Affino 8.0.6 is the third major release this year, and the second major GDPR focused release. It includes all the second phase GDPR capabilities including: the new cookie settings and cookie bar; automated contact archiving and deletion (and record extension); updated Scripts including the ability to have Zone scripts and to disable them on the cookie settings; improved registration workflows; and a host of improvements to permissions and preferences throughout Affino.
This release also sees a great number of nuanced real-world enhancements that enable workflows that range the full gamut from legitimate interest use as the basis for all interactions, through to fully audited user permission and preference based ones.
There are dozens more GDPR focused enhancements that will be crucial for your GDPR compliance outlined below.
Other key updates in this release include the breakthrough ability to have just a single Design Style across an entire site. All Affino Templates and Design Elements have been updated to look consistently great. We have made major improvements to Dynamic Forms so that they now support many more use cases including frictionless event registrations. We’re also introducing the new Smart Product Listings and enhanced Product detail template for greatly improved product presentations.
Other aspects of Affino which see major improvements in this release include: Ad and Message Campaigns, Awards and Events, Invoicing, Online Directories, Pro Forma Invoices and Order Invoices, Public Profiles, Shopping Baskets and Checkouts, Smart Buttons and Sponsorships, Topics, and User management and security.
In fact there are so many updates in this release that it will be transformational to all Affino sites when the new capabilities are fully embraced.
Note this is another significant release and all customer on-boarding workflows will be affected. We recommend you test your navigation, all your purchase and registration workflows, password reset workflow, mailing list sign-ups, products (display side), order processes, and all forms across the board. You will also need to review your cookie policies, all your scripts to apply relevant cookie settings, and your overall cookie bar and cookie settings.
We are introducing a new Cookie Settings panel, available from the Cookie Bar, and optionally also available from My Account and as a new link on the Smart Button DE (we use all three on affino.com). The Cookie Settings allows users to turn off all non essential cookies, however as all the Affino ones are now essential this will have no impact on core Affino functionality.
We have further updated the core Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager integrations so that they are turned off when the relevant cookie types are turned off on the Cookie Settings. It is now possible to determine what custom cookies are being set on design and integration scripts, as well as the new Zone scripts (see below). The respective integrations are turned off when the cookie preferences are switched off on the cookie settings.
Affino still only collects personal information and stats when the user has agreed to the terms and conditions so all non-permissioned tracking is anonymised and GDPR compliant.
User Auto Archiving
Affino can now automatically archive and remove contacts from the CRM, based on the new User Auto Archive settings. In practice you set up a profile which extends each contact record based on the activity related to each record. This sets a continually updating expiry date for the record and once it’s reached then Affino first archives the record, and if the record is not re-instated Affino goes on to remove it entirely.
Prior to removing each record, the contact is sent an email to notify them that they are about to be removed, and that they can simply click to extend their record. Crucially the breadth of Affino’s ability to identify user related activity throughout the CRM, all website activity, and all transactions means that you will maximise the life of your contact records in a fully GDPR compliant manner.
Affino maintains an audit trail for the reasons the record has been extended, along with the duration, e.g. Purchase, record extended by 7 years; or Subscribed, record extended by 3 years. Initially there are 14 types of activities which extend the record expiry, and we will be adding more as they arise. Conversion Events now also have an Extension Period action and can extend user records by a period depending on the activity. Once the profile is in place you can be certain that the records are automatically being retained exactly as long as you want.
There is a new Auto Archive Analysis screen which gives you insight into the volume of users being archived and removed on a day to day basis by the auto archiving. It shows you the number archived and deleted over the previous week, month and year. It further shows you how many users it anticipates archiving over the coming week and month.
We have also updated the User Import (and User Export) to allow the setting of a User Archive Date for each record. On the Contact Listing we’ve added a new filter and column to allowing you to view pending expiring user records, and each contact record now shows the auto archive and deletion dates and the extension history. There is a clear green / amber / red notation for records which are fresh and those about to be removed.
Zone Scripts, Design Scripts and Integration Scripts
This release sees the biggest update to custom scripts (Design and Integration Scripts) in Affino since the original Affino launch. We have changed the way that scripts are integrated, and further tightened the security around the management and execution of all scripts.
It is also possible to name the specific types of cookies that are generated from your integration and design scripts, along with the cookie profiles they are relevant to, as well as their type. This means they can be fully managed through the Cookie Settings by each user (see above).
Registration Workflows and Customer On-boarding
This release sees major updates to how Affino handles user registrations and customer on-boarding. We have had to streamline some registration and demographic options, to simplify the overall workflow, whilst enhancing other options to make them more effective. In practice Affino simply had too many options for registrations. We have been finding that a significant proportion of users are not going down linear registration paths, often not completing the full registration, or having to double confirm along the way, or simply skipping some steps, or timing out as they were distracted by calls, and then going in and updating their profile, or sending a password reset, rather than going through the intended registration workflows.
It means we’ve had to enforce the intended workflows more rigorously, whilst also working to minimise the friction for sign-ups, in particular event signups. The single biggest element we’ve had to develop around is registration workflows which require double confirming. These should now, in the GDPR era, be seen as best practice but they do add friction, especially for event registrations. To that end we allow users to do a great deal during the initial session, including skipping the double confirm, so that they can register and sign up for events, mailing lists etc. however we now firmly enforce the need to double confirm before they log in again their second session to ensure that we protect the integrity of the community, CRM and user privacy.
When a user registers with the email address on an existing CRM record, they effectively claim it when they double confirm, which can give them extra membership benefits if the company they are in is a corporate member. They could also have credits, discounts and much more associated with that CRM record so double confirm is a must. The same goes for users who have previously signed up simply as mailing list subscribers, these need to be transitioned and therefore need double confirming.
Users who have been imported on mailing campaigns will also need to double confirm their registration, and optionally you will want to set it so that all registrants are automatically double confirmed to insure the integrity of the CRM. Double Confirming registrations now no longer clears existing security rights from each user (this is a beneficial change but might require some registration and on boarding workflows to be updated).
We have streamlined and made sure the sequencing on all the on-boarding messaging is now highly optimised so that users know where they are. We’ve improved the 1st and 2nd login process, and further refined the double confirm workflows, all to make registrations as frictionless as possible, whilst ensuring the overall integrity of your user experience. We’ve also added a new ‘Resend Activation Email’ action on contacts in the event that something happened to their double confirm notification.
We have improved the way that permissions are managed in this release. Affino now shows the number of users who have given each permission and lets you one-click view them and ultimately include in contact lists, campaigns or exports. We have also improved the permission selector (to help identify newer versions of permissions vs old).
We have enhanced the Permission Tab on each Contact record to display the preferences against each permission, and now display the preference history and whether or not each permission has been revoked. We’ve also added a new Media Item History
It is now possible to see directly on each Preference Group what each preference ID is and how many contacts have signed for each type of ID. It is possible from here to one-click view them and ultimately include in contact lists, campaigns or exports. We have also added a ‘live’ option for preferences this way it is possible to deprecate old preferences from users’ profiles as they will no longer be shown. We have further updated the Contacts management to allow team members, e.g. sales , call centre staff to update customers’ preferences (fully audited).
We have updated the user facing My Preference screens with the addition of three new sub screens: Permissions, Cookie Settings and Terms and Conditions. On the Permissions screen, users can see their current and previously agreed permissions, and can revoke those they no longer wish to provide. When enabled, they can go in and update their Cookie Settings, and whilst they can’t remove the Terms and Conditions, they can see all the terms they have agreed to.
We have enhanced the renewal process for free subscriptions (building on the major updates in the previous release) with the addition of a new ‘Renew Subscription’ button for upcoming and recently expired subscriptions on the subscription page in ‘My Account’. The duration of this link is determined by the Subscription Plan. We also distinguish active and lapsed subscriptions for the user.
Affino automatically handles all the subscriptions statuses, e.g. renewed, lapsed etc. and links / actions appropriately for free and paid for subscriptions.
We are introducing a new Subscription Renewal Report which we will look to build on further in upcoming releases. It shows for each subscription product the renewal and deflection rates over a given period. It is possible to filter this report in multiple ways, including: By Store (Profile), by Product Line, Catalogue Item, and Business Unit as well as the date range.
We have added extensive new capabilities to make form entries more anonymous (after being anonymised for GDPR compliance). Affino now also excludes personal archived form entries from the form entry export, and allows form entries to be both associated with contacts in the CRM, and indeed to create contacts in the CRM depending on the information entered.
Legal Security Right
We have updated a host of Control Centre screens so that they use the Legal security right, these include: Permissions, My Preferences Profile, User Permission Export, User Permission Import, User Preferences Export, and User Preferences Import.
We have improved how Affino empowers users with managing their own privacy levels. It is now possible to set the default privacy level across the community; allow users to manage their own preference right from the initial registration; or simply determine the overall level of privacy for their profiles. These can range from public through to sharing with their contacts or entirely private and only accessible to themselves and the CRM / community managers.
We have added more granularity in how the member listing and profiles are presented, so that it is now possible to tightly control who is able to view a Member Listing, using the new Member Listing Security Clearance. It means that it is possible for users to share their public profiles directly with colleagues and friends, whilst restricting access to the broader member listing and search.
We’ve added new Preference filters for searching contacts so it’s possible to filter them specifically by a combination of personal preferences (this filter is only available to users with the Legal security clearance).
Affino now tracks the date and time when users are added to Contact Lists, an essential update for permission based contact lists, but also useful throughout to understand the point at which individuals have entered campaigns, adopted personas, or any relevant scenario where contacts are added to a contact list.
Lead Capture and Generation
We have significantly improved the lead generation to allow for full granularity on the capture process. It is now possible to set the permissions and preferences to be captured against each media download (and to re-use those when they have already been given). It is also now possible to allow users to skip the permission and preferences and simply download the media. When exporting Affino now exports the full data including permissions and preferences (see below).
Marketing (Unsubscribe from all Marketing)
We have removed the setting for ‘unsubscribe from all messaging’ and replaced it with the new ‘Unsubscribe from all Marketing’ option. This is a major change and means that now all the sales, news, comms, and other essential messaging is not affected by the action of unsubscribing from marketing.
We have further made major improvements in the end-to-end permission workflows so that if a user unsubscribes from all marketing they are not sent any marketing specific messages whilst receiving all others, and on the other hand if they sign up to a marketing related mailing list then Affino sets a permission for email marketing (specific to the mailing list signed up to) and de-selects the preference to unsubscribe from all marketing. This also works from within the CRM and is fully audited.
We have tightened up the sending of messages from message campaigns so that they are permission and preference based, and connected with all marketing preferences and campaign filters. It may therefore be necessary for you to import the permissions and preferences that you have determined for each contact under legitimate interest to continue sending marketing messages to them using message campaigns.
It is now possible to filter message campaigns and messages to exclude contacts who have already triggered conversion events, or read specific messages. This way you can how chain together campaigns and messages in campaigns so that if someone reads a message, or triggers an event in a chain of messages, then they are not sent the remaining messages. It also lets you send additional messages exclusively to users who didn’t open previous ones.
User Permissions Export
Enhanced export which includes both permissions and related preferences, essential for exporting leads.
Password updates have been separated from the general profile information updates on to a dedicated Password update screen. This means that the password reset workflows are now both simpler and more streamlined, as well as more secure. We further refined the password updating process to make it easy for users to send themselves a time-restricted password reset link.
We have enhanced how Affino sends information to a user from the CRM contact record, so that it is now more intuitive and secure for the user and uses, the Password Reset workflow.
Affino Team Access
Note that following the recent Affino updates, all of the Affino teams’ passwords on Affino client sites have been scrambled, and by default Affino team members no longer have access to client sites. It will therefore be down to each Affino site owner to grant and revoke access to Affino team members for support purposes.
This is a breakthrough Affino release when it comes to Design. For the first time it is possible to style an entire site with a single Design Style, and have all the templates and design elements look great. To see it up close and personal go to demo.affino.com (you will need to register to be able to see all the display-side screens). It means that all of the display side elements have seen styling improvements over the past few months and as a result are more consistent and better looking across all devices.
Enhanced Dynamic Forms
There are major updates to Dynamic Forms in this release, these allow for multiple new use-cases, in particular frictionless event registrations. Key updates include: it is now possible to set Dynamic Forms to email the person who fills in the form, e.g. thank you or confirmation message. We have updated each form entry so that it can have four statuses: Completed, Actioned, Archived, and Approved. The four action states for form entries mean that you can now manage and process the entries more effectively.
We have added new columns to the entry listing, so that if there are name, company and job title fields in the forms then these are displayed automatically. We are adding the new Approve and Reject form actions, and when these are triggered Affino respectively sends Success and Failed emails to the entrants and assigns Topics accordingly.
We have extended the form entry filters to support all the new statuses, allowing you to filter accordingly. We have also extended the Form Entry Export to support all four fields. The export itself has been updated to xlsx format.
Crucially it is now also possible to generate CRM contact records directly from form entries, or for form entries to be assigned to existing CRM contacts.
This release sees the introduction of the Smart Product Listing template. Up until now the product listings have had a fixed format. You now have the same flexibility on product listings as you have had for smart article listings: with the ability to determine the number of columns for each break point; how the products are laid out; what attributes you display; and uniquely for the products you can include the product search and filter sidebar, and specify the product sort options users can select.
We have also updated the Product Detail so you can now display much more detail for each product, including for the first time Steps with the full flexibility that entails for displaying videos and additional media. We have improved the stock level management and the corresponding item and basket quantity handling for both displaying and responding to inventory levels.
Account Import - new field / option to Auto Approve User(s) as they are imported.
Authors - we’ve standardised how we display author names to use the Contact Display option, this is different from the Name Disclosure Level which is how we display Members’ names throughout the rest of the display-side interfaces, e.g. for comments, forums, member profiles, and messaging.
Awards - we have added the ability to bulk export all the media items per category using the new Awards Media Export. This allows for a two click export of all the media items associated with that category into a Zip file which is in turn structured per entry. It only exports media for submitted entries.
Ad Campaigns - This release sees a number of useful usability updates to campaigns we now provide a one-click action to remove all expired campaigns from a Campaign Theme. We have also added an alert to prevent the accidental removal of active campaigns. We have added a Details attribute to Advertisers so that we can track the account / purpose for setting up the Advertiser. We have also set it so that the Active flag is now default ticked, and added the audit panel to track Advertiser updates.
We have de-prioritised all the charts in the the campaign analysis so that whilst they are still there, they are now much smaller. We have also made it possible to share and bookmark all searches applied to the campaign analysis. We have further resolved a major issue with weighting campaigns, some run-of-site campaigns were not being slowed down to match the timeframe of the campaign, this now works well.
Content Subscriptions - we have greatly improved the formatting of the content subscription notifications. They now have a clean and contemporary look.
Conversion Events - we have added a new set of triggers to capture whether or not a user has been approved or rejected during registrations, whether they be through the main registration workflows or the new dynamic form based event registrations (see Dynamic Forms above). It is also possible for Conversion Events to extend a user’s Auto Archive Date, including when manually executed. We have added a powerful new Conversion Event action which lets you redirect the user to any URL following the triggering of the event (note that we will potentially need to limit the scope of the action here in the future).
Dark Mode - we have made a number of improvements to better cater for light text on a dark background throughout Affino. To see this in action go to guitarpedalx.com .
Email Blocks - we have re-instated Email Blocks in Affino. This means that you can again block users from registering with specific email domains, e.g. if you don’t want personal email addresses you might block gmail.com.
Events - events now have a bigger impact with a new banner video option which shows when viewing the event on desktops and tablets, as well as auto-scrolling carousels for the speakers and sponsors.
Imports - we now display on each of Accounts, Contacts and Orders the import batch reference number so that you can verify the quality of the imported data and cross check individual records.
Invoicing - we have added the ability to have multiple message options for sending invoices in the same way it’s possible for Pro Forma invoices. You can now chose to View invoices, send an invoice or send a receipt with invoice. Affino also presents the full invoice sending history on the order view, as well as whether or not it has been viewed. When sending invoices it is possible to CC any additional recipients selected on the Invoice Profile. We have also added the ability to select whether or not you want the contact’s email in the invoice and how you want to style the Invoice Status notice, i.e. you might want ‘Paid in Full’, or ’This is not a tax invoice’ to be larger (both set in the Invoice Profile).
Online Directories - it is now possible to directly message the directory entry owner, simply click on the Message link on the directory entry, and then create and send a My Message to the entry owner. This will be both sent via email and will appear in their My Message Inbox. We’ve added some thumbnail smarts to directories so that if thumbnails are missing from accounts on recruitment briefs then we will check to see if there’s one on their online directory entry and use that.
Mailing List Subscriber Import - updated to support xlsx format and a new enhanced content structure.
Message Campaign Analysis - we have greatly improved the long-terms insight provided by Affino’s Message Campaigns. Affino now aggregates all the send data prior to the data being cleared down, allowing for long term insight into the success of your campaigns and the engagement for each individual message.
Naming Conventions - we have standardised naming conventions further across the registration, on-boarding, profile updates and CRM interfaces.
Orders - we have added a new Order Status History which tracks the current order status, e.g. Paid Full on day x by y, Cancelled day a by b. This is both informative and used as the basis for reviewing an order history, it also is key to tracking renewal and deflection statuses for subscriptions.
Order Export - we have added the ExternalUserID and ExternalOrderID to the order export to improve validation, and have improved the general formatting in the order export.
Order Line Item Report - We are replacing Payment Status on the Order Line Item Report with Order Line Item Status with the options of: Pending, New Business, Pending Renewal, New Business and Renewal. For the export as well as switching the column we have also added the following columns: BatchReference, ExternalUserID and ExternalOrderID, which are essential when round-tripping and cross referencing order line items between Affino and 3rd party platforms.
Payment Gateway Log - we have added a system level payment gateway log to help the Affino support team better identify and resolve payment issues. Note that this log does not contain any payment details.
Pro Forma Invoices - the product selector now default only lists items which are ‘On Sale’ and you can tick to display the others. Affino now displays the default pricing alongside the products to better help identify the correct one in the selector. We have added a host of new filtering options to Pro Forma orders including: Message Templates, Number of Messages, Close Date Proximity, Close Date Range, Last Updated Range, 3rd Party, Catalogue Item and CRM Topics. For the listing we also highlight the close date and have added renewal proximity colours for improved renewals processing. It is now also possible to sort by all columns.
Public Profile - now enhanced to show the seminars and events that contacts are presenting at, or have recently presented. These can be selected and organised to appear in a preferred location on the public profile.
Seminars - when users add seminars to their itinerary Affino now automatically assigns the non-location topics to the users as inferred interests. This way a user attending a small number of seminars will greatly improve their profile depth.
Search DE - enhanced to support multiple search design elements per page including targeted and non-targeted searches.
Security - we have updated Affino so that it always tracks Control Centre access whatever the profiling is set on a user, IP address or group. This is to ensure that all control centre access and activity is fully audited. We have also greatly improved visibility of how many users and security rights are associated with each Security Group, and added a System Security filter to the User Security listing to simplify identifying users with specific security rights. We now also audit who changed what security rights, and when, on each security group.
We have made it easier to track which users in User Security have been archived. Design and Integration Scripts are now secured using the Developer security right.
Shopping Basket - we have improved multi-currency support in shopping baskets. If users are adding an item to a basket which is only available in a different currency then the user has the option to either switch currencies and possibly remove one or more items from the basket, or continue without adding the new item. If an item is removed from the basket the user is offered the opportunity to purchase that on the order acknowledgement screen.
Smart Button DE - new auto link options for: My Account, Edit Profile, My Preferences, Cookie Settings, Previous, Forward, Homepage, Top, Bottom and Home.
Spam Account Prevention - we added a host of new rules to block known spam registration patterns, with new honeypots and naming patterns added. We also applied these to all forms of registration and added them further to the Dynamic and Online Forms, now that they’re being used for event registrations. We have noticed a near 100% drop-off in spam accounts as a result.
Sponsor Notices - we have enhanced the Sponsor Notices in this release. It is now possible to add tailored sponsor notices to each sponsored article / entry along with a link, and link action i.e. open in new / current tab. These are now featured instead of the Sponsored text on each article and all relevant design elements.
Topics - topics now support special and unicode characters throughout. We have also introduced a new hierarchical topic selector for CRM topics which lets you search and drill down into the topics, including large topic trees. The previous topic selector worked well for smaller taxonomies, the new one also supports large ones.
User Import / User Export - major improvements with both the User Import and Export. Both moved to xlsx format to handle larger record sets and more details on each record. Exports and Imports better aligned so simpler to round-trip the data. We have also improved the handling of subscription imports and exports as part of the user import / export.
Zones - it is now possible to select most Design Scripts on the Zone to run as Zone Scripts (see above) essential for custom functionality throughout your site, or when including site-wide scripts.
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.
Affino Error Log (more information logged)
App Bar (multiple)
Articles (multiple) / Article Import / Article Listing DE
Awards (multiple) / Award Entry Export / Award Notifications / Awards Analysis / Awards Analysis Export
Campaign Analysis (multiple)
Contacts (multiple) / Contact Lists / Contact Listing DE (multiple)
Conversion Event Export / Conversion Funnels
Design Objects / Design Styles
Dynamic Forms (multiple)
Feeds (critical update)
Forums (multiple) / Form Entries / Form Entry Notifications
Online Directory (multiple)
Online Forms (multiple)
Orders (multiple) / Order Line Item Report
Outgoing Feeds (multiple)
Mailing Lists (multiple)
Media Items (multiple) / Media View / Media Permissions / Videos
Messages / Message Analysis (multiple) / Message Campaigns (multiple) / Message Subscriptions / Message Un-subscribes / Message Campaign Analysis
My Account / My Information (multiple) / My Preferences
Password Reset (multiple)
Public Profiles (multiple)
Service Credits (low credit notifications)
Smart Article Listing
Smart Auto-related Content DE (multiple)
Smart Prime Content DE
SMS Provider Profile
Subscriptions (multiple) / Subscription Renewal Profile
Terms and Conditions (multiple)
User Import / User Export (multiple)
User Preferences Export
User Security (multiple)
Video Player (multiple)
Workflows (assigning security)
Scheduled Tasks - we have removed all the legacy schedule from Affino, should smooth the performance for some larger Affino instances and speed up the scaling / auto-failover.
Hidden Screens - we have also removed a number of hidden legacy screens, for improved performance and manageability.
These are integrations which have had essential maintenance in this release, if you rely on any of them then you’ll want to update at the earliest opportunity:
Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager - these have been updated and integrated into the Cookie Settings. Note that if enabled, users will be able to switch off these integrations from the Cookie Settings in accordance with GDPR.
Affino benefits from using some great frameworks, here are the updates we’ve rolled out for these frameworks in this release:
JQuery updated to - no change
JQueryUI updated to - no change
HighCharts updated to - no change
TinyMCE updated to - 4.8.1
Video.js updated to - no change