Self-Enabling Messages Guide

Finalsite is launching an all-new bulk email tool, Messages! Schools that use Composer and eNotify will be able to use this new module for no additional charge.

On December 15, 2018, schools with Composer, eNotify and Resources enabled will be able to visit the Messages module in the list of modules to enable it and get started! Note: This option will only be available to “super admins” at your school.

Switching to a new email tool mid-year might sound like a daunting proposition, so we created this guide to help ease the transition.

Frequently asked questions

Are there any prerequisites?

Yes! Your school must use Composer AND have the Resources module enabled. Click here for more info on enabling the Resources module.

Is Finalsite going to turn off eNotify?!

Don’t worry, eNotify IS NOT GOING AWAY! Schools can move to Messages in their own time frame, when they are ready. 

Is it worth relearning a whole new system?

In terms of learning curve, Messages uses the same great editor as eNotify, so it will feel familiar to your users. We’ve retained other well-used features, but presented them in a more visually appealing, intuitive manner. Additionally, Messages has lots of fantastic new features that eNotify does NOT, including an integration with the new Resources module. Check out our recent blog post, “10 Cool Things You Can Do With Messages That You Couldn’t Do With eNotify.”

I have a lot of templates built in eNotify -- will I have to rebuild those?

Unfortunately, yes. But we have reasons:

  • The new Messages module will use Resources as the file system, instead of the file system that is currently used in eNotify.
  • The Posts dynamic elements will have additional features such as the ability to pull posts from Boards AND Collections, as well as to filter posts by tag and to wrap text around the thumbnail image.
  • Athletics Manager is getting its own dynamic element, so schools have greater ability to format and style athletic events.
  • We will end support for News Manager dynamic content.
  • Schools will now be able to apply permissions to templates, limiting which templates your Messages users can choose from.

Given the difference between the two modules, a migrated template would likely require quite a bit of review. We recently hosted a Messages event in which we challenged one of our staff members to rebuild a complex template he had never seen before, and he was able to do so in just 15 minutes! 

Do I need to rebuild mailing lists?

More tough questions! For now, yes, although Finalsite’s development team is currently working on a utility to allow site admins to migrate eNotify mailing lists to Messages. This will allow schools to maintain list unsubscribes, which may be particularly important for recipients who are not a part of the immediate school community, such as alumni. We expect to release this feature in January 2019.

However, switching to a new module might be a good time for schools to rethink how they’ve created mailing lists. Mailing lists should be topic based, and not based on who a user is (e.g., parents of students in grade 5). Users unsubscribe from mailing lists. If schools send a message to parents that they would prefer not to receive, it may cause parents to unsubscribe from the list, preventing them from receiving future emails. Instead of an “All Parents” list, consider creating lists that clearly define the type of communication users can expect to receive: All School Newsletter, Upper School athletics updates, News from the Arts and Music Dept.

What are Operational and Marketing emails?

One of the new features schools will notice in Messages is the email types “Operational” and “Marketing.” Operational emails are “required to fulfill a contract” and will ignore global unsubscribes, and will also not contain an unsubscribe link. Critical emails that all parents MUST see would qualify as “operational,” such as a deadline for re-enrollment or a school closing. Newsletters -- while they may contain very important information -- or fundraising pleas are considered “marketing” emails, and schools MUST legally respect users’ rights not to receive such email should they so choose.

Once I start using Messages, can I still use eNotify?

The short answer is: yes. The slightly longer answer is: That is not a good long-term solution. It is perfectly fine to get your feet wet with Messages and send out emails to a few groups of people to get a feel for how it all works. The main reason not to use both modules long-term (especially with overlapping mailing lists) is to ensure you’re respecting your recipients’ wishes. If a school sends a newsletter to a mailing list in eNotify, and a user unsubscribes, and later the school sends a newsletter to a similar mailing list in Messages, that eNotify unsubscribe will NOT be respected. Not only does this put the school at risk for being marked a spammer, it also isn’t a respectful way to treat your constituents. Our advice: Test out Messages on a few small groups, and once you’re ready to make the switch, remove access to eNotify for all but a few admins (as perhaps you want a few users to retain access to view historical emails).

Will my users notice any differences?

Yes, some small ones. When you enable Messages, savvy users may notice a new option in their portal menus: Notifications. This is where they'll go to manage their consent preferences and subscriptions for Messages. They can visit that area and change their preference to "Invite Only," which means they'll get an invitation message as soon as you add them to a mailing list. These preferences won't be reflected in eNotify, either. Keep this in mind if you're planning a slow rollout of Messages. Otherwise, the biggest change users may notice is that you can now link them to a custom Unsubscribe page, rather than the generic one required by eNotify.

I’m in the EU -- what about GDPR? Does Messages help with that?

Finalsite made a number of product changes in preparation for GDPR. The timing was such that we were also just beginning work on our new Messages module. The different requirements for sending “marketing” emails for EU citizens helped shape our new user preferences area, which we think will provide a great experience for all users, wherever they reside. Schools want their constituents to read the messages that they send. It can be difficult to compete for your users’ attention. Schools stand a greater chance of success when they send emails with content that users are actually interested in. The Messages user preferences area allows users to indicate how and what they are interested in receiving communications about.

Okay, I want to do it! How do I get started?

  • Assign module permissions.
  • Create a mailing list and assign permissions.
  • Create a template and assign permissions.
  • Write a message and send!
  • Once you’re ready to switch from eNotify, adjust permissions in eNotify to prevent your admins from sending from both modules.

For more detailed information on the new Messages module, visit our Support Help Center > Messages.

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