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Today we released a big round of updates to our API documentation and code samples to make it even easier to connect your Campaign Monitor account with your own web sites and applications. If you’re a back-end developer that’s right into this stuff, here’s the scoop on what we’ve changed: Vastly improved documentation We’ve done a complete overhaul on the documentation for every method available in the API. Each method will now include the related samples that feature the method, the parameters used, return codes and sample requests and responses for SOAP, POST and GET. Check out the Subscriber.Add method to get an idea of what you can expect. Comprehensive PHP wrapper Thanks to incredibly generous Campaign Monitor customer and PHP developer Kaiser Shahid, we now have an all-inclusive PHP package that supports SOAP, GET and POST seamlessly. The sample also includes a complete set of functions that encapsulate every method available in the API. Big Flash overhaul All you Flash developers out there will be pleased to know that we’ve now got a much improved Flash sample ready for download. Kindly developed by Ben and the talented team at DNA Design, the sample includes a standard subscribe form as well as a more complex version supporting custom fields. The sample has also been coded in a way that makes it easy to use any of the other methods available in the API. .NET C# and ASP samples move from the desktop to the web For the .NET samples we have created a VisualStudio.NET 2003 project that includes example pages calling some of the different API methods available. The pages use standard ASP.NET controls and are written using the Code-Behind model. This project will also work with all newer versions of Visual Studio. We’ve also changed the samples from traditional desktop applications to web pages. ColdFusion sample arrives For all those ColdFusion developers we’ve now got a great API sample that includes a standards subscribe form and a more complex one supporting custom fields. The sample code will also be easy to modify to adopt any of the other methods supported by the API.
Over the weekend we pushed a highly requested new feature live – HTML confirmation emails. It’s now easy to send a nicely formatted HTML confirmation email to anyone who joins your list from your subscribe forms or via the API. To import the HTML creative for your confirmation email, you just need to provide us with the URL. We’ll grab the page, import all images and even externally linked CSS into a single email referencing the images on our servers. You can easily preview your HTML version once it’s imported and make any changes that suit. To improve deliverability and ensure the confirmation looks great for those who prefer plain text, you can also provide a basic plain text version of your confirmation email that will be included in the same email. We’ll include a sample one to help get you started. If your new subscriber is using a plain text email client, they’ll see that version instead. To set up for own HTML confirmation email, head into your subscriber list and click on “Create a Subscribe Form” to get started.
We love getting your suggestions for new features and big improvements we can consider for the future, no doubt. That’s not all – we also love hearing about those little niggles, things that don’t stop you using Campaign Monitor but that are less than perfect, or just irritate you. One customer at Web Directions last month told us about his pet hate with the Campaign Monitor login form. We try to be helpful by have the page set the focus to the username to save you some time. However if a script like Google Analytics was a bit slow to load, he would be halfway through his password and then the cursor would jump back to the username field. It’s annoying and frustrating, so we fixed it. Now the focus won’t automatically be set if you have already started entering your username or password. Just a little change, but something that smoothes out the experience of using the product. So if there is something that bothers you about Campaign Monitor, let us know, because we keep track of these things and we’d love to hear from you.
Our new design and spam testing tool has proven a huge hit. We’ve had loads of great suggestions coming through, some of which we’ll definitely be entertaining with future updates. One requests that we’ve heard quite a bit this week is to be able to see where the preview pane ends for those email clients we’re not providing preview pane screenshots for. As we’ve recommended many times before, it’s important to make sure the key content of your email is viewable in the preview pane for each recipient. You want to make sure they see the good stuff without needing to scroll. We’ve just pushed a nice update live that displays the “fold line” for every screenshot we produce. Just roll your mouse over any screenshot, and we’ll display a big red line indicating where this visible area stops. This makes it a piece of cake to ensure your key content is accessible to all your recipients without the need to scroll. Here’s a quick screenshot of the fold line in action. This update is available in all design and spam tests, even the ones you ran in the first week. We’ve got some great ideas on how we can improve this even further, especially making it easy to show the screens and spam filter results to your clients.
I’m rapt to announce that our brand new design and spam testing feature I mentioned last week is now available in all accounts. Email testing just went from a lot of work to the single click of a mouse. If you missed the original announcement, this new feature generates screenshots of exactly how your email will look in all the major email clients before you send your campaign. Not only that, but it also runs your content through 8 key spam filters and in most cases tells you exactly what you need to fix if you fail it. All this for just $10, or 1,000 credits. Here’s a screenshot of what you can expect for each report you run: By clicking on any of the screens above, we’ll show you full size screenshots under different scenarios such as images on, images off and even how your email looks in the preview pane. Here’s a sample spam filtering report, which tells you which filters you failed and why. We even provide warnings if you pass a filter since there’s value in knowing what spammy words or content structure have an affect on those filters. Of course, this new feature isn’t meant to completely replace our simple testing tools – you can still send a test email to any address you like. But if you’re working on a new template design or need to be sure you’re not going to get filtered as spam, these reports really do provide you with piece of mind. To run your own reports, simply head into Create/Send then click on Design and spam testing to get started. You can also read a little more about the reports and some answers to common questions. We hope you like it, and please leave us any feedback or suggestions you might have below.
As I mentioned in my original call for standards support, “getting an email to display consistently in all of the popular email clients is by far the most frustrating part of the job”. Our dedicated site for the push towards standards in email is coming along nicely, but we’re also well aware that things won’t be improving overnight. To keep everyone sane in the mean time, we’re putting the finishing touches on an awesome new feature that lets you do incredibly detailed design and spam testing with a single mouse click – all before you hit the send button. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the cooler bits… Screenshots in all the major email clients See screenshots of exactly how your email will look in up to 18 of the most popular email clients like Outlook 2007, Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Lotus Notes, AOL and many more. Image blocking and preview panes included As you know, most of the popular email clients sport image blocking and preview panes these days. Not only will we take screenshots of your design, but we’ll take multiple versions with images on, images off and even how your design looks in the horizontal or vertical preview pane. You’ll have every angle covered. Your email tested against popular spam filters and firewalls Instead of just scanning your content for “spammy words”, weâ€™ll pass your email through real spam filters and tell you exactly why you failed. On top of popular desktop spam filters, weâ€™ll also run your email through a number of key spam firewalls – the gatekeepers for most ISPâ€™s and large corporations. Cheaper than doing it yourself This new feature won’t be free in your account, but will cost $10 (or 1,000 email credits) for each detailed report. This will include dozens of screenshots in all the major email clients and your email being run through a range of popular spam filters and firewalls. It isn’t something you’ll use for every campaign you send, but if you’re working on a new design or making some big template changes, this is a great way to get piece of mind in minutes. As we’ve explained before, proper email testing takes time. Serious time. We’ve got test accounts at all the major ISP’s and have a few test machines to check different spam filters – we know how painful testing is. I’ve been playing around with this new feature internally for the last few weeks and I have to say, I’m never going back. We’re hoping to launch this some time in the next 2 weeks, and I’ll post an update here as soon as it happens. If you’re an Aussie heading to Web Directions tomorrow, make sure you swing by the Freshview booth for a sneak peek at this new feature in action.
We mentioned a few months back that the Hotmail folks were about to launch a very cool new feature that allowed your recipients to unsubscribe directly from the Hotmail interface. As you know, if a subscriber no longer wants to hear from you they’ve got 2 options – mark it as spam or try and find the unsubscribe link. This new feature goes a long way towards reducing false positive spam complaints by encouraging your recipients to take the unsubscribe option instead. If you’ve ever received spam complaints from your Hotmail recipients, you’ll know just how important this is. Here’s what your Hotmail recipients will now see: When your subscriber clicks the unsubscribe link, they’ll be redirected to your unsubscribe confirmation page, just like they would if they clicked the regular unsubscribe link in your email content. The best part is, you don’t need to do anything to set this up, it will work automatically for all your Hotmail recipients. The unsubscribe option will be visible to every subscriber that’s marked you as a safe sender (or added you to their contacts). Luckily this is a very easy process in the new Hotmail interface and is likely something a subscriber will do for any newsletters they subscribe to. Here’s a quick screenshot of how this looks for all new senders. The moment “Mark as safe” is clicked, the unsubscribe option will be available in any emails you send them. Props need to go to Microsoft for being the first major ISP to implement this great standard.
What if I told you that with a few minutes work you could instantly reduce the chances of your email being marked as spam, build trust with your recipients and protect your brand from being abused via email. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it. Well, that’s exactly what you can do with the new email authentication feature we just launched. What the heck is email authentication? Email was built in much more innocent times when spam came in a can and phishing was something you did on the weekend to relax. This meant the system was left fairly open, making it very easy to manipulate – it’s just as easy to make your email come from firstname.lastname@example.org as it is from email@example.com. Unfortunately this great flexibility has also been it’s greatest undoing. Enter email authentication, a simple method that proves you sent the email. While it’s by no means a silver bullet to the spam problem, authentication is an important first step in adding that much needed accountability layer into email. In a nutshell, it involves you adding some simple records to the DNS of the domain name you send email from that says who is allowed to send email on your behalf. Without getting into too much of the boring details, there are two main authentication standards out there you need to support called Sender ID and DomainKeys. What is important is that different ISP’s use one or a combination of both, so to get the best results we’ve made it dead easy to support both standards. What’s in it for you? All the large ISP’s like AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo! and Gmail are using email authentication as an important layer in their spam fighting arsenal. By setting up Campaign Monitor as an authenticated sender, you can instantly bypass certain filters, giving your campaigns a better chance of arriving in the inbox. Not only that, but many ISP’s like Yahoo! and Hotmail will flag your email as authenticated, which helps to build trust between you and your subscribers and improves the chances of your emails being opened. For example, here’s an authenticated and non-authenticated email in Yahoo! Mail: Authenticating your sending domains in Campaign Monitor I know the concept of authentication can make some designer’s eyes glaze over (mine included), so we’ve made the entire process as pain-free as possible. While I’ll give you an overview here, we’ve also put together a complete guide in the help system, along with instructions on updating your DNS records in some of the popular hosts (we’ll be adding more soon). To get started, select the client you’d like to set this up for under “Manage Clients” and click the big green “Add a domain to authenticate” button. Once you enter the domain name you want to authenticate, we’ll generate the 2 records to add to your DNS. Once you’ve added the records, we’ll automatically check them out and confirm that they’ve been added correctly. As soon as they have, that domain will be available as an authenticated domain when sending email for that client. That’s all there is to it! We’ll take care of the rest and make sure each ISP knows the email is definitely coming from you. You’ll now be able to bypass some spam filters, build trust with your recipients and ensure your domain name cannot be used fraudulently by others.
Our brand new suppression list feature was rolled out a few hours ago. All went very smoothly and you can check them out under your Manage Subscribers tab. You’ll notice that each client-wide suppression list is populated with all the unsubscribes from any previous lists in that client’s account. This ensures that moving forward anyone who previously unsubscribed cannot be added to any new subscriber lists. Quick Tip: Scrubbing your lists against the suppression list While we’ve populated your suppression list with any previous unsubscribes, we haven’t scrubbed all of your lists against it. If you’d like to scrub any of your subscriber lists against the suppression list, here’s a quick tip. Head into the “Unsubscribe Options” for that list and you’ll notice a new section where you can adjust how it integrates with the suppression list. If you turn suppression list integration off by selecting “Only unsubscribe them from this list”, save your settings and then turn it back on again, you’ll be given some additional options. The second of these options allows you to scrub all your “Active” subscribers against the suppression list. Here’s a quick screenshot of how this looks: By ticking that checkbox, we’ll automatically scrub your list and remove anyone who has ever unsubscribed from any lists for that client. We hope you enjoy the new feature, we think it’s a great addition and plan on adding it to MailBuild real soon too.
To keep things as easy to manage as possible, we’ve always kept unsubscribes at the list level, not the client level. This means that if a customer is subscribed to List A and List B and they unsubscribe from List A, they will still be subscribed to List B. This approach has worked very well for the majority of you guys. Most of you only have one or two lists per client and more often than not there isn’t much cross over anyway. The problem with this approach is that as your list management needs get more complex, the chances of an unsubscriber being accidentally sent to again increase. On top of this, there are plenty of other list management scenarios out there. You might want to ensure anyone who unsubscribed is never contacted again, no matter how many lists they’re in. What if you’ve got a big chunk of unsubscribers from a previous system that you want to ensure are never added to any of your lists in Campaign Monitor? The list really does go on. From tomorrow, all of this will be possible from your Campaign Monitor account. The Answer: Suppression Lists Tomorrow we’ll be introducing a new feature called “Client-wide suppression lists”. This is basically a client-wide do not email list. Here’s a screenshot of how you can access this list from your subscriber list index page: Any address in this list will never be added to your subscriber lists and you can add and remove addresses from it whenever you like. By default, any unsubscribes from each list will be added to the suppression list for that client automatically. Here’s how the page to manage your suppression list will look: This keeps you safe by ensuring you can never re-send to a previous unsubscriber accidentally. The best part is, you don’t need to lift a finger to start taking advantage of this feature, it will work behind the scenes automatically. Choose which approach works for you While the suppression list will be turned on by default for each list, we’ve give you the ability to turn it off on a list-by-list basis. If you’d like to revert back to the old approach, no problem at all. You’ll be able to adjust how this is handled in the Unsubscribe Settings for that list. Here’s a quick screenshot of the new options: I hope you all find the new suppression list feature useful. We think it’s a big improvement over the current approach and like any good update, works seamlessly behind the scenes without you actually needing to do anything.
We’ve always had a very strict permission policy at Campaign Monitor with clear-cut rules about what does and doesn’t constitute permission. There was however one piece of functionality which perhaps relaxed our high standards a little – forward to a friend reporting. To date, we not only store which of your subscribers forward your email to a friend or colleague, we also told you exactly who they forwarded it to. We certainly didn’t add these friends to a list or anything nasty like that, but we did expose their details nonetheless. To compound the problem, it wasn’t crystal clear on the Forward to a Friend page that your friend’s details were even being captured. Another slap on our wrists. While we never had any negative incidents or complaints around this issue, it’s clearly not best practice and we’ve gone ahead and stopped capturing exactly who forwards to who. Instead, you’ll now see which subscribers forwarded your email and how many people they forwarded it to. This change has also been applied to any previous campaigns you’ve sent. From personal experience, I know how interesting this data was, but individual’s details were being exposed to the campaign sender without their permission. We need to put the privacy of these people first. If you’re hoping to capture new subscribers via the Forward to a Friend feature, we recommend adding a prominent link in each email encouraging new subscribers to sign up, then link right to the subscribe form on your site.
One problem we always had with the Campaign Snapshot is that it wasn’t immediately clear which subscribers you sent that campaign to. Sure, you can see the total number of recipients, but not which lists those subscribers came from. Today we did a little reshuffling with the Campaign Snapshot to make it easier to see exactly who you sent that campaign to. Even if you sent it to multiple lists, some segments and even manually added a few recipients, we’ll show it all here. Here’s a quick screenshot of the updated snapshot for a campaign sent to 3 different subscriber lists: By Clicking on the 3 subscriber lists link in the Sent to row, we reveal exactly which lists were sent to, including the number of subscribers in each: Finally, to make it a little clearer, we also moved the date sent under the Campaign Snapshot title.
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