How to search your email archives

Simplelists keeps a record of all of the emails that have been sent to your list. This archive can be useful for new list members who might need to quickly get to grips with topics that have already been covered in a private group discussion. It is also a great tool for keeping a back up of all of your communications. If you haven’t already, you can learn how to set up, view and personalise the archive in a recent post on our blog. Below, we explain how to search your email archive, allowing you to find old emails using a keyword search.

Archive search

Finding the right message in a busy list

Busy lists that have existed for a long time can accumulate thousands of emails over many years. When new members join a list, they can be granted permission to read emails that were sent before they joined, and access old emails about a specific subject. To do this, the Simplelists email archive has a keyword search function that allows you to look for old emails by keyword. You can also browse all messages by date or by thread.

Accessing the archive

You can find the archive search function from the Members Home page once you have logged in to your Simplelists account. Under ‘What would you like to do?’, click on ‘View list archives’. If your list manager has set up a password for accessing the archive, you will need to enter this. Otherwise, you can request an access code by entering your email address.

Once in the mail archive, messages are grouped by month and year, with the search box at the top. Type in your keyword and the relevant emails will be displayed. On this page, you can also view list statistics and read more information about your list.

Search tips

We all know how to use a search box but these tips might come in useful if you’re not entirely sure of the best keyword to search for:

Wildcard ‘?’ – Type the ? symbol and it will be replaced with any single character. This is handy when you’re not sure how a word should be spelt. For example, you might be looking for an old email titled ‘Worthington Event’ but you had forgotten if ‘Worthington’ was spelled with an ‘o’ or a ‘i’ you can type ‘W?rthington’ and the results will show emails with both spellings.

Wildcard ‘*’ – Type the * symbol and it will be replaced with any number of characters. Using the previous example, if you weren’t at all sure how to spell ‘Worthington’ you could type ‘W*ton’. The search results will show all emails that start with a ‘w’ and end with the letters ‘ton’, including ‘Worthington’.

You can also search by keyword for specific months. Browse to the month of the email that you are looking for and then search while in that month. The search will geneate results only for that month.

Sending HTML emails with Simplelists

HTML emails are formatted like a web page and can include colours, graphics, tables and links. Most emails that you receive from a shop/business that you subscribe to are likely to use this kind of email. Plain text emails are more like what you might expect to receive from a friend or in a typical work email. Before sending an HTML email to your list, it is worth considering the pros and cons of HTML and plain text emails.

HTML email

HTML or plain text?

HTML emails are colourful and eye-catching. You can include your company logo and make your email look professional. HTML emails can include images and make it possible to break the email into sections that are easy to read or scan. They can also include social media buttons. HTML emails are more likely to be blocked by some spam blockers, especially if they contain a lot of HTML.

Plain text emails are small and light, which means they use less memory and open more quickly. Plain text messages look less commercial and more similar to personal emails. It has also been found that a plain text email is more likely to be opened and clicked through, which is important if you are sending emails as part of a marketing campaign.

Creating an HTML email

First, you need to create your email as a single web page. There are a few special points to note when creating HTML for email:

  • Use tables to create the layout. Avoid using margins and padding and give the table’s elements fixed widths. This prevents the email looking different in different email clients.
  • All CSS styles should be inline styles. Any CSS in the head or on external style sheets will be ignored.
  • Any images should have an absolute URL – they’ll need to be on the server so they can be sourced.

Once complete, view your web page in a browser. First, check that the page looks perfect. Right click and select all and then copy. Note that you should not copy the HTML code. Copy the content of the web page.

Send the email

Open your email client and compose a new message to your list. Simply paste the email and hit send. Your HTML email will be sent to your whole list. Simple.

You can watch these instructions in a short video here.

Add list members from a spreadsheet

When you start to build an email list you may only have a few members. If this is the case, inputting people’s details manually via the Simplelists members area is straightforward. When your list starts to grow, you may find it helpful to add a large number of subscribers at one time, from a spreadsheet. It is also useful to have a spreadsheet copy of all your list members for your own records. In this short post, we explain how to add members to your list from a spreadsheet.

Add list members from spreadsheet

Prepare the spreadsheet

First, open your spreadsheet. Your spreadsheet only needs three columns:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email address

If a name is missing, don’t worry as it can be left blank. You can also add notes in another column.

Remove any headers and titles from the spreadsheet (you may need to delete a row to do this). Your list is now ready to go.

Save as a .csv file

Save the file as a .csv file type using the ‘Save As’ dialog box in your spreadsheet program. You may be asked if you are that you wish to save as a .csv file. Just select ‘OK’ or ‘Yes’ when asked. Remember where you save your file.

Upload to Simplelists

Finally, you want to upload the file to Simplelists. Log in to Simplelists and select the ‘List members’ page. Click on the ‘Upload file’ tab and search for the file that you saved earlier. Make sure that ‘comma separated’ is chosen in the drop-down menu on the ‘Upload file’ page in Simplelists. Then, click ‘Next’.

On the next screen (‘Select fields’), select the correct field name for each column of the file (First name, Last name, Email address, etc.). Then, click ‘Next’.

The next screen will show you some ‘Upload options’ which you can choose to select or not:

  1. By default an entry’s name will be updated when the email address matches an entry already in your address book. If you would also like to update the email address if the full name matches then please check this box.
  2. Send confirmation requests to all addresses uploaded (except those already in the address book and already confirmed).
  3. Delete current address book entries that are not in uploaded file.

When you have selected any options you wish to activate, click ‘Finish’. The new members will now be added to your list. You can check that they have been added by viewing your address book from the ‘Members home’ page.

You can also watch a short video of these instructions in an earlier post on our blog.

Setting email posting permissions

Simplelists is designed to be flexible so that it will suit your needs exactly. You might want to send email newsletters to a list of customers with you alone being able to post to the list. Or, maybe you have a team of people who will all need to be able to send emails to your customers. Or, perhaps you would like to use your list for a private group discussion and you would like anyone on the list to be able to contribute. Whatever your needs, you can customise your list by setting posting permissions. In this short post, we explain how you do this.

Posting restrictions

Login and navigate ‘list settings’ in the left hand menu. Under the ‘Posting restrictions’ tab you will see the heading ‘posting permissions’ with three radio buttons next to it:

  • Allow anyone to send messages
  • Hold all messages for approval
  • Choose specific people who can send messages

If you select ‘Allow anyone to send messages’, this permits both members and non-members to send messages to your list without approval being necessary. As an alternative, you can choose to ‘Hold all messages for approval’.

Or, select ‘Choose specific people who can send messages’ to grant specific people permission to send messages to the list. With this third option, you can select all list members or provide the individual email addresses of those permitted to send messages to the list. Just enter their addresses in the box that appears when you select this option. This setting is useful for private group discussions as you can choose to have only specific people post to the list. This setting is also useful for email marketing and newsletters.

Email replies

When thinking about permissions, you may wish to consider where email replies are sent. Select the ‘Email customisation’ tab and, under the heading ‘List replies’, choose whether the reply is sent to the person who sent the original message (select ‘Replies go to poster of message’) or to the whole list (select ‘Replies go to list email addresses’). In this section you also have the option to strip attachments from the messages that are sent, truncate long messages to a set character limit, and add a message footer to be attached to all emails sent.

You can watch these instructions in a short video in a previous post on our blog.

Using your own domain with Simplelists

If you have a multiple list account, you can use your own domain to replace simplelists.com. In fact, you can add as many domains as you like, which means you can totally brand the system as your own. Combine using your own domain with branding your landing pages for truly professional results. This short post will explain how to use your own domain and, once you have done this, how to improve the deliverability of your emails.

Using your own domain

Set up your own domain

Setting up your own domain is easy. Log in to your Simplelists multiple list account, navigate to ‘General Settings’ in the left-hand menu and select the ‘Domains’ tab. Enter your domain name and click ‘Add’. In the list that follows, set your domain name as ‘primary’. You can then view your new email addresses on the ‘List members’ page in the left-hand menu.

Configure MX records

Once your domain name is added, you must configure its mail exchange records, using your web hosting control panel. Set the Primary MX record to ‘mx1.simplelists.com’ and the Secondary to ‘mx2.simplelists.com’. You can see instructions for how to do this using cPanel in this short video. Note that it can take up to 72 hours for the MX changes to come into effect, depending on your web hosting settings.

Make sure your emails are received

There are some simple steps that you can take to improve the deliverability of your emails. SPF records prevent spammers from sending messages with forged email addresses from your domain. DKIM records help to verify the sender and prove that a message has not been altered in transit.

If you are using your own domain, it is recommended that you add both of these DNS records to your domain. When logged into Simplelists with your multiple list account selected, navigate to ‘General Settings’ and the ‘Domains’ tab. Scroll down to find the details you’ll need to add the DNS records. You can then open your web hosting control panel and complete the required fields for the SPF and DKIM records. You can see instructions for how to do this using cPanel in this short video.

All of these instructions can be viewed in two short videos on a previous post on our blog.

Email archives

Archives are an easy way to keep a record of all emails that have been sent to your list. This can be very useful for groups that use Simplelists for private group discussion as new members can quickly become familiar with topics that have previously been covered. Everything that has been discussed can be seen and reviewed, like minutes of a meeting, and revisiting old topics can be streamlined by referencing the previous messages. In this short post, we tell you how to set up and personalise your email archive in Simplelists.

Group emails archives

Enable the archive

To enable email archives, simply log in, go to ‘Archive Settings’ (in the left-hand menu) and select ‘Enable archives’. You can also choose to show or hide email addresses, make archives private, or protect them with a password. When you have changed the settings, click ‘update’ to save your choices.

View the archive

To view your archive, simply go to the web address shown at the top of the ‘Archive Settings’ page. When you click on this link, you will see that each month’s emails can be viewed by date or by thread. Click on the ‘by date’ or ‘by thread’ links in the right-hand column to show the view you prefer. You can then browse to find emails that have been sent.

Personalise the archive

It is also possible to personalise your archives page by using your own logo instead of the Simplelists logo. Click on ‘General Settings’ in the left-hand menu and add the web address of the image in the ‘Custom image’ box. You can also learn more about personalising your landing pages and other Simplelists features in a previous post.

That’s all there is to setting up your email archive. Simple! You can view also these instructions in a short video in a previous post on our blog.

Daily digest summary emails

A daily digest summary is an email containing a compilation of new emails sent by members of a list. This can be a handy function to avoid clogging up members’ inboxes, reducing the number of emails they have to scan each day. To receive an email digest, members will need to opt to receive it. In this short post, we explain how to set up daily digest summaries with Simplelists.

Daily digest summary email

Pros and cons of email digests

Daily digest summaries can be useful for busy lists. Instead of receiving emails when they are posted, Simplelists list members can receive one email every 24 hours. This prevents members becoming inundated with emails when discussions are active and allows them to pick and choose which email discussions are more important for them to read, at a time that suits them.

It can sometimes be tricky to ensure optimum formatting of digest emails, when the original emails are pulled automatically into the digest. The digest needs to be appealing to read and easy to navigate. It can also be a challenge to decide which information should be included in the digest. Too much or too little information may have the same effect as being inundated with individual emails – members may simply delete it.

An easy-to-digest digest

To make sure digests are accessible and appealing to Simplelists list members, most formatting is stripped from the emails, in order to create a clean, easy to follow summary. A link is included for each message, which allows members to reply back to the list. If archives are enabled, links to attachments and the original emails are contained in the digest.

Enabling digest summaries

Enabling daily digest summaries is very easy. Log in and navigate to list members in the left hand menu. In the Address Book, you can see which members receive summaries and which don’t – a cross or a tick will appear next to their name in the ‘Digest format’ column. To enable daily digest summaries for specific members, edit their details by ticking the checkbox next to their name and selecting ‘Edit’. On the Edit Members screen, you can then check the ‘Digest’ box and then ‘Update’ to ensure that they receive it (a green tick should now show next to their name when you return to the Address Book).

When adding members to your list in bulk, you can set all members to receive digest summaries. Click on ‘Add many’ in the Address Book and then add your members’ details. Before clicking ‘Add Addresses’, make sure you have checked the ‘Set added members to receive daily digest email’ box on the left.

You can watch a demo of enabling daily digest summary emails in this short video.