Recently, I played (and destroyed) with Sitecore Email Experience Manager (EXM) on our Actum’s Sitecore playground. I was wondering, what is proper configuration and development requirements delivered before you can send your first newsletter campaign. I have summarized for you the most common requirements for most EXM implementation.
A configuration according to your email delivery service
EXM comes since Sitecore 9 as a built-in feature to send newsletter campaigns. Before you can send any newsletter, you must configure email delivery service. You can select from three options:
1) Sitecore Email Cloud services – When do you prefer Sitecore to do the hard job. Sitecore manages the complete process of email delivery and ensures you, that your email campaigns will not end up in SPAM. Pricing of the service depends on the volume of email sent per month.
2) Custom SMTP with 3rd party provider – Let someone else do the job. You can use any mail provider by your features and pricing preference. In that case is the configuration and responsibility for successful delivery on a side of the external provider. At this moment also comes some limitation for subscription and complains management.
3) Custom SMTP server – I’ll do the job! You can configure your own server to manage email delivery services. In that case, you need to handle the responsibility for successful email delivery – whitelisting, complain control, DKIM SPF, etc. I wouldn’t recommend going with this option unless you want to use it only for testing or internal purposes.
Email templates and components
To use all EXM features is necessary to work with templates and components. It is a very similar approach when you manage website content in Sitecore with a small, but a very important difference. HTML code for email clients must be different compared to website browsers. For that reason, you have to build a set of components set just for your email campaigns.
The last but not least requirement before you can fully use EXM is to prepare your double opt-in process and unsubscription management.
Double Opt-in process – Sitecore supports Double Opt-in process (DOI), but you need a trigger which starts the process. You can either launch DOI directly in the backend, develop custom form action when a form is sent (Tomas Knaifl has already described the possible solution here) or built your custom marketing automation process to handle this topic. Each solution adds contacts to specific contact lists after they went through the double opt-in process.
Unsubscription – To respect all privacy requirement we need to make sure that contacts receiving newsletter campaigns can always unsubscribe from future campaigns. Usually, you can add unsubscription link to the bottom of your email campaign where contact can directly unsubscribe from this email campaign or all email campaigns he or she is subscribed to.
Leverage EXM with all its benefits
Every implementation of Email Experience Manager is specific and requires an individual approach reflecting your business needs. Once you are done with the basic EXM implementation you can deliver great personalised email campaigns. And remember, if you are migrating contacts from previous email tool to Sitecore do not forget to warm-up your new IP address for delivery otherwise, your new email campaigns might end up in SPAM.