email should carry the confirmation link. The way to insert the confirmation link in this email is handled with the mechanism of the ‘Double opt-in link’ plug-in (explained later). The Designation field for the confirmation email needs to be set as Double opt-in. Also, it is mandatory to insert the double opt-in plug-in in the confirmation email. It isn’t necessary to include the Subscription center link.

The confirmation email shouldn’t contain too much information so that the reader can focus on the confirmation link. Also, this email shouldn’t carry promotional content, because the recipient has not yet completed the double opt-in process.

The welcome email is an optional requirement in the process. The welcome email can be created with Designation field set to Commercial and the Send recurring check box selected. Because the welcome email is a promotional email, it should also include the subscription center link.

Before a confirmation email or a welcome email can be used for double opt-in, it must be activated using the Activate button on the email page.

If the welcome email isn't specified on the landing page, the prospective contact doesn’t receive any communication after clicking the confirmation link. (The contact is still registered as an opted-in subscriber.)

When prospects register using a landing page, they’re taken to the website specified in the Redirect URL parameter after submission. While configuring the landing page, the Redirect URL field should point to a webpage on your organization’s website that prompts the registrant to check their inbox and look for the confirmation email.

Double opt-in plug-in

This plug-in can be created from the Email Marketing Plug-ins view page with Type set as Double opt-in link. Once inserted in the body of confirmation email, the plug-in mechanism takes care of generating and tracking unique links for the landing page registrants to click (and verify).

After the prospect contact clicks on the confirmation link, the contact is taken to the webpage specified by the Redirect URL field. Typically, this link leads to the website of the marketing organization, a product page or a page dedicated to an ongoing promotion. This webpage should thank the registrant for their interest and communicate that the promised call-to-action (the welcome email) is on the way.

The Confirmation link text field appears as the hyperlink text for the confirmation link, inside the confirmation email sent to the registrant. For example, this text could read something like:

“Click here to confirm your email address for the Contoso newsletter.”

The following image shows an example of double opt-in link plug-in.

Double Opt-in link plugin in Dynamics Marketing

Tracking opt-in history

When a prospective contact registers on the landing page, the contact is created with the Do Not Email check box selected, which indicates the contact’s double opt-in status. When the contact clicks the confirmation link in the email, the check box becomes unselected.

The contact can opt out of the marketing communications using the subscription center or a marketer using Microsoft Dynamics Marketing can manually change the check box. These changes are made available to the users of Microsoft Dynamics Marketing in an audit format. The opt-in and opt-out events for a marketing contact can be seen inside the Email opt-in tab on the maintain page of that contact.

The responses to a landing page, that is, the contacts who have registered and the contacts who have completed the double opt-in can be tracked from the Contacts tab on the maintain page for the landing page.

Maintaining email marketing quota

Both the confirmation email and the welcome email sent to new registrants get deducted from the email marketing quota of the organization. The administrator of the Microsoft Dynamics Marketing organization should ensure that a sufficient balance is maintained.

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