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Rules to Better Newsletters - 3 Rules

  1. 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.


    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

      Go To Marketing Lists
      Figure: 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)

      Go To Mail Merge On List Members
      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

      Download Mail Merge Template
      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

      Set Up Word Document
      Figure: Follow these steps to start working on the mail merge

    6. Exclude contacts and press OK

      Select Contacts
      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

      Convert Document
      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
    1. 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
      Figure: The highlighted part will change for every recipient

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

      Send Mail Merge Newsletter
      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.

  2. 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.

    Subject: šŸ•‘ 6:30PM Tonight! See you at the User Group

    Figure: Good Example - 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..."
    • Result of a task you were asked to do
      E.g. "Here's the 5 min 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.

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

    Good Subject Examples

    Always use a descriptive email subject to make it easier to find later. Use emojis and prefixes to give context straight away.


    Subject: šŸ•‘ Northwind - Future - Meeting to get your software solution rolling, next Monday 2PM


    Subject: šŸ“ Dinner Tonight, 6.30PM at The Oaks


    Subject: šŸ› BUG - Northwind form - Button not working

    Call someone

    Subject: šŸ“± SSW User Group - This month needs a speaker - Call Tom Howe pronto!

    Feedback on a product

    Subject: šŸŽØ Northwind app - User Interface feedback

    Test please

    Subject: šŸ§Ŗ Test Please - Product Name v1.11

    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.



    Subject: šŸ“§ Northwind ā€“ IOP ā€“ 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

    Remember: For external emails, it is acceptable to change an email subject in certain circumstances.

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

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

    Newsletters should always useĀ absolute references to allĀ links and images within the HTML. Relative paths don't contain the server information soĀ external users see a broken link/image - theĀ outside email application won't find theĀ 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 aĀ newsletter

    <a href=" "
      ><img src=""

    Figure: Good example - Using absolute paths for bothĀ link and imageĀ on a newsletter

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