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Using the Subscriber Plug-in

Articles Home - GroupMail 3 Tutorials - Using the Subscriber Plug-in
Thursday, August 18, 2005, 10:52
Step 1:   Launching Subscriber
Step 2:   Managing email accounts in Subscriber
Step 3:   Managing Actions with Subscriber
Step 4:   Adding New Actions
Step 5:   Applying Filters (Bounced Mails/Friendly Addresses)
Step 6:   Subscriber Processing
Step 7:   The Exclusion List
Step 8:   Frequently Asked Questions


The GroupMail Subscriber Plug-in provides extra functionality to manage groups of email recipients. Specifically, it enables you to:
1:   Remove or exclude a recipient where an 'Unsubscribe' mail has been received.
2:   Remove or exclude a recipient where an email to that recipient was undeliverable.
3:   Add an address to a mailing list where a 'Subscribe' email is received.
The plug-in must be downloaded and installed separately from the main GroupMail application. It is only available to GroupMail Pro and Plus users.
It may only be installed when GroupMail is not running.


Subscriber works by connecting to the GroupMail user's email account(s), reading the headers of any messages currently stored on the server, and taking appropriate action if certain predefined text patterns are encountered.

To allow Subscriber to connect to the mail server, the user will need to specify the server name, and also the Username/Password for the email account.

When Subscriber connects to the mail server using these details, it reads the headers of the email messages. If it finds any of the text patterns that have been configured (e.g. Subscribe Newsletter, Unsubscribe Catalogue), it then takes whatever action that has been associated with that text pattern.

It can also check mail headers for text that indicates that an outgoing mail was bounced, and once again take appropriate action.

It can be configured to remove mail messages from the server, but this only refers to mails that match the patterns defined in the Actions/Filters windows of Subscriber, all other mail will be left for another email client, such as Outlook, to download.

Step 1: Launching Subscriber

Figure 1
To launch Subscriber, click on the Subscriber option from the Plug-ins menu on the main GroupMail window.

When you launch Subscriber, the main GroupMail window will minimise
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Step 2: Managing email accounts in Subscriber

Figure 2
When you launch Subscriber for the first time, you will have to add the necessary email accounts. These accounts consist of the account(s) to which Subscribe/Unsubscribe messages will be sent. Also ensure that the 'Reply to' address you have chosen to use on GroupMail messages is included.

You can view the email accounts that have already been specified, modify them or add new ones at any stage.

Clicking the 'Add' button allows you to add a new email account by means of this window:

Figure 3
On this window, you will have to specify the name of the email account (a unique identifier) and the Mail Server. (This is specified in the Setup of your normal email client, such as Outlook Express. If in doubt, consult your Internet Service Provider) You will also need to specify the username and password needed to access this account.

(NOTE: There is a check-box that tells Subscriber to delete messages from the email server once it has processed them. However, it will ignore messages that do not match its Subscribe/Unsubscribe/Bounce criteria (See Actions/Filters below) and leave them on the server. These can then be downloaded as normal by another Email Client (Such as Outlook or Outlook Express).
It is also important that other email clients do not download/remove messages that are only relevant to GroupMail Subscriber. This means:

Setting filters on your Email Client to ignore Subscribe/Unsubscribe/Bounce messages. In Outlook Express, for instance, this can be done using Inbox Assistant or the Tools > Message Rules option
ALWAYS running Subscriber before a 'Send/Receive')

When you click on the 'Modify' button, you will be allowed to modify any of the fields relating to the selected account.

Clicking 'Delete' will delete the selected account.

Clicking on the 'Actions' button will take you on to the next stage, clicking on 'Close' will close Subscriber.
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Step 3: Managing Actions with Subscriber

Figure 4
The 'Actions to Perform' window gives the user access to the Subscriber Actions. Currently, the only actions available are 'Subscribe' and 'Unsubscribe'.

Clicking the 'Add' button opens the following window.
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Step 4: Adding new Actions

Figure 5
Firstly each Action must be associated with a specific Group. However, it is possible to specify 'Remove from all Groups'/'Exclude from all Groups', in which case it is irrelevant which specific Group is specified above.

Selecting the 'Subscribe/Add to a Group' option will add the Sender to the specified Group, if the Subject Line of that sender's email contains the text that you insert in the Subject Text Box.
Note: It is recommended that you leave the 'Exact Match' box checked, remember that the word 'Subscribe' is also contained in the word 'Unsubscribe'
If you choose 'Unsubscribe/Remove/Exclude', you have 2 choices:

Choice 1: Remove or Exclude
Removing a recipient will totally remove all details of that recipient from the group(s) specified.
Excluding the recipient will not remove details, but will place the recipient on an Exclusion List. Mailings to that subscriber will then be suspended. It is possible to restore the recipient to the group(s) by deleting the details from the Exclusion List.

Choice 2: Unsubscribe from Current Group only/Unsubscribe from all groups.
If you Unsubscribe a user from Current Group, membership of Groups other than that specified will be unaffected.

Finally, use one of the 2 'Extract Target' check boxes if you need to specify an address other than that given in the 'From' field of the received email.

Click on the 'Next' button to see the following window:

Informing Recipient of Action

Figure 6
You can set up an automatic response to confirm that an Action has been taken, if a Subscriber is being unsubscribed, you may want to give information on how to rejoin the mailing list at a later date etc

Selecting the OK button returns you to the main Action Builder window. From there, selecting the 'Filters' button opens the Filter Window.
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Step 5: Bounced Mails/friendly Addresses (Filter Window)

Figure 7
There is a Check Box that allows the user to turn the Bounced Email processing on or off.
We then have a Text Box containing the criteria for determining if a mail has been bounced. There are a number of criteria listed here by default, the 'Add' button allows the user to add more criteria, and the Delete button allows the removal of existing criteria.
(Remember to select the relevant line before attempting to delete.)

Hint: If some of your Bounced Messages are not being processed correctly, check that their Subject Headers are included in one of the categories listed in this text box, the default list may not cover every possibility.

The Friendly Email addresses box contains a list of email addresses that Subscriber will not remove as result of Bounce Filtering. The examples above are addresses that send bounced mail notifications rather than actual addresses of subscribers. You may use the 'Add' button to supplement this list.

The final Option on this window allows the user to specify whether the Bounced Recipients (as determined by the Criteria above) should be Removed from all groups (i.e. all details of the recipients totally removed) or added to the Exclusion List (i.e. details not removed from any group, but added to Exclusion List and mailing to that address to be suspended)

Clicking on the 'Process Now' button will commence the Subscriber Processing.
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Step 6: Subscriber Processing

Figure 8
When Processing is initiated, the above window is displayed. It gives feedback on the Email account(s) being processed, the Current Status (Connecting, Complete etc), total number of messages found and a breakdown of Subscriptions, Unsubscriptions and Bounces that were found within that total.
When processing is complete, a log is displayed giving details of each email header examined (See Below)

Figure 9
This window gives information on all emails found on the specified email server in the specified account. It indicates whether the message satisfies any of the criteria for the specified Actions or the Filters. It also indicates what action was taken in relation to each mail.

The 'Print' and 'Save As' buttons allow this log file to be printed or saved as desired.
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Step 7: The Exclusion List

Figure 10
To manage the Exclusion List, it is necessary to click on the Exclusion icon in the main GroupMail Toolbar. This opens the following window:

Figure 11
You have options here to Add a user to the list, Delete a single user (which means that mailing to that user is no longer suspended) or delete all users from the list.

The Import button allows the user to import one or more users into the Exclusion List from a CSV file, the Export Button allows user to export the current Exclusion List to a CSV file.

NOTE: It is not advisable to allow Exclusion Lists to grow too big, as this can affect the performance of mailings.
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Step 8: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What if I hit 'Process Now' and I get 'Bad User Name or Password'?
A. Check account logon details.
Q. What if I hit 'Process Now' and I get 'Unknown Error 32'?
A. Usually a socket error- check your network connection.
Q. What if I hit 'Process Now' and Subscriber just hangs?
A. Be patient, if there are numerous messages in the account, it may take Subscriber a while to generate a working message list.
Q. Can you schedule Subscriber to run automatically?
A. Currently it can only be started from the plug-ins menu, but this will change with GroupMail 4.0.
Q. What happens if some of the emails in the account are not being processed correctly?
A. Make sure that you save the log-file and look through it. In the case of Bounced Mails, check that the header text is covered by one of the conditions in the 'Process Bounced/Undeliverable Messages' window. Remember, the default settings may nor cover every possible scenario. Check if you have 'Exact Match' checked in the 'Action Builder' window. Bear in mind that 'Subscribe' is actually contained in 'Unsubscribe' and if 'Exact Match' is not selected, this could lead to confusion.
Q. How can I put an 'Unsubscribe' link into a mail shot?
A. This can be done using Merge Fields. You will need to include a mailto: link with the address and the subject (e.g. Unsubscribe Newsletter) specified.
Q. How do I implement a 'Subscribe' from a form on a web-site?
A. You will need to install a script that takes the user input and compiles it into a suitable format for Subscriber. Remember that all the details will have to be in the Header. Actual messaging parsing is not possible yet, but it will be in V4.0.
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