Rules to Better Newsletters


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  1. Do you know how to send newsletter in Microsoft CRM 2013?

    ​​​Email newsletters can be sent and responses can be tracked using Microsoft Dynamic CRM 2013:

    There is more than one way to distribute a newsletter through CRM, such as through Campaigns and Quick Campaigns. The way detailed below is the simplest method, using Quick Campaigns. 

    1. Find contacts that you will send the newsletters to.
      The first time - use Advanced Find in CRM 2013, then save it as a System View. In the example below, we're only interested in New Zealand contacts.
      Subsequent times - Use the System View, so everyone is using the same list.
    2. crm01.png
      Figure: From the CRM home screen, hover your mouse over “Workplace”, and then click “Contacts” in the menu that drops down
      Figure: From the “Activities” page, click “…” | “Advanced Find”. This will activate a pop-up.
      Figure: Select Contacts at Look For and specify a set of criteria to search for newsletter contacts
      crm04 - results.png
      Figure: then select "Results" to bring up contacts which match your search query
      crm05 - contacts list.png
      Figure: The result contacts that will get newsletter: these contacts allow us to "Send Marketing Material" and have a New Zealand email address or living country is New Zealand
    3. ​First time only, save this as a System View. You will need a SysAdmin for this.
    4. Create the newsletter in Microsoft CRM 2013 using a Quick Campaign
      Create Quick Campaign
      Figure: Select "For All Records on All Pages" to create a Quick Campaign from the current contact list. This will bring up a Quick Campaign Wizard
    5. Specify name of quick campaign
      Figure: Click Next and then specify the name of the quick campaign.
      Select the Activity Type and Owner
      Figure: Select the Activity Type and Owner.
      Fill in newsletter Content
      Figure: Fill in newsletter content.

      Use your preferred browser to view the content of the newsletter, select all (or use "Ctrl" + "A") and then copy and paste it in the Quick Campaign text area.

      Newsletter Ubsubscribe
      Figure: Highlight the keyword and click the Unsubscribe button to make a link for subscribers to unsubscribe themselves.
    6. Click Next to create all email activities in Microsoft CRM 2013.
    7. Now you have to wait while the emails send out:
      • Bad Example - Microsoft CRM Outlook for outgoing email, then you need to open your Microsoft Outlook, so the email activities can be promoted to Outlook and sent out. This method is slow because of the synchronization process between CRM and Microsoft Outlook and you need to leave outlook open during the entire process.
      • Bad Example - Email router for outgoing email, then those email activities will be sent out automatically by Email router. This method is our preferred method of sending the newsletter, CRM email router can be configured to send out newsletters immediately and the user doesn't have to open Outlook while the emails are being processed. ​As per Crm tip of the day ( ) the email router is now deprecated
      • Good Example - Server side sync  for outgoing email, then those email activities will be sent out automatically by server side sync. This method is our preferred method of sending the newsletter, CRM Server side sync can be configured to send out newsletters immediately and the user doesn't have to open Outlook while the emails are being processed.
  2. Do you know how to send newsletters in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016?

    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​There are different ways of sending newsletters using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016:
    • ​​​Campaigns
    • Quick Campaigns
    • Mail Merge on Marketing Lists
    This rule will show you how to send a newsletter using the last method, the mail merge.

    By default, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 does not come with good functionality on inserting custom unsubscribe links to your newsletters - that's why we are going to look at how to add a custom unsubscribe link in each email. ​​


    Option 1 (recommended)

    Basic coding knowledge (VBA) required - you will have to configure the macro that generates and inserts your custom unsubscribe link. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, have a look at Option 2 below.

    Depending on how many contacts you are going to send the newsletter to, you should think about setting up a VM or using an external provider for sending the emails.

    1.   Go to  Main | Marketing | Marketing Lists

    Figu​re: This is where you can find your Marketing Lists in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

    2.   Open the Marketing List you want to send the newsletter to by clicking on it (you should be using a dynamic list)

    3.   Go to ... | Mail Merge on List Members  (in the menu bar)

    Figure: Click the ellipsis button to reveal the Mail Merge option

    4.   Select Email as the mail merge type, choose your starting document, (optional) select data fields to use, and download the .docx

    Figure: This is an example of a configuration to start with

    5.   Open the document in Word and follow the instructions in the document to start the Mail Merge

    Figure: Follow these steps to start working on the mail merge

    6.   Exclude contacts and press OK

    Figure: Choose the recipients for your mail merge and proceed

    7.   Copy and paste your newsletter from Internet Explorer to Word (IE because it seems to not break the style)

    For a nicer editing experience (especially with HTML newsletter), switch to the Web Layout view by clicking View | (Views) | Web Layout in the ribbon bar.

    8.   If necessary, go to File | (Info) | Convert  to update the Word document to the newest version - this will solve styling issues while not breaking the mail merge

    Figure: Convert the mail merge document to the newest version

    9.   Modify and run the following macro to replace the word "UNSUBSCRIBE" in the newsletter with a custom hyperlink. 

    For help on adding a macro to Word see the Microsoft Office Support website.

    Sub InsertNewsletterLink()
    ' InsertNewsletterLink Macro
    'Finds and adds a hyperlink where the UNSUBSCRIBE tag is placed
        With Selection.Find
            .Forward = False
            .Wrap = wdFindAsk
            .Text = "UNSUBSCRIBE"
            .MatchWholeWord = True
        End With
        ActiveDocument.Fields.Add Range:=Selection.Range, Type:=wdFieldHyperlink
    'Switch to alternative view so we can modify the content of the hyperlink "manually"
        ActiveDocument.ActiveWindow.View.ShowFieldCodes = _
         Not ActiveDocument.ActiveWindow.View.ShowFieldCodes
        With Selection.Find
            .Forward = True
            .Wrap = wdFindStop
            .Text = "HYPERLINK"
            .MatchWholeWord = True
        End With
        Selection.InsertAfter " ""<<EMAIL>>"
        'Insert word mail merge fields on <<EMAIL>> and <<CONTACT>>
        With Selection.Find
            .Forward = False
            .Wrap = wdFindStop
            .Text = "<<EMAIL>>"
            .MatchWholeWord = True
        End With
        ActiveDocument.Fields.Add Range:=Selection.Range, Type:=wdFieldMergeField, Text:="EMAIL"
        Selection.InsertAfter "&id=<<CONTACT>>"
        With Selection.Find
            .Forward = False
            .Wrap = wdFindStop
            .Text = "<<CONTACT>>"
            .MatchWholeWord = True
        End With
        ActiveDocument.Fields.Add Range:=Selection.Range, Type:=wdFieldMergeField, Text:="CONTACT"
        Selection.InsertAfter """"
        Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
    'Remove the additional MERGEFORMATs
    For counter = 0 To 1
        With Selection.Find
            .Forward = False
            .Wrap = wdFindStop
            .Text = "\* MERGEFORMAT "
            .MatchWholeWord = True
        End With
        Next counter
    'Switch back to normal view so we can change what the hyperlink looks like to the user
        ActiveDocument.ActiveWindow.View.ShowFieldCodes = _
         Not ActiveDocument.ActiveWindow.View.ShowFieldCodes
        With Selection.Find
            .Forward = True
            .Wrap = wdFindStop
            .Text = "Error! Hyperlink reference not valid."
            .MatchWholeWord = True
        End With
        Selection.Text = "UNSUBSCRIBE"
        Selection.Font.Bold = False
        Selection.Font.Underline = wdUnderlineSingle
        Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory
    End Sub

    10.   Follow the steps in the mail merge sidebar on the right-hand side of Word

    ​​If you are using mail merge fields, like the contact names, you should preview your message for some contacts. Verify-Changes.jpg​​ ​Figure: The highlighted part will change for every recipient

    11.   Send the mail merge newsletter to the email address property of every contact by selecting the following

    Figure:  Example configuration for the email that is about to be sent

    Option 2

    You don't need any coding knowledge here - but this means you will have to generate your custom unsubscribe link manually and copy and paste it into the mail merge document. Make sure to set it up it correctly before copying.

    Figure: Good example - send your newsletter like this

  3. Do you realize the importance of a good email Subject?

    ​​Just as we should not 'judge a book by its cover' - we will not judge an email by its subject. But, we do! Because users get so many emails, getting your clients and suppliers to take notice of yours in their inbox can be quite a struggle.
    Outlook Choose an interesting subject​​​
    Figure: Good Example - I'm definitely going to read this email

    Use the email Subject to grab your recipient's attention. Choosing the right subject can give an email a sense of urgency or importance that choosing the wrong subject won't!

    The best way of doing this is to ensure that your subject includes either an ACTION POINT (e.g. 6.30 TONIGHT! See you at The Oaks Hotel...) or a RESULT of a task you were asked to do (e.g. Here's the 5 mins. of FEEDBACK you requested from our meeting with Charles Merton). You'll note from this that including the date and time in the subject gives immediacy to the email.

    If there's anything to be learned from spammers, they know how to get your attention. Spammers use very tabloid based, or headline-grabbing subjects, to try and coerce you to open that email. But don't make your email subjects tabloid-tacky, instead follow a good broadsheet paper's style of attention-grabbing lines.

    Never leave the subject blank! It's like writing a book and failing to give it a name!

    Bad Subject Examples
    Good Subject Examples
    DatabaseNorthwind - Future - Meeting to get your software solution rolling, next Monday 2PM
    DinnerDinner Tonight, 6.30PM at The Oaks
    ?? BUG - SSW SQL Auditor - Button not working
    User GroupSSW User Group - This month needs a speaker - Call Tom Howe pronto!
    FeedbackSSW SQL Deploy - User interface feedback
    Broken FormNorthwind - CPF - Fix combo box on Broken Form
    Test Please

    (see test please rule)
    Test Please - Product Name v1.11
    RE: Test Please - Product Name v1.11

    (don't just reply)
    TODO -  Product Name v1.11 - "Save" button not working
    Website problemBUG - | Fix broken link

    Figure: Always use a descriptive email subject to make it easier to find later

    Of course, we also use a structured approach for emails - especially when sending them internally.

    We use the following format for the subject internally and encourage clients and external contacts to use this format as well.

    [Client Name/Product Name] - [Project Name] – [Object Name/Description]
    Eg.: WorleyParsons – IOP – Customer.aspx - Add email address validation

    The advantage of this is that when you sort by the subject in Outlook, you get all of the emails grouped together, and it is easy to recognize the client/product, because the subject contains the relevant information.

    Tip: When referring to a website, it's a good idea to include the URL in the email subject.

    Additionally, you should be able to determine which emails are the most important. Using a meaningful subject with keywords makes it easy to identify and categorize emails without actually opening them (and it also makes it easy to find them in "Sent Items"). When emails are really important, write IMPORTANT in the subject. Other emails considered important or urgent should have the following in the subject field:

    • BUG
    • URGENT

    Other words to be used are:

    • TO-DO - for tasks pending
    • FYI - information you want to keep around for a while, for yourself or for others (never for a task)
    • FUTURE - ideas for the future
    • IGNORE - for the rare occasion when something is requested and you really don't want to do it yet
    • Product name - Registered User Support​​​
    • Product name - Pre-Sales Support
    • Project name
    • Client Name


    For external emails, it is acceptable to change the email subject in certain circumstances.

    For internal emails, the subject line should generally not be changed as it will break the threading of emails.

    Related Links

  4. HTML - Do you use absolute paths for newsletter links and images?

    Newsletters should always use absolute references to all links and images within the HTML. Relative paths don't contain the server information so users see a broken link/image - the outside email application won't find the where the file is.

    <a href="/ssw/Company/ContactUs.aspx "><img src="/SSW/images/SSWLogo.png"></a>

    Figure: Bad example - using relative paths for both link and image on a newsletter

    <a href="​/ssw/Company/ContactUs.aspx "><img src=""></a>

    Figure: Good example - using absolute paths for both link and image on a newsletter