An Acoustic Campaign database contains contact information for campaigns, including email, SMS, and mobile, as well as test and suppression lists. Databases can be created, imported, exported, and segmented for targeting contacts.
You can create up to 400 fields in any combination of field types, including system and custom fields. Custom fields contain or collect other useful data about contacts, such as name, account number, preferences, emails, and links clicked.
You can create databases by importing, copying an existing, or creating a new database. You can create a flexible and restricted database based on your business needs.
Flexible databases are the default when creating a database. They are required for SMS, mobile app messages, and CRM, and are strongly recommended for Acoustic Exchange customers. Select the database field(s) that you want to sync when adding or updating contacts. With flexible databases, when selecting a sync field during the import process, the email field is checked by default.
Flexible databases are based on flat files, which means they contain information in a plain text format. When you import the flat file, Campaign stores entries in one table. For each key (email address or other ID) Campaign creates one record in one table row with many columns (fields). The flat file table holds up to 400 fields in any combination of field types, this includes system and custom fields. Moreover, each database is limited to a total of 400 columns of any type (400 columns for each entry row).
The advantages of flat files are that they can conveniently be exported, emailed, and used in simple database programs like Excel, and the information can be read by display or in print. A flat file is also good for unstructured data, like paragraphs of text. Flat files require less planning and new column titles can easily be added.
Note: Flat files tend to duplicate information in many different fields, which can sometimes create inaccuracies, slow searches, and merging files can sometimes present difficulties in maintaining information, headings, and data types. An update to a flat file may require entering the same data in multiple fields.
A restricted database requires that you select a unique identifier. The field that you select as your unique identifier is required when adding or updating contacts. Typically, a unique identifier is email; however, it can be changed to a different field.
The following are always restricted:
- Suppression lists: When selecting to import a Suppression list, the system automatically changes the selection to restricted database and disables the flexible database option.
- Relational tables: When selecting to import a relational table, the system automatically changes the selection to restricted database and disables the flexible database option.
Relational tables can use multiple tables and contain indexes that create a 'one to many' relationship between data in one file and many others.
Relational tables can be associated with multiple databases. Updating just one table makes it very easy to update several databases that reference some of the same information.
To set up relational tables for use, you define one or more record fields as a key (such as email address or ID) to identify (connect) data in various tables. This makes possible faster search queries, and table records can be more easily joined or displayed.
Advantages to relational tables are that you enable updating in only one field, and information accuracy is easier to maintain. Tables can sometimes be remote from each other. Structured data that has organization and data types works well with linking in a relational database and works more quickly with queries, partly because information is indexed. Relational tables require more planning.
|Databases||Contact sources / databases include names and email addresses, and typically include additional information like account numbers, customer preferences, and past activity. Databases can be single opt-in or double opt-in databases. Double opt-in databases require email confirmations.|
Relational tables are a relational-type database for use with databases, instead of a flat file database. Contact your Campaign account representative or Support for more information.
|Test lists||Tests lists are used for testing the response to an email before sending the email to the entire list.|
|Seed lists||Seed lists indicate the coverage of an email by including certain contacts and help provide organizational consistency.|
|Suppression lists||Suppression Lists prevent sending emails to addresses of people who have opted-out, filed an abuse claim, or have an undeliverable mailbox (bad email address).|
|Query a database||Query a database (targeted database) sorts a database into targeted subgroups. Similarly, segments sort a database into numeric divisions for more manageable emails and responses.|
|Double opt-in database||If you select double opt-in as the database type, then you can be certain who registers an email and name on a database as an opt-in. When an opt-in is received, Campaign automatically sends a confirmation email to the contact email address. If the contact responds, then Campaign adds the email address to the database.|
|Creating database||Databases can be fully created in Campaign, including adding fields for storing relevant information, such as contact profiles and preferences, that users can update themselves.|
You can import your own database and database data into Campaign to create a new database or update an existing database. Your existing fields can be preserved or saved in existing Campaign fields.
|Collecting information and tracking||New information, such as contact preferences and recent click activity, can be added through Campaign. Convenient web forms can be used to enable contacts to update their own information.|
Campaign has a range of versatile options that allow for complete database management. You may keep your databases in private or shared folders, depending on the scope of use (private or organizational). Apart from adding contacts, you can manage the databases in a number of ways: import ( as a one-time action or recurring event), merge, delete, export, rename, and purge. Inactive databases can be archived automatically.
To conveniently target contacts using any information in the database, use queries. For example, contacts who have recently clicked a link or purchased certain items can be sorted for relevant interests, and then you can send new emails to them. Additionally, segmenting can break a database into smaller subgroups for more manageable emails.
You can also use reporting tools that collect field data in marketing data segments and look at responses or create related queries to assist in targeting.
Convert a restricted database to a flexible database
Changing a database from a restricted database to a flexible database requires assistance from Acoustic Campaign Support and Engineering teams as the unique identifier modification requires manual work on the back-end to apply the change.
Take the following items into account before making a database conversion request.
- Mapped relational tables are not affected by database conversions.
- Databases that are associated with CRM integrations, such as Salesforce.com or the Scribe Online Connector based integrations for Microsoft™ Dynamics CRM or SugarCRM, cannot be converted. This is due to a fundamental design in CRM integrations that requires databases to be configured in a specific way during the setup process. A database conversion cannot achieve the configuration necessary for the integration to function.
Changing a database from using a unique identifier (UID) to no unique identifier can cause a number of things to change. Before these changes are made, take the following steps:
First, identify all sources of how a contact is added to the database. This is a vital step in your planning because you need to ensure that you do not accidentally create duplicate contacts. The following can help you highlight possible sources:
- Identify all sources that use the AddRecipient or UpdateRecipient API call.
- Identify all users who use Acoustic Campaign (Including any back up users).
- Identify any and all recurring imports set up in the UI.
- Identify all user accounts that perform an ImportList API call.
- Check if necessary, with client support to see if you have any custom integrations created for your company by our CIS team.
Next, plan and place into readiness the following:
- Update all ListImport API call mapping files to specify a "KEY_COLUMN" in readiness to use after the UID field change has been completed.
- Update all AddRecipient and UpdateRecipient API calls prior to UID change to specify "SYNC_FIELDS".
- Ensure your API developers create documentation to complement the API Guide to highlight the above and why the calls need to be set up the way they are.
- Educate all users who use Acoustic Campaign to specify a Sync Field when Importing data via the user interface. You can create a new database setting it up as flexible (listed as CRM type when you click on Edit Unique Identifiers) to practice. Create documentation on how to correctly import data through the UI and specify what SYNC Field(s) to use when importing in case someone has to import a file when the main Acoustic Campaign users are not available.
- Prior to the UID change, you will need to STOP all recurring imports and then create them from scratch and ensure you specify UID(s) in the new mapping and then activate them once the change has been completed.
- It is important that if you have any CIS (custom integration) solutions, that CIS are made aware of any requests to change your database UID as such changes could potentially break or alternatively you could end up with duplicate contacts. You need to ensure that Support is aware of any CIS integrations linked to the database.
- Review landing pages and web forms. The contact matching option will appear after the database type has changed.
Once you have everything planned out and are ready to proceed, contact client support and open a support case to request the change. Support will work with you to find a suitable date and time to perform the change.
Important: The unique identifier process typically requires a one hour window to make change, but could be longer depending on the size of the database. During this one hour window, clients must ensure that all services that use the current configuration are stopped. API calls adding or modifying recipients, data jobs, active web forms, emails and list imports must all be halted during this time. Once the change has been completed, Support will contact you and you can then activate the updated processes that sync contacts properly, ensuring no duplicates are mistakenly created.