CastleCMS Feature of the Week: The Castle Announcements System
As a website owner, correspondence with your users is very important. CastleCMS has several built-in tools to help site managers reach out to their customers more easily. Specifically, the Announcements system helps managers send out emails to large groups of users or subscribers all at once.
The “Announcements” Control Panel
Nearly everything needed to manage mass-emailing in CastleCMS is handled through this control panel:
This first panel, “Email Users”, allows managers to email any user, or group of users on the site. In the picture above, the user is preparing to send an email to the “Reviewers” user group. Both the “Users” and “Groups” fields will auto-complete user/group names, so there’s no need to remember anyone’s username, which can be very useful when those lists grow in size. Once completed, this form will send the emails using the settings defined in the Mail control panel (email server, ‘from’ email address, etc.).
How do you want to contact site visitors from outside your organization? Since they don’t have an account on your site, you don’t know their email address. This is where subscriptions come into play:
If users enjoy your content, they may be interested in receiving update emails when you publish new content. CastleCMS includes a “Subscribe” tile (shown above) that gives regular visitors the ability to sign up for emails. Visitors simply need to input their name and email and choose which categories of content they are interested in staying. These categories are defined in the “Settings” section of the Announcements control panel.
Additionally, if a Plivio account is connected to the CastleCMS site, visitors can also add their mobile number to receive text message updates.
To email these new subscribers, the site manager needs to create a message in the “Email Subscribers” panel:
Now, instead of selecting Users or Groups to message, we just select a subscription category from the auto-completing “Send to categories” field (in this case, “Updates”). Out of courtesy to the subscribers, “unsubscribe” links are pre-generated in the content body.
Along with emails, we can also send messages to users via SMS. The process is extremely similar to the other two methods:
If a site has an enormous number of users and/or subscribers, sending out bulk emails can be problematic. Sending tens, or hundreds of thousands of emails in one single block can significantly bog down even the biggest email servers. Often large email services (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo) will only allow a set number of emails per hour, or even blacklist sites that send too many messages too quickly. If your site has more than a couple hundred subscribers, you may need to find a more elegant solution to handle bulk emails.
CastleCMS can also be configured to communicate with Wildcard’s Courier system which will handle queueing and send out large-volume, bulk emails in a controlled, time-released manner. Courier is a stand-alone product, with numerous features deserving of their own blog posts, but it’s a great example of how CastleCMS can flex to accommodate even the largest use cases.