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Email - Overview of Emailing & Texting Communications

CAA Product Help

(HELP ?) Circles provide narratives on Training, Explanations, and Hints. These can be related to the overall screen, or to specific items on the screen.

You came to this (HELP ?) Circle narrative when you clicked the (COMPREHENSIVE HELP ?) Circle narrative on the "EMAIL & TEXTING" Screen.

General Information

MemberLink® uses its own "email engine" to send email and text messages. It appears to recipient email providers that each message was sent one at a time, thus reducing the chances that your message will be viewed as "spam" and that your church will become blocked as a "spammer".

Also, it will appear to each recipient that they were the only one to get the message" they do not see the other recipients and cannot see the other email addresses. Your church email distribution lists will be kept private.

** Note: The default message format is "Plain Text", but you can imbed hyperlinks or switch to a HTML format. See a further explanation of the message style below.

About: Distribution Lists

** Administrator Module Users: When you arrive at the "EMAIL & TEXTING" Screen, all "active" contact records with a valid Email Address in your database will be shown in the "WHO GETS THIS EMAIL?" Window. Contacts that do not have an Email Address will not be shown.

By default, all the names in the "WHO GETS THIS EMAIL?" Window will be checked. That means the system will be ready to send your message to all contact records shown in this window.

You can select who will receive the message in three ways:

1) Use the "WHO GETS THIS EMAIL?" Window and check the names of those to receive it, or uncheck the names of those who should not receive it.

2) Use the "CHOOSE GROUP(S) TO SEND EMAIL" Window. Select a group (or groups) from the list of choices, by turning on the Checkboxes. Then click the [SELECT GROUPS] Button. This will place the members with email addresses from the selected group(s) into the "WHO GETS THIS EMAIL?" Window. You can send to all of them, or uncheck the ones in that group you do not want to receive your message.

3) Use the "SEARCH & SELECT" Screen option. Click the "SEARCH & SELECT" Hyperlink in the Navigation Panel and use the "Search & Select" Function to dynamically build a distribution list for this message. The contact records you select via the "Search & Select" Function will be placed into the "WHO GETS THIS EMAIL?" Window. You can send to all of them, or uncheck the ones in that group you do not want to receive your message.

** Member Portal Module Users: You can only select recipients by choosing the groups you have been authorized to contact. Your MemberLink Administrator may not have given you permission levels allowing you to email or text ALL the members, guests, or prospects.

About: Email vs Texting

Under the Information Bar is a toggle button. It will be labeled as the [SWITCH TO TEXT MESSAGING] Button when your message is ready for emailing. However, if you want to "text" this list of people instead of emailing them, click this [SWITCH TO TEXT MESSAGING] Button and now the system will be ready to text the message. The button label will change to [SWITCH TO EMAILING] Button signifying you are in texting mode but can switch back to emailing mode at any time.

** Note: When emailing, only the contact records containing email addresses will appear in the "WHO GETS THIS EMAIL?" Window. Likewise, when texting, only the contact records that have a carrier selection and a cell phone number will appear in the window. Also, if the person has selected the option NOT to receive text messages, they will not appear here.

** Note: The "Cell Phone Carrier" has to be properly selected on the person's "PROFILE" Screen so that the system knows what control codes to use for the recipient's cell phone provider.

About: Body of Message

First, there is a box for "Your Email Address". You can enter any address you want, but please review the (HELP ?) Circle narrative for this specific item for more detailed information.

Then enter the Subject Line and the Message in the boxes provided. As you type the message, you will see the character count right under the Message box. If the message will be sent via text, it will likely need to be limited to 140 characters or 280 characters depending on your MemberLink setting in the Configuration file.

** Note: The Message box defaults to a "Plain Text" entry area - it is not an HTML-style entry box. You cannot change the font style or size, or paste into it any photos or graphics. This restriction helps to keep your message from appearing as spam.

If you type in URLs to websites, they will appear to you as plain text only. However, when the message is sent, the system will convert them into imbedded hyperlinks for the recipient. If you want to use different fonts and graphics to spruce up your message, we suggest one of these two approaches:

- Create a separate document (Word or PDF, for example) and attach it. Then send the fancy attachment with a simple plain text message asking the recipient to view the attachment for information or details.

- Use the [SWITCH TO HTML] Button to switch from "Plain Text" format to "HTML" format for the Message box. When you click this button, an HTML widget will appear. You will be able to select a font, a font size, font or background color, insert a graphic or hyperlink, etc. If you choose to use the HTML feature, the size of the transmitted message can grow and slow down the delivery. It can also increase the likelihood that spam filters may block your message.

About: Saving & Restoring Drafts

At any time in the process of creating a message, you can click on the [SAVE DRAFT] Button to save your work. You can leave the Email & Texting function and come back at a later time, and retrieve the partial message with the [RESTORE DRAFT] Button.

When you perform the "Restore Draft" Function, you will see all the drafts you have saved previously but have not yet deleted. Click the "Radio Button" next to the one you want to retrieve (restore) and then click the [SELECT DRAFT] Button. The screen will return to where you left off when you saved it. The draft will even have the distribution list you had selected prior to saving it.

To "Delete Saved Drafts", click the [RESTORE DRAFT] Button. Then use the "Radio Button" next to the draft you want to delete, and click the [DELETE DRAFT] Button. That draft will be deleted, but any other saved drafts will still be there to use later.

About: Including Surveys

You can attach a Questionnaire (or "survey") to your message. You will see a Checkbox labeled, "Do you want your recipients to answer a questionnaire?" If you want to send a survey, turn on the Checkbox. Later when you try to send the message, you will be prompted to use a drop-down list and select the Questionnaire name you want to send to them. Pick the questionnaire and click the [SEND USING THIS SURVEY] Button to attach the questionnaire; or click the [SEND WITHOUT USING A SURVEY] Button to send without attaching a questionnaire.

The system will imbed a hyperlink in your email message, and the recipients can click the link, answer the survey questions, and "submit" their survey. They can accomplish all of that from within your email message without having to login to the system themselves.

About: Including Attachments

You can also attach a file such as a Word or Excel document, a PowerPoint slide show, a PDF, a photo, etc. To ensure rapid delivery of the messages, the system stores these attachments and imbeds in the message a hyperlink to them. The recipient receives the simple, "Plain Text" message and then clicks the hyperlink inside the message to download the attachment.

About: Send vs Schedule

You can "Schedule" the message to be sent out on a specific date and time. For example, you could build a distribution list and message on Monday, and schedule the system to send it out on Friday morning at 10:00 AM. When Friday arrives, the system will deliver the message at 10:00 AM to all the recipients.

To send the message immediately, click the [SEND EMAIL NOW] Button.

To schedule an email for sending later, click the [SCHEDULE SENDING] Button. Use the handy utility when it appears to pick a year, month, day, and time of day for sending later.

About: Email Delivery

As each email or text message is sent, they go out one at a time so that you are not "blocked" as a spammer. After all the messages have gone out, you will see a status line that reads: "Email sent successfully to" and the person's email address. Each person who received the message will be listed in that status line.

You can select another group, and resend the message to the new group without having to re-type it. When switching between groups, the subject and message text are preserved.

However, if you use the "Search & Select" Function to build a distribution list (Administrator Module Users only), any previous subject and message will be blanked out. Selecting groups remains within the email function, but "Search & Select" goes outside the email function to a different function and the message cannot be preserved. If you are going to use "Search & Select" to build the distribution list, do the selection and build the list BEFORE you enter the subject and message text. If you want to send the same message to more than one audience, and each audience list is going to be derived using the "Search & Select" Function, just "copy" the message text before the first SEND and then after the next "Search & Select" Function, you can "paste" the message text instead of re-typing it.

About: Viewing Previously Sent Messages

Administrator Module Users: There is a "SENT HISTORY" Hyperlink in the Navigation Panel that allows you to look at the emails that were previously sent. You can read the text of the message and see the distribution list as well as the date it was sent.

** Member Portal Module Users: The option of reviewing previously sent messages is not available on the Member Portal.

"CAA Product Help" from CAA Ministries at or 404-551-4230