At the start of this year we defined our top priority as raising the bar on all the great capabilities Affino already has in place. This release is all about improving on Affino’s user experiences. There are over 200 updates in this release making Affino faster, more capable, and more productive.
These range from calendar invites on events and seminars, to extending the marketing automation to include interactive customer loyalty and reward schemes. We’ve made awards more flexible and easier to judge, and greatly extended the financial reporting, most significantly by introducing multiple payment dates for each order.
The store, ecommerce, checkout, payment gateway integrations, sales reporting, subscription reporting, and financial reporting all see major updates in this release. Increasingly we are addressing the edge user cases and making everything more robust, faster and usable.
Many of the updates, whilst small in and of themselves, can have transformative outcomes, an example is that auto-responder messages can now happen within minutes rather than the next day. Another is that Conversion Events have added safeguards and can therefore be used for reward schemes.
Behind the scenes we have resolved dozens of bot induced errors, and optimised a number key of core interfaces including media uploads and contact lookups. We have also further accelerated the average page speed for most pages.
Order Payment Dates
We have made a fundamental change in this release, which affects how all the sales, financial and subscription reporting works. Prior to this release there was a single Affino Order date, we have now introduced payment dates against each order, so that each order can have distinct payment dates, and in the case of subscriptions each payment made against the order is logged precisely at the time it’s received whether it be manually or via payment gateway webhooks.
This change means that all the commercial financial reports, including the Order, Order Line Item, Deferred Income and Liabilities, Sales Report, Tax Reports are all updated to support the new payment dates. Note that these are significant updates and will affect your financial reporting.
Customer Loyalty Schemes, Rewards & Gamification (Beta)
This release sees the introduction of a new Badges Channel type - and the introduction of a new Rewards Design Element. When used together, you can for the first time (since moving to responsive design), surface all the audience rewards and activities on a single page. Please note that this is the initial Beta launch and we are expecting to refine both elements further over the coming weeks. They both look great and deliver an exciting user experience already.
The Badge Channel (Beta) shows you the reward points you get for which activities, showcasing all the badges (activities) with those you’ve yet to get in an off-state, and those you have achieved in an on-state, with the corresponding points to be gained / earned. Each activity can link right to the location, e.g. viewing content, signing up for newsletters, etc. The Badge Channel can optionally sit within the My Profile hierarchy and be navigated to from all the personal profile screens.
The Rewards Design Element (Beta) showcases each of the awards in a listing, with the possibility of interspersing the awards with further calls to action and points earning activities. When the user has accumulated sufficient points (store credits) they are able to click through to the reward form to claim the credit. This form in turn is intended to be linked to a conversion event so that the user is automatically added to the respective reward contact list and their credits reduced accordingly. The Rewards Listing styling is highly flexible, with all the Smart layout options and the ability to display more on the screen.
We have added in safeguards both against claiming and triggering conversion events so that users need sufficient store credits to do both. To reward longer term audience members we have added birthdays as Conversion Event Triggers so that users can automatically get some rewards over the lifetime of their membership.
Deferred Income / Liability Report (Beta)
We have completely overhauled the Deferred Income and Deferred Income Detail Reports and renamed them to indicate the newly included Liability report. The biggest update is that Affino now calculates deferred income and liabilities based on payment dates. Note that to support calculations which might include 100,000’s of individual payments, Affino now processes this report over time and shows an indicator on the progress.
We have added a new tab to show the Deferred Liabilities, and a further tab to show Earned Revenues, which focuses on the earned revenues for each subscription plan for the month. We have added a new panel and settings to the CRM Profile which facilitate the setting of: Opening Liability Value, and associated Month and Year attributes for a number of years. These are then used in the Opening Liability calculation. Note that these reports are still in Beta pending community feedback.
We have made a host of improvements to Affino’s Awards judging service. There is now more help and guidance for the judges, the ability to turn on / off the nominator and nominee’s name and the team / company on the judge’s entry listing. There is a new option for a scoring summary introduction for the judges, and better access to the categories if a judge is judging multiple categories. We have also added the smarts so that if one of the fields is used as a URL field, Affino automatically identifies it and makes it clickable.
We have further updated the awards entry workflow so that it is now possible on the Awards Profile to identify which address, telephone, logo, team and company fields are displayed, and required for each entry.
Events and Seminar Calendar Invites (Beta)
We have added support for calendar invites for Advanced Events (detail) and Seminars (listing, detail and agenda including emailed agenda). These are displayed on event and seminar detail screens, and you can upload a custom ICS file to each event that you wish to add extra information above and beyond the automatically generated ICS files. Additionally we include a single ICS file in the Agenda email enabling users to add all the seminars to their calendar in one go.
Contact Lists (User Managed)
It is now possible on the registration / my profile / contact records to designate Contact Lists that users can sign up for. These look similar to Newsletter signups and are displayed immediately below them. What separates these from all other contact lists is that these are user self-managed, and open a host of new profiling possibilities right on the main registration screen.
We have identified a host of new malicious and badly behaving bots, and have effectively quarantined them from Affino sites. We have also improved the bot handling in general, and identified new ways to further automatically identify and control them (which will be in an upcoming release). We have also made significant further strides in optimising the display side pages which in some instances are reducing the rendering time by up to 90%.
Elsewhere key elements including media uploading and control side contact lookups are now much faster, in particular on very large sites and CRMs. Behind the scenes we have had a company-wide focus on on resolving all error log issues which primarily occur from malicious bots. The net result is the lowest level of downtime and disruption across the entire Affino SaaS service since the original launch.
This is primarily a core functionality, performance, and bug fix release, however it is a highly complex update, and as some of these elements only impact over time, e.g. subscription renewals, deferred income, and message campaign automations, we recommend that a close eye is kept on those elements over the initial couple of weeks. If you have a Staging site, we strongly recommend updating to this release and testing thoroughly prior to updating your main Affino instance.
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.
Message Campaign Advisory: Note that for purposes of system optimisation, service fluidity, and business continuity - we have changed the Auto Response Minimum Delay setting to 1 Hour. If any of your active Campaign Messages or Newsletters have been legacy set to a lower response rate - you will need to edit and change them to the new minimum rate of 1 hour as appropriate. This means you should review and update all your auto-responder message campaigns.
Abandoned Baskets / Checkout - refinements in how shopping baskets are flagged / removed / reset when being abandoned by shoppers. New settings (Store Profile) and checks in place to ensure that the abandoned basket duration is less that the basket removal time. We have also improved the ability for Abandoned Baskets to trigger Message Campaigns.
Analytics - we have re-organised a number of the Analytics elements to make finding them more intuitive.
Articles - We have updated the Expired Article filter on the control-side Article listing. It is now possible to see all expired articles as well as those expiring in the past month, 3 months, and 6 months. It is also possible to see the upcoming expiring articles for the month, 3 months and 6 months.
Articles Report (Beta) - just a note that the articles report is still beta and not yet optimised for large and busy Affino sites. We will be working on extensive optimisations on the report in an upcoming release. We have added a new Share Column which highlights the number of times each article has been shared using Affino’s share tools.
Auto Archiving - contacts which are in the Auto Archive Exclusion group no longer show an Auto Archive date on their profile.
Catalogue Items - We have added an Expires filter on the control-side Catalogue Item listing. It is now possible to see all expired catalogue items as well as those expiring in the past month, 3 months, and 6 months. It is also possible to see the upcoming expiring catalogue items for the month, 3 months and 6 months.
Channels - new Badge (Beta) Type channel, see above.
Checkout - refinements on how abandoned baskets are now reported, and we have improved the campaign automation to send a message 1 hour after the basket was abandoned. If it’s less than one hour it is identified as an abandoned basket, if more then it’s an abandoned checkout. New currency refinements with improved currency prediction and handling. We have refined the checkout process to better support multiple tabs with different products in each one.
Comments Approval (formerly Comment Queues) - there are a number of useful usability updates to the comments management, including updating the name. We have refined the filters including adding a comment search filter, article name filter (predictive) and account filter (predictive). We have introduced a new status filter with the following options: Awaiting approval, Approved, Rejected and Archived. We’ve added a new Status column and automatically hide the Zone filter and column if there is only a single Zone. Affino now also shows the Account each contact is in below their name.
Contacts - new smarter notifications on contact list creation when you’re creating a contact list from a contact search. If a list with the name already exists then the user is notified and has the ability to cancel (and create a separate unique list). Improved the forum and mailing list selectors on Contacts so less chance of error when editing. We have updated contact creation to remove the defaults for Last Page View, Last Forum View and Previous Forum View, and also no longer store the IP address if the user is created in the Control Centre.
Conversion Events - New Call to Action for when users are viewing each badge in the listing, showing how many store credits they’ll gain / have gained, along with a call to action. New Minimum Store Credits to Trigger Event safeguarding limit to ensure that only eligible users can trigger specific rewards. Conversion Events can now have negative Store Credit values so that they can be used as rewards. We have updated the Add and Remove Security Group actions on conversion events so that they now impact immediately within the session, as opposed to need to wait for the the user to log in again. This will considerably simplify advanced onboarding and reward workflows.
(Priority) Countries - it is now possible to set one or more countries as Priority Countries. These will then appear at the top of the country selectors when editing address details, including Registration and for Dynamic Forms.
Design Styles - we have added a new Feature Icon to the Design Style, initially this will be used on Badges, and likely rolled out more broadly in a future Affino release.
Discounts (Beta) - extensive updates on Discounts in Affino. Please note that these are still a work in progress to bring them fully and flexibly to the new responsive checkout. We have updated the discount management extensively to make it more usable and less likely to lead to user errors. Note that the Quantity and Item Value discounts will now only be applied if set on specific Catalogue Items. More work is still needed on the Display side to fully enable these. Note this in no way impacts on the Pro Forma discounts which remain unchanged.
Edition Exports (Beta) - it is now possible to export Editions from the Editions screen.
Forums - you can now directly click through from forums to manage the subscribers / un-subscribers (Control Side), as well as immediately see how many there are of each one. Refined the way you can either designate a forum poster security group, or select them individually. We have further refined the handling of the auto-closed threads. Extensive refinements to the forum messaging meta data.
Fulfilment Dates - we have renamed the Delivery Date attributes introduced in the previous Affino release to be Fulfilment dates, this is to remove any confusion with the actual delivery dates.
Help - we have made a number of help text improvements throughout Affino to provide more clarity on what each element delivers. We’ve also renamed a number of attributes to make their purposes clearer.
Imports & Exports - we have further refined the imports and exports, both to make them more granular, and to further improve the consistency between paired exports and imports. You will need to update any imports to match the latest formats.
Message Campaigns - major improvements in auto responder responsiveness. We have updated the Message Delay options so that rather than being just in days, there is the option to make it Hours or Days. This means that message campaign auto-responder messages can now be triggered within hours of an activity, previously there was a minimum delay till the next day for sending the messages. We have also updated the auto-responder triggers so that instead of just having an aborted shopping basket trigger there are two new ones for: Abandoned Checkout and Abandoned Basket.
My Account - extensive updates to the Subscriptions tab. We have refined how long renewal buttons are displayed, and now display to admins which renewal options are available to customers (these are not actionable by admins, i.e. view only). We have further refined the renewal display logic based on a host of criteria to ensure that the button is only present when it makes sense to a customer. We have also further refined the logic on presenting the cancel button. Subscriptions now display both the start and end dates.
Navigation - we have updated the Control side navigation to move Customer Ladder Analysis and the Dashboard under Social, along with Conversion Funnels, Accounts Report and Commerce Analysis.
Order Line Item Report - extensive updates to ensure the highest accuracy and speed of calculation for the Order Line Item Report. The report now default lists out the last month.
Orders - new Incomplete (Basket Reset), Incomplete (Order Timeout), Incomplete (Manually Set) order statuses introduced to help identify the reason an order was not placed. Further updates to the order automation to ensure smooth subscription renewals and ongoing payment automations. Introduced new Payment Dates and amounts along with payment and fulfilment date filters. These can be posted manually or generated automatically through the payment gateway integrations.
Order Confirmation - we have added the subscription expiry (as well as start) to the order confirmation.
Order Line Item Report - added New filters: Business Unit (multi-selector), Sales Team (multi-selector), and Order Type. The Order Line Item Status filter has also been made into a multi-selector. We have extended the Order Line Item Export to include Business Units, Sales Teams and Order Types.
Password Reset - we have implemented a new Reset Link Expiry Period (Password Reset Profile) setting so that you can set the period for which the password reset links are active. In the past this has been kept to 20 minutes, the setting lets you extend it to 120 minutes, which is useful where some corporate email systems quarantine emails for an hour before releasing them.
Performance - we have improved the performance of a host of Affino elements, and the result will be further improvements in uptime and performance across the board for your Affino instance.
Products - New Number of Store Credits Required field, this sets the minimum limit of store credits a user has to have to be able to claim a reward.
Pro Forma Orders - we have added smarts so that only one of the Edition or Fulfilment Dates can be set against each line item.
Sales Report - following on from the ad sales updates in the last release, we’ve added Fulfilment Date Filters on to the Sales Report. These are an essential enhancement for identifying and projecting revenues and cashflow.
Sales Targets - extensive updates to improve the usability and effectiveness of the Sales Targets
Scheduled Tasks - there is a new system level engine to check for any stalled scheduled tasks. If one is found then it will be set up again.
Staging Service - we have added new safeguards to Staging Sites to automatically lock down most repeating tasks and to disable any live payment automations, automatically, so that you can run test versions without the potential of duplicating live transactions.
Subscriptions - this release is an essential subscriptions update with dozens of fixes, improvements and enhancements in place. All of these should feel seamless compared to before, with the benefit of being more robust and capable across the board.
Tax Period Summary Export - updated the TaxRate to remove the % and switch to number format, and now round the Value and Tax columns to two decimal places.
Tax Transaction Report - it is now possible to filter by a single day. We’ve added the Order No. Column. In practice the report logic has been extended significantly to take fully into account coupons, discounts, payment status and order statuses.
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.
Accounts (commerce tab)
Addresses (editing / display)
Android Compatibility (Improved scrolling on Chrome for Android)
Article (copy, last updated)
Article Carousel DE
Article Listing / Article Listing DE (multiple)
Articles (Control, Article Insights)
Article Detail (styling)
Article Feature Scroller
Author Display (refined)
Article Listing (sort, styling enhancements)
Auto-login (subscription checks)
Campaigns (creative display)
Checkout (performance, multiple usability enhancements)
Contact (add / edit)
Conversion Events (multiple fixes)
Customer Ladder Analysis
Date of Birth (increased date range)
Dynamic Forms (copy)
Event Article (Advanced copy, secured display, styling, plus more)
Events Listing (multiple, including styling enhancements)
Manually Related Content DE (styling enhancements)
Media Listing (styling) / Media Listing DE
Message Campaign (active member timeframe editing, adding, drill-down, plus more)
My Account (styling)
Order Line Item Report (date formats, discounts, plus more)
Previous Orders Report (multiple)
Products (the number of store credits are no longer required)
Pro Forma Orders (multiple)
Products / Product Listing / Product (copying)
Sales Invoice Export
Security Groups (adding contacts)
Server Start Routines
Stop Code Report
Subscription Expiry Report
Subscriptions (filtered sort, totals, export)
Syndication and Aggregation
User Archiving (un-archive)
User Import (multiple)
The following elements were removed from Affino in this release:
There were no items removed in this release.
There are important Payment Gateway integration updates in this release.
GoCardless - updates payment amount on order based on exact payment taken on GoCardless
Stripe - updates payment amount on order based on exact payment taken on Stripe
Affino benefits from using some great frameworks, here are the updates we’ve rolled out for these frameworks in this release:
DataTables updated to - v1.10.21
JQuery updated to - no change
JQueryUI updated to - no change
FontAwesome updated to - no change
HighCharts updated to - no change
TinyMCE updated to - v5.3.2
Video.js updated to - no change