25 Days of Sitecore EXM!
Today marks the beginning of the first mini-series in the 25 Days of Sitecore EXM. Sending Your First Email is designed to be a short, step by step guide for creating your first Sitecore Email Experience Manager message. Following this 4 part series, we’ll expand more on how to create a custom message template. For now, we’ll focus on the out of the box message templates that come with Sitecore EXM.
Creating an Email Message
Sending a message in the Sitecore Experience Platform 9 Email Experience Manager is actually very simple to do as a marketer. That seems like a really simple statement, but the reality is as long as the delivery service configuration, as described in yesterday’s post, is set correctly, there should be no issue creating and dispatching emails in EXM.
To begin, open up the Email Experience Manager application from the Sitecore Launch pad. Once there, click on the large blue “Create” button in the top left. This will open up a mega-menu of sorts for choosing various activities.
In this mini-series for creating your first email, we’re going to be clicking on the Regular email campaign. As we learned in the introduction to EXM post on Day 2, there are two different message types to EXM. Regular email campaigns are meant for mass distribution to multiple contacts at the same time, with the same email (that might have some personalization).
Additionally, this menu contains a number of options for managing lists. Every single function in the Create List menu is actually performing functions that are managed by Sitecore’s List Manager. This is an important distinction because EXM is not responsible for managing lists, List Manager is.
Another note is that List Manager calls lists Contact Lists, however, the EXM menu here calls them Recipient Lists. There is no difference between a Sitecore Contact and a Recipient. They are interchangeable.
Go ahead and click on Regular Email Campaign.
Selecting a Message Template
The next screen is a template selection screen. Out of the box, several options are provided, some work out better than others. However, in a “real world” point of view, my recommendation is to put a marketing plan together on what types of messages you are looking to create and build your own custom message templates. Let’s walk through the various types.
This is a fairly simple one to explain. Some companies prefer to use a marketing/advertising agency to build their marketing emails. Generally, that means there is no personalization that needed. Using the HTML file import method allows you to upload an HTML email to send.
Scaled Environment Note
If using one or more Dedicated Delivery Servers, the uploaded HTML file has to be manually copied to each Content Management and Dedicated Delivery Server in the architecture. Place the email file in the Website\layouts\EmailCampaign\Imported folder.
In the event that you want to add editable content to an imported HTML file for EXM, Sitecore provides some guidance on how to adjust imported HTML file layouts.
This is an example email template demonstrating how to create component based message, making full use of Sitecore’s marketing capabilities such as A/B Variant testing and personalization in EXM. Out of the box, this is branded as a Sitecore Habitat message. For the purposes of this blog series, we will be using this message template as our testing template.
Item Security Note
EXM enables you to define how email campaigns are created from web pages. There are two options:
1) EXM respects the security settings. In this case, recipients with different security privileges will receive different email campaigns (if the source page has security restrictions).
2) EXM ignores the security settings. In this case, EXM renders all elements on the page and all recipients receive the same email campaign.
Other Email Templates
The other email templates are simple, predefined templates that are very simple in nature. They are meant as examples, and could be re-purposed, changed, or removed altogether from the list.
Name Your Message
For this example, we are going to go ahead and select the Sample Newsletter item.
Give your message a name and press the Create button! Congratulations, you have just generated your first EXM Mail Message item.
EXM Message Editor
After clicking the create button, you’ll be brought to the Email Experience Manager message screen, which provides a tabbed experienced.
General Tab – General Information
The General Tab provides fields for defining what the message is. None of these fields will be visible to the Sitecore Contact are meant to help the marketer define and categorize emails.
Name and Description fields are simply that. Setting up the name and the description of the email.
Location is meant to be the location of where email campaigns are kept. These are contained in the Marketing Control Panel.
For clarity, as the image below shows, email items themselves are saved as items relative to the EXM Root that it was created in. In this case, our EXM Manager Root is Email.
Campaign Group allows the marketer to specify a campaign group for the email message. This allows the marketer to combine multiple different campaign activities together from separate channels. For more information about Campaign Groups, view Sitecore’s Campaign Group documentation.
General Tab – Sender Details
Sender details are straightforward. The values for From name, From email, and Reply to setup the message header that is shown to the Sitecore Contact. These fields are also copied from the EXM Manager Root settings. Unless you need to change the name that a particular email message is sent from, you generally don’t need to modify these settings.
With that, we wrap up Part 1 of Sending Your First Email and Day 5 of 25 Days of Sitecore EXM! We’ll continue tomorrow with Part 2, as we explain List Manager and adding recipients to our Hello EXM World message!
Don’t forget to register for my Sitecore EXM webinar on December 13 EXM Live! An Email Automation Experience!