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Affino SaaS 2020 In Review

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Affino 2020 In Review

2020, the year in review

Affino's SaaS breakthroughs for 2020

Driving forward Affino's services for our community in 2020

2020 was the year where we adapted continuously to best serve and support the Affino community during the Covid pandemic. Q1 was heavily focused on ensuring that the Affino service was delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible, so as to support our clients which had up to 1,500% traffic growth in the quarter, which averaged around 300% growth across the brands running on Affino. We had an extreme focus on delivering the service as effectively as possible whilst minimising any costs to our clients.


We greatly increased the number of help guides and videos in 2020 - so that users could quickly find the information and guidance needed at a glance. We also re-wrote and extended virtually all the guides to bring them up-to-date. Affino’s support services additionally continued to go from strength to strength, with us running clinics and advisory sessions throughout the year for our clients.


An early focus this year was around supporting the Affino brand owners with launching Covid Hubs to best serve their communities, and we set up our own Coronavirus Hub in turn, with relevant insights, case studies, interviews and references.


Along the way we delivered on many of the most requested Feature Requests, including fully automated self service subscriptions, award entry payment on submission, standardised analytics, ad and edition based sales reporting and sales targets, new generation podcasting and video services, improved cookie management, AB testing on messages, and Wysiwyg drag-and-drop message editing (preview).


Some of these initiatives took a great deal of time and effort to accomplish - in particular the subscriptions which saw hundreds of updates, the statistics standardisation which sets us up well for major new analytics and insight breakthroughs in 2021, the commercial upgrades, in particular the ones relating to subscriptions and payment gateway integrations, and the message editor which is now a multi-year project.


One of the unsung areas in Affino’s evolution is the user experience - which has seen major improvements across the board. Affino’s design and build, and product teams continue to evolve the user experience at a rapid rate, and 2020 saw a new generation of video and podcasting tools which are excellent for watching and listening to respectively. Users can now add their favourite content to their My Library screen, manage their interests and realtime or summary alerts in the My Interests channel, review, renew or cancel their subscriptions on their My Account screen, and generally interact with all content and apps more smoothly across all devices.


We released fewer service upgrade releases this year at only six compared with recent years which typically see ten new releases. The number of individual updates is up a very significant 40% year on year and is reflected in the overall levelling up of the Affino SaaS service in 2020.

Key Priorities

  • Principles
    • Focus on day to day tasks
    • Focus on Insights, i.e. signal vs noise
    • Improve and polish the overall experience across the board
  • Service Elements
    • Subscriptions
    • Directories
    • Personal Dashboard
    • Insight


Affino Releases

  • No.
    • 6
  • Threads.
    • 1459

Platform & Performance

  • Extensive and ongoing performance updates across all front-end interfaces and key control centre screens for ever faster service delivery
  • We also did a great deal of data optimisation both to minimise load and improve performance, and also to prepare for the major intel updates coming in 2021.



  • Affino’s subscription management and retention capabilities have been the primary focus for 2020
  • Automation
    • We have invested heavily to create one of the most automated, self-service subscription platforms available.
    • This has meant introducing automations across the entire subscription experience for both the end users and management processes.
    • These automations have been extended through to the payment gateway integrations to maximise retention.
    • We have extensive guides covering the innovations here.
  • Promotion and Purchasing
    • Streamlined subscription promotion and sales workflows with easy to manage promotions, multiple purchase options, and greatly refined onboarding experience.
  • Reporting
    • We have transformed the subscription reporting, with end to end reporting on all key subscription activities and financials. With extensive ability to drill down on every single subscription, order, status and transaction.
    • Subscription Status Notifications (with Colours)
    • Subscription Expiry Report
    • Stop Code Reports
  • Renewal Notices
    • Print Renewal Notices for subs with upcoming expiries. Generates the actual PDF notices for upcoming expiring subs, and uses the user export to export the list of names / addresses to go with it.
    • Enhanced digital renewal campaigns with more flexibility on automatic, semi-automatic and manual renewal campaigns.
  • Gifting Subscriptions
    • Users will either be able to activate or gift subscriptions
  • Renewal Items
    • We have introduced the ability to identify new products, prices, subscription timeframes on the renewals. This is both for introductory offers, and to provide automated routes to enhanced and new services.
  • Cancellations
    • Greatly improved cancellations, with flexible control over which subscriptions users can and can’t un-subscribe from.



  • Subscriptions
    • New fully automated self-service subscription platform
  • Ad Sales
    • Major enhancements to sales workflows and reporting to support ad sales
  • Sales Targets
    • Sales target dashboards and overview for managing advanced sales targets across subscriptions, events, ad sales and editions
  • Pro Formas / Orders / Order Line Items
    • Major enhancements for Pro Forma Orders and Orders, including search, renewals, messaging, status awareness and filtering.
  • Related Products
    • Re-introduction of Related Up-sell and Related Products to Affino.
    • Showcase upgrades on My Account
  • Reporting
    • Capture on each order line item the edition or delivery date for each item.
    • Update all commercial reports to be optionally based on date of sale or date of delivery.
    • Major updates across all sales reporting, in particular for all subscriptions reporting, e.g. deferred income and liability reports
  • Products
    • Advanced Product listing and display for enhanced product layouts and presentation, with the ability to run product directories including 3rd party products
  • Orders
    • New support for multiple payment dates for each order, essential for multi-part subscriptions
    • This year has seen a transformation of order management within Affino, with major enhancements across the board
  • Pro Formas
    • Major enhancements to support direct to consumer sales; improved reporting and automation.
  • Payment Gateways
    • Adding extended support for payment gateways
    • Stripe
      • New support for the Stripe payment gateway with subscription support, including cancellations, updates, etc.
    • GoCardless
      • Direct Debit payment gateway with subscription support, including cancellations, updates, etc.
  • Invoicing
    • Major invoicing and pro forma invoicing updates to extend the flexibility and depth of the invoicing capabilities



  • Accounts
    • Accounts have been transformed both within the CRM and publicly. We have greatly improved the intelligence available on accounts with the new Content tab: showcasing all articles related to the account/ a new Page Analysis (and updated User Analysis) which showcases all the interactions with the public company page.
    • The public accounts directories have been transformed with the ability to showcase far more account related content, including products, videos and podcasts. Showcase dealer networks with lead generation, with direct messaging.
    • geo based searches for showing the nearest dealer / office, and the ability to tightly segment multiple packages with an array of new presentation options.
  • Addresses
    • Complete address management revamp, including full user management of addresses
  • Contact Lists
    • Greatly improved contact list management so that they can now be grouped, with more insight, improved auto-assignment, and the lists can now be used in many more contexts.
  • Cookie Preferences
    • New generation cookie preference management, more control and easier to immediately accept and enable all cookies
  • Customer Loyalty Scheme
    • New Badges channel to highlight reward / kudos activities for earning points.
    • New Rewards Design Element for showcasing and claiming rewards (and how to get them).
    • Multiple additional enhancements for full reward scheme delivery
  • Forums
    • Multiple incremental improvements to forums, including a new FAQ presentation style, auto-closing and answering threads, and improved un-subscribing.
  • Imports / Exports
    • Extensive standardisation updates across all imports and exports
  • New Edition Imports and Exports
    • Enhanced User / Lead Generation exports with a number of focused lead generation options now available
  • Member Tools
    • Interests Management
      • New dedicated Interest management for users
    • My Library (favourites)
      • New favouriting capability with a dedicated My Favourites page.
      • Shows all favourites with search and sort.
      • Dedicated article, video and audio listing with in-situ playback
    • My Account
      • Greatly improved My Account screen with improved access to all purchases and subscriptions, and the ability to renew and cancel.
    • My Information
      • Improved personal information management and onboarding workflows
  • On Page Feedback
    • Significant upgrade with improved sentiment capture, intel and new export



  • We will be further enhancing the media display in Affino, with the improved ability to sell media; the ability to paywall / engagement wall media items; and generally enhance the media presentation
  • Video Library
    • New enhanced Video Library with great easy to use video listing and detailed screens.
    • Fully featured for video use throughout the site, with pop up video player, sponsor highlights, up-next video recommendation, comments and ratings, social sharing and much more.
  • Podcasting
    • Great new Podcasting library capability, with as many podcasts and episodes as you like.
    • Fully featured for video use throughout the site, with pop up audio player, sponsor highlights, up-next episode recommendation, comments and ratings, social sharing and much more.
  • Automated Image and Thumbnail Generation
    • Main and Thumbnail images auto-generated from PDFs
    • Video Thumbnail Image Generation (3 options)
  • Media Stats
    • Core Stats update to Media Item Detail view for Documents, Videos and Podcasts
    • Extended Download, Watched and Listened to stats respectively.
  • Digital Archive
    • New Digital Archive capabilities with enhanced PDF upload and thumbnail generation, daily download limits, tighter security and improved search and listing
  • YouTube Integration
    • Updated embed in inbound feed support for YouTube videos
    • Updated automation to separate out thumbnails to different media section
  • Enhanced Media Listing, Detail and DE
    • Broad enhancements to all media listings and views, with improved sharing, social and tracking.



  • Milestone
    • With the release of the Menu Design Element it is now entirely possible to fully build and style sites using just the core Affino design elements and templates.
  • Design
    • There have been hundreds of design refinements throughout Affino with almost every design element and template updated over the past year - in order to add more flexibility, more meta data, and simply look better across all devices.
  • New Design Elements
    • The following new Design Elements are now available:
    • Menu DE
      • For advanced Drop-down menus, with easy drag and drop menu management
    • Rewards DE
      • New design element for showcasing customer loyalty scheme awards.
  • New Templates
    • The following new Channel Types have been introduced:
    • Comparison
      • New comparison channel for showcasing review comparisons, e.g. for car, tech, and other product review comparisons
    • My Interests
      • Where users can specify their interests and sign up for realtime or summary topic alerts
    • My Library
      • Personalised library of the user’s favourites with instant playback of videos and podcasts and quick access to articles
    • Topics
      • Topic listing channel which can showcase your key topics (with clickthroughs to browsing)


Events & Directories

  • Self-service Directory
    • Major usability enhancements throughout for easier and more intuitive self service.
  • Awards
    • New options to pay for awards on entry or post submission
    • Major usability updates and flexibility improvements on the judging process
  • Events and Seminar iCal support
    • Advanced auto and custom support for iCal throughout events and seminars
  • Seminars
    • Improved listing to show blank sessions where there are gaps in the seminar streams



  • Editions
    • Greatly improved Editions at the heart of digital archives
  • Topic Channel
    • New channel for showcasing onsite topics and content.
  • Priority Articles
    • New ability to promote priority articles and products to top of listings
  • My Interests & Alerts
    • New Topic channel with relative, daily and weekly alerts
  • Reviews
    • Enhanced reviews with new filtering and search options, presentation updates, verdict panel, and upcoming launch filter and comparisons
  • Comparisons (Reviews)
    • New comparison channel for showcasing review comparisons, e.g. for car, tech, and other product review comparisons
  • Accounts
    • Greatly extended company / brand / dealer directory services
  • Article Attributes
    • We have transformed the article attribute capability to support conditional attributes, more presentation options, more nuanced management options and directly tied into the site search engine for precise searches.
  • Search
    • Improved content search and sort, with multiple new filtering and sort options



  • Messaging
    • Enhanced Browser Preview (with width options)
    • Support for Campaign Placement Areas
    • Message heatmaps
    • AB Testing / targeting on messages, when combined with the targeted articles allows for full end-to-end personalisation of message to landing page.
    • New Wysiwyg drag and drop email creation, introduced as an alpha preview this year with the full rollout in Q1 2021
    • New Responsive Templates (more default template options)
    • Optimised sending and analytics, faster delivery and page serving.
  • Customer Ladder
    • Triggers
      • Multiple new triggers for birthdays, video start / finish, audio start / finish, adding / removing from favourites and many more
    • Conversion Events
      • Ability to create a task from a conversion event
    • Conversion Funnels
      • Enhanced conversion funnels with enforced sequences and automatically updated Contact Lists for users at each step in a funnel
  • Paywall / Engagement Wall
    • New text fadeout option for metering, shown to increase conversion rates for some brands
  • Sales and Marketing Automation
    • There are multiple breakthroughs with Conversion Events this year, not least the ability to display them and use them for the customer loyalty scheme and community kudos.
    • We have added a range of new triggers, refined how the conversion events apply, send out near realtime campaign messages, and generally enhanced the use of the customer ladder throughout



  • Standardised Analytics
    • Extensive standardisation and optimisation of all analytics in Affino to ensure consistency across all reports.
  • New Analytics
    • We have extended the core Site Analysis engine to support a host of additional content types including:
    • Account Page Analysis
    • Edition Analysis
    • Media Analysis



  • Authentication
    • Extensive enhancements to the APIs to better support 3rd party authentication
  • User API
    • Greatly enhanced User API, with enhanced granular security, and numerous new methods to support a host of next generation subscription integrations.


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