PhPeace can send large amounts of email messages to portal users or other lists of recipients.
This functionality is available in various modules, such as topics, campaigns, forums and of course at a global portal level.
Mass mailing may be implemented in slightly different ways depending on each module's characteristics. This documentation page describes its behaviour in the topics module, other modules may have some limitations or minimal differences.
The usual mass mailing workflow is
- selection of recipients
- message preparation
- mail sending
Selection of recipients
First you need to select which recipients the message will be sent to.
You are presented a limited search interface that allows filtering the recipients by various parameters, such as name, email, regional location.
An important search parameter is "Group", which lets you choose a specific group of portal users.
Portal users can be arranged in groups, depending on which action they performed or form they filled in. Users imported from external sources (such as CSV files) can also be arranged in groups. A portal user can belong to an unlimited number of groups.
The recipients selection is a cumulative task, i.e. you can filter a small set of users and then select an additional set of users and so on until you have reached your objective.
The "New search" checkbox lets you specify if the current filter is going to replace the existing selection. If you want to add users to an already existing set, untick the "New search" box.
The mass mailing page shows you the total number of selected recipients and gives you also the possibility to manually remove some recipients, one at a time.
Users profiling by default is active on all PhPeace installations. This may not necessarily mean that users can freely subscribe to the portal. Subscription pages may be hidden or unlinked, and users may be managed via the admin interface only.
In any case portal users should have the option to choose whether they can receive email messages from the portal or not.
Furthermore, each topic can activate its own separate profiling database and manage the association with registered portal users. Also in this case users can choose whether they can be contacted via email or not.
To recap, there's a flag to mark users who have agreed to be contacted via email by the portal, and there's also a flag for each topic portal users are associated with.
Regardless of which management interface you use to select mass mailing recipients, only users who have agreed to be contacted via email can be selected.
This may explain why you see a certain number of users registered with the portal or the topic, and an inferior number selected by the mass mailing filter.
If bounce tracking has been enabled and configured by system administrator, the email addresses of portal users are also scored on the basis of delivery errors. Users who have reached the bounce threshold cannot be selected anymore for mass mailing operations.
Again this may explain the fact that not all portal users are selected by a mass mailing filter.
Once you are happy with the recipients selection, you can prepare the message.
There are usually 3 possible types of message: text, HTML and article. This choice has an impact on the message's content only, while all other options are in common across all message types.
Date and hour
Mass mailing does not happen in real time. Instead it is scheduled for a specific day and time, and it is sent in batches after this time depending on the configuration settings.
Once the mass mailing task is completed, a confirmation message is sent to the administrative users who set it up.
You can manually specify a sender name and email address. By default, it's the name and email address of the administrative users who is setting up the mass mailing task.
Please make sure that the sender email address is a valid email address. If an invalid host is used, messages may be filtered by anti-spam software.
If bounce tracking has been enabled and configured by system administrator, all bounces will be sent to the configured email address. Otherwise, they will be delivered to the sender email address.
In case your profiling database contains lots of invalid addresses and bounce tracking is not configured, expect to receive lots of bounces in your mailbox.
The subject of the email message. Please use a sensible one.
This may vary depending on the message type that you selected
Text messages are the safest option, as content will be read in the same way by all email clients and bandwidth consumption will be kept to a minimum. However it may not suit marketing activities where layout is important.
With HTML option you can use the WYSIWYG editor to format your email content.
Please note that email clients have very diverse interpretations of HTML tags and styles so your message may look quite different depending on the email client used by the recipient.
You better keep it simple and use old-style HTML with tables and hardcoded formatting rules.
If you want to include external images, hotlinking them in your message, make sure that their URL is publicly reachable.
This is the preferred option in case you want to enforce specific images and formatting, preparing an article with PhPeace and setting its ID in the mass mailing content option.
All images embedded in article will be included in the mail message too. You have to option to choose whether images are embedded in the message or linked. In the second case, please make sure that the article is published (i.e. its images are reachable on the internet) before sending the message.
Attachments will also be attached to the mail message.
Please note the difference in the way images are sent in this case, i.e. they're encoded and sent as attachments, to which the article's content refer to. This ensures that images are shown immediately to the recipient, however it may give a negative score in spam filtering rules, in which case you may prefer to hotlink images.
Be careful in relying on existing CSS rules which may be available in you article web layout but will not be present in the message sent via email.
The "Article" option is also useful if you want to maintain a web archive of the messages sent via the mass mailing option. You just have to organise a container for the articles you are going to use in your mass mailing tasks.
This field is visible for messages of type HTML and Article. It's important to fill the alternative text content as it is displayed to email clients not supporting HTML.
In all message types you can use specific tags in the message body which will be substituted at run-time (i.e. when the message is sent). Here's a list of the available tags:
To be replaced by recipient's name and surname
To be replaced by recipient's email address
To be replaced by recipient's portal account password. This will only work if "Send password by email" option is selected
To be replaced by a custom URL which will track the user ID and redirect to the address specified in the "Redirect after tracking" option. You can use only 1 tracking URL per message
A custom link to directly unsubscribe the recipient.
A footer message is automatically added to outgoing messages (if profiling is enabled) with some information on why the recipient is receiving the message. This usually includes information on the sender portal / topic / campaign / forum etc.
The email address of the recipient is also explicitly indicated so that the recipient can understand which email address is used for subscription (people usually have multiple email addresses and may not remember which one they used).
You may prefer to include your own custom footer at the bottom of the message, in which case just untick this option.
By default it's on and you can choose if you want to include a link to generic management page or a direct unsubscription link (which you can also insert in the mail body using the [[UNSUBSCRIBE]] tag as specified below)
Send password by email
Whether recipient's password can be sent in the message footer and, optionally, in the message body using the [[PASSWORD]] tag. The password is the onechosen by the portal user at registration, or automatically generated for them in case they have been imported in PhPeace from elsewhere.
That is, recipients may not be aware that they have a portal account, so include an explanatory text if you want to send the recipient's password in the email message.
It is recommended not to use this option, as passwords are sent in clear text.
You may want to track individual recipients, providing a custom URL to each of them in order to track if they click on it and redirect them to a specific page. You can use only 1 URL for tracking, however you can include the [[TRACK]] tag in the message body as many times as you want.
Redirect after tracking
The page to redirect users after being tracked.
You may want to add other parameters to this URL (for example Google Analytics campaign identifiers)
You can add an attachment, whose size limit is configured by system administrators.
It's extremely important that you test your mass mailing before sending it.
You can do it in two ways:
- Clicking on the "Test to ... " button, which will send a sample message to your email address
- Registering your own address on the portal and selecting it as the unique recipient for your mass mailing task
Once you are happy with the message content, you can click on "Send" and the message will be stored in the system.
You cannot edit the message anymore and you cannot send another message to the same module until all queued messages have been delivered.
PhPeace will split the total amount of recipients in batches to be delivered at every scheduler execution. By default, 200 messages are sent every 15 minutes, so it may take a while to deliver all messages.
These parameters can be configured by system administrators only as they have an impact on server performance.
The mass mailing task can be partially edited, or even cancelled, by PhPeace administrators in the administration module, under the "Mailjobs" section.
All sent messages are kept in the system and can be reviewed from the topics module or from the administration one.
If tracking had been enabled, for each message it is shown the number of users who clicked on the tracking URL or on the unsubscribe one.
It is not possible to track who just received the message.
This information has been last verified with PhPeace version 2.4.1