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Affino 8.0.27 - the Breakthrough Release

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The Affino Breakthrough Release
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Affino Breaks Through with industry leading sales and marketing automation service

Affino's latest 8.0.27 update delivers transformative capabilities to media, events and membership brands

It's a new ball game with Affino's breakthrough 8.0.27 release

The Affino 8.0.27 release is full of breakthroughs which transform Affino’s delivery. For many brands this will be the most significant release to-date as a host of Affino’s modules now offer industry leading automation capabilities and much deeper audience insight.

 

The biggest breakthrough is the official launch of the Affino Message Template Builder (MTB). The power, ease of use, insight, and message delivery are everything we looked to achieve. It is now possible to fully build message templates with real-time previews, dragging in elements as needed - including article lists and campaign banners, and fully styling every aspect of each message.

 

The introduction of the Converting Articles automation means that Affino now automatically assists with subscription, event and product sales, promoting the highest converting content automatically onsite, and in message campaigns. The Converting Articles Report provides deep insight into how each content piece drives sales conversions.

 

The checkout is transformed with dozens of underlying improvements, and the introduction of support for Apple Pay, Google Pay and Microsoft Pay (via Stripe) as well as the latest PayPal and Pay360 payment gateway APIs. Crucially these are all supported for auto-renewing subscriptions (with the exception of Pay360).

 

We have further deepened Affino’s analytics with greatly enhanced site, video and podcasting stats, providing insight on impressions and consumption. We have extended that to articles so that you have more nuanced insight on how well read each article is. We have further extended it to the Site Analysis with enhanced charts and data insights. For the first time Affino can now optionally also track external links within articles.

 

Affino’s managed directory services and direct lead gen capabilities are greatly improved, with much more powerful managed company directories, and for the first time providing support for multiple company directories on each site, e.g. for brands / manufacturers and dealers.

 

Affino’s SEO capabilities are greatly improved with the new SEO Health Check on each article, providing instant context-specific tips on a host of aspects for improving the SEO. The introduction of lazy loading on images means that pages load faster, especially on mobile, which in turn also greatly benefits SEO.

 

The re-release of the Menu Design Element is transformative for designing and building code-less sites; Conversion Events automatically creating Tasks is another breakthrough for semi-automated sales, service and marketing workflows; and the new Batch Invoicing capabilities mean that edition / issue / publication invoicing just got much easier.

 

There are approaching three hundred enhancements in all in this update, but it is the major ones outlined above which mean that each and every brand on Affino will greatly benefit from the possibilities opened up with this breakthrough service update.

 

Key Enhancements

 

Affino Message Template Builder (MTB) v1

Following a multi-year development project, and five further months of extensive testing by the Affino community, we are officially launching the new Affino Message Template Builder. You can now build great looking and incredibly smart messages for your campaigns in just five minutes (see the video).

 

The new builder is fully wysiwyg and drag and drop, and provides all the great styling flexibility that everyone has been asking for. It makes it simple to create powerful marketing, event, news, jobs, subscription and general promotion messages. Simply drag in the elements you want to use, which include content listings, campaign banners, images from the media library, hero headers and much more, and then style them with highly flexible styling options for every element.

 

The highly visual nature of the editor means you see exactly how the message is being formatted as you work on it, you can further preview how any associated message campaigns will look, with the dynamic content and banners pulled in for you. Once sent, you now have the message v1 heat map, to go alongside the refined message and campaign analytics, and the v1 email client analytics.

 

This release sees dozens of enhancements on top of all the fixes from the previous beta release, with greatly improved copying, three column layouts, smarter formatting capabilities, improved Outlook and Gmail support, hero header image, and much more. There is also a great deal more automation around enforcing integrity of the elements, e.g. you can’t drag a title out of an article listing any more.

 

We have also future-proofed the editor (as far as possible) by using the best open source frameworks available as the foundation for the wysiwyg editing and message code generation.

 

We can’t wait for you all to embrace Affino’s messaging in full now that we have delivered on all the key features requested by the Affino community - to bring Affino to parity, and beyond the best of breed messaging platforms.

 

Converting Article Analysis, Design Element, and Message Automation

With this release Affino now knows what articles on your sites directly lead to sales conversions. This insight is presented in the Converting Articles Report, it is also used to present a unique list of articles to each user which is tailored to their interests and most likely to lead them to make a purchase. We have taken that further and Affino can send out a great looking list of the highest converting articles through the message campaigns using a new list available to drag and drop in on the new message template builder. This list could for example be emailed automatically to any registering user as content of interest.

 

Behind the scenes, you are able to configure exactly which articles (filtered by channel) you want to track. Affino then tracks the last three articles viewed by each person from that list against each order placed. This builds up an incredible resource which automatically goes on to generate further sales, and which can be interrogated at any time.

 

The Converting Articles Report has numerous filters so you can drill down to see what specific content is converting for what specific products or product lines, focusing in on creation and conversion timeframes. For each article it highlights in depth the number, and rate of conversions. It is also possible to export this list. For many brand owners this is going to be a crucial resource for guiding them as to which articles should be promoted on social media, or should be worked on further, expanded on or have further content created on the same subject matter.

 

You can also look into each article to view its conversion history, and see the list of users who have purchased as a result of reading the article. You can further delve down into each contact to see which articles most recently led to a sales conversion.

 

Deeper Analytics with enhanced Site, Channel, Section, Article and Media Analysis

This release sees the introduction of deeper analytics for articles (which includes news, insight, product, event, review type articles and much more), videos and podcasts. Previously Affino simply reported on a single ‘View’ activity without breaking it down further. Affino now breaks this down further so that is shows the number of impressions as well as the number of times the content was consumed and bookmarked.

 

Affino tracks each page served to a human as an impression, and uses a combination of factors and methods to define consumption - depending on the specifics of whether the user is within the same session, has partly or fully viewed the content already in the session, has spent enough time on it, or indeed scrolled the page for long-form article content. For more detail on how the consumed numbers are generated see the FAQs.

 

These new stats are featured both directly on each content item, where they are charted over the past year (starting from now), as well as on the Site Analysis, where you get an overview of how engaging your podcasts are, how many times viewers have watched your videos, whether within an article, or in the video library, or had a deep dive into your product details.

 

Note that these are major updates, and fundamentally alter how Affino counts content views and engagement. We have also re-factored all the data series within Affino as a result, so you will see updated series within the Site Analysis drill down, as well as for Channels and Sections and all the underlying content elements.

 

Behind the scenes we have rolled out a number of new data capture and aggregation capabilities in Affino to manage all the additional data generated.

 

Checkout now with Apple Pay, Google Pay, Microsoft Pay (beta), new PayPal, and new Pay360

The checkout sees a host of great new features, and behind-the-scenes improvements in this release. At the forefront of the updates are Affino’s new support for Apple Pay and Google Pay, and even Microsoft Pay through Stripe. We have also rolled out the integration with the new PayPal APIs and for all four different payment methods Affino supports both one-off payments and fully auto-renewing subscription and membership payments.

 

We have put a great deal of focus on refining the checkout process further to handle transactions more gracefully, better device support irrespective of screen size, and improved styling. Behind the scenes Affino now integrates more tightly with Stripe, GoCardless and PayPal to provide even more automation and insight to ensure the highest payment and retention rates.

 

We have upgraded a number of APIs to support the latest credit card standards, and will continue to further enhance this over the coming releases. Note that when using the new PayPal payment gateway, select PayPal Standard. Note that you will want to migrate to the new Pay360 service if you are using the soon to be deprecated PaySec payment gateway.

 

Company Directories

This release sees a transformation in Affino’s managed company directory services. Affino now makes it possible to set up and manage multiple highly specialised company directories on a single site. Not only are there significant new filtering and sorting capabilities, but we have added further value-added capabilities for better showcasing and interacting with brands and dealers.

 

With Affino you can now run both brand and dealer directories on the same site, showcasing the brands themselves (in multiple premium tiers), directly searching for dealers within each brand page, and now Affino makes it possible to run dedicated dealer directories alongside the brands. So for example it is possible to got to a dealer directory and search by the brands, e.g. Tesla or Nike (using Associated Accounts), and find all the dealers related to it, it is then possible to enter your postcode and see which one is the nearest, and to directly message both the brands and their dealers.

 

On the dealer pages you can now showcase (and individually set) all the value-added elements. Each dealer can feature all the same content as the brands including articles featuring them, products they sell, videos and podcasts they are associated with, and it is possible to showcase key contacts as well. We have added the ability to set the Priority on accounts, so that in the same way as in Affino’s Directory it is now possible to sell priority listings on the company directories with multiple priority tiers.

 

Behind the scenes Affino provides deep analytics on all the brand and dealer pages shown, whether the user has navigated through to the brand site, send them a message, or any other key activity. This data is tabulated over the year for detailed reporting and account management.

 

Faster Sites and Improved SEO

As with all Affino releases this one has key page speed improvements. The most significant one is Lazy Loading of images. This means that only images which are on screen, or about to be on screen are loaded up by the browser. So in the event that there are a lot of images on the page, the ones which are immediately visible are the ones loaded up first, and the others only if needed.

 

This is a big change and we have held back on this for some time now to ensure the best compatibility between Affino and some legacy browsers. Now that Apple support Lazy Loading well across all devices, and on the whole the audience now uses browsers which are compatible with it, we feel this is the right time to make the change and benefit from the very real experience boost that comes with it.

 

We have also added a great new SEO Health Check to all articles within Affino. This health check can be seen when in the Control View on each article, it provides smart feedback on all aspects of the article to make key recommendations on how best to update the content for better SEO. In each case when we have reviewed SEO placement of clients’ content- and 90% of the issues are directly related to the underlying content, and with the health check we are putting the intelligence right in front of the journalist, editor, event manager, product manager, and reviewer when they are writing and reviewing the content.

 

Some of the key areas of feedback include: image sizes and types, image alt text, the use of subheadings, teasers, social sharing links, related content, topics, renaming file names to be SEO friendly and ensuring the content is on topic.

 

Order and Subscription Import (beta)

The new unified Order and Subscription Import is the most significant new import in Affino for years. It combines in one spreadsheet all the orders, order line items and subscription purchases. For the first time Affino supports the import of all the payment gateway data, including ongoing payment mandates for subscriptions.

 

The unified nature of the import means that it is now possible out-of-the-box to migrate fully across subscription services running on most 3rd party platforms, including any ongoing Stripe, GoCardless or PayPal subscriptions, and in the event that they are through Stripe, Affino further supports the migration of Apple Pay and Google Pay subscriptions.

 

This highly structured data import means that you can provide the sample spreadsheet and help guide to any third party data company and they will be able to transform your existing data into the correct format for importing into Affino. For much more detail see the new help guide (related).

 

Batch Invoicing

We are introducing new Batch Invoicing capabilities into Affino. It is now possible to generate a single PDF of all the invoices filtered by a given Edition and Month. This is intended for Ad and other Edition (issue) related bulk invoice processing, where all the invoices related to a specific issue need to be quickly printed off and placed in envelopes, or provided to the printers / distributors to be sent out with individual issues to clients for placement review.

 

Affino identifies the orders which have line items assigned to the edition, and prints out the full invoice for the order. It is already possible to send digital invoices directly through Affino, and for customers to access them through the My Account pages.

 

Menu Design Element (v1 official)

We have previously announced the Menu Design Element and covered what it brings in detail. It was clear on launch though that it needed more polishing, which we have now completed. The Menu DE is transformative when it comes to building smart menus and we recommend you switch all your menus over to it with your next site refresh.

 

Conversion Event Task Creation

It is now possible to generate a Task from firing off a conversion event for the first time. This is a much requested feature and delivers on a broad range of workflows including: creating lead call tasks for salespeople; automatically creating a support task; creating a task to review an award entry; or vip ticket purchase. Affino could already assign contacts to lead lists, support lists, and customer service lists, but the ability to create specific tasks, designed to fire off with specific delays is a major step forward for advanced workflows.

 

We have further refined conversion events by adding new Email and Address Changed triggers, along with an audit trail for any email and postal address changes.

 

Service Updates

We are rolling out a number of service, platform and security updates alongside this release. These include significant software and service updates in many of the underlying technologies we use, and will be rolled out alongside the release. Some will be applied as you upgrade, others will simply be put into place across the board for Affino services with the launch of this version of Affino SaaS.

 

Key focuses for these updates beyond the fixes are enhanced security, and smoother performance.

 

Upgrade Guidance

 

If you have a Staging site, we recommend updating to this release and testing thoroughly prior to updating your main Affino instance. Note that all active scheduled tasks are wiped when you update the site so make sure that any required ones are completed prior to running the update.

 

It is important to liaise with the support team to schedule in an update window where they can be on hand to support with the update. It is essential that you run through the complete update process starting with the Affino Updater, followed by the sequence of the system and design updates laid out on the Control > Update screen.

 

There is a new Beta Elements link on the Control Navigation, or alternatively you can simply click here to see which Affino elements are in official beta and not yet fully live.

 

Note that this release requires a new security key on your Affino instance as we are introducing a new security right to Affino.

 

Other Enhancements

 

Accounts (public) - Enhanced targeting of the public account listing so that it can be used for multiple different types of directories on a single site, e.g. brand and vendor directories. When in the directory you can now search by the nearest account (company), e.g. when searching for local dealerships. We have added a new Sort by option on the account listing, which can be sorted by most recent and alphabetically, but also automatically switches to priority sort when there are priority accounts, and to nearest one when the post code search is used.

 

We have added up to three different topic filters on the accounts listing, which when combined with all the other enhancements to the filtering and sorting it means that Affino now delivers highly customisable and very powerful managed company directory searches. This release sees associated accounts for the first time. This functionality is used on Dealer directories to select the brands which a dealer is selling, those accounts selected, e.g. Apple will be showcased on the dealer listing, and when the directory is searched any account associated with Apple will be listed.

 

It is now possible to ‘live view’ accounts where they are set to public. Simply click on the live view button on the control side Account to view the public account page(s).

 

Note that when using the postcode searches on accounts, Affino now displays the crown copyright statement on the page.

 

Account Import and Export - we have added the ability to import and export the priority status on the accounts, as well as the associated accounts. These are handled with the new AssociatedAccountCode, AssociatedAccountName and Priority columns. Affino also no longer treats duplicate accounts in the import as errors, instead they are simply ignored if set to Ignore on the import settings. We have added a HideAssociatedAccountsTabYN column to speed up directory population.

 

Account Profile - the Account Profiles are considerably extending in this release to support all the new account listing, display and search capabilities. New options include: Show Sort List, Default Sort Order, Use Postcode Finder, Use Priority Listing, Scoped Topic Filters, Show (or Hide) Associated Brands, as well as the new Text Items: Brands, Priority, Alphabetical and Most Recent.

 

Articles - enhanced analytics including new SEO advisory panel and the breakdown between article impressions and consumption (reads). This works for all article based content, e.g. articles, products, reviews etc. Article Analysis now lets you view up to six months of viewers for any given article, and can also add those viewers to a contact list.

 

Article Steps - it is now possible to expand the article step listing view by simply selecting ‘show details’ on both the article and the main Article Steps listing. When expanded you see the images and media for each step along with the step text and more of the key step settings. This greatly assists with both article creation and review. Affino now supports Alt text on all step images, and automatically displays the alt text below each step image.

 

Catalogue Item Import / Export - we have made extensive updates to the Catalogue Item Imports and Exports to better support subscription imports into Affino, as well as other general improvements. It is essential that if you use either that you download / export fresh reference files to see all the new columns and formatting which is in place.

 

Articles > External Link Analysis (new) - new in this release is the ability to track external article links directly in Affino. To set up a link for tracking, in the WYISYG simply select the the Link dialogue. You have two new class options: Track External Link and Button & Track External Link. When either option is selected, Affino now captures the number of times each tracked link is clicked on. This is visible when viewing and article on the Control Centre, and is shown in a new External Clicks table directly below the Referring URLs stats. Note that this is purely a count of the number of times the link has been clicked. If you want to do more advanced click tracking with automation you can still use the combination of Redirects and Conversion Events for more advanced stats and actions.

 

Articles > Link Articles - support Event Dates and Location - Link articles can now be included in event listings and support the Event Date attribute. This means that Affino can now list events which directly link off to 3rd party sites from the Event Listing Template and the Event Listing Design Element. Simply create a Link article with the Event Dates and Location.

 

Articles Report v2 - Major update to the Articles Report, with more detailed clarity on the timeframes covered by each attribute, improved filtering, sorting and much more scalable. We have introduced a new generation report, which now has stats generated on an ongoing basis for faster and more scalable report generation.

 

Audio Player - when episodes are less than 30 seconds, the skip button is for 10 seconds (rather than 30).

 

Catalogue Items - we have replaced the Subscriptions tick box filter with a multi-select Subscription Plan filter for much improved searching.

 

Catalogue Item Import and Export - Affino now only uses the SectionScreenName and no longer the ChannelScreenName in the import / export for simplicity and consistency.

 

Contact - new Audit trail for any email address changes, highlighting when and who changed it. We have also added a Contact List filter on the Contact lookup selector, should simplify considerably when using on large sites. Affino now only shows the latest activity that extends the life of a contact record.

 

Conversion Events - new Email Changed trigger which fires whenever a user changes their email address. Affino now shows the Previous Email with a date stamp and by whom on the contact detail (under Last Password Reset). We have additionally added a new Postal Address Changed trigger, and the corresponding audit trail.

 

Design Styles - we have added support for H5 and H6 to Design Styles, so that Affino now offers even more heading styling flexibility in articles. It is exceptionally rare that brands use even H4, however some do and require further ways to express sub headings, and this is now possible.

 

Directories - for the self-service directories we have now added all the Text Items associated with them to the Directory Profile and Directory Step Profile respectively for easier management. We have also made it optional whether or not to automatically show and select the Generate Thumbnail option to users. There is also a new option to Hide Contact Supplier option available on Directories to not show the contact button on each company.

 

Dynamic Forms - we have simplified the form field options by removing a couple of field type options: Message Notes, and Message Small Notes. We have renamed Comment to Notes and renamed Message Title to Message.

 

Incoming Feeds - new option to Use Teaser and / or Use Introduction to populate the Articles and Media items from the incoming feed teaser.

 

Message Campaigns - Estimated Reach is now calculated and stored when the Calculate Estimated Reach button is pressed, rather than automatically every time you look at a campaign. This is a highly intensive process and had been affecting performance on large Affino instances.

 

Message Templates - added support for Preheader Text, currently accessible through the PT button on the top bar of the Message Template Builder

 

My Library - major update with the edition of a My Library Search, it is now possible to search across all your My Library tabs to find the video, podcast or article you bookmarked.

 

Orders - the order sort options are now always displayed on the order listing

 

Order Export - enhanced labels

 

Registration / Auto Merge - we have added in a number of additional data points which are carried over from the CRM record to the new Member record when a person registers. If these values are not present on the new record, and they are populated in the existing CRM record prior to them being merged, then Affino will copy across: Topics, Nickname, Avatar, and all the Primary Address fields.

 

Sales Report - significant updates to the Sales Report, mean that the report now no longer includes zero value rows by default (but can be enabled), and has the ability to sort by the report columns, including for the export.

 

Search - we have reintroduced the ability to selectively reindex content in Affino’s Site Search on the Search Update Control screen.

 

Security - we have added a number of security updates to minimise the possibility of the Guest user account being compromised. We have had recent incidents where the Guest user account was assigned security rights and subscriptions it should not have had, and the updates look to remove these possibilities as far as possible and ensure that the Guest account can only be managed in the Security Centre. Note that we have also introduced major updates to Affino’s overall security protection layer, this has caused issues for some customers where some pages have been blocked with 403 errors, please contact the Affino team should this happen to you through your forum, with specific page URL references.

 

Site Analysis (Major Update) - updated to support impressions as well as consumed metrics for all articles, videos and podcasts (see Deeper Analytics above). Note that there are significant updates in how the data is presented compared to earlier versions, with the addition of the Consumed metric, the re-defining of Views to Impressions, and Affino now displays aggregate stats in the graphs for not only each Channel, but the sub sections and articles shown on the channel. This means a significant change in the event that you have existing data series you use which are populated using Affino data.

 

Subscriptions - User ID is now shown as User Code for consistency

 

Tasks - we have implemented a significant update for task alerts, so that there is now an app-based lookup to call the upcoming tasks alerts which checks as you load up the site the first time, and then runs once across all your tabs to fetch new tasks. This is far more efficient than previously both on the browsers and servers.

 

Users - User Merge has been updated to include the address, security, nickname and avatars where appropriate.

 

User Export - important security update, Affino now no longer provides direct download of the User Export files from the notification message, instead the user clicks through to the active tasks screen and downloads the export from there (requires a login). A further significant update is that we have added a User Export security clearance, decoupling it from the Security clearance, this means for example that marketing and sales lead teams can export leads without having full Security centre access. NOTE - users will need to be allocated this right to be able to export contacts.

 

Fixes and Minor Enhancements

 

Fixes are elements which didn’t work as well as they should, and have now been made to work better. Minor enhancements provide subtle improvements that most people won’t notice (some will love), but which nonetheless improve on the overall Affino experience.

 

Account (commerce tab, Control listing)

 

Account Profile

 

Advanced Directory Listing (sponsored)

 

Advanced Seminar

 

App Bar (accounts)

 

Articles (display, editing, analytics)

 

Article Carousel

 

Article Import

 

Article Steps (multiple)

 

Articles Report (multiple)

 

Article Listing (control)

 

Awards

 

Campaign Analysis (multiple)

 

Channel (Account channel deletion)

 

Catalogue Items (pricing)

 

Catalogue Item Import (performance)

 

Catalogue Item Export

 

Catalogue Item Import (multiple)

 

Checkout (PayPal, multiple)

 

Comments Approval

 

Commerce Analysis (visitors)

 

Contacts (adding to contact lists)

 

Conversion Events (multiple, including notifications, and message / message subscription / purchase triggers)

 

Customer Ladder Analysis

 

CRM Profile (opening liability)

 

Directory (sponsor labels)

 

Dynamic Forms (account passthrough)

 

Events (speaker bios, multiple)

 

Forums (collaboration, timestamps, multiple)

 

Google Base Integration

 

Mailing List (users)

 

Media Upload (images)

 

Menu DE (multiple)

 

Message (heat-map, links, name placeholders)

 

Message Campaigns

 

Message Campaign Analysis

 

Message Templates (campaign search)

 

My Interests (multiple)

 

Orders (subscriptions)

 

Payment Methods (type)

 

Podcasts (multiple)

 

Pro Forma (multiple)

 

Profile (edit)

 

Products (vat display)

 

Pro Forma Orders (Security)

 

Sales Targets (multiple fixes)

 

Stop Code Report

 

Subscription Plan (catalogue items)

 

Subscription Renewal Profile

 

Removed

 

The following elements were removed from Affino in this release:

 

No elements were removed in this release.

 

Integration Updates

 

The following integrations were updated in this release:

 

Apple Pay - see Stripe

 

Font Awesome - compatibility updates

 

Google Base - updated to v2.1 Content API plus further enhancements

 

Google Pay - see Stripe

 

Microsoft Pay - see Stripe

 

Pay360 (formerly SecPay) - existing payment gateway updated to new brand, note that it is being deprecated at the end of May 2021 and decommissioned in September 2021. New Pay360 payment gateway support added with the latest credit card verification compliance standards in place. You will want to migrate to the new payment gateway at the earliest opportunity to ensure you avoid the May 2021 cutoff.

 

Stripe - major updates to Affino’s Stripe integration to further support Apple Pay, Google Pay and Microsoft Pay through Affino / Stripe. We also made further refinements to Affino’s response to Stripe edge use cases

 

PayPal - Major update with Affino’s PayPal integration. Affino now supports PayPal Standard, and PayPal for auto-renewing subscriptions.

 

Component Changes

 

Affino benefits from using some great frameworks, here are the updates we’ve rolled out for these frameworks in this release:

 

DataTables updated to - no change

 

JQuery updated to - no change

 

JQueryUI updated to - no change

 

FontAwesome updated to - no change

 

HighCharts updated to - no change

 

TinyMCE updated to - v5.8.0

 

Video.js updated to - v7.11.8

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