Email activities

Use email activities to deliver news and promotions to customers using email. Email marketing allows you to reach customers who might not have visited your site in some time, or to keep regular customers up to date regarding upcoming events or products. Optionally, you can associate an email activity with a campaign, which helps organize the gathered statistics into more meaningful reports.

How email activities work

Email activities send a single, dynamic email message to multiple recipients. The email activity is not sent as a single email with multiple target addresses, but rather as an email sent multiple times, once to each target email address. Because individual emails are generated for each email address, you can personalize the email content for each recipient. For example, you can address recipients by name, or add targeted promotional content. Recipients cannot see the email addresses of other recipients, thus reducing privacy concerns.

You create email activities in the Management Center Marketing tool. Each email activity requires an email template that defines the content of the email. Create email templates in the Marketing tool as well.

Prior to email activity creation, your site administrator must configure the email accounts used by the email activity system. Email configuration defines the required information about the mail servers, the time that email activities should be sent, the desired soft bounce retry policy, and more.

If your store has enabled workspaces, email activities may be managed using workspaces and inherit the benefits from that feature.

Email activities can exist in three states: sent, not sent, and scheduled but not sent. By default, the scheduled job that creates and sends email, SendMarketingTriggers, runs every 30 minutes. The email activity is either scheduled to be sent in the next daily delivery, or sent immediately, if the send time has passed during the last 30 minutes. The frequency of this job can be configured using the Administration Console.

Care should be taken in any endeavor to mass email customers. There is growing concern, and in some places, laws forming, around exactly what is allowable depending on the level of consent, whether there is no consent, implied consent, or full consent. Any customer email activities should ensure compliance with the latest developments in this area.

Reply-to addresses

When your Site Administrator configures email activities, one of the settings is a default reply-to email address. An email activity uses this address to populate the Reply-to email address field in the Email activity window. Some sites use specific reply-to email addresses for their email activities so that the incoming mail is appropriately filtered to the person responsible for supporting the activity, or the parent campaign.

Management of email delivery failure

As with any kind of email, delivery of email sent as part of an email activity is subject to failure for a number of reasons. Failure to deliver an email results in what is called a bounce-back. A bounce-back is a case where an outgoing email fails to arrive at its destination, and ends up in the sender's inbox instead. Bounce-backs fall into two categories, hard and soft. A hard bounce-back typically indicates that the email address to which you sent the message is not valid. Emails re-sent to an address that has resulted in a hard bounce-back will always result in a hard bounce-back. Conversely, a soft bounce-back is caused by some event or situation that is typically considered temporary. For example, if an email cannot be accepted due to a restriction on the size of a customer's inbox, this is considered a soft bounce-back. Resending this message to this email address at a later time may result in a successful delivery.

When you create an email activity, you have the option of specifying how HCL Commerce should handle soft bounce-backs. You have the option of having the message re-sent, and if so, how often, and how long after the initial send date to wait before re-sending.

HCL Commerce Enterprise

Email activities in extended sites

Whenever the information defined in the email configuration is needed, the following rules apply:
  1. Email can be configured in both an asset store and a child store.
  2. When an email activity is created in a store, the following logic determines which store's email configuration is used:
    1. If there is an email configuration for the store in which the email activity is created, that store's email configuration is used.
    2. If there is no email configuration for the store in which the email activity is created, the system uses the email configuration defined in the store's asset stores according to the following precedence
      1. If there is only one asset store which has email configured, the configuration of that asset store is used.
      2. If multiple asset stores have email configured, the closest asset store, according to the relationship defined in the database is used. Specifically, the store that has the smallest value in the SEQUENCE column of the STOREREL table. For example, consider an email activity being created in an extended store that has an inherited relationship with asset store A and a direct relationship with asset store B. If both A and B have email configured, the email activity created in the extended store will use the email configuration from store B.
      3. If there is no email configuration defined in any related asset stores, the user is not allowed to create an email activity.

In an extended site model, an extended store's email activity list displays the email activities created in the extended store and its asset stores. However, the email activities created in the asset stores are read-only. For example, if an email activity named EA1 is created in the asset store, it is listed in the extended store's email activity list. However, when a user selects the EA1 and clicks Change or Delete, the user receives an alert message that the action is not allowed.