This guide assumes you have a basic understanding of using Messenger, but would like some specific help sending an email.
Once you are in the 'Send Messages' area of Messenger v5, your contacts will be displayed on the left hand side of the screen under the “Groups” tab. The group structure is dynamic and what you see will depend on how your contacts have been synced from the MIS.
Recipients can be selected in any combination of the following methods;
- Click in to the search box and begin typing the name of an individual (forename or surname) or a group (such as year, house or any other MIS or saved group),
- You will see suggestions appear below the search box, simply click the one you need,
- When you have added all the groups or individuals you require and they are listed in the search box, simply click the 'Add to recipients list' button and/or;
- Click the arrow next to a Group field to expand the tree and select the group required and/or;
- Select a Contact or Group from within the address book.
Your contact selection can be further refined using Filters;
- Accessed by the blue hyperlink in the ‘Actions’ column, filters are used to refine the selection further. Filters are dynamic and will only display the options available in your database, or display a list of contacts from which you can select individuals.
- Any filters active will be displayed in the filters column.
- If you then wish to add more recipients from other groups you can do so by clicking on another group and again apply filters as you wish.
Message Formats - 'Send Via:'
SMS and Email are widely used by both Messenger and Emerge as well as certain other Groupcall Products.
Sent to mobile phones only.
- If the phone number type/location is not set as ‘mobile’ in the MIS, Messenger v5 and Emerge will not recognise that number as a valid SMS recipient, even if it is the number for a mobile phone.
Sent to ‘proper’ email addresses in the format ID@domain.tld (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com etc).
- If the email is not in a valid format the system will not include that address in the list.
- If the system encounters an error with an email address that is properly formatted, but is not legitimate (i.e. does not exist), the message will be sent by Messenger v5/Emerge, but later rejected by the receiving domain. This is default behaviour for any email message and is not specific to Groupcall Products and is also true for any other receiving errors such as a full inbox.
Sent to any phone number, mobile or landline, as a pre-recorded or text to speech message from Messenger v5. You can record the message through our telephone call record service so that recipients hear a familiar human sounding voice. This process is covered in detail in our Messenger v5 Voice User Guide.
By default voice messages will be sent only to contacts that do not have a mobile phone number - i.e. if a contact has both a landline and a mobile phone number, SMS will take priority over Voice messages. However this is a customisable option in the admin area.
The eLetters functionality allows Messenger to either:
- Produce a copy of SMS or Email messages as a printed letter for any contacts without relevant contact details for seamless side-by-side communication.
- Produce a traditional letter for whole school distribution for those occasions in which a traditional printed approach is more suitable than email etc.
Once you have selected your distribution list, chosen the contact method, selected the message frequency and chosen the message formats, click on Create Message where you can now begin to create your message(s).
- Select Message Type from the 3 types of Messages available.
- Enter message text, taking note of SMS character limits where appropriate.
i - For each message format (SMS, Email, Voice, Letter) active formats will be identified by a bracketed number showing the number of available contacts for that message format. In the above example 13 SMS contacts, 79 voice contacts and 90 Email contacts will receive a message based on the selections made in the 'Message Recipients' screen as SMS, Voice and Email were all selected. If a format was not ticked, that tab would not show a number.
ii - SMS forms the priority option in Messenger and a copy of the SMS text will be applied before any other selected formats. If you wish to override this functionality, simply untick the 'content same as SMS' box and edit the text as required.
iii - You can also select from the message library and then edit accordingly or enter new text.
- If you have parents listed with English as a second language on your MIS, you have the option to tick the 'Translate Message' option to enable Multi Language sending of SMS and Email.
a - In order to check the translations generated, click on 'View/Modify Translations'.
b - Be sure to click on 'Reset Translations' if you make any changes to the message content.
- If you have chosen the eLetters functionality you may like to see a PDF preview of your letter complete with Letterhead Template - this can be accessed by selecting the green 'preview' button located to the right of the text entry box.
- The area will go red as a notification if you exceed 160 characters. This limit doesn’t apply to email.
- You will not be able to type more than 160 characters.
If you have ‘Email content same as SMS’ selected, then you need to un-tick this to edit the email message and allow more than 160 characters to be typed into the email message body.
Once you are happy with your message(s) select ‘Next’ to go to the...
“Preview & Send” Screen.
From here you can choose to send messages ‘now’ or schedule them for sending later in the day or even a date in the future! You can also send a preview to e.g. your own phone to see what the message will look like before you send it to your distribution list.
If you are using the eLetter functionality when you select 'send now' or 'schedule' your letter will be generated in a PDF format. Depending on the number of letters being generated this may take a few minutes but once complete you will be given a link to download your letters - this link will also be emailed to you so that you do not have to wait for it to be generated. Click on the pdf link and print your letters off as required.
You can now access the 'History' area of Messenger v5 to see the message status, including replies and delivery statuses as well as the resultant translations of any multi-language recipients if desired, by clicking the white 'Show Status of this Message' button.
Much like a mail merge function all messages created within Messenger v5 can be personalised by using ‘tokens’. You can use these tokens in broadcast, open or closed response messages, using SMS, voice, email or letter. You should avoid using tokens when 'tweeting' a message and if a token is used, you should ensure that the Message Frequency is set to 'For Each Student Parent Combination'.
Tokens can be activated by placing your cursor in the message text where you wish the token to appear, then ‘right-click’ to show the list of available tokens.
Click on the preferred choice and it will appear in your message surrounded by two dollar signs. Additional tokens can be added via the source data.
The tokens supported in Mv5 are shown in the table below.
Any tokens relating to a student (4 - 14 below) will only render in an outgoing message if the recipient was set up in the MIS and has a student associated with them; i.e. Staff contacts and contacts saved within the Messenger v5 Address Book will, for example receive a message that says "$StudentName$" as opposed to "Clarissa Abbot".
|Token Name||Token Code||Example||Notes|
|Forename||$Forename$||Dear Joe||Displays the First Name of the recipient|
|Surname||$Surname$||Dear Mr Bloggs||Displays the Surname of the recipient.|
|Name||$Name$||Dear Joe Bloggs||Displays the Full Name of the recipient.|
|Title||$title$||Dear Mrs Bloggs||Displays the Title of the recipient.|
|Salutation||$salutation$||Dear Reverend Bloggs||Displays the Salutation of the recipient as specified in the 'Salutation' field of the MIS.
NB Behaviour of this field varies by MIS and may sometimes resolve to e.g. "Mr and Mrs Bloggs" even though only Mrs Bloggs is the intended recipient.
|Student Forename||$StudentForename$||Mary was late.||Displays the First Name of the Student.|
|Student Surname||$StudentSurname$||Dear Miss/Mr Bloggs||Displays the Surname of the Student.|
|Student Name||$StudentName$||Your daughter, Mary Bloggs, was late.||Displays the Full Name of the Student. Will also display the Student's registration group if the "Show Registration in student names?" option is ticked in Tools > Account Settings (your Groupcall Administrator may need to enable this).|
|StudentReg||$StudentReg$||Class 8A have a class trip next term.||Displays the student’s registration/class group.|
|StudentYear||$StudentYear$||All year 8 students have sports day next week.||Displays the student’s year group.|
|Student Detention Date||$Student Detention Date$||Your son, Mary Bloggs has detention on 17/04/2013. She will be late home.||Displays the date of a student's detention. See Detention Alerting for more information, particularly around the use of this token when selecting 'Once per Parent' from the Message Frequency options.|
|He/Shehe/she||$He|She$$he|she$||She will need to see the head.Remember PE kit for you child tomorrow; he will need it.||Assumes a gender appropriate pronoun based on student gender. Can be capitalised or not to suit the sentence.|
|His/Herhis/her||$His|Her$$his|her$||Her PE kit should be clean.Please make sure your child brings his homework to school.||Assumes a gender appropriate pronoun based on student gender. Can be capitalised or not to suit the sentence.|
|Him/Herhim/her||$Him|Her$$him|her$||---Your child will need PE kit with him tomorrow.||Assumes a gender appropriate pronoun based on student gender. Can be capitalised or not to suit the sentence.|
|Current Date||$date$||Today is the 11/04/2013. The school will be closing early due to snow.||Inserts the current date as defined when the message is sent. When combined with scheduled send, the date changes accordingly.|
|Current Time||$time$||It is now 09:20. Morning registration has taken place and your child $StudentName$ has not registered today. Please provide a reason.||Inserts the current time as defined when the message is sent. When combined with scheduled send, the time changes accordingly.|
|Tomorrow's Date||$tomorrow$||The school will be closed tomorrow 12/04/2013 due to snow.||Inserts the date of the day after today as defined when the message is sent. When combined with scheduled send, the date changes accordingly.|
|Home Address||$homeaddress$||57 Mounthoolie Lane
|Inserts the contact's home address so that a traditional letter can be posted in place of an email.|
|School Logo||$schoollogo$||---||Inserts an image as uploaded in Tools > Account Settings > Contact Details.|
|Head Teacher Name||$headteachername$||Regards,Lawrence Royston, NPQH||Inserts the head's name (including any letters of qualification) as specified in Tools > Account Settings > Contact Details.|
|School Address||$schooladdress$||Main Office
|Inserts the school address as specified in Tools > Account Settings > Contact Details.|
|School Phone||$schoolphone$||Tel: 01234 567 890||Inserts the school phone number as specified in Tools > Account Settings > Contact Details.|
|Unresolved Attendance Dates||$unresolvedattendance$||Tue, 09 June, 2015 to Fri, 12 June, 2015||Inserts a date or list of dates where, in a given period, a student has absences where the reason for absence is not yet provided (such as an 'N' code).
NB this token can not be used manually and will only work where a date range is provided using the Unresolved Attendance Wizard.
Certain other tokens may be enabled in your school based on your particular set-up.
Multi-language Support for SMS and Email
Messenger v5 supports the sending of messages in multiple languages for SMS and Email. If a contact in the recipient list has an additional language configured in the MIS, the "Translate Message" option will be displayed under the SMS and Email compose window under 'Create Message'.
If you do not see this option, then Messenger has been unable to find any languages configured against the currently synced contacts within the relevant field in the MIS, with which to use as a translation language.
Please note that only the message body is translated. Any attachments added to emails will not be translated - we recommend you therefore copy the contents of attachments in to the email if possible so that they are translated.
You may also like to add a request to reply in english if you do not have any speakers of those languages used in the school. Of course a reverse translation is possible separately to Messenger v5 via the Google Translate service outlined below - simply copy any replies from M5 to Google Translate.
Translation is activated via is a simple Tick Box option with two supported actions accessed via buttons below the Translate Message tick box:
- View/Modify Translations
- Allows you to see the translations generated - useful if you have a native speaker on hand to view the translations or just want to see the eventual output!
- Reset Translation Changes
- Used to update the translation to match the text in the compose window. It is imperative you press this button after you make any changes to the composed text in either the SMS or Email view. If Messenger v5 detects a mismatch between the translated text and the text in the compose window, you will see a reminder to go back and update the translation.
The translation is carried out using Google's Translate services. To understand a little more about Google translate (it’s very interesting) please click here to find out how it works and to see some of the challenges associated with computer based real-time language translation.
What languages are supported?
As Google add to their list of supported languages all the time, the below list will be updated periodically for guidance, but for an explicit list you should refer to the Google API page itself. At time of writing the list contains 64 languages.
Please note Messenger v5 makes use of the Google Translate API when performing automatic language translation. Google keep their list of languages supported by the Google Translate API shorter than for the Google Translate website for quality reasons.
Please watch the video available here if you'd like to understand more about automated translation and read our notice about translated messages (a link to which can be included directly on messages sent to contacts - simply tick the box in account settings).
Additionally, in the case of Incoming SMS messages, you can translate messages received in a foreign language back to English.
If you need any further assistance or get in to any difficulty, please contact your School Administrator. Alternatively, they can contact Groupcall Support on your behalf.