In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a simple, yet fully customizable profile and subscription center integrated with Sales and Service Cloud. If you would like to skip the reading and jump to the final version of the script, click here. Bear in mind, that the script utilizes a couple of standard and custom Sales/Service Cloud fields – the full list can be found here.
What are Profile and Subscription Centers?
Each instance of Salesforce Marketing Cloud comes with a standard, predefined Profile Center and Subscription Center.
The profile center is a webpage where subscribers can enter and maintain the personal information that you keep about them. When you import a list, you can import attribute values for your subscribers that appear when a subscriber visits the profile center. The subscriber can update their information on this page and provide additional information.
A subscription center is a web page where a subscriber can control the messages they receive from your organization. The lists (including publication lists) you identify as public in the application are available for a subscriber to opt in to on the subscription center.
If you’re using Marketing Cloud Connect to integrate with Sales/Service Cloud, you can use the standard Profile Center based on the Marketing Cloud attributes that are mapped to fields in Sales or Service Cloud. Marketing Cloud Connect documentation states, that changes made in the Profile Center update Salesforce contact and lead data – unfortunately I haven’t been able to confirm this with my tests.
Another limitation which is very hard to overcome is the look and feel of the standard Profile and Subscription Center. If you enable Marketing Cloud BrandBuilder, you will be able to customize the color scheme of your Profile and Subscription Center based on the colors of the logo you upload – but you won’t be able to change the layout or the fonts used.
Sooner or later, most Marketing Cloud users switch to custom Profile and Subscription Centers, as the standard one is not enough when it comes to more complex use cases.
Anatomy of a Subscription Center
A Subscription Center is nothing else but an HTML form. The data passed in the form is then processed by a script – in this tutorial, we will use AMPscript. If you’ve never created a form before, you might want to check out this article first: Create a Sales Cloud-integrated lead capture form using AMPscript.
In the form, you can include any fields from any of the relevant Sales/Service Cloud objects, but to make it more simple as we go, for now, we will use three standard fields from the Contact object:
Events. [Why are they read-only? In this tutorial, you will learn how to allow subscribers to make changes to their preferences and sync those changes back to Salesforce. The process of managing the subscriptions by a Salesforce user and syncing the changes back to Marketing Cloud is a separate procedure and won’t be addressed in this article.] I also made sure that the
Email Opt Out flag is visible on a Contact page layout in Sales Cloud:
Here is a reference of all the fields from the Contact object, which we will use in our script:
|Field Label||API Field Name||Type||Length|
|Email Opt Out||HasOptedOutOfEmail||boolean|
Let’s now create a simple HTML form which contains all of the above fields:
Since we want the form to be pre-populated with subscriber data from Sales/Service Cloud, we need to add the RetrieveSalesforceObjects function to pull the data, and display the retrieved data as field values:
You will also notice in the above script, that we have added a form action. The
RequestParameter('PAGEURL') function reloads the page when the form is submitted, posting the form parameters back to the same page. You can, of course, post the form data to another page and process it there, but for the purpose of this tutorial, let’s keep everything on one page so that it’s easier to copy and paste.
After the form is submitted and posted, the data can be retrieved by using the RequestParameter AMPscript function. We will then update the data in Sales/Service Cloud using the UpdateSingleSalesforceObject function. Let’s add them now:
Congratulations – you just built the first, simple version of your profile and subscription center!
Now let’s analyze the above script. The first thing that you will notice is that all the AMPscript is placed at the beginning of the document, above the form – that’s because the form data first has to be posted before it can be processed, and upon posting the data, the page reloads and starts resolving the script from top-down. If you need more clarification on this concept, click here.
If the form has been submitted, we will update the Sales/Service Cloud contact with the new data that was posted upon form submission. The form data is retrieved using the RequestParameter function, which is used in the
@updateRecord variable inside the UpdateSingleSalesforceObject function.
You will also notice, that for each of the checkboxes, I have added the following in-line IF function:
Iif(RequestParameter("newsletter") == "on", "true", "false"). That is because the checkbox passed from the HTML form will have a value of either
off, while to pass it to Sales/Service Cloud, we need to convert it to a boolean value of
Unsubscribe From All option
To make the functionality of our custom subscription and profile center similar to the standard one, we can add the Unsubscribe From All and Resubscribe options. The Unsubscribe From All option should not only set all the subscription-related flags in Sales Cloud to false, but also set the subscriber’s status to
Unsubscribed in Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s All Subscribers list. To achieve this, we need to log an UnsubEvent. In order to do that, we will add an additional button to the form (Unsubscribe From All) and a hidden parameter which will be passed if someone clicks this button (
name="unsub" type="hidden" value="true"). After submitting the form, if
unsub value equals
true, we will log the UnsubEvent in addition to updating the flags in Sales/Service Cloud. The below is a simplified version of logging an UnsubEvent and it will unsubscribe the contact from all BUs – if you would like to modify it to your use case, refer to this article: Unsubscribe and Log an UnsubEvent with a LogUnsubEvent Execute Call. Here’s what we need to add to our script to make this part work:
Since we have the option to Unsubscribe From All, we now also have to add an option to Resubscribe. The Resubscribe option will set all the subscription-related flags in Sales Cloud to true and set the subscriber’s status to Active in Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s All Subscribers list. The Resubscribe button will appear for any contact that has the
HasOptedOutOfEmail flag set to
true in Sales Cloud. The button also has a hidden parameter that will be passed with the form (
name="sub" type="hidden" value="true"). Upon clicking the button, we will invoke the update method on a subscriber object to set their status to Active in Marketing Cloud, as well as update their subscription-related flags in Sales Cloud:
Update subscriber’s data in Marketing Cloud
If you’re using Marketing Cloud Connect, a very important thing to remember when updating subscriber’s email address is to do it in both, Sales/Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud. Here is why:
If an email address for a Lead or Contact Object is updated in Sales Cloud or Service Cloud, the corresponding email address is not updated in the All Subscribers list.Eliot Harper, THE DATA HANDBOOK – Data Architecture for Salesforce Marketing Cloud
In order to achieve this, we will add one more piece of a script to update the subscriber object. First we will check, if the subscriber’s current email address in Marketing Cloud is different from the one provided in the form, and if it is, we will update it accordingly:
You do not need to include the above if you already have a process in place that synchronizes email address changes from Sales/Service Cloud to All Subscribers list in Salesforce Marketing Cloud. If you’d like to learn more about synching updates between the clouds, read Markus Slabina’s blog post here.
Custom subscription and profile center full script
As a final touch, to improve the experience, let’s add a confirmation message and a button that will reload the page and display the updated data in the form. Here is the final version of the script, with all of the above changes included:
Remember, that you will need to use the CloudPagesURL function to link to the subscription center CloudPage from an email.
In order to see how the above script works, feel free to play around with one of my test contacts in the test version of the subscription and profile center that I set up on a CloudPage: https://pub.s10.exacttarget.com/
Here are some resources if you would like to read further about subscription management best practices:
- Here you will find an interesting concept of creating Campaigns for each subscription and adding the Contact as a Campaign Member
- Here you can read how Effective Email Preference Centers Help Keep Subscribers Active and Engaged
- Solve problems using the subscription-center and preference-center tags on Salesforce Stack Exchange
Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.