"Object reference not set to an instance of an object" error occurs when configuring the Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook client

Here is an interesting issue related to Dynamics CRM 2013 and the Outlook client.

http://support2.microsoft.com/kb/2986728

Event Follow-up using Click Dimensions Event Registration Data

In our previous article, Click Dimensions: Use webinar data to create marketing lists, we discussed how to create marketing lists based on the registrants for GoTo Webinar webinars.

Today, let’s take that a step further and discuss how we would use those marketing lists to follow with both attendees and registrants (those who did not attend).

 

Create an Attendees Marketing List

Using a variation of the advanced find we created in the previous article, we are going to create a new marketing list that consists only of people who actually attended the webinar.

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This query has an additional clause on the Registration Status field. This is what is used to denote the final outcome of a webinar registrant and has the following values:

  • Registered
  • Attended
  • Missed

In this instance, we are going to select Attended, to represent people who actually attended the webinar.

The using the steps outline in the first article, create your marketing list.

This will be used to send a follow-up ‘thank you for attending’ email.

 

Registered but Did Not Attend Marketing List

We will then modify the advanced find above and change the Registration Status from Attended to Missed.

This will allow us to capture people who signed up for the webinar, but who did not attend.

A different type of follow-up email can be sent to that type of person. We still need to perform a follow-up, but the message will be slightly different.

 

Conclusion

Between these two articles, I’ve shown you how to create three different types of Marketing Lists that can assist you reaching out to people either before or after a webinar.

These small little tricks can save you tons of manual effort should you hold multiple webinars each year.

Click Dimensions Survey Tip of the Day: Email Field

Surveys are a great feature of Click Dimensions because it allows you to collect information directly from a person, then have that information recorded and attached to a Lead or Contact within Dynamics CRM.

And I truly love anything that automates my life.

I learned something interesting while creating a survey for my Becoming a Dynamics CRM Architect class: There is a built-in field for email – and you need to use that field.

 

Survey Basics

Surveys are actually two components:

1. Questions.

2. A Survey Web Content

First you create all of your survey questions, then add them to your survey using the Click Dimensions survey designer.

 

Creating a Survey

The Survey Designer is pretty simple to use since it is really just drag and drop and if you have spent any time with the Dynamics CRM Form Designer, you should be right at home.

Here is the list of questions that exist within my survey question library:

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These are a combination of text fields, drop-down lists, and checkboxes.

Notice that I created an Email field? Well, that was a mistake, and it was a mistake because of this:

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Notice that there is a built-in Survey Component called Email

Well, at first, I did not, which is why I created my own.

 

The Issue

I turns out that the Survey process uses the Email Survey Component to locate and identify the person filling out the survey.

If you use your own field, like I did, it has no way of knowing who the person is.

This problem can be identified by the survey process either NOT creating a new contact or lead, for a new person, or associating the survey with an existing contact or lead.

 

Once I dug into it a little and realized my mistake, I was able to replace the field on the form, and everything works as it is supposed to.

Keep that in mind the next time you create a survey.

Click Dimensions: Use webinar data to create marketing lists

One of the things that I really love about the integration between GoTo Webinar and Click Dimensions is the ability to automatically download registrant and attendee data directly into Dynamics CRM.

I am going to spend a few blog articles discussing how I utilize this new integration.

 

Building a Marketing List

I am not sure about you, but I use Marketing Lists to drive all of my communications with both customers and prospects. Let’s take a quick review of how we can create a marketing list from the data returned from GoTo Webinar.

One thing that I should mention, I am performing this process after the webinar has completed. That way I can capture not only everyone who registered, but also those that attended.

 

Step 1: Create the Marketing List

The first thing we need to do is to create a Marketing List to hold our Contacts. It will look something like this:

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I am creating a Static Marketing List because at some point in the future, I may wish to begin a Nurture Campaign, which requires the Marketing List be Static.

 

Step 2: Add Contacts

After the Marketing List has been saved, we need to add our Members, which can be done by clicking the Manage Members button on the Command Bar. This will display the Manage Members dialog:

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Today, I am going to be using the Add using Advanced Find option.

Make that selection then click the Continue button.

 

Step 3: Select the Event Participants using Advanced Find

Here is how we are selecting the Contacts:

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We are actually going to query the related entity: Event Participants (Contact) where the Event Equals the name of the event.

In my case, I actually had three separate events so my criteria looks like this:

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When you are finished with your query, click the Find button and you will see a list of contacts that meet that criteria:

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Step 3: Review the Results

Once you are satisfied with the results of your query, select Add all the members returned by the search to the marketing list option, then click the Add to Marketing List button.

 

Step 4: Verify Your Results

When you are returned to the Marketing List, review the associated Marketing List Members area to see the Contacts who either registered or attended your webinar:

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Final Thoughts

The above steps will add all of the people who registered for your webinar, regardless of if they actually attended or not.

We’ll talk about the differences there soon.

Do not allow bulk email. Good or Bad?

If you have any of the marketing solutions that integrate with Dynamics CRM, like Click Dimensions, Silverpop, or PowerMailChimp,(to name a few) then sooner or later, someone that you are emailing may choose to “unsubscribe” from your communications.

 

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Well, I think that is totally dependent on your situation, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. It is only that they don’t want you sending them bulk emails anymore.

Most of the modern email marketing packages (like the ones mentioned above), have some facility, and possibly a requirement, for allowing the recipient to unsubscribe from your bulk-communication.

Normally, this does not set a similar communication setting: Do not allow email, which controls even normal email correspondence to the recipient.

 

What to do Next?

So, the question is: What do you do with the people with whom you cannot bulk email?

Again, that depends on your situation.

If your only email interaction with them is a bulk email, then they are probably no longer useful to you so you can disable them (I don’t recommend deletion).

If you have a mix of individual communications and bulk email, then you can probably leave them active and only engage when you have communication specific to them.

 

Identify Contacts with Do Not Allow Bulk Email

You may use Advanced Find to locate these Contacts, but first you must enable the field for searching as outlined in this article.

Here is the actual Advanced Find you need to use:

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Note: I also add the Do not allow bulk email and Do not allow email fields to the results to perform a comparison.

 

Final Thoughts

I would advise caution when deactivating Contacts who have the Do not allow bulk email set. You really need to understand why that setting was set.  Here are a few things to watch out for:

1. Does your email marketing software have an automated policy that will disable bulk emails should it receive a hard or soft bounce?

2. Did the recipient select unsubscribe manually?

3. Did the original recipient forward the email to other people within their organization and did one of them click unsubscribe. (the marketing software will no know this, in most cases.)

4. When unsure of why this setting was checked, then email the recipient individually and ask.  I have seen instances where someone was unsubscribed and neither they nor I know why.

 

Anyway, just some things to think about. I like having my data as clean as possible and this is just one more method for that.

Enable the Contact Field: Do Not Allow Bulk Email to be used in Advanced Find

It turns out that the Searchable proper on the Contact field Do not allow bulk emails defaults to No, as you can see below:

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This is a problem when you want to perform a search for Contacts who have this field set to Yes.

To change this setting, perform these steps:

1. Select Settings, Customization, Customize the System.

2. When the Default Solution is displayed, Navigate to Entities.

3. Then navigate and expand Contact.

4. Click on Fields.

5. Locate the field: Do not allow bulk emails.

6. Chang the Searchable setting to Yes.

7. On the Toolbar, click the Save and Close button.

8. Publish Contact (or All Customizations).

 

Now, when you are performing an Advanced Find on the Contact entity, you will be able to see the Do not allow bulk emails in the drop-down list.

We’ll talk more about how and why this is a useful feature tomorrow.

Enhancing the ClickDimensions Forms CAPTCHA Control

I accidentally figured out a great way to enhance the CAPTCHA control used on ClickDimensions forms to prevent auto-bots from sending SPAM into your system.

Here is the default message displayed with a CAPTCHA control:

The Locked message is not very intuitive and I’ve had a few people contact me because they didn’t understand the message.

The great thing is that the message is well within our control to change.

From within the Form Editor, double-click on the CAPTCHA control to edit the properties.

Now change the Lock Text field to something that makes sense to you.  Here is what I am using:

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I actually found this being used on one of ClickDimensions own web forms and thought is was a great idea so I changed my forms to match.

Monitoring Prospects and their Email Preferences

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has two settings that determine how email is delivered to a Lead, Contact, or Account:

Do Not Allow Email

When this option has been set to Do Not Allow, the record in question is automatically excluded from any email operation where the email is sent directly to the person or company.

Do Not Allow Bulk Email

When this option has been set to Do Not Allow, the record is automatically excluded from any bulk-email operation such as:

  • A Quick Campaign
  • A Campaign activity distribution
  • And in some cases, by third-party email marketing tools

These settings are actually in place to protect both you and the recipient from either sending too much email, or receiving too much email, respectively.

These settings can be set manually, by editing the record, or automatically, should the recipient have chosen to “unsubscribe” from your mailing list.

Many times the Do Not Allow Bulk email gets set to prevent you from including them in a bulk-email campaign, but they have no problem receiving normal emails from you, sent directly to them.

This creates a philosophical debate about what to do with the record, should one or both of these settings be set to Do Not Allow. Here are the options that I have seen:

  • Ignore that the recipient has these settings set and conduct your business as you normally would. Dynamics CRM will remove the record from any situation where it could possibly receive an email. If they do not wish to receive bulk emails, then fine. They will not.  If they do not wish you to email them at all, then consider the next option.

 

  • Deactivate or Delete any record that has these settings set to Do Not Allow.If both are set to Do Not Allow, then they really do not wish to hear from you via email and if email is your primary or only communications channel, it really may not be worth your time to have that record active in your database.

The sticky part is when they have the Do Not Allow Bulk Email set to Do Not Allow, but the Do Not Allow Email set to Allow.

If you only bulk-email recipients, then this record is of no use to you so you need to make a decision about what to do with it. If you will continue to send individual emails, then it can probably remain active.

 

Finding Records with Do Not Allow Settings

Yesterday I posted: Searching for Contacts with the Do Not Bulk Email Flag Set

which described how to change the Do Not Allow Bulk Email field so it could be searched. Which we will do with advanced find:

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As you can see, it’s a pretty simple query. And you can create one for Do Not Allow Emails and one for Do Not Allow Bulk Emails.

This will give you a better view into what settings have been set for the recipient.

 

Again, the goal of this exercise is to remove or deactivate records from your database that you would never be able to contact.

Finally, be advised that this can be a lot of work, depending on the size of your database and the age of your system. The longer you have had Dynamics CRM, the more data that you probably have.

Searching for Contacts with the Do Not Bulk Email Flag Set

Ok, this is actually a trick, because you can’t.  The attribute on this field that allows it to be searched using the Advanced Find has been set to No.

I’m not sure how long it has been this way, but at least as far back as Dynamics CRM 2011.  This is probably not a field that people use to search on, on a regular basis, so I am assuming this is why you don’t normally see it.

Here’s how you fix it:

1. Edit the Contact entity by going to: Settings, Customizations, Customize the System.

2. Expand the Contact entity.

3. Locate and edit the Do not allow Bulk E-mails of Contact field.

4. Set the Searchable property to Yes.

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5. Click the Save and Close button on the toolbar.

6. Publish the Contact entity.

 

Now this field will be available to be searched using Advanced Find.

Note: We are doing this in preparation for some additional conversations we will be having shortly regarding Prospects and keeping your database clean and up to date.

Adding the Addresses navigation link back to the Contact form

I ran into a facinating issue last week. It turns out that the new form for Contact doesn’t have a navigation link for More Addresses, as it did in the past.

Here’s how to correct that issue:

1. Open the form editor for Contact.

2. On the Ribbon, Select Navigation from the Select group:

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3. In the Navigation Explorer, click and drag the Addresses link to the location you wish it to reside within the Navigation pane.

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4. Save your form.

5. Click the Publish button.

 

Addresses is now on the Contact’s navigation link:

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An alternative is to add a sub-grid to the form to show the addresses.