Improving email outreach


If I may make a suggestion, I am finding that XF's weakest point is staying in touch with casual members by being proactive about finding out what specific topics they are interested in, contacting them about things they are interested in, and avoiding contacting them about things they might not be interested in (and thus avoiding an unsubscribe).

XF's activity summary is a nice start but I actually have it turned off at present because I feel I need to strip the theme back first to make it minimal and concise, and because as I understand it (and please let me know if I am wrong), it will email my members with latest threads and/or posts but with no filtering of this content to ensure it is relevant to the member receiving it. My forum is pretty big, and the content discussed is varied but siloed. Most members are only interested in "their" handful of my 60-odd sub-forums and particular threads, and receiving content about the other 55 forums they are not interested in would quickly make them reach for the unsubscribe button.

I'm a member of a Discourse forum that seems to do a good job of staying in touch with me about stuff I'm interested in. I have never felt the desire to unsubscribe because I am being notified about content that is not relevant. My impression/understanding is that:
  1. It auto-subscribes me to topics I have spent time reading via the "Automatically track topics I enter" feature. This is defaulted to 3 minutes. If you spend more than 3 minutes looking at a thread it considers you interested in that thread.
  2. This may be a custom feature of the forum I visit, but I seem to be asked every year or so what I'm interested in and what I'm good at. It subsequently subscribes me those categories and tags. I get regular (but not too regular) emails about new topics in these categories I've expressed interest in, that have those tags, or new posts in threads I have spent time reading.
The emails I receive are about threads that are relevant to me. I don't receive emails about topics I'm not interested in. Whatever is the system, it seems to work well. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a series of checks and balances in the code so that it feels like a polite "drip" of relevant threads but never too much. I might not otherwise go back to that community but these infrequent, relevant thread updates about threads I spent time reading previously, and apparently-weekly-digests of only relevant threads (that are concise lists, no fluff like dates just title + poster name), keep me coming back. As a member, I feel my time is respected and never abused, and so I have never felt inclined to unsubscribe.

As another example, Reddit's app also seems to do a good job of reaching out every once in a while to let you know about stuff you have expressed previous interest in.

Are there any plans for something similar in XF or to optimize the activity summary email? This kind of targeted, personalized email outreach would help my community a lot. At the moment and keeping in mind I have the activity summary turned off currently for the reasons above, as I understand it (and correct me if I'm wrong), if someone doesn't click on a thread notification they will never hear about that thread, or my forum, again.
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Upvote 11
A bounced email system would also be essential to understand users who no longer have active emails.
Already present for several revisions.

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The ability to filter those users are somewhat lacking... but this has nothing to do with the original suggestion.
targeted, personalized email outreach
Definitely the keywords here.

We have about 300 boards on the forum and the guy wanting to see video games threads might not care about NFL threads.

We have "areas" tab on the user profile so we know at a basic level what they like. Watched threads and forums. All that.

Combine with a recency calculation and go from there.

Even look at the direct marketing mantra of "recency, frequency, dollar amount" and go with "recency, frequency, and time viewed" or some other 'currency' that fits.

Time, posts (with word count), reactions, followed friends with similar interest, are all signals of possible interest in a post, thread, board, calendar event and so on. Would love to see these make it into core or a well-written addon that scales so the bigger forums can use it.
I'd also like to see follow-up emails in case you missed a subscribed thread notification and didn't click on it. On my forum we have very long running threads. Thousands of replies and deep discussion of topics are typical. What I really need on a subscribed thread level is that if you miss a notification, it will bug you again 48 hours later ("Hey you missed another 14 posts in your thread"), and again one week later, and again one month later. As I understand it if you miss one notification you'll never hear about further replies in a subscribed thread, even though you might be very interested in following it.
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