Where Does Email Go?

Recent updates give you more insight into automatic emails. Automatic emails are one-off emails — the emails that get sent when a user does something (like registering), or needs a reminder (such as when a listing is about to expire).

Up until now, you've been able to configure the templates for these emails through admin, and see the last known status for an email address.

With the new changes you can see the text of each message that was sent, and whether it was delivered, or bounced, or was treated as spam.

Verification Is Now Required For Your Sending Email Address
With these changes, it's now a good idea to verify your sending email address (the Admin > Settings > Email > "Send From" setting). Verification only has to be performed once, and it's simply a matter of checking your "Send From" email address and then clicking "Save". This will bring you to a page to verify your email, which involves receiving an email from Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) and clicking the link it contains.


Once you've verified, we can send email with this address as the sender. Until you verify, we will send from "noreply@studystays.com", with your email as the Reply To address.

So verifying your email address gives recipients a better idea of where each email is coming from and why they're getting it.

Viewing Sent Emails for Students and Providers
You can see how many emails have been sent to a particular student or provider from their sidebar.

In the example above, clicking the "3 emails" link will show you which emails were sent to this user and when, along with information about whether each email was delivered or not.

New Outgoing Email Report
You can find this report under Admin > Reports > Administration. It shows a list of emails that have been sent, with the most recent emails first.

Send Mailouts From Your University Address
Mailouts will now be sent from your university address, rather than mailout@studystays.com. You'll need to verify your sending email first, as described above. This gives your mailouts some added credibility, because people can trust that they're coming from you.

Speedbump Terms and Conditions

There is a new setting that lets your choose how to present your terms and conditions to students and providers when they register. We're calling the new option "Speedbump Terms and Conditions" because it slows people down a bit to focus their attention on the terms.

Option 1: The Tick Box
This is the default option if you don't change anything. It shows a tick box with a link to read the full terms and conditions.


This option makes it quick and easy to register, while still ensuring that students and providers agree to the terms. It's fairly common practise to do it this way, but it does mean you'll get people who are legally bound by the terms but haven't actually read them. If your terms and conditions are an impenetrable wall of legalese, then it might be best to stick with this option. You can then send plain-English information in the welcome email that gets sent after registration.

Option 2: The Speedbump
This is the new option. Instead of the tickbox, terms and conditions are displayed full-page after people click the 'Register' button:

This should work well if you have conditions that are fairly easy to read. It's still fairly unlikely that people will read much of this text, but you can call their attention to a few key sentences or words by selectively bolding them.

Choosing an Option
You can change this option by selecting 'Speedbump-style terms and conditions' under Admin > Settings > Website. If you don't choose the new option, you'll stay with the default tick box terms and conditions.

Editing Terms and Conditions
Whichever option you choose, the way you change your terms and conditions is the same: just edit the relevant page under Admin > Content > Pages.

New StudyStays Logo and Website

I just launched a refresh of the studystays.com.au promotional website, with a new look and a new logo.
The design is by my friend Deena. Deena worked part-time at StudyStays last year on marketing, promotional material, and this website. On a side note, Deena just recently won the People's Choice Award for Most Promising Female Songwriter in the Queensland Music Awards for her single Turpentine. She also puts together a pretty tight website, if you ask me!

Front page content customisation

There are 4 parts of the front page content that you can customise:
  1. Student and provider titles
  2. Student and provider "blurbs"
  3. Front page content
  4. The side bar
To customise the first three, go to Admin > Content > Front page.

1. Student and provider titles

These titles help direct the two main audiences in the right direction. Feel free to use different terminology here if you like. Keep in mind that the terms "Student" and "Provider" will continue to be used throughout the website for these user types, no matter what titles you use here.

TIP: Another effective way to direct the two main audience groups might be to use titles that highlight the actions that each group are likely to want to do. Examples: "Find a place to live", "Advertise your property".

2. Student and provider "blurbs"

These "blurbs" are an opportunity to provide audience-specific information, in addition to the default actions that are shown above the blurb.

TIP: It's possible to have too much "blurb", leading to a type of clutter and confusion known as "blah". Too much text or lots of bold text can make a blurb look impenetrable to users who are trying to get something done as quickly as possible—and so they end up skipping it. So, keep your blurbs short and snappy if you can. Try linking to a separate content page if you have have more to say. And if you have things to say to both students AND providers you can use the next option, which is....

3. Front page content

This is where you can be a bit more expansive about things like the purpose of the website, a description of the service you offer, general information, and helpful links.

TIP: When you're trying to point out important information, it's easy to go overboard and present A WALL OF BOLD TEXT (***IMPORTANT, MUST READ!!!). This can be counter-productive: if everything is important, then nothing is important. If you think about the way you use other websites, you'll probably conclude that people will usually only skim this text. So try breaking your content up in to sections with headings and very selectively bold important key words. If you have a lot to say on a topic, create a new content page with all the details and just link to it from the front page.

4. Side bar

This is a bonus option: the side bar is shown on every public page, not just the front page. Unlike the other options above which are under Admin > Content > Front page, you edit the sidebar from Admin > Content > Side bar.

TIP: Because space is tight in the side bar, links and occasional brief sentences will work best. Again, try to limit what you put here to just the most important things, as too much will mean a side bar that trails off the page: it's almost guaranteed that no one will read to the bottom in that case.

Property Address Improvements

These improvements should make it easier for advertisers to list the correct address for their property.

There are two parts to the change.

Address autocompletion when adding a new listing
There's a new page for adding listings, with a few quick questions to help advertisers get started quickly. The "Address" text box now pops up a list of matching addresses, which saves the advertiser from having to enter street address, suburb, state and postcode separately.

As well as making it easier for new advertisers to get started, this should lead to more accurate addresses with less typos.

After filling out the new listing details, advertisers are sent to the normal listing form with the relevant fields already set up for them.

Drag to change map location
You might have encountered situations where the map marker ends up in the wrong suburb, state or even country. Advertisers can now adjust the location of the map marker if the automatic lookup places it incorrectly.
You can also use this drag feature from admin to correct stray map markers.

Follow-up emails for listings in the approval queue

You might find this update useful for those times when your listing approval queue starts getting long.

You now have the option to automatically email providers after their listing has been in the queue for a while. The setting to enable this is under Admin > Settings > Email Templates > "Send an email while listings are in the approval queue". As well as changing the email template, you can also set how many hours you want to wait before sending the email.


The default email apologises for the delay and explains that you'll try to approve the listing as soon as possible. This might be useful at busy times of the year, when a bit of proactive reassurance could reduce enquiries and complaints from providers.

Making sure units have unit numbers

This is just a minor improvement, but now when providers list units, apartments or flats, the listing form will now check to make sure they entered the unit/flat/apartment number.



This will handle a variety of unit address formats, things like:

Flat 2 14 Smith St
2/14 Smith St
F 2 14 Smith St
Unit 2 14 Smith St
2/14 Smith St
U 2 14 Smith St
APT 2 14 Smith St

Only listings with "unit", "flat", or "apartment" in the property type will be checked in this way. One exception is granny flats, which won't require a unit number.

Hopefully this improves the quality of addresses, without making you do any extra administrative work.

Email auto-response for listings over the holiday period

If you're taking a break from approving listings over the holidays, we've added a new way give yourselves a bit of breathing room.

You can now configure an email to be sent out after providers add a listing. In this email you might like to let people know that you might take longer than usual to process their listing.

As with other email templates, you can find this new one Admin > Settings > Email templates. Tick the box to "Send an email to providers after they submit a listing" and then you can customise the "Listing submitted" email that will be sent.

Posting bulletins to students and providers

Bulletins are a new way to display important messages to students or providers after they've signed in.

As a StudyStays administrator, you can post Bulletins from Admin > Content > Bulletins. You can specify a target audience to display to (students or providers) and a title and message for the Bulletin.



How Bulletins work
Bulletins are only shown once to each person.

When you post a bulletin, you choose whether it will be seen by students or providers. After people sign in, they will see any Bulletins that have been posted for them since they last signed in. People can quickly continue on with what they were trying to do by clicking a "continue" button, or by clicking on any other links on the page.

Bulletins are designed for updating people with new information, so one detail to keep in mind is that Bulletins will only be shown to people who have already registered when you post the Bulletin.


Formatting your message
The message box for Bulletins only accepts plain text, unlike content pages where you can add links, bold text and other formatting using toolbar buttons. You can however do some formatting using a popular syntax known as Markdown. For example, in the image above I have made some text bold by adding double-asterisks (**) on either side.

Here are some examples of Markdown.

**This is bold** becomes: This is bold
*This will be italic* becomes: This will be italic
Here is a [link](http://studystays.com) becomes: Here is a link.

For more examples, please see the Markdown Syntax Examples.


When to use Bulletins
As mentioned above, Bulletins are intended to update people with important changes and information. Things like new requirements for landlords are perfect for bulletins.

In contrast to Mailouts, Bulletins are a good way to update people just as they're about to use your website. If you have information that you want people to see now, you might consider doing a Mailout instead.


Information overload
It's important to remember that Bulletins are interrupting people as they're about to perform a task like searching for a flat or listing their property. For this reason, it's a good idea to use them sparingly, and when you do, to keep them short and to the point.

Automatic Capitalisation

StudyStays now automatically adjusts letter case where it looks like people have entered all upper- or lower-case text, or haven't capitalised the first words in their sentences for listing details.

We hope this will give listings’ text more consistency, without admins needing to make as many manual adjustments.

Here's an example of some listing text and how it will be automatically adjusted:

Before:
Address: 30 almondbury rd, MT LAWLEY 6050

Details:
gardens and parks nearby. polished floors throughout, large and medium sized room available.fully furnished kitchen and laundry. shared bills and bond required. 

After:
Address:  30 Almondbury Rd, Mt Lawley 6050

Details:
Gardens and parks nearby. Polished floors throughout, large and medium sized room available. Fully furnished kitchen and laundry. Shared bills and bond required.

---

StudyStays will use Title Case (where the first letter of every word is capitalised) for things like names and addresses, and Sentence Case (where the first letter of the first word in every sentence is capitalised) for things like listing details.

This will mainly affect form entries submitted by non-Administrators, that is: student and provider registrations, and listings. If automatic capitalisation is applied, it will be done after a form is submitted.

This capitalisation will only be applied to new or edited listings—existing listings will remain as they are.