Zak Fowler April 24, 2013 •
Learn Salsa Basics / Supporter Management
Both groups and tags have many potential applications for sorting, segmenting, and searching through your supporters in Salsa. So, which one should you use? You should use both! Tags and groups can be used together to help you keep track of your supporters in efficient, powerful ways.
What’s the difference between groups and tags?
Groups are ways to group supporters into different subsets: donors, people in a particular state, people who signed on to a particular issue, newsletter subscribers, etc. Groups only work with supporters, that is, people in the Salsa database. Tags are also used to create subsets, but 1) they can be attached to nearly anything in Salsa, including individual supporters, signup sheets, donation forms, and events; and 2) they’re sticky: any supporter that touches something with a tag will be tagged accordingly. In other words, someone who signs up on a page tagged with "Blimp Owners' Rights" will get their supporter record tagged accordingly.
But—it sounds like I could just use groups for that! Or events!
And indeed you could, but here are three reasons to use tags:
- Tags have a slightly quicker user interface and easier visibility, especially if you ever have to do manual data editing in individual supporter records. Adding the tag Conference Call: May2012 to an individual record is a really fast way to make a quick event, since tags autocomplete as you start typing and you can also add this tag to signup pages. You can also quickly see what tags a supporter has.
screenshot in Salsa 2.0 | screenshot in older Salsa interface
Manually adding people to a group or event takes only slightly longer than adding tags, but if you're in a position where you have a lot of manual entry to do (say, VIPs calling in to register for a quick event at the last minute) you'll have an easier time of it using tags. You can always tag people manually, then later use a query to pull them into groups.
- As a cognitive and organizational task you’ll have an easier time thinking about two different sets of data segmentation when you go hunting for things: treating them as different data points makes it easier to paint the pictures you want when you run queries. You can also throw tags around as experimental data points to track actions, which is easier to query than making group counts. See our example below under the "So how does that help?" heading.
- Tags can go on nearly any Salsa object, and make searching quick. Need to see at a glance how many objects you've got in the Elect Keanu to Congress campaign? Click on the ElectKeanu tag, and get links to every page, email blast, supporter, or other object in Salsa with that tag ( Salsa 2.0 | previous Salsa interface). Or type Conspiracy Theorist in the search box and get a quick list of supporters with that tag--helpful when warning your staff about known antagonists among your supporters who might need special handling! (Admit it, we've all run into those. I used to tag those people as almonds – shorthand for "completely freakin' nuts.")
So how does that help?
Here are a couple of examples we gave from last week's webinar:
Say you've got three issues you're working on, and you want to know how the groups break down among your supporters. Does everyone support all your issues? Do people like one and not another? Are tons of people subscribed to newsletters on an issue, but only responding to certain calls for action or support?
Use groups and tags to explore these relationships with the search query by creating the following groups/tags (or adding to what you've got):
Groups: 1 for each issue (Blimp Ownership, Elect Keanu, Teach Kung Fu), 1 for All Donors
Tags: 2 each on actions: Action-taker and Petition/ Letter (type of action); 2 each on big events: Event-participant and Rally/ Protest/ Service Day (type of event). Participants in these actions or events will get tagged accordingly.
With these tags in place, after a certain amount of time and events have taken place, you can now run queries like: "Members of Blimp Ownership and Elect Keanu and tagged with Action-taker" (people who support both issues and have taken any kind of action) or "People in Minnesota and Members of Teach Kung Fu and Donors and not tagged with Event-participant" (people who support a certain issue and who donate, but didn't go to your 2011 Minneapolis March for Kung Fu).
Once you've segmented these groups, you can do research (why are so few people supporting more than one of your issues?) or plan special appeals (reach out to people who have taken action online but haven't donated or attended live events yet) or adjust your marketing (turns out nobody in Utah likes Keanu Reeves, so find a different message for the Beehive State).
Additionally, you can very quickly segment supporters based on their activity. While Salsa allows you to build complex queries based on whether a person participated in any individual activity or opened a particular email blast*, sometimes you just want to know really quickly how many people in California have donated and taken action at some point––and depending on how precise you want to get with your tags, you can define " superactivists" however you want based on their past behavior, then find people matching that description.
In the end, tags represent a shorthand way of doing similar segmentation tasks involving groups, Salsa packages, and queries. But that's the real beauty of tags, and perhaps the best reason to try them out: you can experiment with different ways of looking at and combining your supporters without changing your existing groups or workflows. Add a hundred tags to each supporter if you like, and see how the dots connect--you can always delete the tags, transition them to groups if you identify a new permanent segment you'd like to identify, or mix and match them to your heart's content. You may find that a simple tweak to a query or an appeal suddenly becomes more effective because it's reaching the right people, the people who want to do more for your cause and just need the right ask at the right time.
* Note : Putting a tag on an email blast doesn't automatically tag supporters who open or click on it, precisely because different organizations may have different definitions for what "deserves" the tag (Opening the email? Clicking on it? Clicking on one very important link? Opening three emails in a row? etc). Tagging an email blast will just make it so that it comes up in searches for that tag. But you can always run a query to find supporters who opened or clicked on a particular email blast, then add a tag to those people.
About the Author
Akash has spent time in many different capacities at small non-profits, where he's been volunteering or working since college. He's seen things you wouldn't believe. He's even got 501(c)(3) tattooed on his bicep. (Not really.) He's used his unique blend of hi-tech savvy and low-tech problem solving to improve congressional advocacy, online fundraising, campaign communications, and volunteer organizing on issues ranging from environmental education to geriatric pharmacotherapy. He currently serves on the board of the Friends of the Cecil County (Maryland) Public Library and volunteers in his church's youth ministry.
Chris Vaughn January 31, 2013 •
Intermediate Salsa Skills / Salsa Solutions
Templates are used all over the internet to keep branded websites consistent. They provide the code, files, images, scripts, fonts, etc. that shape and style the look of a page.
In Salsa there are two kinds of templates: email blast templates and website templates. We separate templates in this way because emails and websites have distinct browser types, and email browsers just aren’t that good at rendering the fancy scripts that make websites zing. Separating them makes sure your emails and webpages look as good as possible to the most number of users.
Salsa’s built-in WYSIWYG allows you to create a pretty fancy looking email blast template from scratch using the editing tools or by modifying a stock email template. On the other hand, website templates aren’t editable using Salsa’s WYSIWYG. This is due to the cool and sophisticated things you do can in a website template which not even the best WYSIWYG can handle.
Hence, creating and editing website templates in Salsa can sometimes be intimidating for the not-so-code-friendly. I’m here to say, have no fear: there are a couple of ways that you can pre-empt common problems that occur with website templates.
Have a killer website and need to get a template in Salsa?
If you’ve already got a solidly designed and branded website, you want to be sure Salsa’s pages match. Salsa’s website template extractor is your friend. Basically, this tool scrapes code from your website, saves it in Salsa, and plugs in a little marker where Salsa’s form should go. Sometimes, however, after you extract your template, some things just aren’t... working right.
This can occur for lots of reasons and largely depends on how your website is set up. Certain scripts may need to be modified or simply removed so that the code will work hosted on Salsa’s end. Here are a couple common issues:
- Lots of CMS’s these days use server-side scripts to load in Twitter, Facebook, or other social media posts automatically. Since these get loaded only when the page loads on your server’s end, they won’t update any more after extraction. If you are using one of these, I recommend using the iframe widget you build in Twitter and on Facebook. You just need to add the resulting code to a spot in your template. These will load even on Salsa.
- Your fancy drop-down navigation menu used to dynamically drop down when you hovered over them, but now they seem to be broken (or perhaps missing icons that used to show up). In some cases, a drop down menu depends are certain script libraries that might be conflicting with what’s loading from Salsa. If this is the case, go ahead and email email@example.com and we can help you identify them.
- The alignment of the spot where Salsa’s form loads in my template is all wonky. This can sometimes be caused simply by choosing the wrong place for Salsa’s form to go in the first step of the extraction process. The simple solution/test is to try re-extracting the page again and choose a different location for the Salsa form, then see how it looks. It might also be that you’ve got some styling in your website that’s acting on Salsa’s form when it loads and causing everything to get a little out of place. If so, Support can help you find out where.
These are just a couple ways to troubleshoot common issues. You can see others on our Template FAQ.
Don’t have a website to extract from or just want to create something new?
If you don’t have a website that you can extract a template from, you can always use Salsa’s built-in template library, which only requires you to have a banner image handy.
Additionally, one common question we get asked frequently is what would be a good “blank” template. That is, a template that’s still valid but would only show the Salsa portion of the page. Here’s a sample for you:
<!-- TemplateBeginEditable name="content" --><!-- TemplateEndEditable -->
When creating your template, just choose the “Create Your Own” option and paste in the above code. You’re good to go!
Halp! I need help!
Salsa’s support team is here to help you with extracting, securing, and generally getting your template working in Salsa. We want your page to look good using our platform. This includes making sure you are handy with the extractor, find any broken files so you can address them, and help you find and secure elements of your template when you need to use it on a donation page.
That said, if customizing your template code isn’t your cup of tea and you would like additional help, our Services team or a Salsa partner can help you execute your design. For example, if you’re hoping to modernize a template and make it as mobile friendly as possible, our friends at Cornershop Creative are ready to jump right in. They are experts at “mobilizing” Salsa forms.