The behavior-tracking features of Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (MDM) enable the system to analyze how contacts interact with your emails, websites, events, and campaigns.
So How are Interactions Tracked?
In MDM we use the following technologies to collect behavior data:
- Email graphic (invisible GIF)
We automatically embed an invisible GIF into all marketing emails. The GIF itself is hosted on the MDM server, so the email client must request it when a contact opens the mail. The image link is constructed so that it submits an ID code together with the image request, thus identifying the contact and email message to MDM. If your contacts don’t choose to allow images to load, MDM won’t register the mail as opened. As a result, you might sometimes see results where there are more “clicks” than opens. Therefore, it can be a good idea to design graphically rich emails that include useful images, thus tempting contacts to load the graphics.
- Redirect URLs
All links that you embed in your marketing emails are coded to link to MDM first – which records the click and associates it with a specific contact and email message – and then forwards the user directly to the expected URL.
Cookies enable a web server to uniquely identify a specific browser program and computer. It’s an important technology for enabling web-site sign-ins and ecommerce. The cookie itself is a string of text and associated metadata sent from a given web server and stored in the browser. The cookie metadata identifies the server that set it and specifies an expiration date. Whenever the browser communicates with a server it has a cookie from, it automatically sends that cookie back to the server together with each page request, thus identifying the client.
- Website tracking scripts
In MDM you can generate tracking scripts, which interacts with cookies as a contact browses a site, thus enabling MDM to track site visits. The script must be included on each page where you wish to track visits.
- Direct interactions with landing pages, subscription centers, forwards, and other forms
MDM generates several types of pages that interact directly with contacts, including subscription centers, forward-to-a-friend pages and landing pages. Each of these provides a form that interacts directly with MDM. Here, MDM is receiving input directly from a contact and is able to associate that input with a contact, campaign, email, lead, website and other elements.
And What Actions are Tracked?
- Email opens and clicks
As mentioned above MDM emails automatically include an invisible GIF and redirect URLs, each of which contacts the MDM server when activated and identify the email message and the individual contact. This data is used to track the engagement of individual contacts and to measure the success of individual email campaigns. Please note, that clicks on plug-in links are not counted as email clicks; these interactions are tracked separately.
- Website visits
Website tracking scripts and cookies enable MDM to track website visits. Cookies enable each browser to be tracked over time and uniquely identified, but the actual contact will remain anonymous until he or she submits a landing page, thus enabling the anonymous cookie ID to be mapped to a MDM contact ID.
- Landing page visits and submissions
In MDM, a “landing page” is an HTML form that enables visitors to enter and submit contact details such as their name, address and email. You might typically use them to enable people to sign up for a mailing list, event, webinar, download, etc. The landing page should include a website tracking script to enable MDM to log the visit and to associate the newly registered contact with any existing, anonymous website tracking data. On submission of the form, MDM matches the incoming first name, last name, email and belongs-to company against existing contacts; if all four values match an existing contact, than that contact is tracked as having submitted the form – which could then be used to create and score a lead linked to that contact. The landing page also stores its own cookie that encodes all user-submitted values, thus enabling it to remember and display these as default form values if the contact returns to the form in the future.
- Offer response
Offers are a special type of managed link that you can include in your marketing emails. The link is a redirect URL, which not only registers that a contact has engaged with the email and offer, but also can redirect to different URLs depending on whether the offer is valid, according to date range and claims limit (if any). MDM tracks how many times an offer was delivered and claimed.
- Mail forwards
MDM provides a forward-to-a-friend email plug-in feature, which can provide a link to a forwarding form hosted by MDM. When a contact clicks on the link, MDM displays a form in which the contact can enter one or more email addresses. MDM then logs each entered address as a “forward” and sends copies of the original mail to each address. MDM is not able to track when contacts use the forward button in their email client.
The MDM Subscription Center enables contacts to add or remove themselves from mailing lists. A link to a subscription center must be included with all marketing emails. MDM tracks which users unsubscribe in response to which marketing emails.