Looking for the Desktop version of this article?
When an email needs to be distributed to multiple recipients, Blast Email is the tool to get the job done. By utilizing Blast Email, an email template can be sent to any number of Contacts; filters can be used to narrow down the list of potential recipients, and the content of the email can be automatically customized to be relevant to each recipient in question. Blast Email is particularly effective when used to send requests for Data Collection or other general alerts. This article covers the process of creating and sending a Blast Email; for information on configuring Blast Email or other assistance, refer to the article Blast Email - Preferences & Troubleshooting.
To access Blast Email, select Communications > Blast Email from the Navigation Panel.
Tier Availability: Team, Core, Essential, Premium, Business
Security Rights Required: Blast Email
Table of Contents
- Blast Email Templates
- Sending a Blast Email
- Tips & Tricks
Blast Email Templates
Each Blast Email Template is used to define and manage one Blast Email communication. A Template saves any settings used for a Blast Email—such as the content of the email, the type of mailing, and any attachments—and can be reused as often as necessary. The saved settings can be edited at any time.
Upon opening Blast Email from the Navigation Panel, the Blast Email Templates grid is displayed. Double-clicking on a Template will begin the process of sending a Blast Email; refer to the instructions in the section Sending a Blast Email. The breadcrumb navigation in the tab header can be used to return to the Blast Email Templates grid at any time.
To create a new Blast Email Template, select Add at the top-right of the grid. Refer to the section Adding a Blast Email Template, below.
Hovering over an existing Template will display Edit and Delete options on the right-hand side.
Any Template can be copied by selecting it within the grid, then selecting More > Copy.
Templates marked as inactive are hidden from the grid by default. To view these Templates, select More > Show Inactive.
Adding a Blast Email Template
This section discusses the options that can be set when creating a Blast Email Template (or when editing an existing one). To create a new Template, select Add at the top-right of the Blast Email Templates grid; to edit an existing Template, hover over it and select Edit on the right-hand side.
Name & Description: These fields are used to identify the Template. Names are not required to be unique to each Template, although it is recommended.
Use HTML: When enabled, this option allows formatting and other enhancements to be used within the body of the Blast Email. If disabled, the body's contents will be limited to plaintext (though Merge Fields can still be used).
Mailing Type: Defines the type of Blast Email. Every Mailing Type possesses unique functionality, defines what filters can be applied and what Merge Fields are available, and/or limits the Contacts that can be chosen as recipients. For more information on the available options, refer to the article Blast Email - Mailing Types.
From Type: This option determines how PensionPro applies a From: address to a Blast Email. There are three possible values, although the values that will be available are dependent on the selected Mailing Type:
- Employee Plan Role: Uses the email address of the Employee assigned to the chosen Employee Role for the Plan the recipient is associated with. Activates the From Role field.
- Static Email Address: Sets a single email address that will be used for all recipients. Activates the From Address field.
- Assigned To Employee: Uses the email address of the Employee assigned to the Proposal or Prospect.
This option may or may not be available depending on the chosen Mailing Type; if unavailable, a static email address must be used by default.
From Role: If From Type is set to Employee Plan Role, the desired Role can be selected from this dropdown.
From Address: If From Type is set to Static Email Address, or if the Mailing Type does not support the From Type field, a single email address can be supplied in this field. All emails sent using this Template will use the address entered here as the From: address.
Include All Plan CCs: When enabled, all Plan Contact Roles with Please CC set to Yes (on the Plan tab > Contact Roles view) will be CC'd on the Blast Email. This option is only available for certain Mailing Types.
- If one Contact is assigned to multiple Plan Roles with Please CC set to Yes, they will only be CC'd on the Blast Email once.
Send to CC Option: Allows the manual selection of Plan Contact Roles to be CC'd on the Blast Email. Multiple Roles can be selected for CC. This option is only available for certain Mailing Types.
Blast Email Category: This field can be customized to further categorize Blast Email Templates as desired. The options for this field are List Values, located under Core > General > Blast Email Category. For more information on working with List Values, refer to the article List Values.
Document Specification Selection: This field determines the version of a Plan's Document Specifications that may be utilized for the purposes of Merge Fields and filtering. There are two possible values:
- Newest Effect Date: Selects the newest Document Specifications based on Effective Date, even if the Effective Date is in the future. This is the default option.
- Current Effective Date that is Active: Selects the most current Document Specifications version with an Active status that does not have an Effective Date beyond the present date.
This option is only available for certain Mailing Types.
Active: When selected, the Blast Email Template is active and ready for use. If deselected, the Template becomes inactive and is hidden from the Blast Email Templates grid by default.
Sending a Blast Email
Although the Blast Email feature contains a significant amount of functionality to customize emails and control how they are sent, the process of sending a Blast Email is very straightforward. Each section below discusses a separate step of the Blast Email process in greater detail. To begin sending a Blast Email:
- Navigate to Communications > Blast Email.
- Double-click the desired Blast Email Template from the grid to open it.
Step 1: Information
This step confirms the options that were specified during the creation of the Blast Email Template. These options can be edited at any time by selecting Edit at the top-right of the grid. Any changes made will persist the next time the Blast Email Template is used. For more information on the available options for Blast Email Templates, refer to the section Adding a Blast Email Template.
When the options are set as desired, select Next.
Step 2: Subject & Body
The entirety of this step is devoted to creating the Subject line and Body of the Blast Email. A preview of the current Subject and Body are shown on the right; to make changes, select Edit at the top-right. Any changes made will persist the next time the Blast Email Template is used.
The following instructions take place within the Edit Subject & Body window. When finished, select Save to apply the changes, and then select Next.
The Subject line of the Blast Email can be edited via the field in the top-left. This field does not accept formatting, but does accept Merge Fields (see below). The Subject line cannot be blank.
The Body section occupies most of the left side of the Edit Subject & Body window. This is where the content of the Blast Email is added.
If Use HTML was not selected in the Blast Email Template's settings, the Body section contains a very basic text editor; no formatting or styling can be applied. If HTML was enabled, the editor will contain a toolbar that can be used to format text, insert images and hyperlinks, and more.
This article will not discuss every available formatting option provided by the editor. However, the following instructions are applicable to common tasks.
To convert text to a clickable hyperlink:
- Insert the text that will be hyperlinked (in other words, what the hyperlink will read).
- Select the text that was entered.
- Select Insert Link from the toolbar. The Insert Link window appears.
- In the Web address field, add the URL that should be opened when the hyperlink is selected.
- (Optional) In the Title field, insert any desired text that should be shown when the hyperlink is hovered over.
- Select Insert.
- If necessary, a hyperlink can be removed by selecting the text, then selecting Remove Link from the toolbar.
To insert an image:
- Position the text cursor at the location within the Body that the image should be inserted.
- Select Insert Image from the toolbar.
- In the Web address field, add the URL that points to the image.
- The image must be hosted on a publicly-accessible web server; the URL should point to the location on that web server.
- (Optional) In the Alternate text field, insert a short snippet of text that describes the content of the image. This text is often used by accessibility software to identify the image when it cannot be viewed.
- (Optional) Use the Width and/or Height fields to specify a new image size (in pixels).
- If one field is left blank, the image will be resized proportionally based on the specified dimension.
- Select Insert.
To edit the source code directly:
- Select View Source from the toolbar.
- Edit the source as desired. The Body source code is in HTML format.
- Select Update.
The right side of the Edit Subject & Body window contains Merge Fields, which may be inserted into the Subject or Body of the email to act as a "placeholder" for information. When the Blast Email is sent, the Merge Field is replaces with information relevant to the selected recipient. For example, the [Plan Name] Merge Field is replaced by the name of the Plan that each recipient is associated with. This provides an easy method to customize the contents of a Blast Email for every recipient at once, rather than manually crafting and sending an email to each.
The Mailing Type determines which Merge Fields can be used. Changing a Template's Mailing Type after Merge Fields have been inserted may result in the Merge functionality not applying correctly.
To insert a Merge Field:
- Position the text cursor at the location within the Body that the Merge Field should be inserted.
- Within the Merge Fields pane on the right, expand the appropriate category(s) until the desired Merge Field is found.
- Select the Merge Field.
- Select the appropriate arrow button to the left of the Merge Fields pane. The Merge Field will be inserted.
- The smaller arrow button on top inserts the Merge Field into the Subject.
- The larger arrow button on bottom inserts the Merge Field into the Body.
Step 3: Attachments
If desired, files can be distributed via Blast Email as attachments. Each recipient will receive a copy of any files uploaded to this step.
To add an attachment:
- Select Add at the top-right of the grid. The Add Bulk Email Attachment window displays.
- Use the File Selection box to navigate to and open the desired file.
- Add a Title and Description.
- These fields are for internal reference only; the filename of the attachment will not be altered.
- Select Save.
Hovering over an attachment in the grid will display the Edit and Delete options on the right-hand side. To download an attachment, select the attachment within the grid, then select More > Download.
There is no limit to the number of files that can be attached to a Blast Email, but the combined file size of the attachments cannot exceed 4000 KB (approx. 4 MB).
Merge Field functionality is not available for attachments; every recipient will receive the same copy of the attachment.
When finished, select Next.
Step 4: Filters
During this step, Contact information will be organized and prepared for use in Step 5, where individual Contacts will be chosen as recipients. To successfully set up Step 5 and make selecting recipients as simple as possible, Step 4 is intended to accomplish the following two goals:
- Determine what information can be viewed for each Contact
- Filter out Contacts that do not match custom criteria, thus resulting in a smaller list of potential recipients
A preview of the current Columns and Filters are shown on the right; to make changes, select Edit at the top-right. Any changes made will persist the next time the Blast Email Template is used.
The following instructions take place within the Edit Filters window. When finished, select Save to apply the changes, and then select Next.
The Column Selections pane is used to decide which types of data will be shown for each Contact during Step 5. The Template's Mailing Type determines which categories and columns are available.
Selecting the checkbox next to a column makes it appear in the Columns pane, which provides a quick overview of the columns that will be used in Step 5. Some useful columns may be present by default, based on the Blast Email Template's settings. If unsure which columns should be selected, it is OK to use these defaults.
Many of the fields used throughout PensionPro can be found nested within the various categories. Depending on the Mailing Type, this can extend beyond Contact information; columns may contain Plan, Project, Document Specifications, and Fee Schedule data, as appropriate.
The Filtering pane is used to narrow down the list of Contacts that will be returned in Step 5. Each potential record must meet all criteria established in this pane to be eligible for selection. To prevent large data requests, at least one filter must be created.
Filters are made up of three parts:
- Column is the specific column (i.e., field) that is being evaluated by the filter.
- The formatting for items in this dropdown is CATEGORY - COLUMN NAME (or CATEGORY - SUBCATEGORY - COLUMN NAME). This formatting generally matches the hierarchy of the Column Selections pane.
- A column does not to be selected in the Column Selections pane to be used for a filter.
- The Template's Mailing Type determines what fields are available for filtering.
- Operator is the evaluation logic used by the filter (such as is equal to or is less than).
- Value is what the Column should (or should not) match based on the Operator.
A sample filter may say Plans - Plan Type | is equal to | 401(k). In this case, to be returned in Step 5, a Contact must be assigned to a Contact Role for a Plan that has the Plan Type field set to 401(k).
Additional filters may be added by selecting Add new rule below the currently-applied filters. Conversely, a filter may be deleted by selecting Remove filter to its left.
Step 5: Recipients
This step determines which Contacts will receive the Blast Email. Any number of eligible Contacts can be selected as recipients.
To mark a Contact as a recipient, select the appropriate checkbox on the left side of the grid. To mark all Contacts as recipients, select the checkbox in the leftmost column header.
The list of returned records can be refreshed at any time by selecting Refresh at the top-right of the grid.
When the necessary recipients have been chosen, select Next.
Step 6: Review
This step serves as one final check before the Blast Email is sent. Review the Blast Email Details to ensure all information appears accurate prior to proceeding.
Although optional, using the Send Test Email function provided in this step is recommended prior to sending the Blast Email. This feature will deliver a sample email to a specified address as a preview. The Send Test Email window requires the following fields:
- Sent Test Email: This is the email address that the test should be sent to. Only one address can be specified; no addresses will be included as a CC.
- Number to Send: The number of test emails that will be sent. The first test email will mimic the email to be received by the first selected recipient on the list in Step 5. Any additional tests will mimic the email for each subsequent recipient in the list; this can be useful for testing Merge Fields that were inserted into the Subject and/or Body of the email.
When ready to send out the Blast Email, select Send Blast Email. A confirmation will show the number of emails that will be sent; select Yes. After all Blast Emails are processed, the operation will advance to the final step.
Step 7: Finish
This step confirms the Blast Email results, noting the number of emails that were sent successfully, and the number that failed to send, if any.
For each email successfully sent, an Interaction will be added to any Contact who is recognized as a To:, From:, or CC: participant in the email. Depending on the Mailing Type, an Interaction may also be added to the associated Plan, Proposal, or Prospect. For more information on Interactions, refer to the article Using Interactions.
Select Start Over to begin the Blast Email process from Step 1 using the same Template.
Tips & Tricks
This section highlights some techniques to help get the most out of Blast Email.
If a Blast Email is being sent from a static email address, an appropriate signature can be inserted directly into the Body of the email. However, this technique is not recommended if the Blast Email's From Type is set to either Employee Plan Role or Assigned To Employee, as this could be a different Employee for each email. In this case, it's better to add a signature via a Merge Field:
- Each Employee has an individual Signature, which can be edited by selecting User Profile > View My Account, then selecting Edit at the top-right of the Account view. The Signature editor has a small set of formatting tools, similar to the Blast Email Subject & Body editor.
- Open the Blast Email Template. On Step 2: Subject & Body, select the Sender > Sender Signature Merge Field, then select the arrow button to the left of the Merge Fields pane to add it to the Blast Email Body.
Although the Filtering options in Step 4 are simple in nature and do not provide any AND/OR operators, adding multiple filters on the same Column can provide basic OR functionality. For example, the filters—
Plan Contact Roles - Plan Contact Role | is equal to | Main Contact
Plan Contact Roles - Plan Contact Role | is equal to | Secondary Contact
—would return a list of Contacts assigned to a Plan Role as either the Main or Secondary Contact. This functionality is not officially supported and results cannot be guaranteed.
Resending a Census Request Blast Email to a different Plan Contact
Once the Census Request Blast Email has been sent as part of Annual Administration, the Census Request Task is automatically marked as complete. This can cause problems if the email needs to be re-sent to a different Contact, as the Census Request Mailing Type requires this task to be incomplete to return potential recipients in Step 5. In this case, the best option to resend the Census Request as a different Mailing Type, as follows:
- Copy the Census Request Blast Email Template that was used previously.
- Change the Mailing Type of the copy Template to Plan Contacts.
- Proceed through the remaining steps to locate the Contact and send the Blast Email.
Task Names on Census Reminder Blast Emails
Due to its specific functionality, the Task Name column will only return the Census Request Sent Task when the Census Reminder Mailing Type is in use. If other Tasks must be referenced, the Mailing Type should be changed to Plan Contacts.