Getting Started with SparkPost Email Delivery Service and Dada Mail

SparkPost is a new Email Delivery Service. In this post, I’ll go over how to set up Dada Mail to utilize it. Using a third party email delivery service is a GREAT way to cost effectively support large mailing lists, without having to chose a different, and perhaps more costly website hosting account just to bump up your hourly email limitations. Instead, keep your current hosting setup for your website (and your Dada Mail!), but get more horsepower  in the email sending department by using a third party email sending service. We have a list of various third party email delivery services that we curate here. One advantage SparkPost has over Amazon SES is a much easier setup.

Before we get started, you may want to make sure you can connection to the outgoing SMTP server using either port 2525 or port 587. For example, my shared hosting account on Bluehost does NOT have these ports open. For Bluehost, I would have purchase a dedicated IP address to be able to use port 2525. Your own hosting account may be set up differently – double check what you’re able to do with your webhost.

Ok! Here we go:

Continue reading…


Easily Use Dada Mail with Google Analytics Campaign Tracking

Dada Mail v10.7.0 comes with new options in the Send a Message, and Send a Webpage screens, to help you easily create special query parameters that can then be understood by using Google Analytics. with them,  you can then keep track of visitors that originate from your mass mailings.

In this blog post, I’m going to assume you’re familiar with Google Analytics, and using its UTM query parameters to create custom campaigns. But, if you’re not, check out the  Google Analytics site, the docs on Custom Campaigns, the docs on Best Practices for Custom Campaigns, as well as Google’s own URL builder.

So, let’s get to it! We’ll need version 10.7.0 of Dada Mail to have this feature available, so if you haven’t already, install or upgrade to at least  v10.7.0.

First, log into your list control panel, and make sure you’re on the Send a Message screen. Find and click the tab labeled, Options.

Within that tab, click the tab labeled, Analytics:

This will reveal all the options for transforming the links in your message to work with Google Analytics and its Custom Campaigns:

Add UTM parameters to links with the following domains:

Check this option to enable the feature itself. When it’s disabled (which is the default), none of the links in your message will be touched.

Dada Mail can add the custom UTM parameters to every link in your message, or only to links that go to specific domains. If you leave the textbox underneath this option blank, all links will have custom UTM parameters added to them.

But, if you would like to only target specific domains, just list them in the textbox – separate each domain with a space:

In the example above, I’ve enabled adding the UTM parameters, and I’ve listed two domains to add them to, dadamailproject.com and, dadademo.com. Don’t list these domains with, “http://” or, “https://” – just the domain itself.

The rest of the options available are the actual UTM parameters you can set. There are five:

For a full description of what each of these for, see the docs I’ve linked above – start with this one which explains the custom parameters. For your convenience, we’ve set defaults for Campaign Source to the app’s name and Campaign Medium to email, so that right off the bat, any outgoing links you have you’ll know are coming from Pro Dada’s email messages!

Campaign Term is an interesting one, as we treat it a bit special than the others. You may set a default for ALL links in the textbox provided, but Dada Mail will also do its best to try to find the text associated with the actual link click.

For example, if in the source of your message, you have the following:

<a href="http://dadamailproject.com">Dada Mail Mailing List Manager</a>

Dada Mail will set the Campaign Term to, Dada Mail Mailing List Manager. Then, you’ll know that that specific link was clicked, and not the link you have with the same URL in it, that says:

<a href="http://dadamailproject.com">
    Download and Install Today!
</a>

This will report a Campaign Term of, Download and Install Today! You can then track which links work better in your mass mailings.

In fact, all these parameters can be overridden in two other different ways.

The first is to simply set the parameters yourself. If you use Google’s Campaign URL Builder for example, and use the URL it creates in your message, Dada Mail will observe those parameters, and will not override them. For example, let’s set the Campaign Term to, “Best Mailing List Manager” in the URL Builder:

Here’s the URL it created for me:

http://dadamailproject.com/?utm_source=Pro%20Dada&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Best%20Mailing%20List%20Manager

If I then use this URL like so:

<a href="http://dadamailproject.com/?utm_source=Pro%20Dada&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Best%20Mailing%20List%20Manager>
    Download and Install Today!
</a>

Dada Mail will keep the Campaign Term, Best Mailing List Manager instead of using the text that’s within your anchor tag, Download and Install Today!, or with whatever you set in the Campaign Term in the Analytics Tag. Options!

Finally, you may set any of the UTM parameters using attributes inside the anchor tag itself So, for example, to set the Campaign Term in an attribute, I would use the following attribute: data-utm_term:

<a href="http://dadamailproject.com" data-utm_term="Give+them+the+goods">
    Download and Install Today!
</a>

Now, the Campaign term will be set by Dada Mail to, Give them the goods instead of, Download and Install Today!

Here’s the order of precedence to all this:

  • Any query parameters found in the link itself have the highest precedence.
  • Next, are the dada-utm_* attributes in the anchor tag, itself
  • Then, (for Campaign Term), it’s the actual text found wrapped inside the anchor tag
  • Finally, the parameters you set within the Send a Message/Send a Webpage screen will be used.

And that’s the new support for created the custom UTM parameters to be used in conjunction with platforms like Google Analytics. Give it a try, and let us know how it’s working for you. We’re looking forward on building upon this start of the feature and to add improvements over time!

 


Configuring your Dada Mail install to work over https

Many website owners are moving their site’s configuration from http to https connections.

But, when they do so, they find that their Dada Mail installs seem to become broken: images don’t show up, and no styles are applied. What to do?

Thankfully, the fix is simple: all you’ll need to do is change your Dada Mail’s global configuration from your old http address, to your new https address.

The easiest way to do that is to use the included Dada Mail installer and the easiest way to set up the installer to work is to use the Global Configuration plugin. Hopefully, you can do this before you switch over to https, as everything will work well – but don’t worry, it’s also possible to do this after switching to https. We’ll go through the other way, as well.

Log in a mailing list you’re administrating with Dada Mail.  In the upper menu, go to: Plugins: Global Configuration:

Global Config is a pretty simple plugin, and only presents to you one button to push labeled, Reconfigure Dada Mail/Pro Dada…:

Once pressed, you’ll be returned into the Dada Mail installer, where you can make the chances you’ll need. Of course, the Dada Mail install allows you to make many different global configuration chances, so it’s pretty useful outside our task for today! Be careful though, since you can misconfigure your installation, which you definitely do not want to do.

Once in the installer, we’ll want to look at two configuration variables specifically:

  • Pro Dada Program URL
  •  URL to the Support Files Directory

Simply change these variables from their http version to their https version, click, “Configure Dada Mail/Pro Dada”, finishing the installation processs – and you’re done!

If your website has already been configured to only use https connections, your Dada Mail may be inoperable to a certain extent, until you make this change. You can still visit the installer by doing the work of the Global Config plugin manually:

Login into your site via ssh/FTP/web-based file manager – something that will allow you to make changes to your site’s files/directories, and navigate to where you’ve set up your, “dada” directory:

  • Rename the, “dada/installer-a.bunch.of.letters.and.numbers” directory back to, “dada/installer”
  • Change the file permission of the, “dada/installer/install.cgi” script back to, “755”
  • Visit the “install.cgi” script in your browser

Then, repeat the process above.

And that’s it! You’ve changed your Dada Mail/Pro Dada install from using an http connection to a https connection.

Again, you can use the Global Config plugin to modify many more global configuration variables. Here are the docs on the global configuration variables available. Good luck!


Using Rich Filemanager to Add Images and Attachments in Dada Mail

v10.5.0 of Dada Mail comes with a new file browser/uploader, called Rich Filemanager! This tool allows you to select files from your desktop computer, upload them to the server that Dada Mail is running on, and select the file to add as an inline image or as a file attachment for your mass mailing. Once the file has been uploaded, you may use it again for another mass mailing.

Continue reading…


Dada Mail v10.5.0 Beta 1 Released: Rich File Manager Support!

10.5.0 Beta 1 is out! Give it a try, and give back and feedback you may have:

Download and Install (Pro Dada version is available, too)

http://dadamailproject.com/support/documentation-10_5_0-beta1/install_dada_mail.pod.html

Changes:

http://dadamailproject.com/support/documentation-10_5_0-beta1/changes_10_x.pod.html#Beta

Rich Filemanager Support

Dada Mail has come shipped with multiple file managers: KCFinder, and Core5 Filemanger. We’re adding a new filemanager called, Rich Filemanager (https://github.com/servocoder/RichFilemanager) which will be set as the default.

Rich Filemanager is an update of Core 5 Filemanager, which has shown a slowdown of development and is listed as, “deprecated” by its developer.

Rich Filemanager comes with some pretty great features and enhancments over Core 5 Filemanager:

  • Drag-and-drop support
  • Clipboard feature: copy, cut, paste, clear
  • Multiple & chunked uploads support – based on jQuery-File-Upload
  • New design of multiple upload window; New upload controls for each previewed file (start, abort, resume, delete, etc.)
  • Online text / code editor – based on codeMirror
  • Online PDF & OpenOffice documents viewer – based on viewerJS
  • Online MS Office documents viewer – based on Google Docs Viewer
  • Extended list of previewed file types via ViewerJS

and more.

We are not yet removing support either of the two current file managers, so if you’re happy with them, keep using them!


Demo: Easily Import and Export Subscribers in a Dada Mail Mailing List

We get asked quite a bit about if it’s possible to import an already existing mailing list into Dada Mail, as well as if it’s possible to export a mailing list out. The answer to both of these questions is a resounding, yes! The above screen cast should demo both of these abilities quite nicely. (Sorry for the cracklin’ mic.!)

Some notes on importing to make things even easier:

If you’re importing a mailing list used for things like public announcements and marketing, you’ll need to make sure that either the mailing list only has already confirmed subscribers (like if you’re moving from a past system, to Dada Mail), or that you’re actually importing the addresses to invite them to your mailing list, rather than subscribing them outright. This is a very importing point when running a public mailing list: only have confirmed subscribers!

Log in with your Dada Mail Root Password. This will give you privileges to do the mass import by default.

If you want to give privileges to someone that logs in with the List Password, change the list settings to allow this:

  • Go to, Mailing List: Options.
  • Check, Allow subscriptions in the List Control Panel, without confirmation
  • Uncheck, Only allow when logged in with the Pro Dada Root Password

Don’t go over import limit set! By default, Dada Mail only allows 5,000 subscribers to be imported at once. This is to prevent the app from trying to chew through too much data at one time, and failing. If you would like raise/eliminate this limitation that can also be done in the List Control Panel:

  • Go to: Membership: Options
  • To remove the limit, uncheck, Limit the number of addresses processed to:
  • To change the limit, select a new value in the popup menu below this option

We do have an older screencast going into more detail on how to import a mailing list into Dada Mail – much of what’s available now is the same, athough the UI has been redesigned since this screen cast has been made:


Add Images To Your Newsletter Messages in Dada Mail

New to Dada Mail v10.4.0 is the ability to upload images right into the Rich Text Editor you’ll find in the Send a Message screen just by either copying and pasting the image from a graphics program, or just dragging and dropping an image from your computer’s file manger. Check out the above screencast to see how.

These two new methods make things a whole lot easier to add images quickly, without having to use one of the web file manager that are also bundled with Dada Mail. These methods also work in adding documents to your message too – Say you have a PDF document you’d like to upload and link into your message. Just drag and drop the document itself: the file will be uploaded and a link will be automatically created.

Below, we’ll guide you through the individual steps on how to do this yourself, and go into how to work with the other method of uploading/selecting/inserting an image: one of the bundled file manager. All these techniques are available in v10.4.0 – we didn’t remove the file managers, to make you rely on the copy/paste or drag + drop methods, so don’t worry if those are already deeply seated in your own workflows.

Continue reading…


Use Amazon SES with Dada Mail for Inexpensive and Very Effective Email Marketing


Sending using Amazon SES for huge daily quotas, and fast delivery!

Dada Mail loves Amazon SES! Coupled with Dada Mail, Amazon’s Simple Email Service gives you the horsepower you need, and the deliverability you desire at a price point that rivals any mailing list service, while also keep your freedom to switch to perhaps a better option in the future, without having to move to an entirely new system.

Here’s some things to keep in mind when thinking about using Amazon SES with Dada Mail:

There’s no monthly fee for Amazon SES: it’s pay as you go! This is an enormous amount of flexibility, as it doesn’t bound you to an inflexible monthly service plan. Want to send 5 mass mailing campaigns one month, and NONE the next? You won’t be charged extra for going over your service plan on the first month, and you won’t waste money on not using the service plan, the next.  This is a huge cost saving source, that can be hidden from you when looking at monthly plans.

Amazon SES is very inexpensive: $0.10 per 1,000 individual messages you send. Sending out to a mailing list of $10,000 would cost just one dollar.

Deliverability is awesome, even on shared hosting accounts. Shared hosting accounts are a cheap and easy way to host your own website, and it’s also an easy way to self-host your own copy of Dada Mail. But, sometimes email sending falls a little flat, for two reasons. The first is that you probably have some sort of hourly email limitation between (say) 150 and 750 messages you can send an hour. That may be fine for individual email accounts sending one message to one recipient as a time, but it leaves much to be desired, when you start growing your mailing list from hundreds to thousands of addresses.

Using Amazon SES, you can instead take advantage of SES’s huge daily sending quotas (in the tens of thousands), and fast sending times to really supercharge your mailing list. Even if you have the cheapest Bluehost/cPanel-based shared hosting account, you can expect mass mailing times to be around 10,000 messages an hour. If you have a better upstream connection, Amazon SES will start you at a high limit of, 50,000+ messages that can be theoretically sent out!

If you don’t like, you can switch to a different service, and still use your own Dada Mail as before: Maybe SES isn’t for you? You can switch back to just using your own mail server easily, without having to shop for a new mailing list manager or service. Dada Mail supports sending via your local mail, SMTP, and Amazon SES.

We provide setting up Amazon SES as part of our installation services – visit our installation request page and see all the options we provide.

If you’d like to set up Amazon SES yourself, our documentation for SES provides walkthroughs on setting up Dada Mail to use either the Amazon SES API or SMTP gateway.


Are My Mass Mailings Being Received? Part #1: Sending Errors and the Tracker plugin

I work with a whole lot of different clients in making sure their mass mailings are going out successfully. One of the pressing issues they’re always worried about is: did my message actually get sent out?

Although we can’t ultimately control where a message will be delivered when it finds itself into a mail client,  we can do our best to make sure that things are working as best as possible on our end. I’m going to talk about ways to verify that sending is working out correctly, using the Tracker plugin that comes with Dada Mail.

Sending Errors

Sending errors on your side can happen for a couple of reasons. One reason is that the authentication of your mail server/service has changed, and what has been saved in your mailing list settings is now incorrect.

Enter the Tracker plugin: among many other jobs, it does keep track of sending errors. I’ll demonstrate this with a test mailing list with a just few subscribers. I’ll set up my sending options to use an SMTP server that I know doesn’t exist: I’ve set my SMTP server to, inconceivable! which… isn’t even a valid name for an SMTP server!

This will all but guarantee I’ll get sending errors on my end:

To confirm we’ve totally botched up our sending options, we can try them out by clicking the button labeled, Save, Then Test, which will open up a modal window showing the results of testing our sending options:

As expected, Dada Mail is having problems connecting to this non-existent SMTP server. So, it should be no surprise that when we send a mass mailing, we’ll also have problems.

So, let’s do just that!

I’m going to send a mass mailing out to a subscription list with just three addresses, and see what the Tracker plugin tells me.

While I wait for my mass mailing to finishing, one strange thing that may be tip me off that there’s a problem is how slow my  mass mailing seems to be taking. Hmm! I wonder what could be going on? If I check my error logs using the Log Viewer plugin, I see lines in the log that look similar to this,

[Mon Jan 30 21:27:09 2017] mail.cgi: [j] Mass Mailing:20170130211832.79094872_at_dadamailproject.com Cannot send to, address: dadamailest+1@gmail.com after 2 x 3 tries, skipping and logging address. at DADA/Mail/Send.pm line 1951.

Even if Dada Mail has trouble sending out to an address, it does try re-sending the same message out a few times, just in case the first attempt and error was a fluke. If it’s not successful, it’ll wait a brief period of time before trying again.

This slowdown is not by accident: many mass mailing sending problems are because the mass mailing options are set to send out messages at too fast of a rate, which leads you to go over your hourly email quota set up for your account. Check your host/email service to see if you fall under such a restriction. Most shared hosts have some sort of hourly email restriction.

Once my mass mailing completed, I checked the Tracker plugin, and found this:

Yup: a 100% failure rate of sending out to my mailing list. D’oh!

This type of evidence:

the test in the sending options failing

the mass mailing taking longer than I would have anticipated

the specific error logs about sending problems

the Tracker plugin reporting a 100% sending error rate

Makes me believe that there’s a problem on MY side! In this case, it’s my SMTP server set up incorrectly, and not something else, like my email server being black listed, or my messages going to a junk folder. This is a problem I can easily fix on my side (use the right SMTP credentials!) and not something I’ll need to investigate further, until I fixed this problem

 


Use Dada Mail to create a mass mailing from a blog feed, then send it on a recurring schedule

In Dada Mail v10.3.0, the ability to mass mail the content of a blog’s feed was added. We’re going to go over the steps on how to send thtis type of message, then how to send out the mass mailing on a recurring schedule that will be sent whenever new content in the feed is available. That way, we’ll be able to automatically send out new mass mailings in the future without any additional work, helping your users be updated when new blog entries are available to be viewed.

For this walk-through, I’ll be using the blog of The Long Ranger (http://longranger.justinsimoni.com/), an outdoor mountain athlete.

In Dada Mail’s list control panel, go to Mass Mailing: Send a Webpage. In the HTML Version tab,  select the radio button, Grab content from an RSS/Atom feed. The options for this selection will be shown, and the first textbox presented is where you plug in the URL of your feed. In my case it’s, http://longranger.justinsimoni.com/feed/

For the other options, I’m going to select, Use Just the Summary, (rather than, Use Full Content) and I’m setting, Maximum number of entries to include: to, 3.

I’m also going to add some HTML to be shown before the entries are listed,

<h1>How-do, partners,</h1> 

<p>Here are the latest stories I've written:</p>

and after:

<h2>See you on the trails,</h2>

Here’s how that all looks,

And when I preview everything,

Perfect! I can see that the feed is being successfully fetched, and placed into my message!

I could stop here and be satisfied about sending out this single message, but let’s now set it on a recurring schedule. On the top button bar, click, Save As: Schedule. A draft of the message will be saved, and the screen itself will refresh. New scheduling options will be shown at the top of the screen.

Check, Activate, and select, Recurring. I want this to send only once a week on Monday, at 6:00am, and only when there’s fresh content:

If there are no new entries, no message will be sent out. If there’s only one new entry, only that one entry will be sent out. That way, I won’t send out content I’ve already sent out before. Who wants to get the same message, twice?

All I have to do now is click the, Save Schedule button – and I’m done! Here’s what it all looks like when sent:

Some flourishes you may notice: the Subject, The Latest Wild Adventures Since January 2nd, 2017 is dynamic! It will change based on when the message is sent. This is accomplished by using some date-related template tags. Here’s what those look like:

The Latest Wild Adventures Since <!-- tmpl_var date.named_month --> <!-- tmpl_var date.nth_day -->, <!-- tmpl_var date.year -->

I’m also using an email theme that ships with Dada Mail called, Salmon Are Running. You can switch which theme your mailing list uses in, Appearance: Email Themes. Finally, I’ve set an image to be shown on the top banner of my email messages. You can set your own image under, Mailing List: List Information; look for the option labeled, Logo Image URL.