Are You Straddling Outbound and Real-Time Marketing?

Microsoft is in the midst of a major push to its Dynamics 365 Marketing customers. To move from Outbound Marketing to Real-Time Marketing in its updated offers. But there is a fly in the ointment. Let’s learn what it is and how you can solve it.

Meet the new App, Just like the old App, but different.

Dynamics 365 Marketing is now Dynamics 365 Customer Insights – Journeys, why… is not important. The new offer includes Dynamics 365 Customer Insights – Data, which is also not important for this particular post. Microsoft will be putting any new customers onto the new products with real-time marketing only, which, you guessed it, is also not important for its particular post. They will also be allowing existing customers to upgrade and transition over time from Outbound marketing to Real-Time marketing, and that is important to this post.


Microsoft has provided a handy capability to allow you to migrate a “Subscription List” from Outbound marketing over to its equivalent “Topic” in Real-Time Marketing. If you are planning on a “big bang” migration all at once, that will make things much simpler. But many of our customers are poking Real-Time with a stick at the moment, creating some Real-Time Journeys but also maintaining their existing Outbound motions. Their plan is to transition slowly, and Microsoft recommends this approach. But, and here comes that fly, you can’t migrate your Topics back to Subscription Lists. Why is this a concern?


Nobody wants to continue receiving an email about “Something” after they opted out of a Subscription List focused on that “Something”. If they do, that will reflect very badly on you and, in some countries, could trigger litigation or fines. The same goes if they click your Global Unsubscribe link. Continuing to receive any emails after that is a super big no-no. But, if you have a foot in both Outbound and Real-Time, it is a high possibility that exactly that will happen. Why?

What Happens?

For outbound, when a recipient clicks to opt out of a particular Subscription List, they are tacitly electing to remain on any other Subscription Lists they are subscribed to. By design, they should no longer receive any email from that particular subscription list. However, they did not get opted out of the new Topic in Real-Time that the Subscription List was migrated to. This could cause issues if the Topic continues to send similar emails that the recipient felt they had opted out of.

Is that all?

No. An even bigger issue is the Global Opt-out. Let’s say a customer decides to opt-out of your Outbound campaigns entirely. A Global Opt-out is at the tenant-level and will indeed opt them out of all Outbound marketing campaigns. However, it does not opt them out of any Real-Time journeys. The customer will continue to receive Real-Time emails and not be happy at all. This also occurs in the opposite scenario; a global opt-out in Real-Time does not globally opt the recipient out of Outbound.

Okay, is that all?

Nope, if you market multiple brands, you probably already discovered in Outbound that when a user opt-outs globally, they are opted out of everything… across all brands. So, many have utilized hacks, creating new segments for each brand’s “opt-out” and displaying those as the Global Opt-out links, and then some automation runs to only opt them out of that brand’s subscription lists when they are added to that fake global opt-out segment. For sure, it is a lot of effort. Now layer in the Global opt-out issues between Outbound and Real-Time, and you can see how having a foot in both camps, compounds the issues substantially.

What needs to happen?

Well, first, Microsoft needs to understand that there are organizations out there that have multiple brands and accommodate that. A Global Optout really needs to be at the Brand level and not the tenant level. This would eliminate the need for the hacky workarounds. I would not expect this to come anytime soon, but I could be wrong. This would solve a challenge for multi-brand customers in the long term.

For single-brand customers, which is the vast majority, the issue is with the Global Opt-outs for Real-Time not being synchronized with the Global Opt-outs for Outbound. Granted, this is a temporary problem that only affects those who are straddling for the time being. But that is a lot of customers! But, as a “temporary” problem, I don’t expect Microsoft to invest much effort in solving it, but again, I could be wrong. We recently had to solve this very issue for a “straddling” customer.

The Solution

Our original thought was to hack something together quickly to patch this gaping hole, a concern that was keeping them from even considering touching real-time. But, knowing they were not in a unique position and that many, if not most, existing customers were in the same boat, we took a different route. I’m calling it our temporary IP program. We built a legitimate solution to this problem, knowing that while it definitely would have a short life, many need it right now.

If you would like to learn more, reach out.

If any Microsofties want to clarify the plans around this, feel free.

Add your thoughts below, just don’t pimp your stuff on my blog 🙂


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