The new Dynamicweb Email Marketing module

It’s been a while since i last blogged about Dynamicweb. I’ve been busy working on other projects based on other products and technologies than Dynamicweb and Microsoft.

But it’s not because that there’s nothing to talk about. Dynamicweb CMS has seen a remarkable development in the last year or so and a lot of new exciting functionality has been added to the standard software.

Some of this functionality is wrapped inside the new Dynamicweb Email Marketing module, which is set to replace the old Dynamicweb Newsletter module. Which is a good thing, because the old newsletter-module was something that I introduced while I still worked there – five year ago! The old newsletter-module had several quirks here and there – but most of them was actually solved in the end, and the result was a pretty stable module that could be used for most of the ordinary requirements most customers have. But in Bleau, we often experienced that our customers had requirements that were difficult to fulfill with the old module. For example, one of those requirements was the ability to automatically create a digest with content from the website based on recipients’ personal preferences.

This blogpost is the first in a series concerning the Dynamicweb Email Marketing module. I will try to cover all the details of the module. The first one concerns the administration of recipients.

Consolidation

The old newsletter-module started a trend in Dynamicweb CMS concerning the consolidation of users. Before this module, users were scattered around in different silos in the form of separate modules, but the old newsletter-module consolidated users into the Dynamicweb User Management module. The new Dynamicweb Email Marketing module continues this trend, and it integrates heavily with the User Management module. This means that management of users/recipients is something that is done inside the User Management module, and then you can apply the new Dynamicweb Smart Search to filter the different users into segments that you can send e-mails to.

The consolidation of users is a huge benefit, because that way you get a 360-degree view of all users in the system – which is very beneficial with the addition of the Dynamicweb Online Marketing module.

You can mark all extranet users in the user management module as e-mail recipients

You can mark all extranet users in the user management module as e-mail recipients

You can also create your own folders containing e-mail recipients inside User Management, and every user can become a recipient by just checking the green icon next to the e-mail address. Before, you had to assign each user to a “NewsLetter V3 Recipients” folder.

You can also do the same for a complete user group:

You can allow email communications for a complete user group

You can allow email communications for a complete user group


Much more information about each user – if you want

The old newsletter-module gave you the possibility of adding user-defined fields that could be used to require extra information from the user. But the implementation of this was crappy, and in Bleau we have no customers using it. You had to jump through hoops in order to implement this in the sign-up process, and you really couldn’t use the collected information for anything – other than export it to other systems.

Now that recipients are really consolidated into the User Management module, it suddenly becomes way more easy to collect extra information from users. The User Management-module already contains a lot of useful fields, that you could just let your users fill in when they subscribe to a newsletter, but you can also very easily create new user-defined fields in case you need some special information. We will get back to the benefits of this particular feature in a later blogpost.

It is very easy to add new user-defined fields in Dynamicweb Email Marketing center

It is very easy to add new user-defined fields in Dynamicweb Email Marketing center


Sign-up process

The old newsletter-module required you to create a new paragraph containing the old newsletter-module in order to let users sign-up. The procedure is almost the same in the Email Marketing module, but instead of using a special newsletter-module, you use Dynamicweb Extranet. This module has been modified, so that a much more simple user creation process is available. E.g. instead of requiring that the user provides a password, the module can be configured to automatically assign a new password to users, so that these only need to provide the most basic information.

A more simple user sign-up process has been created

A more simple user sign-up process has been created

The example above – which illustrates the paragraph module-settings – shows how you can create a very simple sign-up process by selecting “Create profile/Manage subscription” and selecting “email_subscribe.html” as a template. As you can see, it is also possible to decide whether or not the user should be automatically created, or if the user should be approved – either by an administrator or by the user himself.

This is also where it is possible to select a more elaborate sign-up form. If you need more information from the user, you can select another template that will contain these fields. And of course, you can also just create your own template – which you probably want in all cases, because the ones delivered in the standard package looks like s**t, and contains HTML, CSS and JavaScript that I would never want in my projects. In fact, I think that this demonstrates a major area of critique of the usual standard modules in Dynamicweb CMS. The primary purpose of creating new modules in Dynamicweb is to create new functionality to paying customers, and therefore developers are sometimes considered as an after-thought.

Adding e-mail consent into templates

Because of the consolidation of users/recipients into the User Management-module, it is very easy to let the user change his status, so that it is allowed to send out e-mails to that particular user. If a user is logged on to the website, you can add the following template tag, that will allow the user to change his status:

<!–@UserManagement:User.EmailAllowed.Input–>

Example from the Dynamicweb User Manual:

Adding a template tag to change user e-mail consent

Adding a template tag to change user e-mail consent

 

Unsubscribe or modify profile
Adding an unsubscribe-feature is just as easy as creating a sign-up form. You just select another template. And each e-mail can also contain a link to unsubscribe the users

Conclusion

All in all, the above mentioned features demonstrate major improvements from the old module. I guess that most of the customers, that I work with, will be happy to make the switch from the old module to the new module. The only negative thing I can find right now is that the templates could be improved by cleaning them up – so this is probably one of the first things I need to do before starting using the module.

More on this subject later on – please leave your comments below.

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