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Affino 8.0.25 - the Engagement and Insight Release

CRMDirectoriesecommerceeventsFeaturedMediaMessage CampaignsResourceSales & Marketing AutomationUnified Business Platform+-

This release sees over two hundred enhancements, to cap off a busy year, where the Affino team have tackled many of the biggest requirements requested by the Affino community, and delivered across the board through the Affino service.


The core focus for this release is engagement and insight. We are building on all the great new features and enhancements added this year, and providing a new level of insight into how the community interacts with your site and brands, and those of your sponsors, and providing a host of new ways to engage with your audience(s).


There are big advances for directories and lead generation, with a host of major updates to Affino’s public Account pages, which now showcase far more detailed information, and support direct lead generation for brands, and much more granularity on the ability to sell different membership packages.


We are introducing a great new product comparison tool, as an extension to the reviews we introduced to Affino earlier this year. It is now possible to compare three reviewed products side by side, then look for the nearest dealer selling the product. This tool is incredibly slick and provides a great showcase for products.


Behind the scenes we are also transforming the amount of insight you will have for all the interactions on your site. We have extended the core Affino Site Analysis engine and dashboards to include all Media, Editions and Account pages. We have also put in place a lot of the elements in preparation for major advances in the core Affino statistics engines in Q1 2021. Crucially we have also made significant improvements to the Cookie Policy and Preferences management, making it far easier for your community to agree to all cookies throughout.


Affino now has improved ways of capturing and exporting audience details, including greatly improved On Page Feedback, many more auto-filled Dynamic Form fields, direct contact forms and messaging from company directories. We have also extended the user exports to optionally include select account details for more in-depth lead generation packages.


This release includes an alpha preview of the new WYSIWYG, Drag and Drop Message Template Builder. This is coming together after a year and and a half of sustained effort to bring a best of breed message builder to Affino. It has the great feel of simply dragging into place the elements you want, then seeing them automatically populate with the dynamic content, placeholder attributes and campaign creatives when you preview them against campaigns. It will make for much faster message creation, with better looking messages. We are still working on the finishing touches, and refining the experience prior to launch in Q1 next year. Feel free to explore the alpha, but please note that it is not yet production ready and we will change a number of elements prior to launch.


There are dozens of other neat improvements which have a big impact on the user experience, and bring simpler and faster management workflows to a lot of areas within the Control Centre. It’s well worth having a good read through the release notes, and then taking the opportunity to make the most of the great new enhancements the Engagement and Insights Release brings.


Key Enhancements

Product Comparisons (Reviews)

We have a great new Product Comparison app in this release. It builds on the reviews we introduced earlier in 2020, providing the ability to compare any two similar reviews. This is especially useful for showcasing product reviews and driving lead generation. Reviews have been updated to display a new compare icon which when clicked on takes the user through to the comparison screen.


Users can either add any product which is being reviewed to a comparison, or can go in directly to the comparison channel, starting with selecting the product category they want to review, then looking up a product to review and comparing that with other similar products, e.g. cars / brands / models, computers / brands / models etc. They can then compare up to three reviews side-by-side, with the attributes, teasers, thumbnails, ratings and review headlines all showcased.


Behind the scenes we are extending Article Profiles and introducing a new Comparison Profile, which in turn is assigned to the new Comparison Channel Type, as the basis for setting up and managing all the review comparisons, with a number of new attributes which determine what types of review are available for comparison, and what attributes are shown on each review type. We are also introducing the new Comparison Channel Type where the comparisons are showcased.


Accounts - Major Updates

This release sees a host of significant updates for Accounts on the display (public) side. These are designed to best showcase companies and their brands, and drive leads and interactions through, whilst providing deep insight into the audience.


We have also introduced a new generation of intelligence on the accounts (which will be rapidly evolving over the coming releases) showcasing who’s interacting with them, both individuals and companies, and giving you much more insight into the activities surrounding them.


To deliver on this higher level service we have made a host of key updates:


  • It is now possible for users to directly contact primary account contacts, in the same way as has been possible for self service directories. To facilitate this we have introduced the option to enable the direct contacting, and on My Messages to put in default subject and message, and to ensure the user can’t change the recipient.
  • We have added the option to search for offices / dealers using Postcodes on the Office (dealer) tab on accounts. This works for all UK postcodes (excluding Northern Ireland) and when enable shows the closest offices to the user’s location. The postcode is pre-filled if the user already has an address, and if not then the postcode they enter is automatically applied to their record. Offices / dealers are then listed with the nearest ones on top, showing how many miles away they are.
  • This is all managed on the Account Profile and individual accounts where you can select to enable on all accounts, and set the security clearance required by each user to do so.
  • We have made a host of display and styling improvements on Accounts, so they look much better across all devices
  • When listing out Accounts on the Account channel, it is now possible to select to either list all accounts, just the parent accounts or just the child accounts. Where this is useful is for example showcasing just the main brands, or listing out regional offices, dealers, or branches. The setting for this is on the Account Profile.
  • We have introduced Account Teasers to better introduce accounts on account listings
  • We have added an option to hide individual accounts from the Site Search, simply select and the account is not shown in the site search, but can still appear in specific public account listings.
  • The Account Import and Export has been updated to include the public account fields: PublicYN, PublicTeaser and PublicDescription.
  • We have updated accounts so that Additional Addresses on an account, above and beyond the primary address, are now clearly labelled and consistently formatted.
  • We have linked the Account pages and the Directory pages, so that where there is an Account with a Directory page, where the client can upload their brand assets, e.g. documents, videos, images, white papers etc. they click on the new tab on the Account page to see the assets, and can easily navigate back from the asset page to the brand page.
  • New to this release is a new Page Analysis tab on the Account. This showcases the full set of usage stats on the account page, including the views chart, recent account and users, and referring URLs
  • Articles related to an account, either through contacts in the account, or where tagged directly with the account are now all displayed on the Account. We have added the account field to a host of additional article types including all the feature, advanced, review and simple articles types.
  • It is now possible to hide individual accounts from the Site Search, these can then be navigated to from parent accounts, e.g. manufacturers / brands through to re-sellers.
  • Social Media icons / links can now be shown on account pages
  • We have updated the account editing so that the public account information is now grouped together on a new Public Information panel for ease of editing, along with all the preferences over what to display on the account page


Cookie Consent

This release makes it easier than ever for users to accept all cookies. In the previous release we resolved an issue where some cookies, including Google’s, which previously were being automatically included on the first page load, and then if the user did not consent they were not called again. Fixing this issue resulted in a 80% Google Analytics traffic drop for some of the early updaters to the release.


We have therefore rolled out a simpler way to accept all cookies whether from the the cookie bar or from the cookie management panels. For compliance we also make it very easy to only accept the essential cookies. To ensure the highest quality statistics, Affino now dynamically loads up the cookie JavaScripts immediately on accepting the cookies.


It is now possible to reset the cookie acceptance by adding in a new cookie policy on the Zone, this forces users to review their cookie preferences, with the possibility that a larger portion of users agrees to them. Once one user accepts a specific cookie policy, it is no longer possible to change that policy (except for the name, as is the case with terms and conditions) and a new one will need creating if you are looking to make a change, which in turn the community will need to accept.


It is essential to note though that even with these significant enhancements, we do not anticipate a major increase in the number of users accepting all cookies, in particular tracking and advertising cookies. To that end we are undertaking a major update to Affino’s core stats engine to provide far more insight and detailed stats natively in the upcoming releases.


Media Stats

We are introducing a new generation of Media Stats in this release showcasing all the core stats on each media item, including the number of impressions, impressions per day, a graph showing the impressions over the past month, and deep insight into which accounts (companies / organisations), and contacts have viewed which media, as well as all the referring URLs and stats on impressions from messages sent in Affino message campaigns.


Media stats are now also included within the Site Analysis and it is now possible as well to click directly through from viewing articles to see the underlying stats on the media item included in each article.


Site Analysis

We are moving to a much more detailed set of activity-based statistics throughout Affino. One change you will see throughout is the move to impressions and interactions, versus simple views. This way for example you can see how many impressions a video has had, as well as how many actual watched it. In addition to Media stats, Affino now also features Account page, and Edition stats in Site Analysis.


WYSIWYG, Drag and Drop Message Template Builder (alpha preview)

This release sees the introduction of the alpha preview of the new WYSIWYG message template builder. This editor has been over a year in the making and builds on the next generation MJML/HTML message editing and generation framework.


The template editor supports a host of dynamically editable elements - each of which can simply be dragged and dropped into the message template with realtime previews, and has the ability to preview against campaigns of your choice.


When editing email templates, Affino now supports both the existing code-based messages alongside the new WYSIWYG based messages, meaning that you can still continue to use 3rd party message templates and editors alongside the new WYSIWYG messages, as required alongside each other. It is important to note though that the new WYSIWYG message templates will need creating from scratch.


Using the new open source MJML framework as the underlying message code generation engine is also a major breakthrough as it means we have future-proofed the new WYSIWYG messages as the email HTML rendering is now handled by a best of breed email generation component which is continuously being upgraded by the global community, in the same way as with TinyMCE component, which serves as the Affino web HTML editor.


We have extensively optimised dozens of styling elements in the drag and drop editor to create the best looking default layouts, and each of the elements can be tweaked and styled further within the editor as needed. We are still working on the finishing touches, and refining the experience prior to launch in Q1 next year. Feel free to explore the alpha, but please note that it is not yet production ready and we will change a number of elements prior to launch.


Note that we have updated the placeholder formatting on messages in Affino, including the default message template, this means it is essential that you review your message templates to confirm that the personalised attributes are being pulled in as intended for all existing messages.



Upgrade Guidance

Note that there are major updates to Subscription Statuses in this release, which will require you to test thoroughly the subscriptions setup on your Affino instance, to ensure that they are working as expected for your needs.

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.


Other Enhancements


Audit - now works primarily with User Codes, rather than users’ names when auditing. An essential improvement for larger subscription and community sites


Articles - we have refined the pop-up audio and video player experience when podcasts are included on articles.


Article Imports and Exports - we have added the Review specific attributes to Article Imports and Exports after the Multimedia attribute. The new attributes (columns) are: ReviewQuote, ReviewRating, ReviewShowImagesAsSlideshowYN, ReviewFullWidthYN, ReviewName, ReviewDetails, ReviewScore, ReviewVerdict, ReviewPros, ReviewCons. We have also added the AccountCode so the articles can be tagged with accounts, as well as an ArticleType column, also featured in a new sample file.


Article Carousel DE - improved styling options for the meta data on the carousel, can now be fixed to the bottom of each panel. It is now possible to turn off the looping. Improved styling and spacing.


Article Listing DE - Affino can now pass through Channel Topics from the More button on the Article Listing DE ensuring continuity of focused browsing when the user clicks through.


Articles Report - we have extensively optimised the articles report, and greatly refined the figures presented when different filter combinations are used.


Auto User Archiving - there are significant updates to how users are archived and the notifications sent. Affino now logs an exact time when an action occurred, and keeps a log against each contact for the archiving actions. Additional checks are now also in place to ensure that the actions and notifications are fully in sync. The actions logged include:


User Auto Deleted: 08 Jan 2020 at 01:00
User Auto Deletion Notification: 01 Jan 2020 at 01:00
User Auto Archived: 30 Dec 2019 at 01:00


Auto User Un-archiving / Password Reset - when archived users now use the password reset they are automatically un-archived. On login they are taken to the Edit Profile screen to update their information and accept the terms and conditions (if there are new ones).


Button DE - Affino can now pass through Channel Topics from the Button DE ensuring continuity of focused browsing when the user clicks through.


Conversion Events - we have added a host of new Conversion Event triggers, with the ability to be triggered in the event of users doing these actions globally, or with more specific contexts, e.g. watching any video, or watching a specific video. The new triggers aded are: Video Played, Video Completed, Audio Played, Audio Completed, Item Added to My Library, Item Removed from My Library, Interest Topic Added, My Interests Content Subscribe, My Interests Content Unsubscribe.


This release also sees a new engine for handling the Conversion Event actions. This is a new generation, tightly optimised version, which splits the execution tasks into those which need to happen in realtime and those which can be slightly deferred. This will reduce the peak system load on Affino for example when message campaigns are being sent and users are opening messages, setting off triggers, and hitting landing pages at the same time.


Design - as with most Affino releases this one sees a host of styling enhancements throughout the Affino templates and design elements to improve the overall look and feel across all devices


Design Objects - we have added a new Class Selector to Cell Properties. This supports multiple classes, e.g. ‘classname1 classname2 classname3’


Directories - new options to control whether or not users can upload main and thumbnail images on their directory entries, and whether they want the thumbnail to be auto-generated from the main image upload. This gives you control over how much you want these elements to be managed or self-serviced by the directory entry owner. We have also added the ability to ‘paste as text’ to the wysiwyg main body field. It is now additionally possible to hide the main body text for each step, e.g. for videos this means users just uploading videos without having to add descriptive text for each one.


Dynamic Forms - we have added a host of new pre-population attributes on Dynamic Forms. If the user is logged in, then it is now possible to pre-populate the following attributes in addition to the ones already in place: Telephone, Business Phone, Mobile, Address 1, Address 2, County / State, Town / City and Postcode / Zip


Editions - we are bringing the core analytics engine to Editions so that you can now view the full engagement stats, referrers and recent viewers and viewing accounts.


Incoming Feeds - it is now possible to set a separate section for all the inbound images / thumbnails for each inbound feed. This is especially useful for inbound video feeds, where you don’t want to mix videos and their thumbnails in the same listing. Now works great for YouTube videos, for which Affino now also pulls in the media description values from the feed which is now set as the introduction and displayed on the video detail.


Interests - while announced in the previous Affino release, Interest Content Alerts are now live in this release. The user simply selects the topics which they are interested in, selects the frequency of the alerts they want to receive, and Affino then sends through the best matching content on the frequency selected.


Live Editor - it is now possible to make article attributes conditional on the live editor. This means that if you have a hierarchy of attributes, it is possible to filter these down as you enter in the form, e.g. select a manufacturer and only appropriate brands or sub types are displayed as options on the next field, similar to how it works on profiles.


Manually Related DE - improved formatting and styling options, added option to show Account Teaser


Media Items - it is now possible to regenerate images from image media items


Media Listing DE - further refinements in particular improved support for the video and podcast players


Menu DE - we have further refined the Menu DE and resolved all known issues. We strongly recommend that the menu design element is now used as the primary means of creating navigation menus


Message Campaigns - now supports 1,000’s of test messages for multi-variate testing, previously this was limited to 100’s. It is now possible to select the Contact List Operator on each message campaign, so that you can either send to all the users which are in all the selected lists, or those in any one of the lists. We have optimised the message campaign send for faster performance and scalability.


Message Placeholders - we have made global updates to ensure that all message placeholders in Affino are now using the new format


Meta Data - we have added a new short form date format option for the display side meta data, e.g. showing 01.10.20 to show the 1st October 2020.


My Account - now flags when the Store Profile is missing


My Interests - it is now possible to show the My Navigation on the My Interests Screen


My Library - it is now possible to show the My Navigation on the My Library Screen. We have also implemented a bookmarking limit of 500 items, after which users are asked to remove items to add more.


Newsletters - we have greatly improved the the user experience for guest users who are subscribing and un-subscribing from newsletters, providing clearcut subscribe and un-subscribe options.


On Page Feedback - Affino now combines votes and feedback in on page feedback where the user votes, and then comes back later to comment. Previously these were treated as two separate pieces of feedback. Affino now also logs feedback against specific Accounts pages, and shows both the account and the user’s job title on the feedback listing. We have also improved the styling of the On Page Feedback DE so that it looks great across all devices.


We have also added new date from and date to filters for ongoing review and reporting on feedback, this is also exportable in xlsx format.


Opportunities - it is now possible to change the opportunity close date after closing.


Orders - greatly improved subscription order status management, more effectively showcasing subscription orders which have been Renewed or Cancelled, or are Active Renew or Active Cancel.


Order Line Item Report - we have added a Pro Forma ID column, showcasing the source pro formas for each line item


Performance and Stability - we have made further performance and stability enhancements to Affino across a host of core Affino engines. We have also identified and improved the handling of a number of bots which had previously caused performance issues.


Podcasting - this release sees the polishing of the podcasting elements. We have also added direct links to external podcasting providers, which is fully customisable, and can include anyone from Spotify through to iTunes and Google.


Prime Related Content - hiding the account logo now also hides all the other account meta data


Privacy - it is possible to set email and telephone details to private for individual contacts (on User Security). These are then not displayed publicly in Affino in any context, including on directories.


Related Carousel DE - improved formatting and styling options


Sales Report - Affino now directly links through from the Sales Report through to the Order Line Item Report in order to make it more usable, supporting a drill down into the figures and individual line item purchases. Affino intelligently links through to the Order Line Item Report with the right filters and timeframe in place, to show the exact matching dataset. Affino now default groups the sales report by product lines for instant insight. We have also renamed the Order Type filter to Order Method for clarity.


Search / Search DE - we have updated the Site Search so that it is now possible to select the Content Group Priority for the search results. This means you can determine the order in which the Content, Contacts and Accounts are displayed on the site search. For some sites you might want the companies prioritised, whilst others might prefer the content listed first. We are also introducing a new Account search option on the Search Type selector. When selected it is then possible to select a target Account channel. When the user makes a search they are then taken to a filtered view of the accounts. Great for directory searches.


Affino now is also able to pass through the Channel Topics on a Topic Channel on a search from the Search DE. This means that any results made from the channel (when set on the DE) are pre-filtered by the channel topics, essentially providing a pre-configured searches. The Search DE also has a host of styling improvements.


Staging - we have implemented a new automation so that any staging site automatically has its SEO disabled immediately on first loading up from being refreshed from a live site.


Subscription Expiry Report - major updates to accurately reflect the updated renewal and lapsed subscriber statuses. Affino now accurately delivers the full report with full details on Expiry, Renewed, Cancelled, Lapsed, Suspended, Renewal Value, Renewal Rate, Cancellation Rate, Lapsed Rate and Suspended Rate.


Orders - great new productivity update on event orders, if there are attendees associated with an order and you are cancelling it, you are presented with the option to remove them from the attendee contact list


Pro Formas - it is now possible to copy over the Invoice Profile from the Pro Forma to an Order to ensure continuity of messaging and invoicing, especially where very different types of products are sold, e.g. subscription and ad sales. Once enabled on the Store Profile (Use Invoice Profile From Pro Forma) then whichever one is selected on the Pro Forma is automatically copied through.


Registration - we have added a new Integration Script option to the Demographic registration step, this is called when a user is sending through their demographic details and updating their profile.


Security Groups - we now display the Security Group codes both on the listing and detail screens


Terms and Conditions - users who are logging in and have not accepted the current terms and conditions are now taken to the profile edit screen so they can update their profile and accept the terms and conditions.


URLs - Affino now removes any trailing space from URLs which would previously have been created when there was a space at the end of a screen name.


User Export - We have introduced a new option to the user export: Contact Attributes with Account Details. This is a very useful addition for a host of lead generation scenarios where you are providing a combination of individual and company details.


Video - we have refined the video experience further in this release


Zones - you now need to set the Cookie Policy Profile on the Zone level, and it is possible to have the same Cookie policy across multiple Zones.


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 Listing / Account Detail (multiple)


Article Attributes


Article Carousel (styling)


Auto User Archiving (extensive messaging updates and archiving fixes)


Campaign Analysis (special characters, export downloads)


Catalogue Item Import (now possible to set capture contact details to null)


Checkout (gifting date, tax hiding error)


Collaborate (likes, styling)


Comments and Ratings (comment status, approval status, like button display)


Contact (view account, Keywords, assign to contact list)


Conversion Events (multiple, including the frequency scale)


Designs / Skins (exclude security issue resolve)


Edit Profile


Edition Profile (tab deletion)s


Events (multiple)


Forums (topic display)


Inbound and Outbound Feeds


Manually Related DE (forums)


Media (improved special character handling, control styling)


Media Items (control listing)


Media Listing DE (styling)


Message Campaign (filtering by users who have not opened messages, purchase triggered messages)


Message Campaign Analysis


Messages (editing)


My Interests (styling, interest selection)


My Library (styling)


Orders (order status editing)


Podcasts (audio duration, campaign display, styling)


Pro Forma Orders (previous order selection, copying, messages)


Reviews (verdict panel formatting)


Search DE (styling)


Seminars (multiple)


Site Analysis (improved handling for different content types, plus more)


Site Search (accounts)


Skins (fixed issue with sticky rows)


Tasks (notification subject formatting)


Topics (improved topic display consistency)


Video Player (improved performance)




The following elements were removed from Affino in this release:


Legacy Zone Attributes - we have removed legacy attributes from Zones including Searchable and Sort Order


Integration Updates


The following integrations were updated in this release:


GoCardless - Affino now runs extra checks against GoCardless payments to double check the status of each payment. Affino now also makes an additional payment check to see if a payment on a cancelled order has been sent to the bank, and if so will not cancel the order on Affino. We also resolved an issue with subscriptions renewing with different subscription periods.


PayPal - Affino now runs extra checks against PayPal payments to double check the status of each payment


Stripe - extensive updates to ensure improved syncing of payments and subscriptions between Affino and Stripe, handling a number of new payment, payment failure, payment delay, and user error scenarios automatically.


Vimeo - updated to support latest generation Vimeo embeds


YouTube - updated YouTube integration to support the latest YouTube embed updates


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 - updated to v5.6.2


Video.js updated to - no change

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2013 PPA Digital Publishing Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Digital Brand of the Year