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Preview feature: Email engagement

We're introducing a feature called email engagement, which lets you:

  • See when recipients opened your message, clicked a link, opened an attachment, or sent a reply.

  • Receive an alert right away, the first time a recipient opens your message.

  • Schedule the most effective delivery time, and receive advice for the best time based on the recipient's time zone.

  • Choose the most effective message template, with recommendations based on your organization's previous email interaction history.

  • Set an alert to remind you when it's time to follow up on an email message.

  • Review the full interaction history of a single message, or review KPIs.

Email engagement is provided as a preview feature in the December 2016 update for Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) and is only available in North American sites that use US English (en-us). Additional restrictions apply depending on which versions of Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Exchange you are running. For complete details about how to enable this preview feature, plus version requirements, prerequisites, and any known issues, see Preview feature: Configure Relationship Insights features.

Watch a short video (3:01) about email engagement.

A preview feature is a feature that is not complete, but is made available before it’s officially in a release so customers can get early access and provide feedback. Preview features aren’t meant for production use and may have limited or restricted functionality.


Important

Microsoft doesn't provide support for this preview feature. Microsoft Dynamics 365 technical support won’t be able to help you with issues or questions. Preview features aren't meant for production use and are subject to a separate supplemental terms of use for preview features.


Email engagement is part of the new Relationship Insights suite of features, all of which are currently in preview. More information: Preview feature: Relationship Insights overview


Note

Some aspects of the email engagement feature may be visible in Dynamics 365 even when the feature is turned off. These include:

  • The Attachments grid, which is shown when you author an email message or email template, always includes the Followed column.

  • The Followed Email grid always shows Opens, Last Opened Time, Attachment Views, Link Clicks, and Replies columns.

  • The Email Template grid always shows Reply Rate, Open Rate, Recommended, and Email Count columns.

  • The out-of-the-box versions of the account, contact, and lead forms all include the Follow Email field.

While the email engagement feature is disabled, these features will still appear but will usually be empty. Read the rest of this topic for details about what these columns mean and how to use them when the feature is enabled.


Send us feedback

We are making this preview available so that you can try it and let us know what you think. Your feedback will help us prioritize work to include the capabilities you need most. We ask that you give us your suggestions and report problems by using our publicly available feedback site: Microsoft Ideas

Getting started

As with most preview features, your administrator must enable email engagement before you can try it out. Email engagement uses the relationship assistant to deliver alerts and other messages, so we strongly recommend that you also enable the assistant if you are using email engagement. For complete details about prerequisites, how to enable the preview, and how to set it up, see Preview feature: Configure Relationship Insights features.

How email open, click, and attachment following work

Usually when you send an email, you'll never know if it was opened or read unless the recipient chooses to write back to you. That's because the email system was created to simulate traditional mail, and was not designed with response tracking in mind. Dynamics 365 uses special techniques to work around this limitation and provide the following message-following features:

  • Find out when your message was opened: When you send a followed email message from Dynamics 365, the system automatically generates a uniquely named, transparent, one-pixel GIF and adds it as a linked image to the message. This invisible GIF, and all the other images that you add to the message, are stored on your Dynamics 365 server and are first loaded from the server when somebody opens the message (and chooses to download its images). When a unique GIF is requested,Dynamics 365 registers that the associated message was opened, and notes the device type. We recommend that you always include other images in your message because that will help motivate recipients to download the images (you won't know they open it if images aren't loaded).

  • Find out when each link was clicked: When you send a followed email message from Dynamics 365, the system automatically replaces each of its hyperlinks with a unique redirect link that points to the Dynamics 365 server. Each redirect link includes an ID that uniquely identifies both the message that contains it and the URL of the original link target. When the Dynamics 365 server receives the link request, it logs the click and then redirects the click to its original address so that the recipient still gets the correct information with little or no delay.

  • Find out when each attachment was opened: When you add a followed attachment, the file isn't attached directly as with a standard email. Instead, it gets stored on the OneDrive for Business share used by your Dynamics 365 server and added as a link to the message. As with followed links, when a recipient clicks to download the attachment, the Dynamics 365 server notes the click and the time. You can mix both followed and unfollowed attachments in a single email, which can be important if you are sending sensitive files that you don't want to save on OneDrive for Business. Many of your recipients may actually prefer to receive attachments as links rather than files because that means that your messages will take up much less room in their inbox.

Using this information, Dynamics 365 shows you the full interaction history for any message, and calculates key performance indicators (KPIs).


Important

You should treat all email interaction data as approximations. The system can only register an email-open event if the recipient also downloads the message's images (including the invisible GIF), so the actual number of opens could be larger than the number recorded in Dynamics 365. Similarly, if images are cached (which is typical for web-based email clients), then additional opens may not get reported to Dynamics 365.

It can therefore be a good idea to include visible images in your followed email messages (such as a company logo or illustration) to encourage recipients to download the images.


Create and send a followed email message in Dynamics 365


Note

This section describes how to work with email engagement features in the Dynamics 365 web interface. These features are also available for the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook. The features and technologies for sending tracked email messages, links, and attachments, as described in this topic, work similarly in both interfaces, but the controls are slightly different. If you are using Dynamics 365 App for Outlook, then see also: Dynamics 365 App for Outlook User's Guide.


When email engagement is enabled for your site, all of the controls required to create and send an email with some or all of its features enabled are available on the New Email page, as shown in the following figure. This page is shown whenever you create an email in Dynamics 365.

The following email engagement features are indicated in the figure:

  1. Followed (and unfollowed) attachments: This table lists all of the files attached to your email and indicates the followed status of each of them. Controls for adding, removing, and modifying the attachments are also provided in this area.

  2. Enable/disable following controls: Here you can enable or disable following for the current message. Additional controls and links are provided here as needed, such as information about recipients that may be configured not to allow following.

  3. Delivery scheduling controls: Here you can view and set the delivery time for your message. Advice for recommended delivery times can also be shown here, such as information related to the recipient's time zone.

  4. Follow-up reminder controls: Here you can view and set a follow-up reminder, which might display an alert if the message remains unopened for three days.

  5. Insert Template button: Click here to insert standard text for any of several general purposes (such as a meeting follow-up). You can select from a variety of available templates, and email engagement provides advice on which template to choose based on previous performance.

See the remainder of this topic for complete details about how to use these controls.


Tip

The Email page doesn't include any features to help you add a link to your message, but if you are using Internet Explorer then you can do it by selecting the text you want to add the link to, and then pressing Ctrl-K to open a window where you can define the link target.


Create a new message

You can activate email engagement features for any email that you send from within Dynamics 365. The main record for the message (typically the record are looking at when you create it), is set as its Regarding value, though the various to, from, and copy-to email addresses can also affect the places where you are able to see the message and where its KPIs may apply. More information:  Preview feature: Relationship analytics

To add an email activity to a record:

  1. Open the record you want to add the activity to (typically a contact, opportunity, lead, or account).

  2. In the middle of the page, click Activities > More Commands > Email.

  3. Add recipients, a message subject, and body text as usual. Speed up your writing by using a template if it's appropriate, and use the handy tooltips for help with other settings. See also the other subsections in this section for details about setting up the various engagement features.

  4. When you are ready to send the message, click Send (or click Save if you want to save a draft and finish it later).

Choose and apply the most effective email template

Email templates are standard messages that you send often, such as introductions, confirmations, thank-you messages, and reminders. They can include dynamic values (such as sender or recipient data). They give you a quick start when you're writing common messages.

The email engagement feature automatically analyzes the performance of all messages sent through Dynamics 365 and identifies your most successful templates. It shows all available templates, but highlights the ones that were found to generate the most opens, replies, or sales.

To use a template:

  1. Create a new message as described previously in Create a new message.

  2. Click the Insert Template button on the toolbar. When you use a template, you'll usually choose it right away, immediately after creating the message and before you do anything else.

  3. A pop-up window opens, and shows the available and recommended templates.

    You can see the following here:

    • Recommended templates are marked with a star symbol.

    • Choose any listed template to see more information about it in the right-hand column, including live statistics for its reply rate, open rate, and number sent.

  4. Choose a template and click Select. Template content is loaded into your message.

  5. Customize the template content as needed and enable any other email engagement features that you want to use, as described in the other sections of this topic.

  6. When you are ready to send the message, click Send (or click Save if you want to save a draft and finish it later).

More information:  Create templates for email

Enable or disable following for individual messages

Followed emails can tell you when a recipient opened the message, replied to the message, opened an attachment, or clicked a link.

When email engagement is enabled on your site, it will also be enabled by default for all messages you create in Dynamics 365, provided that none of the recipients are set up to block followed messages. More information:  Set following to Do Not Allow to respect individuals' privacy and preferences

Use the controls at the top of the Email Engagement area to view and edit the follow state for your message, as summarized in the following table.

Follow state

Description

Indicates that the current email will be followed. All links will be followed, and followed attachments are enabled (but still optional). This is the default status for all new email messages when email engagement is enabled for your site and all of the recipients allow following. Click the Don't Follow link to disable following for this message.

Indicates that the current email won't be followed. No links will be followed and followed attachments are also disabled. Click the Follow link to enable following (if permitted).

Indicates that one or more of the current email's recipients have following set to Do Not Allow, which means that you can't follow this message unless you remove the recipients that don't allow following (or change their settings). You now have the following options:

  • Click the View Preferences link to open a pop-up window that shows the name and following preference for each recipient. From here you can open any recipient's record by clicking their name in the list.

  • If you have attempted to fix the issue by removing recipients or changing settings, then click Retry Follow to try again.

  • Click Don't Follow to stop attempting to follow this message.


Note

Within about 15 minutes of the first time a followed message is registered as opened, the system notifies you by creating a new action card for the relationship assistant. The card provides links to the message, related records, and action buttons to generate a call activity, snooze the alert, or dismiss it. More information:  Preview feature: Relationship assistant


Add followed attachments


Note

To follow attachments, OneDrive for Business must be available to your Dynamics 365 server and Document Management for Email must be enabled. Talk to your administrator if you think these features are missing from your server. More information: Preview feature: Configure Relationship Insights features


Followed attachments can tell you when a recipient opens an attachment. To add one or more followed attachments:

  1. Create a new message as described previously in Create a new message.

  2. Make sure that following is enabled for the message as described previously in Enable or disable following for individual messages. You can't add followed attachments if the message recipients are set to not allow following, but you can still add unfollowed attachments. You can also mix followed and unfollowed attachments in any message that is enabled for following.

  3. Click Save on the toolbar to save your message. This enables the attachment feature for this message.

  4. Click the Add Attachment button at the top of Attachment area.

  5. The Manage Attachment dialog opens.

  6. Click the Choose File button to open a file-browser window, then locate and select the file.

  7. Your selected file name is now shown in the Manage Attachment window. Click Attach to upload the file, which may take several seconds, depending on its size.

  8. Click the Follow button to enable tracking of the attachment. The button text changes to Do Not Follow, which indicates that the attachment is now being followed (click here again to stop following the attachment).

  9. Click Close to close the pop-up window.

  10. Your file is now listed in the Attachment area. Note that each attachment listed here indicates its size and follow status.


    Note

    To remove an attachment or edit its follow status, click its name in this list to open its Manage Attachment window, and then use the buttons provided.


  11. Finish authoring your message, and enable any other email engagement features that you want to use, as described in the other sections of this topic.

  12. When you are ready to send the message, click Send (or click Save if you want to save a draft and finish it later).

Choose the most effective delivery time

Your email messages may receive more or less attention depending on when they arrive in recipients' inboxes. For example, many people start their day with a full inbox, so messages that arrive overnight must compete with one another for attention and may get put off or even forgotten, while emails arriving later in the day may get noticed and handled right away. Write your email messages when it's convenient for you, but let Dynamics 365 deliver them when it's best for your recipients.

The system will sometimes suggest a recommended delivery time, which works as follows:

  • Suggestions are based on the recipient's time zone.

  • The system assumes a standard workday of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday, and suggests the next closest working hour if you are currently working outside of this range in the recipient's time zone.

  • No suggestion is provided if you have more than one recipient or if address information is not available for that recipient.

  • Bing Maps must be enabled for your system to enable the time zone calculation.

If no advice is given, or if you prefer to use your own logic, then you can always specify any delivery time you choose.

You can use this feature both with followed and unfollowed messages.

  1. Create a new message as described previously in Create a new message.

  2. Finish authoring your message, and enable any other email engagement features that you want to use, as described in the other sections of this topic.

  3. Take a look at the Send Later row in the Email Engagement area. If the system has any information that suggests a preferred delivery time, it will show some advice here. Even if no message is shown, you can decide to delay the delivery anyway.

  4. To delay the message, click the Send Later link to open the Send Later pop-up window.

    If the system recommended a time or date, then that information is pre-filled, otherwise it shows a blank date and time. In either case, it uses your local time (not the recipients'). Use the Set at controls here to set your preferred delivery time and date, and then click OK to save your setting and close the window.

  5. The Delay Send button now turns green, and links for Change Schedule and Remove Delay are provided in case you need to change the delay or send right away. You can change the schedule any time from now until it gets sent.

  6. Finish authoring your message, and enable any other email engagement features that you want to use, as described in the other sections of this topic.

  7. When you are ready to send the message, click Send.

To specify a delayed send time for a message:


Note

Scheduled messages are listed as such in the Activities list for the Regarding record. Until the scheduled time arrives, you can still delete or reschedule the message from there. You can also edit the follow-up reminder date or time, but all other settings are read-only once you click Send.


Set a message follow-up reminder

Do you want to be reminded to follow up on an important email for some reason? Then set a follow-up reminder.

  1. Create a new message as described previously in Create a new message.

  2. Finish authoring your message, and enable any other email engagement features that you want to use, as described in the other sections of this topic.

  3. Click the Set Reminder link under the Email Engagement heading.

  4. The Set Reminder pop-up window opens.

  5. Enter a Title for your reminder. This is the text that you will see when the reminder is triggered, so enter enough text to ensure that you will know what the reminder is about when the time comes.

  6. Use the Condition drop-down list to choose one of the following reminder conditions:

    • If I do not receive a reply by: Triggers the reminder if no reply has been received by the specified time and date (only available for followed messages).

    • If the email is not opened by: Triggers the reminder if the message hasn't been opened by the specified time and date (only available for followed messages).

    • Remind me anyway at: Triggers the reminder at the specified time and date, no matter what.

  7. Use the Remind by setting to establish the date and time you would like the reminder to be shown, provided the Condition is met.

  8. Click OK to save the reminder.

  9. The Set Reminder button now turns blue, and a short summary of your reminder settings is shown (once the reminder time passes, this text updates to indicate this). The link text next to the button now reads Change Reminder, and a Remove Reminder link is also added. As the names suggests, you can click here to edit or remove the reminder.

  10. Finish authoring your message and enable any other email engagement features that you want to use, as described in the other sections of this topic.

  11. When you are ready to send the message, click Send.

When the reminder gets triggered, the system notifies you by creating a new action card for the Relationship Assistant. The card will be given high priority, so you should see it right away. The card provides links to the message, related records, and action buttons to dismiss or snooze the alert. More information:  Preview feature: Relationship assistant

View email engagement history

The current status, interaction statistics, and KPIs for followed email messages are available throughout Dynamics 365, where they are gathered and displayed for each record where they are relevant. The following sections highlight the various places where you can see this information in Dynamics 365.

Email history in the Activities column

After you have saved or sent a message, you can find it listed in the Activities list for its Regarding record or, in some cases, another related record. Usually you'll find the message listed in the same record that you were viewing when you wrote it.

Followed messages show their current interaction status (such as "scheduled to send", "not yet opened", or "Last opened yesterday") right on their tile in the Activities list. Use the buttons in the upper-right corner of an email tile to expand its content and interaction history right in the list, or to open the full message page.

Email KPIs in the emails list

You can view a list of all emails that you (and possibly others) have sent from Dynamics 365 by doing the following:

  1. Go to Sales > Activities.

  2. You now see the list of activities that you chose the last time you were here. To view a list of followed emails, open the drop-down list at the top of the page, and then choose Email > All Followed Emails (or some other email view that you find useful).

  3. You now see a list of emails of the type you selected. If the list includes followed emails, then you can read and sort by columns for open, attachment views, link clicks, and reply counts. You can also open the full details for any message by clicking its Subject in the list.

Message details

Open the details page for a delivered message by clicking its subject in an Activities or Emails list. This brings you to a read-only view of your complete message, with the Email Engagement section on the right side of the page that shows the message interaction history and key performance indicators (KPIs).

The KPIs, shown at the top of the time line, show the total opens, attachment views, clicks, and replies that have been recorded for the message. The time line shows a symbol for each interaction event (newest on top) and includes a few details about each of them.

Template results and recommendations in the template list

You can see email template results and recommendations for all of the templates defined in your system by doing the following:

  1. Go to Settings > Templates, and then choose Email Templates.

  2. You now see the list of templates, which includes columns that show the Reply Rate, Open Rate, andSent Email Count results for each template (where available), plus their Recommended status.

Set following to Do Not Allow to respect individuals' privacy and preferences

Some types of customers have special privacy or security concerns and may therefore request that you don't use any email following features when you communicate with them. You can easily disable these features for specific customers by setting email following options for their contact, lead, or account record. Email following is enabled by default for all records, so you must explicitly disable it when needed.

To enable or disable following for any contact, account or lead:

  1. Open the contact, account, or lead record you want to work with.

  2. Under the Contact Preferences heading, find the Follow Email setting.

  3. Click the value shown for Follow Email to toggle the setting between Do Not Allow and Allow, as needed.

  4. Click Save to save your setting.

Any time you compose an email that includes one or more recipients that do not allow following, the controls for enabling the various follow features are shown as disabled on the email authoring page. When following features are turned off, the message won't include a web beacon (clear GIF), all files will be attached directly rather than linked, and no links will redirect through Dynamics 365. But you can still schedule delivery, and may still see template and delivery-time recommendations.

To view the tracking preferences for all of the recipients of a message, click the View Recipients' Preferences link shown above the body text. A pop-up window opens, showing the name and follow preference for each recipient. From here you can open any contact, account, or lead record by clicking their name in the list.

Privacy notice

By enabling Email Engagement, a Relationship Insights feature, when an email marked with the Follow setting is sent from Dynamics 365, information about interactions with the email by recipients will be collected and stored in Azure for the purposes of computing recipient activity KPIs and interactions on “followed” emails.

A system administrator enables Email Engagement by provisioning the feature from the Email Engagement tab within Relationship Insights. Administrators can subsequently disable Email Engagement in the organization from the Relationship Insights node, under Settings.

When the feature has been disabled, emails sent from Dynamics 365 cannot be followed, either from the user interface or programmatically. Also, recipient interaction data will no longer be collected on sent emails that were marked with the Follow setting. Any data previously collected will remain in Azure and will be available again if the feature is re-enabled in the organization. Data is retained for 90 days after customers terminate their subscription with Microsoft. Dynamics 365 users can also disable the Relationship Insights - Email Engagement functionality on a per Contact or per Lead basis by changing the Follow Email setting under Contact Preferences.

Azure components and services that are involved with Email Engagement functionality are detailed below.

Note: For more information about additional Azure service offerings, see the Microsoft Azure Trust Center.

Azure Storage Account

The Email Engagement feature uses Azure Storage Account to temporarily store email interaction blobs.