Employee Newsletter

Table of Contents

Overview

The Simpplr Employee Newsletter is a newsletter creation and management platform available as a paid add-on. It is an add-on product to the core Simpplr intranet and will require an additional license to use. Simpplr currently supports the legacy Newsletter feature for existing customers. For info on the legacy Newsletter feature, click here

This article covers the how-to setup steps and distribution methods for the Employee Newsletter. For best practices on newsletter frequency and engagement, click here

Whitelisting IP addresses

Note:

Your Simpplr instance must be on the Ida release or later to implement Employee Newsletter. You will also need to have your IT team whitelist Simpplr's dedicated IPs depending on your org's security settings. Otherwise there is a risk the Newsletters will be sent to spam folders or negatively impact email analytics. The IP addresses are 54.240.71.135 and 54.240.71.136.

The Simpplr Employee Newsletter service uses Amazon AWS SES (Simple Email Service) with dedicated IP addresses for sending newsletter emails. These static and dedicated IP addresses are exclusively used by our Newsletter service for legitimate communication, and they adhere to industry standards for secure email delivery. Using dedicated IP addresses offers several advantages, including:

  1. Improved deliverability
  2. Sender reputation control
  3. Reduced impact from other senders
  4. Predictable performance
  5. Compliance requirements

It's a secure practice to whitelist these AWS SES dedicated IP addresses. Our dedicated IP addresses are static, and their integrity is maintained with robust security measures. 

Whitelisting the Newsletter IP addresses:

  • Does not expose your system to vulnerabilities
  • Does not grant external access to your system
  • Ensures a consistent flow of Newsletter emails

App setup

In order to set up the send from address or addresses, App managers need to configure the DNS for each address. As of the Ida release, there is an option in the Manage > Application > Setup menu for Newsletter where this can be configured. For more info on this, click herePremier_Newsletter_custom_domain.png

Usage

Once enabled for an organization, the newsletter will be accessed as it is now. Simply go to your user menu dropdown and select Newsletter.

Newsletter managers and permissions 

App managers will have the option to distribute Newsletter privileges to any user(s) and/or Site managers they'd like in Manage > Application > Privileges.
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If Newsletter control is given to certain sites, the owners and managers of that site will have the ability to create and distribute newsletters only to the members of that site. If the user owns or manages multiple sites, they will not be able to create a newsletter for any of those unless the site is added to the list in Manage > Application > Privileges or the site owner/manager is added individually as a user to the Grant newsletter control to people list.

When an individual user is added to Grant newsletter control to people, they have the ability to create and distribute newsletters to all audiences, the entire org or any site. They will NOT be able to manage audiences outside of distributing newsletters unless they also have a separate audience management permission (i.e., they are an App manger).

Newsletter themes & Templates and Categories are visible to all users by default and not driven by access privileges. App managers and users granted newsletter access by name (Grant newsletter control to people) can view and access all newsletters, no matter who created them or who the recipients are.

Drafts are accessible to all newsletter users (including Site owners/managers) until recipients are defined. The selected recipient(s) is what defines who can view and access a newsletter. When a draft’s recipients are set to All org or Audience, only App managers and those granted newsletter control via name (Grant newsletter control to people) can access these drafts.

Site owners/managers with newsletter access can see drafts with no defined recipients or where the recipients are members of a site(s) they own or manage that has been added to the Grant newsletter control to site owners/managers list.

Simply put, newsletter access does not overwrite existing access or permissions set by an App manager.

List

Once on the Newsletter landing page, you will notice a new and improved user interface. Updates include better filtering options, an easier to read table, and more intuitive column sorting.

For organizations that have upgraded to Employee Newsletter from the core offering, you’ll also see an option to View past newsletters in the top left corner. This will take you to a read-only version of the core newsletter UI where you can view analytics for any newsletter sent in the previous system. Newsletters scheduled to be sent out in the core system will be sent out as scheduled, but no changes will be able to be made.

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Components and flow

The Employee Newsletter is a template-based newsletter builder. To start building a newsletter, you must create a new template or select an existing template from which to start assembling a newsletter. Once the template is selected, you can drag and drop various standard newsletter components into a content editor. Once satisfied with the look and content, you can preview, save as a draft, or move on to schedule and send the newsletter.

Creating templates & themes

There are three options to create a new template.

From the list page, you can:

  •  click on the Templates & themes tab and then click New
  •  click the caret next to New and select Template
  •  click New template to begin creating a template

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Once you've started, you will be taken to the template editor. From there you can adjust standard settings for:

  • Name: Each template must be named. The name of the template will not be visible to employees. To add or edit the name, click the upper left header (for new templates it will default to New template) and add a name.
    ENL_theme_update_2.png
  • General blocks
  • Smart blocks

Creating and choosing a theme

Themes allow you to customize the branding for your newsletter, including the header and what social media links to include at the bottom of the newsletter.

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You'll be given the option to select your org's intranet branding or a custom color. You can navigate to the link "templates & themes" to create a new theme specific to this newsletter template. This will take you to the Templates & themes tab.

When the Match app branding option is chosen within a theme, the newsletter will adopt the branding associated with the segment of the user who is sending the newsletter.

To get started in creating a new theme:

  1. Select Themes, then New theme.
  2. You'll be taken to the theme editor, where you'll find two tabs; Navigation and Settings. In the Navigation tab, you'll see options to customize the Header, Social media and Mobile promotion.
    • Header: Layout will allow you to place your company logo anywhere on the header, or upload a custom image if you wish. We recommend using an 800 x 100px (minimum) image size. Note there is no height maximum, and the banner will scale to meet your image's size requirements, but we recommend keeping your image height to around 100px to have a better looking banner.
    • Header color: This changes the header color. By default, this will match your app branding, but you can change it to Primary color, Light, Dark, or a Custom color.
    • Logo: Choose to use the application/org logo, or upload a custom logo.
    • Navigation links: Choose to show the links at the top of the header to help users easily navigate the newsletter. These can be toggled on or off.
    • Social media: Choose whether or not to include your org's social media links in the footer of the template. If you choose to include these, you'll be asked to enter the full URL for each platform.
    • Mobile promotion: Here you can enable or disable the Simpplr mobile app promotion links from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
  3. In the Settings tab:
    • Primary color: This determines button colors throughout the newsletter
    • Background: Choose what color background to make your template.
    • Page width: This will adjust the width of the newsletter to its background. Images will be scaled to fit automatically.
    • Block spacing: This allows you to change the default spacing between blocks for the template. Choose a smaller value to automatically have blocks appear closer together, a larger value to have them appear further apart.

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When you've finished customizing your theme. Click Save at the top of the editor. The theme will be saved to your running list. Head back to the Template editor and assign your newly created theme to it.
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When you've finished customizing your template, click Save. Now when you create your newsletter, you can assign it the template you just cerated.

 

Note:

Custom fonts are not supported in the newsletter.

Creating a newsletter

To create a newsletter, on the newsletter list page click new when on the Newsletters tab, or use the caret on the New button to select New newsletter.

Once you have selected to create a new newsletter, they will need to select a template from which to start. Any of your pre-made templates will show as options, or you can create a new one.New_newsletter_1.gif

You can use the drag-and-drop editor to create a newsletter. You can choose from any number and configuration of general blocks and smart blocks. You can move the blocks around, preview, and change/add columns before proceeding to schedule it to be sent. Or you can save it as a draft for collaborators to look over.New_newsletter_2.png

General blocks

General blocks are the basic building blocks of any newsletter. They encompass any user-entered content such as free text, images, embedded outside content, etc. Once dragged onto the editor, it will show the given options for the block on the control panel located on the right side of the screen. To later adjust the options for the given block, simply click on it and the control panel will now show again.

  • Button: Buttons are links that show up as buttons in a newsletter. They have two options for style and appearance. The button block also allows you to select alignment as well as standard controls in-editor such as remove, split into columns, and remove/add margin. Buttons require the user to add a fully qualified URL for the link.


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  • Divider: The divider block can be dragged anywhere on the newsletter to create a light grey divider line to break up content. It has standard controls in-editor such as remove, split into columns, and remove/add margin.


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  • Embed: The embed block allows you to add public content from outside their intranet and show a rich preview of the content in their newsletter. It can be used for any URL. If the URL points to a public blog or article the basics of said page will be displayed or if a link to a video on a site like YouTube is added it will show the video thumbnail with a play icon. Once clicked it will open a new browser tab with the content. If the embed is not for a video, you can choose the format to be a large showcase item or as a standard item. All embeds have standard controls in-editor such as remove, split into columns, and remove/add margin.Newsletter embed video.gif
  • Image: The image block allows you to add an image anywhere in your newsletter. You can either upload a new image from their computer or take advantage of integration to search Unsplash to find the perfect royalty-free image right from your newsletter editor. Once chosen or uploaded, you can change the size of the image while maintaining the aspect ratio by using your mouse to adjust the size by clicking on one of the corners and dragging it to the desired size. Optionally the image can also be made a link by clicking the checkbox and adding a URL. The image has standard settings to adjust alignment as well as in-editor such as remove, split into columns, and remove/add margin.
    Newsletter add image.gif
  • Image sizing: Images will be displayed at your specified dimensions, except on mobile where we ensure that image widths are never wider than the device’s screen. 

    The safest rule is always to make images the same width as the email (Page width setting) in a landscape/16:9 ratio. With smart blocks, the page width and block spacing settings in the theme can affect the image size, the column layout they use and the appearance setting.

    Max upload file size is 5MB. Simpplr takes the image as given and does not do anything to optimize the image; therefore, it’s recommended images are optimized before uploading.

  • Text: The text box allows newsletter creators the freedom to add text where they need to. It can be as simple as adding a heading, an introduction paragraph, or as much as is needed to convey the message they need. Once text is added, a user can highlight and stylize the text as needed. Style options include font size (normal, title, heading 1/2/3/4, subtitle), bold, italic, underline, strikethrough, font color, alignment, bulleted lists, numbered lists, and hyperlinks. Text blocks also have standard controls in-editor such as remove, split into columns, and remove/add margin.
  • The Recipient fields option allows you to automate recipient data by choosing fields like first name, app name, or even send date. For example, if you write, "Hi name, check out the latest from Organization name! when John Smith opens the newsletter, he will read, "Hi John, check out the latest from GoodCo!"newsletter text block.gif
  • Spacer: This adds space between blocks. You can set this to small, medium or large spaces.
    newsletter spacing.gif
  • Video: This block is available for those who have purchased the Simpplr Native Video add-on. Here you can add videos directly to your newsletter. newsletter video block.gif

Smart blocks

Smart blocks dynamically add intranet content to a newsletter at send time for each recipient. This allows newsletter creators to add content and make sure it is fresh and relevant when the newsletter is eventually sent.

  • Content: The content block is the most dynamic block in the newsletter. It allows you to manually choose content from the intranet to send in the newsletter, or use the popular or latest options to send dynamic content based on the individual user's content recommendations. If choosing the dynamic content, you can further specify content types to include (pages, events, albums or all types), the source of the content (personalized or from an individual site), the number of items to display, and the appearance of each item ranging from a large showcase item to a list item. Dynamic content will be based on and tailored to the user. The content block also has standard controls in-editor such as remove, split into columns, and remove/add margin.
    mceclip21.png
  • Show excerpt: When adding a smart content block to a newsletter you’ll be able to show the excerpt of the text for each of the page or album using the Show excerpt checkbox. If the author did not fill out the Custom summary field when publishing the content, this option will display the first few lines from the content body.

    Based on the layout of the content block, it will limit the text as below:

    • showcase view:  max 150 characters 
    • list view: max 100 characters 
    • layout view: max 70 characters (when you choose to split into two columns)
  • People: The people block allows you to include user profiles in a newsletter. You can select as many profiles as they like with the built-in search and then decide how to display the profiles from large cards, to a list, to avatars only. In addition, standard alignment options are available as well as standard controls in-editor such as remove, split into columns, and remove/add margin.
  • Recognition:

    Note:

    This option is only applicable to those who have the Recognition Suite add-on.

    The Recognition block lets you filter what kind of Recognition content is pulled into the Newsletter. Latest will pull in the most recent recognition content. Select recognition lets you specify which award types, locations and departments to pull in. Then you can filter by source and recognition type.

  • Sites: The sites block allows you to quickly link to your intranet sites. You can choose featured sites or specific sites to include. You have control over the number of sites displayed as well as their appearance (cards or list), alignment options, and standard controls in-editor such as remove, split into columns, and remove/add margins.Newsletter sites block.png

Layouts

There are seven pre-designed layout blocks that make it easy to create newsletter layouts. Layout blocks group content items together. With these layout blocks, you can quickly create a good looking newsletter. Just click on the desired layout block to drag and drop it onto your design.

Preview

It can be helpful to preview how the newsletter might look in someone's mailbox. In addition to a standard build mode, the Employee newsletter can preview what the newsletter will look like on a desktop or mobile device. Select Preview in the nav bar to preview the newsletter. newsletter preview.gif

 

Sending/Scheduling a newsletter

Once happy with a newsletter draft, click Next to proceed to the scheduling and sending of the newsletter.

Details

  • Confirm the newsletter name
  • Choose a subject line. This is what the user will see as the subject line in their inbox
  • Choose a category for organization. More on newsletter categories below
  • Select an email address to send from
  • Optionally, choose a custom reply-to address. Use this if you expect users to reply to the newsletter email and would like those replies to be sent to a specified email. By default, any replies will be sent to the from address you specified aboveNewsletter recipient details.png

Note, to set up your sender address, as an App manager, head to Manage > Application > Email. The custom Reply-to address is optional. If nothing is chosen, all replies to the email will be sent to the From address. Otherwise, entering a custom email address here will ensure all replies to the newsletter get sent to that email.

You cannot select, nor would Simpplr recommend a "no reply" option. This could harm user engagement. We recommend using an email address that recipients can reply to and managing incoming emails with filters that can automatically remove unnecessary incoming emails.

Recipients

Choose either everyone in the organization, a prebuilt Simpplr audience, or members of a specified site to receive the newsletter. You can choose multiple audiences or sites to send to. Note that if you create a specific, one-time audience for newsletter distribution, then delete that audience, the newsletter's metrics will not be affected. 

Note that if you're sending a newsletter to a private site, or if there's content contained in the newsletter from a site not all recipients have access to, you will see a warning message displayed when choosing recipients.
image (46).png

See the Newsletter management and permissions section above for more on who distribution permissions.

Note:

Newsletters will be sent to an audience in batches of 100 at a time. 

Distribution

All newsletters will be sent out by email, but now you can choose to also send an SMS (text) message with a link to read the newsletter in a browser. The SMS will be sent to users in the recipient list that have a valid mobile phone number listed in their profile. A link will be sent out so that the employee can view the newsletter, if logged into Simpplr.

Note:

As of now, the newsletter is sent to everyone based on the sender's timezone. There is a feature enhancement planned that will distribute the newsletter based on the recipients' time zones.

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If a newsletter fails to send for any reason, the sender must manually resend the newsletter. Simpplr will not automatically resend newsletters.

Newsletters cannot be taken back and edited once distributed. 

What does 'On Hold' mean? 

Sometimes there's an unknown error happening on the backend when you send out your newsletter. The sender will receive a message stating that the newsletter is 'On Hold'. It means there is an issue causing it to not be sent. Simpplr recommends waiting approximately 30 minutes, then trying to send the newsletter again. If you receive this same error, or need more urgent assistance, contact our Support team. 

Analytics

Employee Newsletter analytics have been updated for individual sent newsletters. All aggregate analytics for newsletters under the content tab have been retained and individual sent newsletter analytics have been completely re-imagined.

Recipients, opens, and clicks are tracked in addition to what devices opened the newsletter, how the clicks break down by content type, as well as what the exact click count per link in the newsletter is. In addition to the analytics overview, there is also a heatmap view that allows you to view the newsletter with the click data overlaid onto the screen.mceclip27.png

The click-through rate is calculated by:

The number of recipients who have clicked at least one link ÷ total recipients x 100 = percentage of recipients who have clicked on at least one link in the newsletter

 

As of the 24.03 release, all unique clicks on different elements across the newsletter are tracked. By understanding which elements in a newsletter generate more unique clicks, you can better gauge the effectiveness of the content, headlines and calls to action. This data-driven approach enables you to refine comms strategies, leading to higher engagement rates.

Users are also able to download a CSV file containing metrics on opens and bounces. Bounces occur when the newsletter email was not successfully delivered to the recipients inbox. There can be a lot of reasons that an email can bounce, such as the recipient email address doesn’t exist, the recipient’s inbox is full or server outages.

updated newsletter analytics.png

What do these metrics mean?

Recipients: This tracks the total number of users the newsletter was sent to

Open rate: This tracks the percentage and number of users who opened the newsletter

Click-through rate: This metric tracks the percentage of users who clicked at least one element after opening the newsletter, in addition to how many total clicks were made.

Opens by type: This metric tracks the source used to first open the newsletter by user. It will count the same user more than once if that user opens the newsletter form both email and SMS. That's why in the above image, you see 12 total opens by type and 10 recipients. This is telling us that the same recipient opened the newsletter from multiple sources.

Unique clicks by type: This metric represents the number of individual recipients who have clicked on a specific element within the newsletter. It counts each person only once, regardless of how many times they clicked on the same element.

Additional points

  • Segments are currently not supported
  • Anyone with permissions to access the legacy Newsletter access before will have access to Employee Newsletter

Categories

Categories can be added to newsletters. When creating a newsletter, you can select a category, or add a new category, under Details. Note that once a newsletter is assigned a category and sent, its category cannot be changed.

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The Categories tab lists all newsletter categories.


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Click a category to view its analytics.


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Newsletter archive 

You can archive an out-of-date newsletter by going to Manage > Newsletters and clicking on the ellipsis next to the newsletter in question. Archived newsletters still contribute to newsletter analytics.

To view archived newsletters pages, click Filters and View archived newsletters. Here you can un-archive newsletters. They’ll return the newsletter listing page and be visible to users as if they were never archived.

To access an archive of all newsletters that have been sent to you, go to your user menu, then Newsletter archive.

Your newsletter archive is searchable, and searches can be filtered when looking for specific newsletters.mceclip6.png

 

Newsletter end user experience

For your users, the newsletter will be sent via email by default. They have the option to view it in their email, or open it in a browser. By choosing View in browser at the top of the email, the user will be taken to the intranet to view the newsletter. 

If you are the sender of the newsletter, when viewing it in a browser, you'll be given the extra option to cycle through past sent newsletters.

Email view:
PN_email_view.gif

 

Browser view:
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 Multi-channel distribution

Newsletters can be sent across several distribution channels. You can also select the distribution channel when configuring a newsletter, then share it to a channel or send it directly to a user. You can select from the following distribution channels:

  • SMS
  • Email
  • Microsoft Teams 
  • Note, newsletters will always be distributed via email, regardless of other options chosen. 

For example, let’s use Microsoft Teams. Once you've sent a newsletter, you can share it to a Teams channel with an optional custom message from the newsletter listing page. Recipients can click on the link to the newsletter once it has been posted in Teams.

First ensure the Teams integration is connected to your profile by:

  1. Clicking on Profile and settings > Edit profile and settings > External apps and making sure Microsoft Teams is connected.Connect Teams example.gif

If Microsoft Teams is enabled to your org and connected at the user level, there are two ways you can share a newsletter to Teams:

  1. While creating a newsletter, under distribution, click Share to Microsoft Teams. Select the applicable team and channel.
  2. If a newsletter has already been sent, you can share it with Microsoft Teams by going to Manage > Newsletters and clicking the ellipsis > Edit on your selected Newsletter. Click Next, then select Share to Microsoft Teams. A modal will open, prompting you to select the Team and Channel and add an optional message before sharing. (This can only be done with Microsoft Teams, not SMS or email).Post newsletter to Teams channel.gif

 

Multi-channel distribution analytics

You can filter by distribution channel in Newsletter analytics, then further refine by department and location.

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Comments

10 comments
  • The newsletter is great! Since the newsletter is tied or connected to users, is there a way to view or download metrics by users - who viewed, links clicked, locations, etc. Thanks!

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  • Hi Scot, great question! As of now you can't see any user specific metrics with Newsletter. There is a product enhancement request open for this feature though. 

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  • What are the recommended size for the banner, logo etc in the template

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  • I don't see that you can do it now, but a GREAT feature would be to set up an autosend for new employees. It would be a great way to promote the site for folks who might not use our standard browser with intranet homepage.

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  • Hi Maureen. The minimum recommended banner size is 800x100 px. This will ensure the image does not get distorted when uploading. Technically there is no height limitation, but a taller image isn't necessarily the best choice for a banner image. 

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  • Hello! 

    I recently built a newsletter and ran into this issue (see image below). Can this be fixed so that apostrophes don't freak out in the intro text?

    Thanks,
    Michelle


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  • Hey Michelle. Sorry to see you're having this issue. I have our team looking into it now, as it seems to be something gone wrong on our end. If you'd like, you can submit a help ticket to get this routed directly to the correct team to fix it. 

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  • This looks great! Question - is there a way for more than one person to work on a newsletter together? Right now our process with the Legacy version is to have one person create it and send the preview to someone else for review.

    Wondering if with this newer version one person can make it, but others can view it/edit it within the Newsletter landing page?

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  • Hi Chris. Great question! Technically yes, if all the applicable editors have newsletter management access, they can work on the same newsletter at the same time.

    While there isn't a shareable preview for others to edit the newsletter, there is the option to duplicate a newsletter and send it out to only your review team. That way you can solicit feedback from the smaller team before sending out to the entire org. https://imgur.com/E2lWVIm

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  • Hello! I don't see an option in any of the layout/smart blocks to add tables to a newsletter. Unless you can do this using the existing set of features? If not, could it be added to your list of enhancement requests?

    Thanks,
    Michelle

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