Even if you don't have any graphic design experience, you'll be able to use the Message Designer's easy-to-use interface to create and modify professional quality email messages. With it, you can easily add and remove stories (i.e., content), insert headings, text blocks, and images, and apply custom templates.
Formatting tools make it easy to add borders and spacing, change font styles and colors, and manipulate images.
Let's learn about the Message Designer's three main areas:
- Navigation Bar - Across the top are the four primary tabs you'll use to design and configure your messages.
- Canvas - In the middle is the canvas, which is where you'll add and manage message content.
- Content Properties - After adding or selecting existing content, a panel appears on the left where you can configure its properties. The options vary depending on the content type (e.g., selecting text provides typical formatting options while selecting images provides image-formatting properties).
The Template tab is where you can apply templates to modify the look and feel of your message without changing its overall content. From here, you can see every available template that you can apply to your messages.
NOTE: A template creator must activate the template before it becomes available.
Selecting a Template
The gallery always lists the currently-used template first. If you want to find a template in a different folder, click the Folder menu to select your desired folder.
Click a different template thumbnail to use it for your mailing. Communications Professional will attempt to automatically migrate any message content or stories you have from the old template to the new template (see below). However, if the new template does not have enough available Mailing Content Areas, you may see some content truncated or lost.
Editing Templates in Message Designer
If you want to quickly edit your template while working on a message, you can do so directly from the Template tab.
- Click your template's Edit button to open Template Designer 2 (this automatically saves your work in MD2).
- When you’ve made your modifications, click Save to update the template.
- Click Return to navigate back to your message in Message Designer, along with a notification indicating a new version of the template is available. Click Update Template to switch to your new template.
Keep the following details in mind about the Template tab:
- The template used in the message always displays as the first item (regardless of the folder selection).
- You can edit the in-use template even if that template is deactivated.
- You cannot edit an in-use template if it has been deleted. This disables the Edit button.
It's important to remember that only users with template editing permissions can make changes directly from Message Designer.
The Design tab is where you build your messages, of which Stories are the heart and soul. In Message Designer, you add stories to Mailing Content Areas, which are indicated by the Add Story button. These layouts are defined in your message's template, and are set up with all the settings you'll need to tell your organization's story.
To start adding content, click one of the available Add Story buttons. The available story types appear in a menu next to the Mailing Content Area.
Click the story type you'd like to add to launch the story's properties.
Now, you can add content and format it as necessary using the Rich Text Editor.
NOTE: Editing options may be limited based on the Theme properties in the template.
This is the text-only version (all HTML is removed) of your message, which you can see and edit by selecting this view. To access the text-only version, click TEXT.
NOTE: This version is shown to recipients who opt to receive text-only emails (i.e., they use a text-based email client).
As you're creating a message, the text-only version is automatically created for you alongside the HTML version. Once your message is finalized, the best practice is to verify and reformat this version to fix any possible spacing, bullets, style issues that may not convert properly from the HTML version.
TIP: Content you add to your text-only version is not automatically added to the HTML version, enabling you to add unique text-only content, if needed.
- Undo - Click this to undo one or more previous actions you've made while creating your message. This is the best way to quickly and easily fix mistakes you've made or changes you don't want to keep.
- Redo - Similarly to Undo, click this to redo one or more previous actions you've made while creating your message.
The Options tab is where you'll set high-level properties for your message. There are four main subsections in the Options tab:
Mailing Properties (Name)
There are several options available in the Mailing Properties subsection.
Enter a Mailing Name. This is for your own organizational purpose, so contacts won't see this.
Click the Folder menu to store your message in an available folder.
Tentative Send Date
A good way to stay organized is to set a tentative send date for each message. By doing so, everyone on your team will know "who's sending what, when" by simply taking a peek at the Communications Professional calendar. If you have concerns about sending too many messages, or if you need to keep oversight over other child accounts using Communications Professional, this is an invaluable tool.
Click the Tentative Send Date field and select your desired send date and time.
Sharing the Mailing Activity Report
If you'd like to automatically share the mailings Mailing Activity Report:
- Check the corresponding box to enable several additional options.
- Click the Share Report menu to select a time to begin sharing the report.
- In the Email Addresses field, enter the email address(es) for the individual(s) you'd like to receive the report (maximum 100 addresses).
- Enter a Message to any report recipients.
- Check the Allow access to the Details Tab box to give any recipients additional information from within the report. If enabled, an email will be sent with login instructions that will allow the recipient to access this one report for 90 days. They will be able to see details down to the contact level, but will not be able to make any modifications.
Targeting it where you'll set the recipients for your message. See Targeting to learn more.
- The From email address is displayed next to the "Friendly From." Some bounces and all out-of-office replies go to this address.
- The Friendly From is the name that contacts see in the "From" field.
- Enter the Subject Line for message recipients. Click the Personalization icon to the right to add any personalizations to your subject line.
NOTE: Subject Lines are required for all messages. If you enable A/B Testing, Subject Line A and Subject Line B are required.
- Check the Use Targeted Subjects box to set alternative subject lines that display to contacts in the specified target groups. Refer to the Targeted Subject Lines section of our Targeting article to learn more.
- The Reply To email address receives all email replies.
You can A/B test your Friendly From and Subject Line. When you select either option, the Envelope page expands to allow you to enter an "A" version and a "B" version.
Google Analytics is a popular tool that many organizations use to track their web visitors. You can track hyperlinks in your Communications Professional messages with Google Analytics, helping you to better understand your audience.
See Google Analytics to learn more about setting up Google Analytics in Communications Professional.
Review & Send Tab
The Review & Send tab is your final stop before sending your mailing. Here, you'll have the chance to check the look and feel of your content, test your personalizations, and ultimately send your message to your targeted contacts.
Let's learn about each of the Send & Review tab's three subsections:
The Check Content subsection gives you the chance to review the look and feel of your message before you send it. This subsection comprises the following areas:
You can review three different versions of your mailing: HTML, Mobile HTML, and Online. Click the corresponding buttons to view the different versions.
You can also preview the text version of your message.
Run the Personalization Test to ensure that all message recipients have valid personalization field values in your mailing.
NOTE: You can only check Communications Professional personalization values; integration values cannot be tested.
Virtual Inbox Test
Run the Virtual Inbox Test to see how your message will look in a variety of email clients from desktop to mobile.
The Get Feedback subsection allows you to gather feedback from your colleagues before you send your message to your contacts.
Three feedback options are available:
Send Test enables you to send your message to yourself and/or specific individuals before it goes to your contacts.
- Click the Test Recipients menu to select a test group or a list of email addresses for your test.
- Enter a message to add to your subject line in the Prepend to Subject field. Additionally, enter a recipient email address for all test replies.
- When ready, click Send Mail Test.
Send for Review
The Send for Review option lets you gather feedback.
- Click the first menu to select a test group or a list of email addresses for your review.
- Enter a Due Date and Instructions for your reviewers in the corresponding fields.
- Check the Include test mailing in invitation box if you'd like to send a test mailing along with your reviewer invitation.
- Use the Email Comments to the Author, Send an Email to the Reviewer, and Send a Due Date Reminder to Each Reviewer to fine-tune the properties for your review mailing.
- Finally, click Send for Review to finish.
The Send area at the bottom of the page gives you everything you need to get your mailing sent and into your contacts' inboxes.
You have several scheduling options for your message:
- Send Mailing Now
- Schedule One-Time
- Daily or Weekly
When you select an option, the page expands to let you fine-tune your selection.
Additionally, you'll have several different delivery methods:
When you've set all your mailing options, click Schedule Mailing to send.
The Auto Resend feature enables you to easily and automatically resend a message to contacts who did not open the original message. You must configure this option while creating a (original) message; it cannot be set up after a message has been sent.
Learn all about the Auto Resend feature.