Archive for November, 2009

Fast, fast and faster contact management

Monday, November 16th, 2009

With the hundreds of beta users and thousands of contacts added during beta1, things were getting slow when managing contacts.

The search and tag selection were especially below the acceptable threshold.

So first we built a full Javascript user interface using Google Gears that’s as fast as a desktop application. It also allows you to view your contacts when offline; this will be the base for the future Ofuz Desktop.

To enable Google Gears to manage your Ofuz contacts, go into Settings, choose the Google Gears tab, and then turn it on.

But Gears is not yet available for everyone — like on my Linux 64b desktop.

Then, last week we rewrote the standard web-based version of the contact management section. This added infinite scrolling, so it’s a great performance feature. It initially loads just the first 50 contacts and as you scroll down it loads more contacts until it reaches the end.

Lastly, we moved Ofuz to new hardware servers in a new cloud environment based on Open Source technologies. The result is a 10x performance improvement in Ofuz contact management. Now, even with thousands of contacts the user interface is extremely responsive.

Give us your feedback and let us know how fast it runs for you.

Email merge in a targeted email marketing campaign

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Most email marketing solutions today are limited to anonymous lists of emails to whom you blast general newsletters.

For your email marketing strategy to be efficient, it’s important to send the right message to the right person. The best way to do this is to organize your contacts by category, and then send personalized emails to each of those categories.

In Ofuz we call these categories Tags. They can be used as a category or list and are very flexible, and you can apply as many tags as you want with a contact.

Click on a contact’s name (below, see an example of a contact with Tags):
Contact Tag view

Now click on the Edit tags or Add tags link, and it will change to:
contact tag in edit mode

Here you can remove tags or add new ones. For example, I am adding the tag “new product info” to this contact to send him information and news about our products.

Once you have attached different tags to your contacts you can send a personalized email message to all of the contacts with a specific tag.

Ofuz email sending capabilities are simple but quite powerful. You can send personalized messages by first name and last name to as many contacts as you want, and create and reuse email templates in HTML with rich text formating. A cool feature unique to Ofuz is that you can send Facebook notifications for Facebook friends without email addresses.

To send a message to multiple contacts, go in the Contacts tab and click on a tag that contains the contact you want to send a message to.

Then click in the white part of a contact line. See the screen shot:

Select a contact
Select a contact

It will highlight the contact line in yellow and open a menu of options. Click the same way on all the contacts you want to send the message to.

If you want to select all of your contacts, click on the select all link.

Then click on the send message button and it will open the message composer.

Create an email message or customize an email template

Create an email message or customize an email template

You can see in this example the [firstname] placeholder that will be merged with each contact’s first name.

On the top right you have a drop down that may be empty at first; it’s all the messages you have saved as templates.

You can manage your email templates in Account Settings → Email Templates.

Just below the template list you have another drop down with a list of “fields”. Select one of them and it will add a special code in your email message that will be replaced by the contact equivalent.

For example, add first name and it will add this weird [firstname] code. Place it anywhere you want, and when you send your message it will replace that code with your contact’s First Name.

If you are not ready to send the message yet you can save it as a draft and come back later to finish it.

If it’s an important message that you plan to send to a lot of users, it’s better to first test it. To do that, save the message as draft, go into Contacts and select yourself, and then send the message to your self.

Once you are satisfied with the result, send the message to your appropriate list.