Monday, January 24, 2011

Custom Fields

Over the past few months, we've been getting more and more requests for custom fields. Do we offer them? Yes, as a matter of fact we do. We can add custom fields for you to track whatever data you need that's unique to your business. There's just one catch: you have to ask.

Why? Wouldn't it be faster, for us and for you, if we simply created an admin interface that allows you to add custom fields from the software itself? Perhaps. But speed is not always the goal. We want to make sure that you're using AddressTwo to the best of its ability. Well over half the time, when we enter a conversation about custom fields, we're able to show the customer other ways to track the data that are more intelligent and more efficient. It just takes a little explanation.

Examples:
  • Last sale date. A customer wanted a field where they could add the last sale date. Of course, this would require manual entry. Every time a sale would close, the account manager must remember to update that field, too. Instead, we demonstrated how to use the Project Manager to track open opportunities and closed sales. By nature, this will record the closed transaction. Viola. Data tracked natively and without manual processes.
  • Newsletter Subscribers. A customer wanted a field to place a simple "X" in if the contact was subscribed for their newsletter. We suggested using a list instead. It's faster and more accurate, and it can be combined with other queries to get detailed subscribers in various industries or who meet other criteria.
  • Upload Batch. A customer wanted to be able to sort out her database by the month that she uploaded the leads. She received new leads in a batch each month and wanted to ability to separate them if needed. Her solution was to add a field for the batch month name. We explained that all accounts have a "created on" date stored, which can be queried and used to easily distinguish one batch from another.
These are just a few examples, but in each case you can see that if we simply opened up the ability to create custom fields to the public, there would be a lot of manual and inefficient work being done. We're glad to consult with our users to make sure they are getting the most out of their AddressTwo investment.

Monday, January 10, 2011

To Template or Not To Template? That is the Question.

I hate templates.  I think they destroy brands.  They allow small business owners to unknowingly permit laziness and/or under-budgeted marketing efforts to fade their company into the background of advertising noise.  It undermines the value of true design, which is the solving of problems (yes, even aesthetic problems) and not merely the slathering of bright colors and sleek-looking stock photography.

OK, as usual, my blog post started off with a rant.  Sorry, but I'm in a conundrum.

Since the inception of AddressTwo we have not provided templates.  We have actually intentionally not provided templates for email marketing, not out of inability, but by design.  We do not want people to pick a template and send. 

But customers ask for it.  Often we have to explain why they're nowhere to be found on AddressTwo.  We have to constantly defend the position.  And, at the end of the day, I'm torn between encouraging our users to do what is best for them or simply meeting their demands (isn't that what good customer service is all about?) and publishing a template library.  After all, I could do it, right?

Dear customer,
If I offer you templates, will you promise me to use them sparingly?  Will you still at least think about getting a custom template?  Will you please use the stock template ONLY as a last resort, and a temporary solution?
Sincerely,
Nick Carter

I want to know: am I off my rocker?  Should I get off my high horse and answer the customer demands?  I want to hear form you, customers.  Give me one good reason I should unlock this poison for your business?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Configuring Google Apps (not Gmail) for Firefox handling Mailto: links

Inside AddressTwo, many of the individual email links rely on a simple but universal HTML function called a "mailto:" hyperlink. Unfortunately, this sort of hyperlink is reliant on your browser's local settings to know exactly how to handle it. By default, many Windows PC's will try to launch Outlook or Outlook Express, and likewise, Mac's try to launch Mail. That's wonderful, unless you use Gmail, Yahoo, or some other webmail service.

In other blogs, we address how to configure browsers for these webmail services. However, there is one very unique case: Google Apps. Different from gmail, Google Apps must be configured separately as the default email handler. (Note: this instruction applies only to Mozilla Firefox).

1. In Firefox's address bar, copy and paste the following and hit enter:
about:config

2. Click "I'll be careful, I promise" when the warning appears

3. In the "Filter:" field, copy and paste:
gecko.handlerService.allowRegisterFromDifferentHost

4. Double click the found result to change the boolean value from false to true

5. In the address bar, copy and paste the following:
javascript:window.navigator.registerProtocolHandler('mailto','https://mail.google.com/a/yourdomain.com/mail/?extsrc=mailto&url=%s','Google Apps')

6. IMPORTANT: Replace “yourdomain.com” with your own Google Apps hosted domain and hit enter

7. Click "Add Application" when it asks you a question

8. go to Edit > Preferences > Applications > mailto

9. Choose "Use Google Apps"

Using Gmail as your default email client.

When you click an email link in AddressTwo, or any website, the default email client pops open with an email ready to go with the details described in the link. Usually the details are limited to the TO: address, but the golden arrow next to the contact email in AddressTwo pops open an email with the TO: address and a BCC: to addy@addresstwo.com.

This works great if your default email client is a desktop application like Outlook, but what if you want to use a web application like Gmail? There is good news for the Gmailers and the browser is the key. The default email agent is a setting in the browser. This means you have some control over the application the email links activate.

If you use Mozilla Firefox, there is built in support for Gmail. Just go to Tools, Options. On the applications tab go to Content Type: mailto and change the Action to: Use Gmail.

You would think Chrome would have integrated support for Gmail, but it does not. If you want to use Chrome or Internet Explorer with Gmail you will need to download the Google notifier. There is a notifier for Windows or Mac. Just Google:Google Notifier. I don’t usually like downloading more browser toolbars, but this does the job. You will need your Google email and password to install the notifier. After installing Gmail should be your default email agent for all browsers.

Happy Gmailing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Send An Email - Campaign Manager Mass Email

So you have all your contacts in AddressTwo, now how do you send an email? Well, first, let's clarify that "send an email" can mean two things. It can mean a one-to-one email from you to a discrete contact. Or, it can mean a mass email, as in an email marketing message, newsletter, or other so-called "email blast." This article is about the latter.

First, AddressTwo always starts with "Who?" Who am I sending to? To answer that question, you either perform a Query or recall a List. A query searches your database for the right people, the "who" that you're sending to. A list is a manually composed grouping of contacts. In either case, you get a set of contacts in a green results box.

Note: You may also decide to send to all, in which case, click the Browse All button in the quicksearch box. This effectively performs a Query with no criteria, resulting in all contacts. The process is the same to send an email to all as it is to send an email to a query or a list.

Once the results appear, you should see in the upper-right-hand corner of the green results box a drop-down menu titled "Use This List." From that menu, then you select "Send an Email." You are now composing an email to the "who" that you selected.