*** NOTE: ALL INFORMATION IS ACCURATE AT DATE OF PUBLISHING ***
Using Outbound Marketing, one of the most common ways to determine the list of Contacts to go through a Customer Journey and get emails is to use a Segment. One could argue this is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of the Journey. Get the filtering wrong and you risk missing people out, or much much worse, sending content to people who just don’t want to hear from you. If someone unsubscribes, great. D365 Marketing will then honour this and won’t send content to anyone who has the Do not allow Bulk Emails field set to Do Not Allow, nor will they go to Inactive Contacts. But what about people that don’t unsubscribe, but are still indicating that you should no longer try sending them stuff. Are you paying attention to that? Let’s look at some suggestions on how you can review and then manage your bounces.
The first thing I show when training clients on creating their segments… add in the same three conditions each and every time.
- Do not allow Bulk Emails Is Allow
- Email Contains data
- Status Is Active
Yes, I know I just said that D365 Marketing will not send out emails to people with Do not allow Bulk Emails set to Do Not Allow… BUT do you really want to look at a Journey and think you’ve sent it to 6,000 Contacts only to realise that 2,000 of them would never ever get it? Add this in to your Segment so you are looking at REAL numbers rather than something overinflated. Email Contains Data should help reduce your numbers of the sending event of ‘Recipient address isn’t valid’ and excluding Inactive Contacts also makes sense. Why even include them?
Once you’ve got that as a part of all your Segments, this should help give you a better idea of how many Contacts COULD potentially go through a journey. Now you just need to start looking at the Insights once an email has been sent. Looking at the Delivery details, some of the Blocked items give you the ability to create a segment from the list of Contacts. Clicking on the pie chart, you can save it as a segment.
This opens a quick create form where a name and description can be added and the new segment can be saved. For example, this will show all Contacts where the Recipient address isn’t valid was triggered, therefore they couldn’t be sent an email as part of a journey. If you were not previously filtering out Contacts that did not have an email in the Email field on their record, many of these are likely Contacts where it’s missing, so you should start reducing the numbers for this error quickly.
Although the segment gets created, it is in Draft mode. It’s just got one section with one condition. Decide how useful this is for you and if you want to use it. We will look at more important segments next.
Here is what is REALLY important – where the email delivery failed due to Hard and Soft Bounces. Notice there is no option to create a segment from this list.
We can however create a segment manually. First, understanding what a hard bounce is… it’s an email that has been sent to an invalid mailbox or an invalid domain. This should be telling you that either that person left the organisation because their email no longer exists, or perhaps there is a typo in it. Or, could be that the domain itself no longer exists. Either way, continuing to include the related Contact in your journeys is never a good idea. A segment can be created by adding a behaviour block and selecting Email hard bounced. That’s all to pick for that block because it shouldn’t matter what message it is related to. Then, we want to add a query block to only find Contacts where Do not allow Bulk Emails is Allow. This means the emails didn’t get delivered but we are still constantly going to be bringing them into our Journeys because the Segments would never filter them out. Make sure the link between the two blocks is set to ‘and also’.
The next one is to find Contacts with a Soft Bounce. It’s important to get familiar with the bounce category definitions that are used in the D365 Marketing Apps. You can find them all listed here. For me, the most important ones to be paying attention to are these ones:
They all related to potential issues with the reputation of your domain and could cause negative impacts and even result in blacklisting of your domain if not addressed. So knowing when these soft bounces occur is important. Other soft bounce categories such as full-mailbox or connection-error are typically things that may resolve themselves in the future, so not really anything that needs doing with regards to the related Contact record. However, if these things happen constantly for someone, might be worth looking into on a case by case basis.
For this segment, we have a behaviour block for Email soft bounced. Then a condition that the Bounce category Is in, and then type in the categories one at a time, pressing enter on your keyboard after each one so it adds them as individual tags. Add an ‘and also’ link to a query block for Contact, and add Do not allow Bulk Emails is Allow.
Now that you have your segments, it’s up to you what you do to manage them. A simple approach is to use the Segments to then create some queries using Advanced Find (or ask your System Administrator to create a System View if your requirements dictate). Here we see a query to look for Contacts, where the Do not allow Bulk Emails equals Allow. Then we go to the related entities and find the SegmentMember. Then add Segment equals, and find one of the Segments you created. I’ve then called this Contacts With Soft Bounces. Even though my segment already includes the Do not allow Bulk Emails equals Allow, we are going to use this to update records, and want the records to fall out of this list after editing. More in the next step so it should be clear if it’s not already!
Now I can go to the Contacts area and review the View just created. Selecting all of them in the list, I can then click on the Edit button.
The side panel should open and I can now select Do Not Allow as the option for Bulk Email. You can only edit up to 250 at a time, which is why I added that additional logic into the View. As the Contacts get updated, they will fall out of this view, so I am only left with the remaining ones to update. As the Contacts get updated, the Segment should also update. Ideally over time, your Hard and Soft Bounce Segments should get smaller and smaller. Make it a task to review on a weekly basis, or at least, review after starting a new Journey.
Something else to consider. Even if you take these actions, you might still end up with a lot of the soft bounces. This might be the case especially if you started off using D365 Marketing and not really doing much filtering in your segments and sending to any and everybody! The damage might have already been done. However, there is something you can do that might help. Take a look at this blog I wrote first, that explains why your emails might be going to someone’s spam or junk folder or triggering an organisations email policies thinking your email is spam, BEFORE it even gets to someone’s mailbox.
Once you’ve read that, check with your administrator, or whoever manages the DNS for your domain. Ask them to read it and if you have things set up like an SPF record, a DKIM record and a DMARC record. If yes, that’s awesome! Ask them to add this to your existing SPF record:
If not, ask them to add a new TXT DNS record with the following, and share this with them so they can see more from Microsoft.
Name: @ Value: v=spf1 include:marketing.dynamics.com ~all
What ways are you reviewing and handling your Hard and Soft Bounces?
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