StatPac for Windows User's Guide
Email List Management
StatPac contains a complete e-mail list management system. Select, Email, List Management to access these features.
An e-mail list is simply an ASCII text file of e-mail addresses. The file may optionally contain other information. Email address lists may use a .lst, .txt, or .csv extension for the file name. When StatPac creates or writes an e-mail list, it will always use a .lst extension. These are tab delimited ASCII text files. If necessary for compatibility with other software packages, .lst files may be renamed to .txt.
The file should contain one record (line) for each person that will be sent an e-mail. In it's simplest form, this is just a file of e-mail addresses (one per line). An address file with three names might look like this:
Optionally, the text file can also contain a unique ID number or identifier. If included, it should be separated from the email address by a comma or a tab. In other words, it is a comma or tab delimited file with two variables. The first variable is the email address and the second variable is a unique ID. The unique ID can contain numbers and letters, but not special characters like question marks, pound symbols, or spaces. The ID number will always be the second variable in an e-mail address line.
Additional information may also be included in the e-mail address file. Each additional field is separated from the other variables by a comma or tab. All records in the e-mail address file must contain the same number of variables. One reason you might have additional variables in an e-mail address file is to be able to customize the e-mails. For example, instead of “Hello Customer”, you could begin your e-mail with “Hello David”. Another reason you might have additional information is to be able to merge that data with the completed surveys. That is, you can join data from an existing data base with the answers to a survey.
Additional information in an e-mail address file always begins with the third variable. The first variable is the email address, the second variable is the ID number, and the additional information begins is the third variable. For example, this e-mail address file contains the first and last names, and these could be used in the body of the e-mail.
In all of the above examples, the first record in the e-mail address file contained actual data. Many other software programs write a header row when creating an delimited text file (i.e., an e-mail address file). That is, the first record in the e-mail address file contains variable names instead of data. An example would be:
StatPac can be set to use or not use a header row for all e-mail address lists. Edit StatPac.ini and set EmailListHeaderRow = 1 to use a header row or EmailListHeaderRow = 0 to not use a header row.
It is often desirable to be able to extract e-mail addresses from a file or from the clipboard. This is especially helpful if you are building an e-mail list. It can be used to capture bounced e-mail addresses that you want to eliminate from an address file. The file you want to extract e-mail addresses from can be in any text format. StatPac will find and extract the addresses and write them to an e-mail address file (.lst extension). The extract program will not extract e-mail addresses from compressed data base formats such as Access. You should export the data to a text file before attempting to extract the e-mail addresses.
There are two problems you might encounter when extracting e-mail addresses. The first is that you might extract e-mail addresses that are generated by a server. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org is probably not an address you’d want to add to an e-mail address file. Your own domain is probably also an address you want to exclude. The rejection filter may be used to omit those addresses/domains that you do not want to be added to an e-mail address file even when they exist in the document you are extracting from. The rejection filter should contain one word per line. If that word is part of an e-mail address, it will not be captured by the program. Rejection filter text is not case sensitive.
The other problem you might encounter is that many servers issue a long numerical e-mail address as part of the header for a bounced or rejected e-mail. These might look like this: email@example.com. You can set the maximum consecutive digits parameter to filter out long numerical e-mail addresses generated by a server.
The List Statistics program can be used to count the number of e-mail addresses in a file and tell when the last update was made to that file.
There will be many situations where you have gathered e-mail addresses from multiple sources and stored them in separate files. Use this program to combine lists from multiple files and create a new file consisting of addresses from all the lists. Select the files to be joined using the Browse Button, or type them one per line. Specify a new e-mail address file that will contain the addresses from all the files.
This program does not check for the existence of duplicate e-mail addresses. It only combines the files into one big list. Therefore, after combining multiple e-mail files, it is advisable to run the e-mail management program to clean, sort, and eliminate duplicates.
There are many situations where you might want to split a list: 1) You have a very large list and you want to e-mail to only a specific number of respondents 2). You have a very large list and you want to split it up to make it more manageable, 3) You want to randomly select winners for a drawing, etc.
StatPac can split a list using three different methods: sequential, systematic and random. Which method you use depends upon your application.
When the sequential method is selected, a new file will be created and e-mail addresses will be written to the new file until a certain number of addresses have been written. Then another new file will be created and the next x addresses will be written to that file. Each of the new e-mail address files will contain the same number of records as the previous file(s), except the last one that is written.
The File Name Prefix for Sublists is the beginning of the file name for the new smaller lists. The actual file names for the sublists will end with _1, _2, _3, etc.
Systematic selection is often called Nth Name Selection. Every Nth name will be selected from an e-mail list file and written to a new e-mail list file. Optionally, you can also write the non-selected addresses to a different e-mail address file. Systematic selection is frequently used to draw a sample for a survey from a larger list. It is considered to be as good as random selection provided that the order of the e-mail list is not related to the focus of the study.
The third method of splitting a list is the random selection method. Records will be randomly selected from the e-mail list. You only need to specify the number of random records that will be drawn from the e-mail address file. Optionally, you may also specify a file name for the records that are not randomly selected.
It should be noted that this method involves true random selection. Thus, running the program twice on the same list will not select the same e-mail addresses.
Many e-mail lists are dynamic, in that you are continually updating, adding, and deleting e-mail addresses from the list. The Clean, Sort, and Eliminate Duplicates program can be used to maintain a clean list. Invalid and duplicate e-mail addresses will be eliminated.
ID numbers are used to keep track of those who respond to your survey. You can conduct web surveys without ID numbers, but there will be no way to determine who responded and who didn't. If you are planning on sending e-mailing follow-up invitations to those who did not respond to the first invitation, then ID numbers are essential. ID numbers are used to link the names in an e-mail address file to the survey respondents.
If you already have an ID number in an existing data base, it can be used provided that it does not contain any special characters, like question marks, pound symbols, or spaces. It must be the second variable in the e-mail address file (which is tab or comma delimited ASCII text).
The Add ID Numbers to a List program may be used to create random ID numbers and add them to an existing e-mail address list. The ID numbers will be inserted as the second variable in the list. If there is already more than one variable in the list, the ID number will be inserted as variable two and all the other variables will be moved to the right. For example, suppose you have this e-mail list consisting of three variables (e-mail address, company, and city).
firstname.lastname@example.org, StatPac Inc.,
email@example.com, Acme Widgets Co.,
After adding ID numbers, the list would appear like this:
firstname.lastname@example.org, 21769831, StatPac Inc.,
email@example.com, 89457912, Acme Widgets Co.,
In a typical web survey, you might send out hundreds (or thousands) of e-mail invitations to take the survey. Within a few days, you will receive about 90% of the total response that you'll get. After a week has passed, you can substantially boost the response rate by sending a reminder e-mail to those who have not yet responded. The purpose of this program is to create an e-mail list consisting of just those people who have not yet responded to the survey.
The process is straight forward, although there are several steps involved.
1) Add the RespondentID variable to the codebook. When you create an Internet survey, StatPac will ask if you want to add the special variables to the codebook if they have not already been added. Generally, you would answer yes.
2) Run the e-mail management program to add ID numbers to the e-mail address file.
3) Send e-mail invitations using StatPac's bulk e-mail program.
4) Approximately one week later, download and import the Internet response file (Auto Transfer).
5) Run this program and create an e-mail list of nonresponders. This list will be identical to the original e-mail list except it will only contain the e-mail addresses of those who have not yet responded to the survey.
6) Send a reminder e-mail to the nonresponders using StatPac's bulk e-mail program. The only two parameters in the bulk e-mail program you will need to change are the name of the e-mail address file (which will be the nonresponders file instead of the original file) and the file containing the body text (which will presumable be different than the original invitation).
7) After another week, re-download the Internet response file. When you download an Internet response file from your server, it is not deleted from your server. Thus, when you re-download the Internet response file, you should overwrite the existing data file rather than appending to it.
8) Analyze the data.
It is very common for e-mail addresses to be wrong. People change accounts and e-mail addresses frequently. Typing errors in e-mail addresses are abundant. It would not be unusual for 10%-20% of the addresses in an e-mail address file to be invalid.
When you send bulk e-mail to the names in an e-mail address file, invalid addresses will bounce back to you. These bounced e-mails can be captured with the e-mail management program to extract e-mail addresses. After you have an e-mail list of the bounced e-mails, you will probably want to remove them from the e-mail address file that was used to send the invitations. This is especially true if you want to use the e-mail list again in the future. You can subtract (i.e., remove) the bounced e-mail addresses from the e-mail file using this program.
When you receive responses to an Internet survey, the file will not contain the e-mail address of the respondent. In fact, there is no way to capture the-mail addresses of people taking the survey unless the survey itself specifically asks for their e-mail address as one of the variables.
However, if you used Respondent ID numbers, you'll be able to match respondent's with their entry in the e-mail address file. The e-mail address file will contain the respondent's e-mail address, ID number, and possibly other data base information.
The e-mail list management program will merge the e-mail list information into the StatPac data file. You should wait until the survey is closed before using this program. In other words, do not run this program if you are expecting additional response.
Email is a popular way of inviting potential respondents the opportunity of participating in an Internet survey. The Send Email Invitations program will allow you to send a large number of customized e-mails at high speed.
Before beginning, you need two files. The first is a list of e-mail addresses. The second is an ASCII text file containing the body text of the e-mail. Usually, you would create this file with Notepad or MSWord.
One important feature of the e-mail program is that it lets you serialize the e-mails with a unique ID number that can be used to track respondents.
In the body of the e-mail, there will be a link to the survey on the web site. This link will contain the respondent's unique ID number, so when they click on the link, it will take them to the survey web page (and StatPac will know the ID number of the person who is responding). Moreover, their ID number will be stored with their responses on your server. The ID number may contain alpha characters as well as numbers. This feature can be used to match information from an existing data base with respondents' answers. In the following example of a link with an ID number, notice the URL has a ?id=1856 suffix and the ID number is 1856.
It is VERY important that you create a short test file of one to three e-mail addressees. All the e-mail addresses in the test file should be your own e-mail address. This will allow you to send test e-mails to yourself to check their appearance before you send to the real respondents. Name this file something like "TestList.lst" so you will immediately know what it is by looking at its name. You can also use the Test Mode by typing your e-mail address into the text box so that instead of sending to the specified e-mail list, only one e-mail will be sent to you. Be sure to completely erase your e-mail address from the text box when you are ready to send to the entire list.
The body text file is the actual e-mail message you will be sending to potential respondents. It may be plain text or HTML. You can use Notepad or MSWord to create a plain text body file, or MSFrontPage of MSWord to create an HTML email. For a plain text email, StatPac can include attachments to the email. If it is an HTML email, StatPac will automatically include the graphics in the body of the email. When using an HTML body file with graphics, the "src=" tag in the HTML source should point to the image on your local computer (not the internet).
Variable substitution can be used in the body text file to include the URL of the survey. If the address file is a StatPac data file, then you can also use variable substitution for any variable in the codebook. Substitution is specified using (* and *) to begin and end the variable name.
Here is an example of a body text file that uses three substitution variables. Assume variable 3 in the e-mail address file is "First_Name" and variable 4 in the e-mail address file is "Last_Name". In this example, variable substitution is being used to customize the greeting. It also uses (*url*) to specify where the link should be placed in the e-mail. The (*3*) and (*4*) can be specified in the body text because they are variables in the e-mail address file.
Hello (*3*) (*4*),
We are doing a survey and would like your participation.
Please click here to take the survey
If the email is HTML then the link to the URL is still (*url*). For example, the source in the HTML might look like this:
<a href="(*url*)">Please click here to take the survey</a>
If the e-mail address file contains a header row of variable names, then the names in the header row can be used for variable substitution instead of the variable number. For example, the greeting could be written as:
Hello (*First_Name*) (*Last_Name*),
When creating a plain text body file, we recommend limiting all lines to a maximum of 60 characters and inserting a hard return at the end of each line. (This means to press [Enter] after each 60-character line when you are typing the body text). While not necessary, it will produce a more uniform appearance in the variety of e-mail readers that potential respondents might be using.
After you have created the e-mail address and body text files, you'll be ready to test your work. Select Email, Send Email to begin show the bulk e-mail sending screen.
The Apparent Email Address of Sender should contain the e-mail address that you want to appear as the sender of the e-mails. Similarly, the Apparent Company Name of Sender should be set to the name you want to appear as the sender. Subject is what will appear on the subject line of the e-mails.
If you want the Reply To Email Address to be different than the Apparent Email Address of Sender, then enter a different e-mail address. If it is the same, then leave this field blank. The Reply To Email Address is the address that the respondent will see if they click the reply button in their e-mail program.
Use the browse button to select the Body Text File. This can be a plain text file or an HTML file.
Use the browse button to select your "TestList.txt" file for the Email Address File. Always begin with your test list until you are satisfied with the appearance of the e-mails. Then change Email Address File to your actual list of e-mail addresses. It is generally a good idea to limit the size of your Email Address Files to less than five thousand addresses, as some servers stop responding to extended SMTP sending.
If sending a plain text body file, you can also specify Attachments. Multiple attachments may be specified by clicking the Attachments browse button multiple times or by holding down the control key to select multiple attachments.
Full URL to Survey is the URL of the survey on your web site. It should be the fully qualified path to your survey, beginning with http:// An example would be: http://www.statpac.com/online-surveys/multipage-survey.htm If you are using password protection, the link might be http://www.statpac.com/cgi-bin/multipage-survey.pl Do not inadvertently end the URL with a period. The URL is case sensitive, so type it exactly as it is on your web site. Do not add a query string to the URL. That is, do not include a question mark in the URL. The query string is reserved for the respondent ID number and will be added automatically by the software during the send.
If your e-mail list has ID numbers (as the second variable), check the Use ID Numbers in URL box. The ID number will become the query string during the sending of the e-mails. If you do not check the box, no ID numbers will be used in the e-mails and a random ID number will be assigned when a respondent clicks on the link.
Email SMTP Server is the mail server you will be using. It will be something like mail.yourdomain.com. Your ISP will be able to tell you what to specify here. Alternatively, you can check the SMTP settings in your own e-mail program and set StatPac to the same thing.
If your server requires authentication to send emails, and check Authentication box type your Username and Password. Some servers require “POP-before-SMTP” protocol. If the StatPac’s bulk email program won’t send, this is the most likely reason. To fix this problem, check POP Before SMTP and type the name of your POP3 mail server (often the same as your SMTP server). When “POP-before-SMTP” protocol is used, ISPs usually limit sessions to about half hour, so email address list sizes should be limited to what can be sent in that time.
You must be logged onto your server before you begin sending the e-mails. Click Start to begin sending the e-mails.
When your are satisfied with the e-mail appearance (by sending several to yourself), change the Email Address File to your real file and click Start to begin sending the e-mails. The status window will show the progress.
The speed at which the e-mails are sent will depend on your e-mail SMTP server. StatPac can easily send three or more e-mails per second. This may be too fast for some servers and you may have to slow StatPac down a bit. To slow StatPac down, edit the StatPac.ini file (select File / Open / System Defaults File) and change EmailDelay from 0 to a delay value (in thousands of a second). For example, if you set EmailDelay = 100, then there will be a 1/10 of a second delay between each email.
While sending e-mails, you can temporarily pause by clicking the Pause button. If you click the Resume button, the e-mails will continue to be sent from the point where you paused. If you close the Send Email Invitations window, make note of the record number so you will be able to continue where you left off.
Some e-mails might fail to be sent because of either bad addresses or the server becomes temporarily busy. Failed e-mails will be saved in a new a Email Address File with a “-FAILED” suffix as part of the file name. You may attempt to resend these by changing the Email Address File to the failed list.
Three words of caution are in order.
1. StatPac's Send Email Invitations program is a general purpose bulk e-mailer that can send thousands of e-mails per hour. If you use it to send SPAM to people, there is a good chance that someone will contact your ISP, and the most likely result is that your ISP will cancel your account. Please don't use this program to send SPAM.
2. Some ISP servers are set to automatically detect and refuse bulk sending of emails. They detect multiple emails being originated by the same SMTP server connection. Two StatPac settings can be used to minimize the possibility of being flagged as SPAM by your ISP. Both are in the StatPac.ini file (select File / Open / System Defaults File). If EmailDelay is set to a value higher than zero, a new SMTP connection will be established for each email. If EmailLimitPerConnection is set to a value higher than 0, the software will close and reopen the SMTP connect at that limit. You can set either or both values.
3. Some hosting services have a quota on the number of emails you can send in a day. They do this in order to prevent spammers from abusing their SMTP mail server. If your ISP has such a policy, they will usually increase your quota by a simple request stating the reason why you need a higher quota.