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Create a Single Contact Key

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe contact counts.
  • Explain the importance of a unique contact key for each customer.
  • Manage new and existing contacts.

Counting Contacts

Does counting contacts sound as exciting as counting sheep? Don’t doze off just yet. Counting contacts is actually pretty important when it comes to making the most of your Marketing Cloud Engagement account. Why? Because each unique contact found in Marketing Cloud Engagement counts toward your contact utilization, regardless of source. So you only want to store contacts that you’re using.

Let’s think back to Gordon Wexley, a Scott’s Restaurant and Bar customer. In Scott’s Marketing Cloud Engagement account, Gordon is a contact in MobilePush identified by his mobile device ID. If Gordon decides to sign up for Scott’s SMS program, he is added as a new contact in MobileConnect with his mobile number. What if Gordon also signs up to receive email from Scott’s? Well, he could also have a separate contact in Email Studio under his email address. In other words, if Gordon is associated with different contact keys in MobileConnect, Email Studio, and MobilePush, then he is counted as three contacts (three separate records). 

MobilePush, MobileConnect, and Email Studio records for Gordon with separate identifiers. Gordon Wexley contact record that connects contact key with device ID, mobile, and email.

Not exactly ideal. But there is a better way: If Gordon has the same contact key in each of those apps, he is only counted as one contact, which gives Scott’s a more complete view of its customer. And it makes sense, right? Because they don’t think of Gordon as Email Studio Gordon or MobileConnect Gordon. He is just one customer who likes a good burger and an even better deal.

A Single Contact Key

Getting to that single contact key can take some work, because you may not know that Gordon is a MobilePush customer, even if he comes into your restaurant every day. This can’t always be avoided, but a few best practices can address many duplications.

  • Create a unique contact key that can be used across all channels for all new subscribers.
  • Consider updating existing subscribers to that new key.
  • Reach out to customers in your existing channels to sign up for email or SMS, and then update their record to reflect those new channels.

Manage Existing Contacts

Let’s talk a bit more about strategies for your existing customers. We recommend you reach out to your existing customers first, before trying to gain new customers in a new channel. Here are some ways you can market to your existing contacts.

Marketing Suggestions
Scott’s Restaurant and Bar Example
Existing Mobile Contacts
  • Send MobilePush customers an in-app message to sign up for SMS messages or email.
  • Send MobileConnect customers a campaign that encourages them to download your app or sign up for email.
  • Scott’s sends an in-app message to MobilePush subscribers to sign up for SMS and receive a free milkshake.
Existing Email Contacts
  • Add a content block in your existing emails promoting SMS.
  • Send an SMS email campaign with incentive to sign up for mobile.
  • Add an article in your newsletter with SMS benefits.
  • Scott’s adds a content block to all emails that provides the benefits of downloading the restaurant’s app, including a free burger on your birthday.

Be sure to include what’s in it for them—ideally with an incentive (10% off next purchase, free T-shirt, and so on). Once you have that additional info on your customers, you can create a cross-channel user by updating data extensions containing your contact records. This helps improve personalization options and allows you to message them in their preferred channel. Score!

Gain New Mobile Subscribers

After coming up with a plan for existing customers, it’s time to start inviting new customers to join you on mobile. Just remember to highlight the benefits of your mobile programs clearly and be sure to have your program in place and ready to go before advertising. Here are some ideas.

Marketing Suggestions
Next Steps
New Subscribers
  • In-store signage for new sign-ups
  • Facebook ads
  • Content on your website
  • Contests
  • Promotion in monthly snail-mail statements
  • Once signed up, send them a follow-up campaign to gain additional information.

Keys to Success

Overall, managing mobile contacts takes some planning but can be simple if you follow these best practices.

  • Use a single contact key. We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. Ideally, use a unique value that does not relate to a specific channel and is unlikely to change over time.
  • Regularly review your Contacts Count Report. Make sure your contact numbers are where you expect them to be to avoid surprises. Investigate any spikes or anomalies to understand what has changed within your account.

Join us in the next unit to go over the import process, in case you need to manually add customers to your account. 


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