Sitefinity Renewal Pricing Will Update on January 1, 2018

Do you already use Sitefinity to run your website? Next year, the renewal price you pay annually will change.

A price change for new Sitefinity licenses took effect in June. That’s normal when you have major new versions like Sitefinity 10, with lots of new features (check the previous posts for more details).

In early August, Progress announced changes to their renewal pricing as well. Renewal pricing is the cost paid annually to maintain existing Sitefinity licenses. Just like renewal fees at the gym.

In the past, renewal pricing was 30% of the initial license cost. The new renewal pricing will largely maintain that percentage…which means they go up, since the new license cost went up already. The changes will take effect on January 1, 2018.

telerik sitefinity renewal
Image courtesy of Progress.

After January 1, the renewal prices will be:

  • Standard Edition license renewals – $899
  • Professional Edition license renewals – $4,500
  • Online Marketing Edition license renewals – $9,000

**To renew an Enterprise Edition license, you must contact Progress.

The 30% renewal rate also applies to Sitefinity add-ons. For instance, the Site Synchronization add-on (which lets you sync content from a staging website to a production one quickly). It costs $8,000 for the first year, and then 30% (or $2,400) for renewal each year afterward.

The Renewal Process

Sitefinity’s renewal process goes like this:

  1. You decide you want to use the Sitefinity CMS for your new website.
  2. You contact Progress (or a Progress partner like us) to order a new Sitefinity license. The license grants you the software to build your website, and the right to use the Sitefinity CMS for one year.
  3. You (and the Progress partner) build the new website. Shiny new site!
  4. 9-10 months later you receive an email. Your Sitefinity license is up for renewal on X Date (exactly 1 year from your initial license date).
  5. You pay the renewal cost. Progress logs the renewal in your Sitefinity account, which updates your website’s CMS too.
  6. The website keeps humming along.

What happens if you don’t renew your license?

You’ll receive additional notifications leading up to the renewal deadline. (If you’re our customer, we will bug you!) That’s usually enough to get you to renew on time.

What if you miss the deadline, but still want to renew? Don’t worry. You still have 10 days after the deadline to pay the 30% renewal fee. After that, renewal costs 80% of the initial license cost. This is a change as well…they currently have a 60-day renewal rate of 40% for more delinquent license-holders to renew. Like a late fee at the bank. It appears this will go away.

If you do not renew, the website becomes ineligible for future updates and support. New Sitefinity versions will not install. If the website breaks, you cannot contact Progress for support.

IMPORTANT: The website will NOT shut down if you don’t renew your license. This is important for everyone to know. You don’t have a website up & running one minute…the renewal deadline passes…and POOF, the website is down!

We’ve confirmed this after one of our customers accidentally let their Sitefinity license expire. (They did not host the site with us. Tsk tsk.) One day they decided to do a version update—but found they couldn’t!

sitefinity renewal dogOnly a minor crisis though. Once we renewed their license, they were able to do their update without any problems. The website only went offline for 15 seconds, while the server restarted.

Remember: Sitefinity Licenses are Annual (so don’t forget to renew!)

Some CMS use a monthly service fee, or a one-time up-front fee. Sitefinity does annual licensing. This helps them maintain technical support for customers, issue patches & updates, and work on new versions.

Want more details? Try Progress’ Renewals page: License Renewals and Upgrades – Sitefinity.com.

How do you handle Sitefinity renewals? Do you have the renewal date calendared, rely on Progress emailing you a reminder, or something else? Please share in the comments.

How to Use 4 Usability-Improving Sitefinity 10 Features – #4, Third-Party User Authentication

Our last post on new Sitefinity 10 features! (If I’m not careful they’ll release a whole new version before I’m done…)

We’re ending with a big one—third-party user authentication.

To frame how this will work, let me ask you this.

When it comes to computers, what do people forget more often than anything else?
Answer: THEIR PASSWORD!

Everybody has hundreds of user accounts now. An account for the computer, for Facebook, for Dropbox, and so on. Each with their own password.

Then your administrator says you have yet ANOTHER account (plus weird letters-and-symbols password) to update your website? Ugh!

Sitefinity hears your cries! With version 10, you can now authenticate using an account you already have.

Feature 4: Third-Party User Authentication

What It Does:

Enables third-party accounts for authenticating into Sitefinity. This includes social logins, like Facebook or LinkedIn, as well as OAuth and OpenID.

How it Helps:

It’s one less login to remember. Now you can log into Sitefinity using your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google username/password.

How to Use It:

Since you’re dealing with authentication & site permissions, this does take some setup in the backend. Fortunately, it’s a one-time thing. Here are the steps.

  • In Sitefinity, click the Administration tab. Select “Settings.”
  • Click the Advanced tab up top.
  • Click “Authentication” in the left-hand column.
  • Click “SecurityTokenService.”
  • Click “AuthenticationProviders.”
  • You’ll see a list with these options: ADFS, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn, and GitHub. Click the one you want to use.
  • Enter your “application ID” and “application secret” from the social provider. Here are links to documentation on how to do this for Facebook and Google:
    Using OAuth 2.0 to Access Google APIs
    Register and Configure an App – Facebook for Developers
  • Click Save to save the information.

Once you set up the social provider in Sitefinity, users have it easy. They only have to click “Authenticate with Google/Facebook/etc.” on the Sitefinity Login page. Then click “Allow” on Google’s Sitefinity Access prompt, and enter your Google username & password.

Sitefinity Authentication via Google

Make Sure Your Security is Up-to-Date Beforehand!

Before you enable third-party user authentication, please make sure your website and its hosting server have up-to-date security. You don’t want to enable Google account logins, and find hackers sneaking in the next day.

If you’re curious about all the other Sitefinity 10 features, here’s the full list: What’s New in Sitefinity 10

Progress has also published short videos depicting the new features in 10. Most deal with setup, but they also discuss improvements to website management: Videos – What’s New [Sitefinity 10]

If you enjoyed any of our latest posts, don’t forget to share them with your colleagues on social media. And join us again soon!

How to Use 4 Usability-Improving Sitefinity 10 Features – #3, Persona Scoring Improvements

Remember the Digital Experience Cloud? We talked about it when Sitefinity 8 came out in 2015. Sitefinity 10’s arrival came with DEC improvements too.

A brief summary: The Sitefinity DEC is a marketing “command center,” which collects data about your website visitors and lets you connect the data to marketing/sales goals.

With this new “Persona Scoring Improvements” feature, both the DEC and Sitefinity 10 got a useful upgrade.

Feature 3: Persona Scoring Improvements

What It Does:

The Sitefinity DEC can now attribute all user visits under a given website section (e.g., News) to a Persona profile.

How it Helps:

This comes from Sitefinity 10 and the DEC working together more closely. Both needed updates to make it happen, which 10 delivers.

As a result, it’s easier to target experiences to your Personas. Since the DEC will automatically attribute per section, all you have to do is assign rules for categorizing your visitors. Then you can use each Persona’s data in your marketing campaigns, online and offline.

How to Use It:

If you currently use the Sitefinity DEC, you’ll already have Personas set up (at least I hope so!). You’ll want to add new rules to these Personas.

  • In Sitefinity DEC, click the Datacenter you want to use.
  • Click “Personas.”
  • Click the Persona name you want to update. Click the Add a Rule button.
  • Select the parameters you want to measure–for instance, “Search For” one of your primary keywords, or “Create Comment” on a news item.
  • Click the Add Rule button.

Persona Scoring Rules

This feature is a cross between a creative enhancement and, “Here’s a new tool to work with.” How much value you get out of it, is ultimately up to you.

Post #4 will cover Third-Party User Authentication. This is a BIG help for ease of use…join us again next time and you’ll find out why.

How to Use 4 Usability-Improving Sitefinity 10 Features – #2, Import-Export Site Data

The next Sitefinity 10 feature is something you’d find many other places on the Web. Anywhere you’d need to manage information, you’ll often find an “Import” or “Export” button.

But many content management systems don’t include these.

Why? I am not telepathic, so I can’t say for sure. My guess is that since you’d use a CMS to create a website, you’d do the creation part within the CMS’s structure, instead of importing it from somewhere else.

Until now.

Feature 2: Import/Export Site Data

What It Does:

Exports Sitefinity content from one instance, so you can import it into another.

How it Helps:

Starting a new website? Upgrading the current one? Using Import/Export, you can save development time by reusing some or all of the content & data you already have. Reusing content or data used to take hours of slow, back-and-forth copy/pasting. Or worse, copying a database and getting all sorts of weird errors.

Copy Site Data from SitefinityUsing Import/Export cuts all that down to a problem-free 5 minutes.

Since the export creates a .ZIP file, this feature also allows you to make an offsite backup, just in case the worst happens.

The Import/Export Data function will export “content and structure from one Sitefinity instance.” This includes:

  • Blogs (including comments)
  • Content Blocks
  • Libraries (images, documents, etc.)
  • Modules
  • Pages
  • Page Templates
  • User Profiles

The full list is in Sitefinity’s documentation: Elements Supported for Export

Book Stacks - NOT a Backup
What do you mean, that’s not how we back up files?

How to Use It:

Import Site Data in SitefinityIn the Administration menu, click “Export/Import.” Select the content types you want to export from the list. When done, click the Export to ZIP button.

To import the ZIP into a new Sitefinity instance, go to the same Export/Import page. Click “Import ZIP File” in the left-hand column. The process is the same, with the inclusion of locating the ZIP file on your computer. No more difficult than uploading a file to Dropbox.

Please note: The maximum file size for this ZIP file is 2GB. If your content or data ends up larger, export it into multiple ZIP files.

The Sitefinity team put together several videos showing how the new 10 features work. Here’s the video for Import/Export:
Export/Import of Content Types And Data with Sitefinity 10 Between Different Web Sites

Next post will talk about Persona Scoring Improvements. Don’t forget to come back!

How to Use 4 Usability-Improving Sitefinity 10 Features – #1, Site Shield

Now that Sitefinity 10 is out, we have a menu of new features to enjoy!

If I went through all the new features, this would be a VERY long post. Sitefinity’s major updates (7 to 8, 8 to 9…) always include big changes. Instead, I’d like to focus on 4 of the new 10 features.

Why? Because these four all have one thing in common: they make Sitefinity easier to use.

Improving usability in a CMS already known for ease of use? Tall order. But Sitefinity pulled it off with 10. The updates help with website management, development, and marketing. Like most updates, they shored up little frustrations in prior versions and smoothed out existing processes.

Let’s take a look, shall we? I’ve documented the four new features in terms of what they do, how they help, and how to use them (which often involves setup time).

We’ll run one post per new feature. That way you have a nice short post to read now and come back to later.

Feature 1: Site Shield

What It Does:

Keeps a website invite-only while it’s under development. Only invited users can view the secured under-construction website.

How it Helps:

Site Shield conveys three benefits while you’re building a new website.

  1. Protects the information on the under-construction website.
  2. Minimizes cyberattack risk. Hackers are not above slipping a little exploit into an under-development website, for later triggering.
  3. Avoids the problem of accidental search indexing. This is a bit complex (and mostly invisible) so I’ll illustrate it via example.

Let’s say you have a live website running at http://www.domain1.com. You’re building a new website at http://staging.domain1.com. Eventually, the website at staging.domain1.com will replace the website at www.domain1.com.

Each website is on a different server. The server hosting www.domain1.com is open to search engine spiders. However, the server hosting staging.domain1.com is also open to search engine spiders.

If you have Site Shield running, Google looks at the staging.domain1.com server…and moves on.
If you don’t have Site Shield running, Google looks at the staging.domain1.com server…and starts indexing its pages.

This can disrupt your live website’s SEO. Are you targeting all of the exact same keywords? Uh oh, you may get a Duplicate Content warning. Is staging.domain1.com targeting different keywords? Google may try to apply those to the live website instead, messing up its rankings.

(I’ve seen this happen. It’s an annoying problem to untangle.)Sitefinity System Menu

How to Use It:

To use Site Shield, you must have a Sitefinity license with the Multisite add-on. (That means Professional Edition on up.)

  • In Sitefinity, click the Administration tab. Select “Modules & Services.”
  • Locate the Site Shield module. Under its Actions tab, click Activate.
  • Go back to the Dashboard. Click Administration again…you should see a “Site Shield” link. Click it.
  • Click the Activate for this Site button.
  • Site Shield is now active. You’ll need to invite users to grant them access.
  • Click the Invite User button on the same page. A popup window will appear.
  • Type in email addresses of the users you want to have access. Click the Send Invitation button.
  • Each user will receive an email with a special link. Clicking this link brings up the site again, but authenticated, so the user can access & work on the site.

Site Shield Window

Don’t forget…when it’s time for the site to go live, return to the Site Shield page under Administration, and click the Deactivate User button. Otherwise, nobody will see it!

Next time we’ll cover the Import/Export function. Join us back here in 2 weeks to see!

Sitefinity vs. WordPress: A Support Perspective

In our last post, we discussed when to build a website in WordPress, and when to build it in Sitefinity. We did get a couple responses privately, as the readers didn’t want to call out their CMS on the blog (which I completely understand).

Extending on that premise, let’s talk about support options.

Where you get support for a website, especially after it’s live, makes a big difference in selecting your CMS. If you choose a CMS made by one developer on his own time, chances are you won’t get much in the way of support a year later. But choosing a CMS made by a full-fledged business, with developers on staff and working daily, means you have reliable support for a long time.

“Support” in this case refers to a broad umbrella of help you may need. Any of the following issues require support for the CMS:

  • Page rendering issues
  • Load failures
  • Customization
  • Help with setup
  • Version upgrades
  • Security patches
  • Hacks
  • Bugs
  • License expirations & renewals

Our customers have run up against every one of these issues, both in Sitefinity and WordPress. (Except for the “Hacks” issue; none of our Sitefinity customers have ever been hacked.)

Which CMS was used determines the type of support options available. The support options available determine whether the issue is fixed quickly, slowly, or not at all.

Let’s examine Sitefinity’s support options, and WordPress’.

WordPress Support Options

One of WordPress’ strengths is also its weakness. Automattic developers the WordPress core software. However, third-party developers contribute the vast library of WordPress Plugins and Themes.

Some of these developers provide support for their Plugin or Theme. Some do not. Automattic contributes some support resources, but it doesn’t cover every part of the WordPress behemoth.

Which means there’s no “one number to call” if your WordPress site isn’t working properly. You’ll have to find the support option which coincides with the part of your website that’s not working.

These are the Support Options available to WordPress users.

  • WordPress Codex (Free). The Codex is a huge knowledge base. You’ll find plenty of documentation on WordPress’ functions, how to use it, and how to get support. Make this your first stop for WordPress support.
  • WordPress.org Forums [Official] (Free). This is your second stop. If the Codex didn’t help with your issue, post in the forums (the “Fixing WordPress” forum is devoted to troubleshooting).
    • CAUTION: If you receive an answer from someone else on the forums, take a moment to click on their account name. You’ll see a profile window, like the one below.
      WordPress Forums Profile
      Read through the links on the left – “Topics Started,” “Replies Created,” and “Reviews” in particular. What you’re doing is verifying that this person is legitimate, and that the advice they’re giving is sound. I have heard of hackers “helping” people in the forums by supplying them with infected code.
  • Third-Party Developers (Paid). For plugins and themes. An ecosystem has grown up around theme development. Which I find great in terms of support. The plugin/theme will have support links in its documentation.
    • Two examples of plugin/theme developers: ThemeForest, Yoast (Makers of SEO Plugins)
  • Third-Party WordPress Support Agencies (Paid). If you need regular support help, you can contract a WordPress agency for the work. Many of these do exist. Here’s a few examples:

If you’re uncertain of whom to ask for WordPress Support, the WPBeginner Blog has a good starting point: How to Properly Ask for WordPress Support and Get It

Sitefinity Support Options

As Sitefinity is maintained by a private company, the primary support option is contacting that company, or its partners.

These are the Support Options available to Sitefinity users.

  1. Progress’ Sitefinity Forums (Free). These forums are frequently used by Sitefinity developers. Many of whom are happy to assist others with support-related questions.
  2. The Sitefinity Support Center (Free/Paid). This contains documentation, a knowledge base, a link to the forums, support tickets, and a phone support link. There’s a lot of (searchable) information here…useful for solving small problems. I’ve consulted it many times when a page edit causes a strange layout error, or when I’m uncertain which widget works best.
  3. Progress Sitefinity Support [Direct] (Paid). Progress does provide a support ticket system to Sitefinity licensees. You’ll need a Progress ID to access them. Please note, Progress may forward you to a partner for the support you’ve requested.
  4. Progress’ Sitefinity Partner Support (Paid). This is where we come in. We’re one of a number of Sitefinity Partners, certified to provide technical support directly to a Sitefinity customer. Unless the issue stems from the CMS itself, chances are your best support bet is a partner.

What support options you can use depend on your Sitefinity license. This page provides a reference table: Sitefinity Support Offerings.

For example, every Sitefinity edition gets weekly bug fixes. But you’d need at least a Professional Edition license for Phone Support.

Factor in Support When Choosing Your CMS: It Helps After Your Website Goes Live!

A CMS is a piece of software. At some point, it will need maintenance.

Arranging Sitefinity Support

Remember, support is something to consider BEFORE you select a CMS, even though it comes after the website is live. By the time you’ve built the new website, you’ve invested hundreds of hours. Switching your CMS because the available support is bad means you’ve wasted all those hours.

When choosing your website’s CMS, consider how often you’ll update your website. How long can you wait on minor support issues? Do you need a reliable channel for support each & every time, or can you bounce between a few?

While we prefer Sitefinity’s support model, for its stability and single-channel accessibility, WordPress does indeed have support options available.

Where do you get support for your website? Please comment or email with the support option, and (if you like) what you think of your support experience so far.

Why Pay for Sitefinity When WordPress is Free?

Today we’re responding to a reader request, sent in via the “Ask a Question” link in the top navigation. (If you have questions to ask, please submit them by clicking the link!)

The reader brought up a longstanding CMS question…why pay for a CMS like Sitefinity, when WordPress is free?

We actually talk about several reasons to pay for a CMS in our white paper, Open Source Vs. Proprietary CMS: Which is Stronger?.

But this paper talks primarily in terms of Open Source CMS vs. Closed Source/Proprietary CMS. Let’s get a little more specific in this post. Just Sitefinity CMS vs. WordPress. Is one better than the other? What justifications might exist for paying for Sitefinity?

When a Free CMS like WordPress is a Good Choice

Yes, I’m going to say it. There ARE instances where WordPress (or another free CMS like it) is a good choice for a business website.

In general, I’d say to consider WordPress if your needs sound similar to any of the following.

  • You’re a new business which needs a basic “starter” website.
  • You’re a creative professional, such as a designer, and don’t want all of your work homed in social profiles.
  • You’re a freelancer who needs a portfolio (non-ecommerce) website.
  • You’re a Small Business with no IT department (yet).
  • You’re a Small Business which focuses more on social profiles than a website. This is called the “home base” strategy; your website just serves as “home base” while you go out on social.
  • You just want to start a blog. (The original purpose of WordPress…who’d have thought?)

In these instances, just about any CMS will do the job. WordPress, with its thousands of plugins and even more themes, makes for a quick and cheap solution.

That said, it’s not for everyone…

When a Proprietary CMS like Sitefinity is a Good Choice

There are also instances where a bigger, sturdier CMS like Sitefinity is the better choice.

We’ve built Sitefinity websites for businesses and organizations fitting each of the following criteria. In general, if they apply to you too, it’s worth paying for Sitefinity CMS.

  1. Businesses with multiple departments (or branch locations), where people from each department/location will need to update the website.
  2. Businesses who need to stay compliant with federal/state regulatory requirements, such as SOX or HIPAA.
  3. Businesses already using a Microsoft IT infrastructure. (This is because Sitefinity uses ASP.NET in its development. As such, we recommend you only run it on Windows Servers.)
  4. Businesses who use digital marketing initiatives.
  5. Organizations who must stay vigilant about security.
  6. Businesses with non-technical users. And let me expound a little more on this point, because it’s extra-important.

Non-Technical Users on Sitefinity: Keeping Updates Easy

Over the last few years I’ve gained a lot of training experience. I’ve conducted Sitefinity training sessions for dozens of our customers’ employees. Some were what you’d call “technical people.” But most were not.

Sitefinity CMS Content MenuFrom the trainer’s perspective, it’s easy to spot the difference.

Technical users will ask questions like, “How do we tie in Vendor X’s service?”
Non-technical users will ask questions like, “Where do I go to update a page?”

The non-technical user’s answer is very simple. Just go to the Pages section. Click a page. Update the part you want to update. Don’t forget to click Publish.

Every time I answer this question for non-technical users, it only takes a few minutes for them to grasp the process.

The way Sitefinity is structured lends itself not only to easy updating, but also easy information-finding. “Where’s the blog?” Under the Content menu. Click Blogs.

“Where did Bob put that news article?” It’s under the Content menu too. Click News.

“We need to change the address in the footer. But it’s on all the pages!” It’s in a shared content block. Look in Content Blocks.

“Can I change the description tag for search engines?” Sure! Click the Actions link to the right of the page name. Click Title & Properties. “Description” is the field you want.

Of course there’s a lot more you can do in terms of website updates. But I can convey the basic update process in a few minutes. Consider how much employee time this saves…a few minutes to make one page update, as opposed to scrambling around the CMS, trying to dig up that one spot where this one update is stored.

I’ve lost HOURS chasing down updates for customers in the past. Their CMS buried the details and gave me zero direction. (I did figure it out. But I spent time I didn’t really need to, as a result of their CMS getting in the way.)

Is it easier to update pages in Sitefinity than it is in WordPress? Personally, I think it is. That’s because WordPress divides its content between several different areas – Widgets, Posts, Pages, Appearance > Themes, plugins, etc. I know where things are (usually) and it doesn’t take long to update content (usually).

But in Sitefinity, most of the page content is concentrated or accessible in one place—the Page Editor. Click on a page and you’re in.

Easy page updating is one big part of why we recommend Sitefinity. For technical and non-technical users alike.

Before Choosing, Ask Yourself What’s Most Important for Your Website Moving Forward

Websites have undergone something of a standardization in recent years. The growth of mobile Web use has encouraged a simple, easy-to-navigate user experience. Many Content Management Systems have updated their tools to work within such a user experience. Including WordPress. And Sitefinity.

I know it’s overly simplistic. But when you’re asking “which CMS do we use for our website?” the best answer is, “It depends on the website.”

  • What do you want the website to do for your audience?
  • What should it do for your employees?
  • How much are you willing to pay up front?
  • How much can you pay for website support down the line?
  • How long will you keep the website’s current version before upgrading?
  • Do you have an employee who can dedicate time to maintaining the website, or will you contract website maintenance out?

Answer those questions before choosing Sitefinity or WordPress. It’ll make the choice—and the work to build the website—a lot easier.

Which CMS does your website use? Sitefinity? WordPress? Something else? Please comment or email with the CMS, and why you chose it.

How to Use Sitefinity as an Email Marketing Service

The other day, a reader sent in some feedback. They were curious about how to integrate MailChimp with Sitefinity. I did a little investigation, and while I found it possible, it requires some custom coding. Coding which I didn’t have the skill to effect on my own. (Might return to that later, after I can bug our developers.)

But, it made me think about the larger question. Namely, if I want to send emails to my audience, could I do it through my website?

With Sitefinity, yes you can! The CMS has a built-in Email Marketing service. We’ve mentioned it in the past, but haven’t done much beyond that.

Until today. Let’s take a trip through Sitefinity’s Email Marketing toolset.

The Elements of Email Marketing

You’ll find the Email Marketing toolset under the “Marketing” nav header. There are four elements under Email Marketing: Campaigns, Message Templates, Mailing Lists, and Subscribers.

Emails are grouped & sent out in Campaigns. The messages are built on Message Templates, and sent to Mailing Lists, which are comprised of Subscribers. Pretty standard, right? Most email service providers are built this way.

(Please note: I am just talking about the Email Marketing functionality here. Marketing Automation/the Digital Experience Cloud makes use of Email Marketing, but it has more functions which deserve their own post/posts. If you’re curious about DEC, here’s a rundown at Sitefinity.com: Digital Experience Cloud)

Prerequisite: You must have an SMTP server set up in Sitefinity’s Settings (under Administration). Here’s a tutorial for locating & updating SMTP settings: Configure SMTP Server – Sitefinity Documentation

Campaigns

The Campaigns section is where you house your emails. Each Campaign can contain multiple Issues (Sitefinity’s term for individual emails). Which makes it easy to do A/B testing.

Reports are built-in for every Issue. They’re not incredibly detailed, but they will tell you how many people opened the email and clicked its links.

Message Templates

Any email marketer will tell you – one of the biggest pains is making your email appear the same across all devices. What renders normally in Gmail looks funky in Outlook. An email on a phone needs different rendering than on a laptop. And so on.

We use templates to standardize emails, to reinforce branding, and to save time. Sitefinity treats its Message Templates much like it does webpages. You have three choices for creating a template: Like a Web page, Rich text (HTML), and Plain Text.

  1. “Like a Web page” means you get the Sitefinity Page Editor to make your template. All the tools & customization you’d get for making pages. That’s a lot of customization power…but it’s also easy to mess up your emails too, so use caution. Don’t get too fancy.
  2. “Rich text (HTML)” gives you an editor window with all the formatting controls. However, you can’t use widgets. Not necessarily a bad thing though – if you’re working with raw HTML, your emails stand a great chance of appearing consistently across devices.
  3. “Plain Text” is just like it sounds. You have a menu of basic email widgets to insert (First Name, Last Name, Unsubscribe Link, etc.), but otherwise, your template is basic text. Good for simple follow-up emails and autoresponders.

Could you create an HTML template and upload it? Yes, according to a discussion thread from 2012/2013. However, styling may take some serious trial-and-error to get right.

(Curiously, Patrick posted a link on the thread to Campaign Monitor’s stellar CSS guide. We currently use Campaign Monitor for some of our customers’ email marketing…it’s a great system.)

Mailing Lists

All those people out there, eager to receive your next newsletter…got to store all those email addresses somewhere, right? Hence the ubiquitous Mailing List.

In Sitefinity, creating a Mailing List is simple…deceptively so. Just go to the “Mailing Lists” section and click the “Create a mailing list” button.

However, make sure you click the arrows next to “Mail Settings” and “Advanced.” Or you’ll miss a lot of options!

Each Mailing List lets you set multiple add-on options, such as a Reply-To email, text to remind subscribers how they got on the list, a “Welcome” email autoresponder, a post-unsubscribe follow-up, and several more.

Once you have a mailing list created, you can invite people to subscribe, using a Subscribe form. Sitefinity has already taken care of this for you, with a pre-made widget. Here’s how you use it.

How to Put a Subscribe Form on Your Website:

  1. First, create a Mailing List. Use the “Create a Mailing List” button and select the options we mentioned above.
  2. Then, switch to Pages in Sitefinity. Locate the page where you want the Subscribe form.
  3. Click the page to open its Editor.
  4. In the Widget menu list, look for the “Email Campaigns” category. Click it.
  5. Drag the “Subscribe Form” widget out onto the page. Once it’s in place, you’ll see a command in the form box: “Click edit and select mailing list”.
  6. Click the form’s Edit button.
  7. In the Options window, select the mailing list you created in Step 1. If you like, enter a title and description for the form.
  8. Click Save. The new Subscribe form will appear on the page.
  9. Click Publish. Done!

Subscribers

Each Mailing List has to have one or more Subscribers in it. But, something important to note here. Subscribers are tied to Mailing Lists—but you can delete a Mailing List and not lose the subscribers. That’s not universal across email service providers. If you plan to use Sitefinity for email marketing, keep it in mind.

Ideally, you’ll get subscribers adding themselves in via your Subscribe forms. But you can create a subscriber using the “Create a subscriber” button. Make sure to assign them to a mailing list when you do!

Sitefinity’s Email Marketing Service: Does What It Says, and No More

The Sitefinity Email Marketing toolset is missing a few of the advanced features you’d get with a dedicated email service provider, like Aweber or Campaign Monitor. But overall, this toolset is perfectly workable as your Email Marketing service. I could use this to send out newsletters, promotional emails, or announcements.

Email Campaigns – Sitefinity Documentation

What do you use for email marketing? Please comment or email (especially if you already use Sitefinity for it!). I’d like to hear what your experience is, what you like/don’t like, etc.

On behalf of everyone at PlanetMagpie, Happy Holidays! We’ll see you again in 2017.

How to Connect to Google Analytics in Sitefinity 9

First off, I’d like to announce the all-new PlanetMagpie.com!

Completely redesigned from the ground up in Sitefinity 9. Built mobile-first with fresh content and a neat Personas engine right on the homepage. It lets you select what content you want to see, right away. Please hop over there and give it a spin. There’s a neat pop-out Contact form if you have feedback to give.

Now, let’s get to today’s post.

One of Sitefinity’s foundational Digital Marketing tools is its Google Analytics connector. Once you connect Sitefinity to your Google Analytics account, you can view analytics data about your website within its own CMS. Saves you a step–you can see how well the website’s doing without going anywhere.

The only hitch is, you have to connect the two first. And that’s a bit of a process.

These are instructions for connecting Google Analytics to Sitefinity: Register the Analytics Module – Sitefinity Help

They are a little out of date – Google has changed a few of the steps – but they’re still mostly correct. However, in the interest of clarity (and since we just did this with our new website), I wanted to document the process I used.

Connecting Sitefinity to Google Analytics, Step-by-Step

  1. In the Marketing menu, click Analytics.
    sf9_01configanalytics
  2. Click “Configure Analytics.”
  3. You should see a screen titled, “Authenticate to Google API,” asking you for a Client ID and a Client Secret number.sf9_02authenticate
  4. In order to get these two numbers, you must authenticate the Sitefinity CMS within Google’s Analytics API. Click the link that says “Google API Console” to open the console in a new browser window.
  5. From here, you’ll click “Create a Project.”
    createaproject
  6. Name the project and click Create.
  7. Once the new project appears in the API Console, you’re presented with a list of APIs. We want the “Analytics API.”
    analyticsapi
  8. You’ll see an “Enable” button. Click to enable the Analytics API.
  9. You’ll see a warning message like this.
    gotocred
  10. Click the “Go to Credentials” button.
  11. “Add Credentials to a Project” window. You want to click the “Client ID” link instead of choosing an option.
    addcred_clientid
  12. You’ll see a message saying you must first set a product name on the Consent Screen.
  13. Click the button.
  14. On the OAuth Consent Screen, enter a product name (e.g., “Your Website’s Analytics”), and your website’s URL. Click Save.
    consentscreen
  15. Now that we have a product name in place, we create a Client ID.
    createclientid
  16. Select “Web Application” from the list. Enter a Name in the field below. (You can reuse the product name from before.)
  17. In this window, under AUTHORIZED JAVASCRIPT ORIGINS, enter your website’s URL (http://YourWebsite.com).
  18. Under AUTHORIZED REDIRECT URIS, enter this URL – http://YourWebsite.com/Sitefinity/marketing/Analytics
  19. Click Create.
  20. A window will popup with your Client ID number, and a Secret ID number. Copy both of these.
    clientid_clientsecret
  21. Return to Sitefinity.
  22. Paste in these ID numbers in the Authenticate box. Click Login to Google.
    (Important Note: If you experience an error here, go back to “Authorized Redirect URIs” and enter the non-WWW version of your website’s domain name. Like this:http://www.domain.com/Sitefinity/marketing/Analytics
    http://domain.com/Sitefinity/marketing/Analytics

    That way both are authorized in Google.)

  23. You’ll see an authorization screen like the below image. Click Allow.
    sf9_03accessgoogle
  24. Select the Google Analytics account you want to view in Sitefinity, and the domain (the same domain for the site you’re on). Click Save Settings.
    sf9_04analyticsacct
  25. Next you’ll see a screen with your Google Analytics tracking code. Paste in the tracking code (if you haven’t already done so) on all pages you want to track.
    sf9_05trackingcode
  26. Click Save, and voila! Access to Google Analytics within your CMS!
    sf9_06analyticsdashboard

 

If you need more details, check out last year’s post:
How to Connect Your Sitefinity Website to Google Analytics

Why Connect the Two? Search Data and Marketing Value, That’s Why

Why connect Sitefinity to Google Analytics? If you have your website tracked in Analytics, you can just go there to get all the statistics & reports you want. Isn’t this unnecessary?

You don’t HAVE to connect the two. Your site won’t break without this. But it does gain a few boosts, as does your digital marketing productivity.

I see three areas (at least) where accessing Google Analytics within Sitefinity helps out:

Time-saver. As I said earlier, it saves the time of logging into Google Analytics and looking up your site’s account. We manage analytics data for a bunch of customers; it takes a while to dig through all that data!

Site Search. Analytics includes a dashboard under the Content section titled, “Site Search.” Does your site have internal search? (It should.) If so, Sitefinity can track it. From there you can learn what kinds of search terms are popular, how well search is working, and so on. Valuable information.

Helps the DEC. The Digital Experience Cloud provides you with customer activity data and marketing tools. Hmmm, what would help these tools do their job better…how about analytics data?

That’s why I consider connecting Google Analytics up with Sitefinity a useful undertaking.

 

Would you like to see more “Sitefinity Connectors” posts? Please comment or email your ideas if so. I do have some reader requests for email marketing and marketing automation software. But more is always welcome!

How to Set Up Basic Website Elements in Sitefinity 9.0

Since we went through a number of Sitefinity 9.0’s improvements last time, I thought I’d dig a little deeper. We recently set up 9.0 for a new website in the works. I have full access.

So I’ve gone through the CMS and performed many basic tasks for building a website – creating pages, adding news items, and so on. I’ve documented the steps involved for these tasks below. Consider this a how-to for basic website build-up in Sitefinity 9.0.

Creating a Page

After logging into Sitefinity, click Pages in the top toolbar. Click the Create a Page button.

Create a Page in Sitefinity 9 01

Enter a Name for the page. From here you have multiple options to select.

Create a Page in Sitefinity 9 02

Not all are required though. Only these:

  • “Put this Page” – Where do you want this page within your site? Either leave it at top level (the default), or click “Under parent page…” and select an existing page under which you want the new one to reside. (You can change this later.)
  • Show in Navigation – Checked by default. If you uncheck it, the page will create, but nobody will see it on the website. This is helpful if you want to make a new page, but don’t want it to display publicly yet.
  • Title for Search Engines. This field populates with your page’s name automatically. (See screenshot below.) You may want to add more detail here – this is the title people see when someone searches for your site in a search engine. It’s important. The title needs to state what the page is about, and why they should click.
  • Template. Two options here, “Use Template” and “Don’t use template (start from scratch).” If you have Page Templates in place, click “Use Template” and you’ll see an option to select one of those templates.

Create a Page in Sitefinity 9 03

Everything else on the New Page window is either optional, or pre-set by templates. It’s useful stuff to know, though…in fact, I may dedicate a later post to all the ins & outs of page creation. Comment below if you’d like to read one!

Once you’ve entered the information you want, click the “Create and Go To Add Content” button. This opens the Page Editor, where you populate the page with images and content. (That’s another post too.)

Creating an Email Mailing List

In the Marketing menu, click Mailing List.
Click “Create a Mailing List.” In the Create a Mailing List form, enter a Title.

Create a Mailing List in Sitefinity 9 01

You also have options to setting a “From” address, subject line, unsubscribe page, or an automatic Welcome email.

Create a Mailing List in Sitefinity 9 02

Click the “Create this mailing list” button when done.

Add Users

In the Administration menu, click Users.
Click the “Create a User” button.
Enter the user’s username, password, and email address.
In the bottom 2 boxes, select the checkboxes beside the permissions levels you want to assign.

For example:

  • This user will create pages, add templates, and do administrative work? Check the “Administrators” box.
  • This user will enter content, but will not modify any pages or templates? Check the “Authors” box.
  • This user will only review pages, and not make any edits? Uncheck the “This user can access site backend.” box. Check the “Users” box in the list below it.

Add a User in Sitefinity 9

Use caution when assigning user permissions. If you give a person too much power, they may break something and not even know about it. Make sure your website host keeps good backups!

Add a Page Template

We covered what a Page Template is in the post, “Sitefinity Templates: What is a Page Template?

Once you have a page template to add, click Page Templates in the Design menu. You’ll see a button, “Create a Template.” Click it, and you’ll see the Create a Template screen.

Create a Page Template in Sitefinity 9

This screen is similar to the Create a Page screen. You’ll only need to fill in a name, a thumbnail image, and select some options. Then you click the “Create and go to Add Content” button, just like creating a page.

Create a News Item

In the Content menu, click News. Click the Create a News Item button.

Create a News Item in Sitefinity 9 01

Enter a title. Make sure the title’s unique; Sitefinity cannot use a title more than once.

Below the Title field is the news item body. Enter your content here. Use the toolbar and Design/HTML switches to customize its design.

Create a News Item in Sitefinity 9 02

Below the news item body is a Summary field. Click to add a short summary of the news item. This is optional, but a summary is useful as a short description of the item.

Below the Summary field are several options boxes. The defaults are “Categories and Tags,” “Additional Info (Author, Source),” and “More Options (URL, Comments).”

Create a News Item in Sitefinity 9 03

These are all optional, but again, useful for display. Click each box to open it.

  • Under Categories and Tags, click checkboxes to select which news categories you want to apply (you must set up Categories beforehand). Tags are used like keywords – type in whatever descriptive words/phrases you want, or select from an existing list of saved tags.
  • Under Additional Info, type in the news item’s author. The Source Name field is open to you – if you created the news item, you can put your organization’s name. If it came from another outlet, enter theirs (it’s only fair). Enter a link to their site in Source URL too.
  • Under More Options, there’s a button to change the default URL. Most of the time you don’t need to do this. There’s also options for allowing comments and including the news item in the sitemap. They are checked by default, and unless you really don’t want any comments, it’s fine to leave them checked.

Create a News Item in Sitefinity 9 04

That’s it! Click Publish when the news item is ready. It will automatically show up wherever you have a News widget displayed.

These are Basic Website Elements. There are More (and We’ll Cover Those Too)

Most of these tasks remain unchanged from previous Sitefinity versions. Still, we came up with several good examples of how easy Sitefinity 9.0 makes typical website management tasks.

(The biggest change I saw was in configuring Google Analytics—part of which came from Google itself. So much difference in fact, that we’ll do a separate post on connecting Google Analytics in Sitefinity 9+ later on.)

Next time we’ll cover a reader request – connecting a third-party email service to Sitefinity. Which one? How does it work? You’ll have to join us next time to find out!

P.S. – Don’t forget to subscribe to the Sitefinity Insider mailing list, in the signup box on the right. No need to set a reminder for next month that way!