In this article, you'll learn how to manage your community site's email templates.
To access your templates:
- Access the Admin interface.
- Navigate to Email > Email Management > Email Templates.
Update System Templates
As users perform various actions across your site, the system automatically generates and sends emails to the appropriate people (to their primary email and/or profile inbox). For example, Contact requests, community invitations, and commenting on content all trigger emails.
While the default content in these templates is generally sufficient, you and other Super Admins can modify these system-generated templates at any time, if you want to ensure they contain the precise language and formatting required by your organization. These templates can be formatted in both HTML and plain text (though the plain text version is often not necessary because most modern email clients automatically display HTML content as plain text).
Manage your System Templates
- Select an email category from the Category menu to view its associated templates.
- Click the desired template's Edit button. On the resulting page, you can make changes like enabling/disabling the template and controlling which Community Admins can use the template. More than likely, though, you'll just want to update text in the HTML and Text versions of the email.
- After making your changes, click Save at the bottom of the page.
WARNING: While Super Admins can modify the default community-based email templates sent to community members, we recommend keeping edits to a minimum—specifically, the links should not be altered. These defaults are system wide, and have evolved over time to both provide the information sought by new members and to answer their questions. These links (e.g., the links to accept or reject community invitations) are critical to the function of your communities.
Create Email Templates
You can only create new templates if your organization licenses the optional Group Manager module; if you don't, only a single template is available (the Community Bulk Email template, in the Community Messages category). Refer to the Group Manager Overview page to learn more about the baseline functionality and additional Group Manager features.
To create a template:
- Select Community Messages from the Category menu.
NOTE: Only templates created under the Community Messages category can be sent to community members using Group Manager.
- Click Create at the top right.
- On the resulting page:
- Give your template an appropriate name.
- Leave the Category set to Community Messages.
- In the Community menu, you can limit this template's use to a specific community or make it available to all communities. Alternatively, leave this menu blank to make this template available only to Super Admins.
- Use the default Reply To email address or enter a new one.
- Enter the default Subject line for the template's messages.
- If you use Activity Sync, decide whether to create an activity in your AMS/CRM for everyone who receives these messages.
- Lastly, provide the template content for the HTML and/or Text versions of the message.
- Click Save at the bottom of the page to create your template.
IMPORTANT: You must include the Community Admin Message variable in ALL new templates you create for them to function properly, as this variable is replaced with the admin’s message when the email is sent. In addition, if you’ve enabled Group Manager’s file attachments and/or meeting invitation features, you also need to include the Community Admin Hyperlinks variable for these options to be available. These two variables are not selectable via the variable interface, so the only way to get them in new templates is to copy and paste them from the Community Bulk Email template (or other template containing them), as shown below:
Then, when creating an email, the message entered in the Community Admin Message field is what appears in place of the [CommunityAdminMessage] variable when the email is sent.
Use the Templates You Create
You can use custom templates by assigning them to Community Member Email Lists, which are created on the Admin > Users > List Builder page. These lists are simply segments of users meeting one or more criterion, and are used to target specific members within a community (e.g., only members who've joined a community in the past 30 days). There are dozens of criteria available, giving you the flexibility to target just about any group of users.
Once created, these lists are selectable in the To line when creating a community email:
To assign a custom template to a Community Member Email List:
- Access the Admin interface.
- Navigate to Users > List Builder.
- Select Community Member Email List from the menu. All of the default best practice (BP) email lists are displayed, along with any custom ones that have been created. You can update any of these to use one of your custom templates, if desired.
- To create a new email list, click Create at the top right.
- On the resulting page, you need to select which community(ies) can use the template and configure its criterion to control which community members it's sent to. To do so:
- Select the desired Community Type from the first menu to allow Community Admins of those communities to:
- Send the email template selected from the second menu (this will be one of your custom templates) to:
- The community members meeting the criterion you add from the third menu (you can add multiple criterion by repeating this step).
TIP: After clicking the drop-down, you can type in the search field at the top to quickly filter the criterion you're looking for.
- Lastly, give your email list a name. Make sure it's descriptive to help admins understand who the To line will target (e.g. "Community Members who joined in the last 30 days").
- Click Save when finished to create your email list.
EXAMPLE: You could create an email list like "Allow [Chapter] Community Admins to send the [Custom Email Template] email to their community members who [joined the specified community within the last specified number of days]"
Once created, Super Admins and Community Admins of Chapter (i.e., the Community Type) communities can select this email list in the To menu when emailing their community members. In this example, the email list is called Community Members who joined in the last 30 days:
Use and Understand Variables
When editing or creating a template, you can use variables to provide individualized and community-specific content and links to each recipient. These variables are replaced with the appropriate information when the email is sent, allowing you to easily include information that's automatically personalized for each recipient (e.g., automatically inserting each user's first name, etc.). Variables allow you to easily greet recipients by name and include other member-specific links and text.
The default templates for community invitations and join messages use variables to create community-specific links. By using Variables, these templates are applicable to ALL communities. If you create templates to serve single communities, make sure to use specific links to any applicable community pages and Microsite pages. The addition of variables is most helpful in creating user-specific content, such as "Dear, [FirstName]."
You can only add variables in the HTML editor. To do so, place your cursor where you'd like to insert the variable, click the Mail merge variable selector button, and then drill down into the appropriate category. Once you find the variable, select it to add it to your message.
TIP: Variables do function in the Text version, and you can copy/paste them there.
There are four categories of variables:
- Community Member
The Contact and Community categories offer the best options for admins, and are what we're going to focus on in this article; the other two include numerous variables a Community or Super Admin will likely never need. In addition, only the commonly used and recommended variables are listed below.
(use to personalize all messages)
|CompanyName||Verify their contributions: “We are happy to have representation of Company XYZ through you!”|
|FirstName||Open the email with a formal greeting: “Dear, David”|
|InformalName||Open the email with a friendly greeting: “Dear, Dave”|
|LinkToProfile||Recommend completing their profile and include a link: “Click the following link to complete your profile and help others get to know you better! LINK”|
(especially useful for templates used by multiple communities)
Verify the name of the community: “Thanks for joining the XYZ Working Group Community!”
Verify the community's purpose using the information provided on the Community Description page: “Thanks for helping us address the mission of the Nominations community: Recommending new board members…”
Link to the community's landing page: “Click HERE to view great community content and connect with other members!”
Promote upcoming events: “Please plan on attending the upcoming Chapter Meetings – these are listed on our online calendar linked here: [LINK]”
Promote participation in the community's Discussion forum: “Click HERE to find out what others are saying and express your own thoughts!”
Promote online content: “Community members have contributed over 75 documents, which you can access via this link: [LINK]”
Link to the community microsite/website: “Our community website has never had more great content than it does now. Don't miss out! Click HERE!”