Expert Advice

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Welcome! We’ve hand selected some of our most knowledgeable Encompass users to share tips and suggestions for maximizing the tools you use every day within the Encompass platform. Content will be added to this page weekly; check back often to see new advice from your peers! The latest tip(s) will be at the top of the list. All of the other tips are arranged by area/topic.

Interested in becoming an iModules Expert? Contact us here.

Our current experts are:

Chase Carter Oklahoma State University Alumni Association
Olivier Gilloux Dartmouth
Debbi Johanning KU Alumni Association
Becky Johnson Purdue Research Foundation
Kate Jolly Purdue Research Foundation
Lauren Lakomek Northwestern University
Mort Peyvandi University of California, Merced

 

April 18, 2018:

(Kevin Hemphill, University of West Georgia)

When using any forms in Encompass, by typing the letter "T" in a date and/or time field, it will fill in the current date/time stamp.


Admin Rights

(Training, iModules - December 19, 2017)

If an admin already has an alumni account or donor account, create a separate (Admin) account with the appropriate admin rights to ensure an easier clean-up if the admin leaves. This way the alumni or donor account maintains the transactional data, and the admin account only has a record of admin transactions.  This also assists in the use of the Pre-poplulate functionality for Forms, Events, Donations, and Memberships for admins.

Admins will NOT be able to fully utilize a pre-populate link. Admins will be taken to a window that indicates that as an admin you will not see your data pre-populated in the form.This page tells you that pre-population is enabled and functioning.  The admins are provided a "Continue" link that takes them to the linked form, with no information pre-populated and administrative options will still not be available.


Campaign Progress Indicators

(Project Management, iModules - October 31, 2017)

We have some sample HTML for customized campaign progress indicators that was presented at Sizzler 2016: http://design.imodules.com/s/1580/erin/sizzler16/interior.aspx?sid=1580&gid=4&sitebuilder=1&pgid=1765!


Content Editor

(Training, iModules - November 28, 2017)

To maintain the formatting when replacing text in a content editor on a web page or within an email, edit between the first and the last character in the sentence, title, or paragraph that you would like to replace. This will ensure that the new text will retain the same color, font and style as the original text without having to access HTML.

(Training, iModules - November 7, 2017)

When working in the editor, there is a big difference between using the "Enter" button and using "Shift+Enter". "Enter" is a paragraph break, whereas "Shift+Enter" is only a new line.


Content Management

Content Management
(Chase Carter, Oklahoma State University Alumni Association - March 06, 2018)

Working on a new website or redesign? Use a spreadsheet software like Excel to track your progress! Each row should correspond to a specific page, and you can nest certain rows under others to replicate your site map. Use columns for items related to each page including writing out a purpose for the page, designating a page owner, identifying a short URL and providing a page status. This status will allow you to track what pages need copy, graphics or are finished. You can also use a sharable spreadsheet like Google Sheets so multiple people can be updating the sheet at the same time.

(Training, iModules - October 24, 2017)

Did you know when adding a video to a page in your iModules site, you should first go to http://embedresponsively.com/ to ensure the video is mobile-friendly and isn't restricted to specific sizes? This works great with YouTube videos and Google Maps!

(Professional Services/Application Support, iModules - October 10, 2017)

If you would like to return the user to a specific page after they log in, you can append "&returnurl=" and paste in the encoded url to the end of your secure login URL.
Start with a link to your login page.
After the login url, you add “&returnurl=”.
This is when the encoding site comes into play. You can get the encoded URL from: http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/dencoder/ or http://www.albionresearch.com/misc/urlencode. You take the url for the location you want them to arrive after login, and place it in the url encoding area.
After you have copied the encoded url, add it to the login page link “(link to clients login page)&returnurl=HERE-IS-WHERE-YOU-PASTE-THE-ENCODED-VALUE”.


Data (Ellucian Advance Data Connector)

(Becky Johnson, Purdue Research Foundation - October 10, 2017)

For external data loads - I run a query once a week for any record with a Constituent ID and no first name and last name. This tells me if any non-Connector or manual load has added a new record. All new records should be added using the Connector. The Connector sends all the bio data to iModules. If there is no bio data then these non complete records tell me that one of these loads isn't using the required excludes or if my normal load somehow missed this record. I am able to keep track of records that shouldn't be transferred from Advance to iModules this way.


Donations

(Strategic Consulting, iModules - April 09, 2018)

Excerpt from the Online Giving Trends in Higher Education Whitepaper. Access all Whitepapers and additional resources HERE.

Online and mobile giving continues to grow and will remain a significant focus for the fundraising approach in higher education. As a result, we anticipate the following in 2018:

· Continued emphasis on making the online giving process seamless and simple across all devices for donors, as research shows an increasing number of donations from mobile.

· Ability for donors to easily give to their preferred philanthropic priorities by offering a variety of funds for donors to support, as this increases the likelihood of giving.

· Increasing the personalization and segmentation of email communications to further engage  current and prospective donors; institutions should endeavor to provide information on the impact of a specific donor’s previous gift(s), include customized ask amounts, and share content relevant to the individual prospective or current donor.

· Maintaining a greater focus on repeat gifts by making recurring donation options more prominent on giving forms; McMaster University saw an 88% increase in donors opting for a recurring gift in the same six-month period year-over-year.

· More institutions incorporating other areas of focus into their days of giving in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience and keep strategy fresh, which is particularly important for those  who have executed multiple days of giving in the past.

(Strategic Consulting, iModules - March 27)

As you’re reviewing those email stats, if you notice that you have a high click-to-open rate, but you’re not converting donors, then that could be an indication that your giving form is difficult to use. So here are some quick best practices for your giving form.

You can change your data strategy completely, but if your giving form is not easy to use, it won’t make a big difference. Best practices include making sure that the giving form is easy to reach and that it takes one click to reach the giving form from alumni and giving pages. There should also be a clear call to action on your site, such as a Give Now button. 

Having pre-population on your giving form will also make the giving process easier when constituents are clicking from email, as all of their profile information will already be filled in for them, such as their name and address.

This leads right into the next point of not including too many fields on your giving form. Your form should only include fields that are necessary for constituents to make a gift. If you have a lot of additional fields on your form, review those internally to determine whether are important and look at how often donors complete these. A common one that I see is asking why they chose to make a gift. That might be good information to gather, but if you’re not looking at that information to help inform your communications, then it’s probably not worth including on your giving form.

Speaking of fields, this is also a good opportunity to review the order of fields on the form. The donation amount should be the first field on the form. Donors are going to the giving form with the intent of making a gift – they shouldn’t be presented with personal information fields first and only once they have filled these out, reach the donation field. By that point, they may have changed their mind about the amount that they would like to give.

(Mort Peyvandi, University of California, Merced - March 20, 2018)

Do you want to provide your users with a specific link that has an auto-filled donation amount? How about a specific fund? Yes, you guessed it right, you can do this by using parameters. But wait there is more... with parameters you can use a specific payment method and also a hidden value as a tracking code. Here is an example of a link we use in our emails:
https://securelb.imodules.com/s/1650/index.aspx?sid=1650&gid=1&pgid=1694&dids=31&appealcode=17_18_UCMAA_BOARD&bledit=1&amount=1920&utm_source=amount_button&paymenttype=scheduledonly

The parameters we are using in this email:
&dids=31 [pre-selected designation(s)]
&appealcode=17_18_UCMAA_BOARD [appeal code]
&bledit=1 [Non-editable selected designation(s)]
&amount=1920 [auto-fill donation amount]
&utm_source=amount_button [hidden value used as a tracking code] *
&paymenttype=scheduledonly [specific payment type] 

*Make sure to check out the April special webinar, Hidden Value Fields can do WHAT? https://clients.imodules.com/s/1333/16/ip2.aspx?sid=1333&gid=3&pgid=3876.

For more information on URL customization options available for all form types (including a downloadable cheat sheet) check out The Power of URL Customization resource page!
https://support.imodules.com/hc/en-us/articles/218802167-The-Power-of-URL-Customization

(Training, iModules - October 17, 2017)

Before launching your Campaign to constituents, and after completing all needed test submissions, contact Application Support and ask for all submissions to be purged. This is an all or nothing purge, so make sure you only have test submissions when you make the request.


Email Marketing

Email Marketing
(Mort Peyvandi, University of California, Merced - April 3, 2018)

Did you know that in Email Builder under Send Preview tab, you can add HTML in the Additional Comments section? I have been using this section to include notes about when the email is scheduled, who received a copy of the preview, and who to send feedback to.

**You can click on the image to view a larger version.


(Chase Carter, Oklahoma State University Alumni Association - December 5, 2017)

Hosting an event with several different groups attending? Send your registrants an electronic "ticket" using email marketing, and change the background color of the email to differentiate between them! We use our main school colors (orange, black, silver) as ticket colors when we email graduating seniors for their celebration event. The colors correspond with check-in tables at the event for the various groups depending on whether they're a life member, need to start a payment plan or need to join. We also include name, ID number and membership status as tokens in the email for quick reference. 

OSU_Ticket_Silver.jpgOSU_Ticket_Orange.jpgOSU_Ticket_Black.jpg

(Debbi Johanning, KU Alumni Association - October 17, 2017)

This is a simple tip, but one that has been very helpful for us. Clients don't have the ability to delete custom lists in Email Marketing. We use a lot of custom lists to copy department or university staff, or other interested parties who don't meet the criteria for a particular email but want to receive a copy. We have a lot of custom lists that contain a single person. However, sometimes people leave the university, and we aren't able to remove the custom list from our system. We edit the list name to include "XX" as the first two characters, which moves it to the bottom of the custom list page and out of the active lists. Then, we contact iModules and simply ask them to delete all custom lists that begin with "XX". If you use a lot of custom lists like we do, this might be a helpful tip to keep you list of lists more manageable!

(Professional Services/Application Support, iModules - October 10, 2017)

If you would like to return the user to a specific page after they log in, you can append "&returnurl=" and paste in the encoded url to the end of your secure login URL.
Start with a link to your login page.
After the login url, you add “&returnurl=”.
This is when the encoding site comes into play. You can get the encoded URL from: http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/dencoder/ or http://www.albionresearch.com/misc/urlencode. You take the url for the location you want them to arrive after login, and place it in the url encoding area.
After you have copied the encoded url, add it to the login page link “(link to clients login page)&returnurl=HERE-IS-WHERE-YOU-PASTE-THE-ENCODED-VALUE”.


Events

(Olivier Gilloux, Dartmouth - March 13, 2018)

When you create a more complex form using role-based content, it is often best to add some Rich Text that is role-based to Super Admin (and the appropriate Forms or Events admins) explaining the logic of your form. You can use new categories (don't forget to disable the header) to hold that Rich Text.

(Olivier Gilloux, Dartmouth - February 27, 2018)

If you want to allow some invitees to benefit from a special pricing when they register for an event, you should use a combination of tokenized hidden value and role: https://support.imodules.com/hc/en-us/articles/218262368-Tokenized-Hidden-Values-Appeal-Codes-for-Non-commerce-Forms-#Example_#2:%C2%A0_Using_Tokenized_Hidden_Values_for_Events.
You will end up with a custom URL to share with this group of invitees. Since the token and value are part of the URL, make sure they're okay for users to see.

You can use a similar method for tracking registration sources:
https://support.imodules.com/hc/en-us/articles/218262368-Tokenized-Hidden-Values-Appeal-Codes-for-Non-commerce-Forms-#Example_#1:%C2%A0Using_Tokenized_Hidden_Values_for_Tracking.
You can use different values for each email campaign, any online link, as well as your links in print communications (though I would recommend using a URL shortener for links in print material).

*** For more information on Hidden Values, check out the upcoming Hidden Value Fields can do WHAT? special webinar on April 23 and April 27.  Register for this webinar and others on the Special Training Webinars page!

(Training, iModules - February 13, 2018)

Do you create events for your clubs, chapters, volunteers, or other departments? Consider creating an Event Request Form using the Forms module! Add new, potentially required, fields to collect the information that you need to create an event for another group. These should be created with the Storage Mode of Instanced. This will save you from playing email tag to get all of the information you need to create a robust event.

Event_Request_Form.png

(Olivier Gilloux, Dartmouth - February 06, 2018)

Looking for ways to make your event registration forms prettier and mobile friendly? I use the Column Layout Snippets you can find on the Support Center (https://support.imodules.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003938292-Column-Layout-Snippets) to format activity or category instructions/descriptions. You can get some nice 2-column layouts (e.g.: text/picture) that also stack on mobile.


(Mort Peyvandi, University of California, Merced - January 30, 2018)

 Ok, so you added “Add to Calendar” to your emails. What are the features of the iCal calendar and how they are related to Events? As you can see from screenshot below, here is the information you need so make sure you are using descriptive information when completing your Event Details page.

UCM_Tip_-_iCal.jpg


(Mort Peyvandi, University of California, Mercedn - January 22, 2018)

If you are not using “Add to Calendar” you should be.  We include this feature in the following areas: Calendar of events (https://giving.ucmerced.edu/events). Add  [iCalURL] to your finish page message on events. Add  [iCalURL] to your member confirmation email body. To include this on your email invitations, go to your Event Listings and copy the link for the specific event.  It should be something similar to this, https://giving.ucmerced.edu/controls/cms_v2/Components/iCalendar/iCalendar.aspx?sid=1650&contentid=1809&ciid=14400&crid=0&type_alias=[event]


(Olivier Gilloux, Dartmouth - January 16, 2018)

For our Reunions, we create individual event forms for each class (~11 or 12). We create an event in GID1 with all the default fields, activities, and roles, and save it as a template. We then create all the individual event forms to add specific information/activities, etc. The roles still work, even if the forms are created in sub-communities, and it's a great time saver to use a template. We also create a "dashboard" page for our admins managing the Reunions forms. On this, we have links to the back-end of each form, but also links to the Registration Summary reports (Optimized Event Exports). These links go directly to run the reports, since you can copy the URL of the page where you run an optimized event export. This is also a great time saver for our admins that don't need to know where the report is or to use the gear icon to run it. One click and they're all set.

(Professional Services, iModules - December 5, 2017)

For activity commerce items, use the name of the activity as part of the field name. (Confirmation emails will make it easier for registrants to know what activity it is, since we so often hide the activity headers and won’t show in emails.)

(Olivier Gilloux, Dartmouth - November 28, 2017)

When I work on an event with activities (lots of them) and I need to make changes to several of them in the  Activity Settings, if my changes are only on that first page of the Activity Properties (e.g.: date, audience, instructions), I simply click save and when the window displays the next page (description, contact, etc.), I click the red "x" at the top right corner of the window. My changes are saved but the page will not refresh...which allows me to save some time and continue just where I am on the form. Whenever I'm done, I just refresh the page to display all my changes.

(Mort Peyvandi, University of California, Merced - November 21, 2017)

Want to see how many emails you have going today? This week? This month? You don't need to worry, you can just go to Email > Email Calendar to see all this information. For your emails to appear on the calendar, just Schedule the Email. You can still leave the email in Saved Drafts and it will appear on the Email Calendar. **Once you schedule an email you always have to have a date. So if your email is postponed, just choose a future date like 01/01/18.

(Lauren Lakomek, Northwestern University  - November 14, 2017)

Use "Add this event to your calendar" hyperlinks in your event invitation email/reminder or on the Event Details page of the event itself to help alumni keep track of the event date. First, use the program or online tool of your choice to save a calendar appointment as a .ical file. Then, upload this file to your site's "File Library". Once uploaded, click the pencil icon as if you were going to make an edit to the file. There, you will see a maroon hyperlink to the .ical file you uploaded. Right click to save the hyperlink and then use that hyperlink wherever makes sense.

(Kate Jolly, Purdue Research Foundation - November 7, 2017)

Need help making a form or event look nice? Utilize iModules quick coding to help. No CSS experience needed Link: https://support.imodules.com/hc/en-us/articles/218265118-CSS-Customization-Options-on-Forms-Events-Campaigns

(Jeanna Dawson, Emory University Alumni Association - October 31, 2017)

This will change your life! When you are making edits under View Content > Layout Edit Mode, click inside the WIZIWIG box and hit F11. This will bring that box into Full Screen Mode for ease in editing! WARNING: You must hit F11 again to be able to Save your changes! #F11forlife

(Mort Peyvandi, University of California, Merced - October 24, 2017)

When you have a detail page that is very long, go to Layout Edit and add an additional [[Registration Button]] at the bottom, by either typing in or copy/paste (your mobile users will thank you!) By default there is only one [[Registyration Button]] at the top, but if a user is viewing Homecoming events that can be very detailed and long, they would have to scroll back to the top to register. Make registration as easy as
possible. For our annual golf tournament, MA Kelly Golf Events, we added an extra [[Registration Button]] at the bottom for our users. Link - http://giving.ucmerced.edu/makelley2017.

(Training, iModules - October 17, 2017)

Before launching your Events to constituents, and after completing all needed test submissions, contact Application Support and ask for all submissions to be purged. This is an all or nothing purge, so make sure you only have test submissions when you make the request. 


Forms

(Olivier Gilloux, Dartmouth - December 12, 2017)

When I want to add CSS to a specific step of a form and make sure I remember it's there, I add a new category that I name "Custom CSS" and set it to not display the category header. I add a RichText field and include my CSS in there. This way, my styling is applied on the front end without being visible, and I can see clearly on the back end that there is custom CSS in place and where it is.

(Kate Jolly, Purdue Research Foundation - November 7, 2017)

Need help making a form or event look nice? Utilize iModules quick coding to help. No CSS experience needed Link: https://support.imodules.com/hc/en-us/articles/218265118-CSS-Customization-Options-on-Forms-Events-Campaigns

(Training, iModules - October 17, 2017)

Before launching your Commerce Forms to constituents, and after completing all needed test submissions, contact Application Support and ask for all submissions to be purged. This is an all or nothing purge, so make sure you only have test submissions when you make the request. Please note that is does not apply to Standard Forms.

(Chase Carter, Oklahoma State University Alumni Association - October 10, 2017)

Forms can be for internal usage too! Create forms for your staff or volunteers to use for purchasing office materials, clothing or making project requests. We have a resource page for our chapter volunteers that links to numerous forms for communication and event requests at http://orangeconnection.org/chapterresources.


Membership

(Chase Carter, Oklahoma State University Alumni Association - February 20, 2018)

If you're a membership-based organization, you can use the Membership Filter to create automated renewal notices within Email Marketing! First, make sure you use the Custom - Recurring option when you begin creating the email campaign. This will allow you to set it to automatically send every day. When building your query, look for the "Custom Filters" folder and click the "Membership Filter" within it. Then, set how many days before or after the expiration date you want to query for along with the membership levels, status and auto-renewal options. You'll most likely want to use the "exactly" option instead of "between now and." Finally, on the Schedule Email step, set the email to run daily at a certain time. The query will look for any  members whose membership expires 30 days from the run day (as an example) and only send the email to them!

(Olivier Gilloux, Dartmouth - December 26, 2017)

If you're like me and don't like how the "Membership Levels" header shows in a membership form, here's
something you can do: - add a Rich Text field with the header you would like to use. - add the following CSS on that step of the form to hide that header. /*Hides the Membership Levels header*/ .idbmsMembershipLevels tr:first-of-typetd { display: none;} Voila.

(Training, iModules - October 17, 2017)

Before launching your Memberships to constituents, and after completing all needed test submissions, contact Application Support and ask for all submissions to be purged. This is an all or nothing purge, so make sure you only have test submissions when you make the request.


Recurring Payments

(Training, iModules - November 14, 2017)

Don't forget that you can see all of the scheduled and perpetual gifts and membership auto renewals by hovering over the Gold Key and selecting Recurring Payments. This allows you to manage the credit card on file, see if the next payment will fail, and send On-Demand requests to constituents for updated payment information.


Roles

(Training, iModules - January 09, 2018)

Need to clean up your role selection list? Go to the Gold Key menu, select Member Field Role Manager, and set any no longer needed roles to inactive.

(Becky Johnson, Purdue Research Foundation - January 02, 2018)

Create test records to see how role and security changes affect the outcome – If you do a lot of role based content, create one or multiple test records to see how it will look to those specific constituents. You can use these test records with data point roles attached to be sure the settings you selected for the roles are correct. If you have certain fields available to only a select group of constituents, you can log in to be sure the fields display or do not display according to your settings. It is much easier to troubleshoot with test records than putting those roles on co-workers records and having them test. We also use these records in our demonstrations/training. For staff that don’t get into the administrative side of the system but view the content or have constituents that view their content through our donor portal, this is our way of showing them how their donors will see the data so it’s more familiar to them if they receive questions. 


URL Customizations

(Training, iModules - November 21, 2017)

>If a submission was made by accessing a form through a link containing an appeal code, not only will that appeal code show in the reporting, but also at the bottom of that submission's admin confirmation email.

Have more questions? Submit a request