Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ektron Subscriptions Overview

Introduction

The most important resource to any web site are the users, they are the whole purpose of it's existence and are the one who read the content and purchase goods or services. Growing user traffic is no simple task (especially organically) so any way to encourage existing users to visit again is a cost effective way of keeping user numbers up - and targeted users at that. This is where the Ektron subscriptions feature comes into play.

Ektron Subscriptions is a feature which allows users of an Ektron web site to sign up to areas that interest them, and then receive a notification (via email) when relevant pages are updated. This is not only an automated way to keep users informed of content updates and bring them back to the web site, but you are actually building a user database which contains user-defined categories of interest.

How it works

Firstly you need to define what subscriptions will be available, these are simply a textual description such as cars, trucks, motorbikes and so on. You will also define which email address(es) the subscriptions will be sent from, each piece of content allows you to specify which email is used, so it's possible to be very granular in this regard. You can also pre-define a number of messages, which can be used for the main content of the notification email, or unsubscribe/opt out in it as well.


Then you create a subscribe page which will allow a user to sign up and select subscriptions they are interested in. This page will actually create a community user in the Ektron system, so at a minimum the page will need to collect: first name, last name, email address, password (you can set this in the code behind if the users will never need to login) along with their subscription choices. An unsubscribe page is also required, this page will collect an email address and unsubscribe the user with that address from receiving notifications.

Pages will also need to be assigned to a subscription(s) so that they will notify the subscribed users when changes are made. In the editor for content, there is a web alerts tab, this is where subscriptions are defined. The main option for alerting are notify always, notify never and notify only on initial publication. When publishing the author is also able to override these options and not notify in that instance (which is handy when making a minor change such as fixing up a spelling mistake. A subject for the notification email is set, as is the email address it will be sent from. The content of the email is built up from selecting any number of options, an unsubscribe message is required, but the rest of the content could be made up of a message defined earlier, the item's summary or even another piece of content. Finally you select which subscription(s) the content applies to, it can be any number of them.These web alert settings can be set on a folder and inherited to child content, so it's important to ensure that web alerts are carefully defined so that the entire content tree is not set to one alert - this would lead to a lot of unwanted notifications to users.



Conclusion

The Ektron subscriptions/web alerts feature is a great way to keep engaged with the visitors of a web site. It allows users to ensure they stay up-to-date with content relevant to them, whilst allowing the web site owner to build a user database of motivated, and segmented customers. The configuration process takes a very granular approach which allows for well defined and setup subscriptions that can simply be inherited or defined with custom settings at a single content item level.

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