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.

Benefits of email discussion lists

 

We provide a group email manager that allows you to send emails to a group of people using one email address. We think using a group email list is a good idea for a range of reasons, including the ability to have great private discussions that are delivered to group members effectively in a manner customised to match to the preferences of each person receiving messages. Many organisations like to foster community and information sharing using email discussion lists – while discussions are usually straightforward when everyone is in the room, things get more complex when everyone can’t be in one place at one time. In this post, we explain how an email discussion list (or ‘listserv’ works) and what benefits it offers to its members.

group email manager

How it works

People subscribe to a discussion list (normally online – see how to add a subscribe form to your website) or via email. Any subscriber can then post to the list by simply emailing a specific, automated address. Permissions can be set so that only certain people can post to the address, if that is most suitable, or to ensure that all messages are held for approval (moderation by an administrator) before being distributed to the list. A list manager (one or more people) is normally in charge of the list and tends to be knowledgeable of the topic that the list discussion covers.

Personalising the process

Subscribers can also personalise their experience with the list – perhaps a format preference (plain text or HTML), how often they receive emails and whether they receive a digest summary of the latest posts (rather than receiving them all individually as separate emails). It is also possible to customise how the email looks, incorporating a company logo or pointing users to a bespoke landing page that is part of your own website.

Ensuring the message is delivered

It is well-known that most Internet Service Providers place limits on the number of email addresses that you can send an email to. This means there may be a cap on the amount of data that you can send in one go. People can also report emails as spam, even if they signed up to the list, and this can affect deliverability. A group email manager can manage your spam reporting and make sure that your emails are delivered.

Who else benefits?

Email discussion groups can reach a range of people who  might not otherwise have access to an online discussion. Anyone who can send an email can take part and many people prefer receiving an email in their inbox to visiting a website to search for updates. Some research has found that over half of internet users subscribe to at least one email list, which is a lot more than those who subscribe to social media platforms. Emails are also preferable for people who have limited access to the internet, or slow internet connections. The discussion doesn’t rely on real-time participation and emails can be downloaded, read and replied to while offline.

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.

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.

Say no to ‘no-reply’ email addresses

It is becoming more widely accepted that ‘no-reply’ email addresses can be harmful to an email campaign. The ‘no-reply’ email address effectively stops, or tries to put people off from, replying to your emails. While this may help to ensure that your inbox doesn’t become cluttered, it gives a negative message to readers – in effect, you don’t want to hear back from them. This probably isn’t good for business. If you still use ‘no-reply’ email addresses in your business/email marketing communications, this post contains some reasons why you might want to stop.

 No reply email

Email deliverability will be affected

Many email services and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) detect the response of an email’s recipient to gauge whether the email is legitimate or not. Whether a recipient opens, clicks, replies, unsubscribes, forwards or deletes the message determines whether the message is considered as ‘good’ or as ‘spam’. Gmail, for example, ranks the importance of an email based on the recipient’s action – if the recipient replies, Gmail is more likely to class the email as ‘important’. If your recipient can’t reply, your emails are likely to end up in the Spam/Junk folders (read more about keeping your emails out of spam in an earlier post).

Some people also don’t look for the (sometimes very small) unsubscribe link, instead hitting ‘reply’ to request they be unsubscribed from the mailing list. If they then learn that replying is not possible (either because the reply email starts with ‘no-reply’ or similar, or their email is returned undelivered), they are then likely to click ‘report spam’. You can read more about spam management and delivery rates in one of our other posts.

Missed chance to be added to contact lists

One way to ensure that your email reaches the recipient’s inbox is if your email address has been added to their contact list (this means it has been ‘whitelisted’). Most ISPs do not allow users to add ‘no-reply’ emails to their address books. If they are unable to reply to your emails, they are also unlikely to add you manually. Email providers like Gmail and Yahoo automatically add an email address to a contact list if the user sends a message to it so it makes sense that recipients should be able to respond.

Reduced conversion rate

In the age of social media and online identities/persona, receiving communications from a ‘machine/robot’ means that the sender of an email has no personal touch. People probably still like to feel that there is a real person sending the email to them! With a ‘no-reply’ email, it is much less likely that the recipient will take action on what is in the email. Using an address like ‘customer-services’ or a real name is likely to be much more effective when encouraging customers to respond to a call to action. Similarly, make sure the name that appears in the recipient’s inbox shows your brand clearly (e.g. ‘Simplelists Account Verification’ rather than just ‘Account Verification’).

Makes it harder to keep your email list up to date

Some people also hit ‘reply’ to update their details with you. A real email address will allow you to find valuable information in the replies that will ensure that your contact list is kept up-to-date. Excluding incorrect email addresses from your mailing list will also help your deliverability rates and prevent your messages from being sent to spam.

Letting others manage your Simplelists account

It is possible to allow other people to manage your Simplelists account. This useful feature enables you to delegate management of your email lists, share the workload and save time. You can set permissions for each new user and you don’t have to give all users full control over your account. For example, a user can be allowed to approve messages and manage list members, but prevented from changing account settings. The ability to add delegated users means you’ll never need to share login details, which helps keep your account secure. New users can be added at any time, enabling easy expansion of your email management system as your organisation or business grows. If you’re making use of the Simplelists API, you can also add API users to your account. They can be added with either ‘read only’ or ‘full’ permissions.

Add users to account

Adding a delegated user

To add a new user, simply log in to your Simplelists account area and click on your username in the top right hand corner. A drop-down menu with a list of options will appear. Select ‘Manage Users’. On the Manage users screen, select ‘Add a delegated user’ and add a name and email address. It is important to use the correct email address as confirmation will automatically be sent to this address. You can edit the user permissions at this stage, by checking the relevant boxes. You can choose from one or more of:

  • Account administrator (allowed to add other users)
  • Allow user to manage list members
  • Allow user to approve messages
  • Allow user to manage settings

Then, click ‘Create user’ to complete the process. You will see the new user on the ‘Manage users’ page.

Adding an API user

To add an API, return to the ‘Manage users’ page (select from the drop-down menu by clicking on your username at the top right of the screen). This time, select ‘Add an API user’. Enter the username and password. You can leave the password box empty to leave this unchanged. Then, select whether the user is to have ‘read’ or ‘write’ permissions (check the box ‘user has write permissions’ if you wish the user to be able to change data in your account – leave it unticked for read only access). Select ‘Create user’. The API user will then appear in the list of users on the ‘Manage users’ screen.

That’s all there is to adding new users to your account. Simple!

You can watch these instructions in a short video in this post on our blog. The video also includes some screenshots to take you through the process.

For additional support, visit the support page on our website.

Using email aliases

Email addresses can be difficult to remember, resulting in mistakes when people send you an email. An alias can be used to make a straightforward replacement for a long or hard-to-remember address. An alias can also be used to forward messages sent to the alias on to another specified email address or group of addresses.

Email aliases

In simplelists, it is easy to use aliases as an effective way of grouping lists together. They can be a big time saver if you want to send a message to several lists. Here’s how to do it.

Send to more than one list

In practice, you simply send the message to the alias’ email address and it is sent to all the lists. You can also include normal email addresses within an alias – the message will be sent to them too.

Step-by-step

Creating an alias is easy. Login and select a multiple list account. Navigate to the aliases page and select ‘Click here to add a new alias’.

aliases_blog_1

Choose an email address for the alias. Note that, by default, the email address ends in your simplelists domain. Enter the email address(es) of the lists you want the alias to be forwarded to. In the screenshot below, we have added three lists: customers, employees and managers. A normal email address is also included. Click ‘Update’ to complete the process.

aliases_blog_2

Editing an alias

You can edit the alias details by selecting the one you wish to edit on the ‘aliases’ page under ‘Your current aliases’.

Some things to be aware of

It is important to know that, when using an email alias, it can sometimes be the case that it is harder for email recipients to know where the email has come from, especially if they have not received an email from the alias address previously. You should therefore make sure that it is still clear who the sender is and how they can ‘opt-out’ of receiving similar messages in the future, if they wish (read our earlier posts on good email etiquette and what information you can include in the email footer).

If the recipient has not received an email from the alias address before, it is also important to be aware that spam filters may be more sensitive to these emails than those sent to your familiar member list address(es). Another one of our posts on making sure your emails don’t get sent to the spam folder will help to avoid this happening.

These minor issues aside, it is also interesting to know that you can use an alias to reduce the chances of your data being compromised. By using a hard-to-guess alias as a password recovery address for your many online accounts, it can be more difficult for hackers to compromise your data.