Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to Create Easily Customizable Raw HTML-Email Templates with TextExpander

On a fairly regular basis, I need to customize html emails to create a branded template in Salesforce or for sending with Vertical Response.

The structure of each email is usually the same (top banner, sidebar, footer, etc) but the specific graphical elements and text change, along with hyperlinks and utm codes.

For the past several years, I have done the same thing over and over: cloned the latest and greatest template and then sorted through the html looking for the fields to modify. I typically make my changes in a notepad software like TextWrangler and then copy/paste.

This process isn't the best because:

  1. It requires a lot of manual changes, which means it's.....
  2. Prone to user error, especially when I'm manually modifying the same text in multiple places, and...
  3. It makes my eyeballs hurt.
Today, I was in the middle of just such a project and realized that I could use TextExpander to improve my workflow. While it takes a bit more time to set up, the future time-saving benefits are worth it!

So, here's what I did:

  1. Copied and pasted my raw html email template into a new TextExpander snippet
  2. Determined the text/html that could be turned into 'variables' (aka: which text or code would change for every email)
  3. Converted my variable text/html into fill-in fields (mainly single line, multi-line and optional sections) in the template, along with default values and instructions so I could remember specific formatting if necessary
  4. Copied/pasted any repeating variables (eg: utm code that would be appended to every link) - This means that I only need to modify this text once and it will be updated anywhere else it is inserted in the template
  5. Tested

Examples of code and text that I turned into variables:

  • Banner image (this changes per email template)
  • UTM codes (for tracking campaign source, medium, etc) that are appended to each hyperlink in the email
  • Sender contact information (eg: name, title, phone number) if I'm creating the email for a specific sender. If it will be a Salesforce email template, I would use variables like {!User.FirstName} {!User.LastName} in the email signature instead.
  • Email body/content
  • Call to action, whether a button or a link (or both - I put each in as an optional fill-in)

This will save me a lot of time in the future. As an added bonus, if any of my coworkers need to accomplish a similar task, I can share my TextExpander snippet with them.

Here are some screen captures of what my TextExpander snippet looks like when executed:





Are you using text expansion software to speed up your Salesforce Admin tasks or marketing duties? You can share your tips with me in the comments.

Software Used: Chrome, TextExpander, TextWrangler

Note: I use TextExpander (Mac) but you can use any text expansion software that supports similar functionality.

Jenna Weiner is a rather geeky girl with average social skills and an affinity for: Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Pinterest, Firefly, dresses, indoor plants and life-hacking. Have a suggestion for a post or a question? Feel free to get in touch.
Email: rathergeeky@gmail.com
Twitter: @RatherGeeky
LinkedIn: View My Profile

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Creating a New Salesforce Record with One Click: Passing URL Parameters from Google Form Responses

Today, I spent several hours figuring out a URL parameter hack to save me a few minutes of entering data into Salesforce.

While it may not have been the most efficient use of my time, I learned some things that will help me when attempting similar tasks in the future.

I thought I'd share the requirement I was facing and how I accomplished it.

The Requirement


I needed a way to have users submit information to create a Lead but not have to manually input this data directly into Salesforce. For my own sanity, I didn't want to the process of inserting records to be too labor intensive.

How I Did It


I started by creating a Google Form with the information I wanted to gather. Then, I went into the form responses spreadsheet and added a few more columns.

In these columns, I put a HYPERLINK() formula that would create a link into which values entered in the form would be passed as parameters.



The result? With a single click of the link I can create a Lead or Task in Salesforce with information that was entered into the Google Form.

The concept can be used in a variety of ways.

If you'd like a more in-depth explanation, check out the steps here.

PS - I love using Clarify to document my process, as shown in the link above. If you haven't checked it out and find yourself sending screen captures on a regular basis, do! This post wasn't sponsored and I'm not being compensated. I just love their product.


Jenna Weiner is a rather geeky girl with average social skills and an affinity for: Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Pinterest, Firefly, dresses, indoor plants and life-hacking. Have a suggestion for a post or a question? Feel free to get in touch.
Email: rathergeeky@gmail.com
Twitter: @RatherGeeky
LinkedIn: View My Profile

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

2 Ways to Quickly Jump to a FogBugz Case in Your Browser

In the past, when I wanted to view a particular FogBugz case and knew the number, I had to navigate to FogBugz and then search for the case #.

But, I just stumbled upon a Chrome extension that will let me jump to a case directly from the address bar (aka: omnibox). And then I thought "I'll bet there's a way to automate this with TextExpander", my favorite text expansion tool.

So, here are the 2 methods I came up with to quickly jump to a FogBugz case from the omnibox.

Method 1: FB Case Jump Chrome Extension


This extension lets you type FB then tab (or space) then the case number in the omni bar to jump directly to the case.



Get+the+Extension

Method 2: Use TextExpander


TextExpander lets you insert text using an abbreviation. eg: If I type 'lmk', it will expand to 'let me know'.

In this case, I'm using it to expand the url for my case, then put my cursor at the end of the url and let me type in the number.


Note: You could use fb as your shortcut, but I'm using s.cs because I'm testing out both methods and using FB would trigger the Chrome extension from Method 1.

Get+TextExpander+%28Mac%29

Get+PhraseExpress+%28Windows%29

In Review


Each of these solutions takes about the same amount of effort. It involves typing an abbreviation and then a case number.

If you're a lover of keyboard shortcuts like me, being able to jump to a specific case without ever picking up the mouse should be appealing.

So, to review the difference, here's a comparison of my then/now process.

Then:
  1. Open new tab. (CMD/CTRL + T)
  2. Click on FogBugz bookmark.
  3. Type case number in search box. 
  4. Press enter.

Now - Method 1:

  1. Open new tab. (CMD/CTRL + T)
  2. Type FB.
  3. Press space.
  4. Type case #.
  5. Press enter.

Now - Method 2:
  1. Open new tab. (CMD/TRL + T)
  2. Type FB (or whatever shortcut you're using)
  3. Type case number.
  4. Press enter.

Using one of these new methods takes less time because I never have to lift my hands off the keyboard. That's always a win for me!


Jenna Weiner is a rather geeky girl with average social skills and an affinity for: Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Pinterest, Firefly, dresses, indoor plants and life-hacking. Have a suggestion for a post or a question? Feel free to get in touch.
Email: rathergeeky@gmail.com
Twitter: @RatherGeeky
LinkedIn: View My Profile
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