SharePoint Newsletter tool JungleMail 4.1 Release

For those trying to utilize SharePoint for multiple business needs, not exclusively for SharePoint document management and collaboration, but also for improving communication and targeted content delivery, group emails and newsletters will play a big role. There are numerous cases where you might need to send SharePoint content by email, and it never hurts to know how to do it efficiently.

With JungleMail you could do much more than just send a few emails from SharePoint. You can use it to gather content from your SharePoint lists and generate the email contents. So let’s talk about this case: how to manage your subscribers in SharePoint using newsletters.

As this blog's title may have suggested, there are at least 2 methods to send newsletters to your SharePoint subscribers using JungleMail since the 4.1 version release, and it is up to you to decide how to use them. An ideal scenario would be to use a combination of all available functionality and knowledge for the best result.

To make all of it more clearly, let’s consider the following case for now:

Managing SharePoint Subscribers

I have a News list in SharePoint, organized by topics. Every post (SharePoint item) has its own description, URL links, and pictures. I also have a list of subscribers. The list is managed by the JungleMail Subscription Web Part.

Once I have my subscribers available in SharePoint, I want to use my SharePoint News list and the JungleMail Subscribers list to send a weekly newsletter with content relevant to each separate subscriber according to their topics of interest. Let’s take a look at how we can do that:

Method 1: Using Topics to filter recipients

You can create a separate newsletter for each different topic's combination. We must ensure that people interested in Policy Changes receive that, and not Travel Suggestions, if they are not subscribed to it.

The main challenge here would be to manage the newsletter content for each different topics groups because with the number of available topics growing, the number of different templates to manage would grow exponentially. Figure it out how many different groups of contacts we will be sending to, and use JungleMail Topics to filter the recipients.

This method could work if a small number of topics is involved. But if you got a larger pack, the enormous amount of template variations would make this way of managing newsletters in SharePoint inefficient.

Method 2: Using repeater to get relevant content

If you look at a newsletter as a constant, an event that happens regularly, the variant factor, what changes, is its content. So a more elegant method would be to generate newsletter content from SharePoint on the fly.

Imagine how neat it would be if you could create a single template that is used for every subscriber and the relevant content is taken from SharePoint lists when the newsletter is being sent. It would be really cool and it actually is. That is exactly what JungleMail Repeater is for.

You need to add a repeater into your email body, and it will compare recipients’ information with the information from your SharePoint News list and will only include relevant information for each separate subscriber. Let’s see how we can configure that.

Configuring JungleMail to automatically generate Newsletters using SharePoint list items

For that, you need JungleMail Repeater and you can find it in E-Mail Content tab:

SharePoint Newsletters Content Repeater

By clicking it, you will get to the configuration where you need to choose your content list in SharePoint (it needs to be in the same site collection). Also choose a view in that list, the maximum number of items to be put into your e-mail, and configure conditions for the repeater to follow.

SharePoint Newsletters Content Repeater Configurations

In this case, I limited the maximum number or included news items to 3 and configured my repeater to compare topics of my subscriber list item in SharePoint, to a news list items‘ topics in my SharePoint News list.

There are few options to choose from when comparing the columns:

SharePoint Newsletters Content Repeater Comparison Method

I used the comparison method: “in range of” (one of the new exciting features of JungleMail 4.1) because both of my Subscribers list and News list topic's columns can contain multiple topics of interest. If I needed to compare a single topic to another single topic, I could use "is equal" or "is containing", depending on how my SharePoint columns are configured, but as my comparison is many to many, I need to use "in range of". It will include news if at least one topic matches and that is what I need in this case.

After I configure the repeater, the part that will have the content included will be marked by red dots. Now you need to insert columns from your News list. You can do that by clicking "Columns" in JungleMail E-mail Content editor ribbon. You can format the content controls to give them required style:

SharePoint Newsletters Content Repeater Layout

Please note that if you don’t use a repeater, the columns you use in your email body will come from your recipients' list. So in the picture above, {[FirstName]} will be taken from the Subscribers list. However, columns inside the repeater (red dots) will be taken from the content list, my SharePoint News list in this case. So the {[Title]} is the title of news items that will be included in your email.

To add links and images, you need to work with the HTML of the newsletter. You can access it by clicking "Source" in JungleMail E-mail Content editor.

To include columns, you will need to type them or simply copy them from the content, like in the following example:

<a alt="NewsPost" href="{[LinkColumn]}"> {[Title]} </a>

We have a column named LinkColumn, which contains a link to the actual news article. So the final result here will be a title of a news item in my SharePoint list, with a link to the article. If you want to send newsletters to internal SharePoint users, which already have access to your SharePoint news list, you don’t need a new column containing the link; you can simply use a link to the actual item. You can google "SharePoint system columns" to find a list of all available columns to use, that does not appear under list columns in list properties or JungleMail menus.

To include an image you will need to do the same thing, that is to insert an <img src=“{[ImageUrlColumn]}“> tag, and the correct image URL will be populated when the newsletter is being generated. Just make sure to format the pictures and email body correctly so it does not disfigure the final result.

After I configure my newsletter content and repeater, I can go to Preview, to check how the final email would look like:

SharePoint Newsletters Content Repeater Preview

And once I am satisfied with that I just need to select "Recurrence". I want my emails to be sent 11 AM on Mondays, so I select that:

SharePoint Newsletters Content Repeater Schedule

I can also enable tracking to see who opens my emails and clicks on the article links to ensure that important news are being received.

I only need to configure this once. Now if new subscribers are added or new items my SharePoint news lists are published, JungleMail will include both of those automatically. So it is a really simple way to manage your newsletters automatically!

You can also check the video tutorial where we go through this example:

Different approaches to use repeater functionality for the content in your SharePoint

So previously we took a look at the repeater, using it for newsletters, but it is not the only way to use it! Newsletter is just one use case for a very general type of functionality. As you are using SharePoint to store different kinds of information, all of it is available to use in your newsletter with JungleMail repeater. And I mean ALL of it!

You can use it to email user targeted or general reports like project tasks, meetings summary, user activity, agendas or anything else that resides in your SharePoint. All you need to do is configure the required conditions for the content coming from your lists.

You can use dates, choice fields and anything else to filter, items will be presented in a tidy manner, sorted according to list view sorting settings and formatter anyway you need them to be formatted, that is how you set it in your email styles.

You can use JungleMail repeater to gather any kind of content that you have in your SharePoint lists!

Hopefully this will help someone, leave comments and suggestions and till next times!

by Anthony Burneika


SharePoint Newsletter and Group E-mail