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  1. #1
    Super Member
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    TC-40D SS New Holland

    Default Software recommendations for collecting data.

    I'm in need of some computer related advice. For some years we have allowed users on our web site to opt into a mailing list and a monthly drawing for gifts. In the past when a visitor filled out the info it was then sent to us via email. Then it was manually moved to a folder in our Eudora email software, where we could then send our monthly newsletter containing the winners names.

    Growth is necessitating some changes be made. We no longer have the time to input and move this data manually and the perfect solution would either be software that resides on our machine or an Internet based email collection list that would allow us to collect the following.

    Collect: [list] [*]member name [*]email address [*]street address [*]city [*]state [*]zip [*]country [*]allow site recommendations [*]automatically add this information to a mailing list [*]automatically delete non-existent members, triggered by bounced email[*]allow all members to opt in and out of the list at any time[*]allow us to send our monthly newsletter and winner list

    So is any of this possible for a price that won't break the bank? [img]/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

  2. #2
    Platinum Member
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    May 2004
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    NC
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    Kioti CK20HST

    Default Re: Software recommendations for collecting data.

    LOTS more information is needed to be really specific as to a nice solution to the problem.

    Throwing an idea based on the very limited info you have given so far... If you have your own web server under your own control... i.e. not a hosted solution, then MySQL Database software and PHP scripting, in conjunction with your current web server package could do everything you ask totally free. Both are open source and rather easily implemented.

    It will be more hairy if your site is hosted, you will be limited to options given to you by your hosting provider.

    If you honor your clientele's privacy and truley adopt an opt in policy for everything, then beware many collection services on the internet. You basically end up doing footwork for them finding addresses that they sell to spammers. You probably (most likely) won't even know if this done. In house work is the only way to be sure both your businesses integrity (and the privacy of your clientele) is preserved.

  3. #3
    Super Member
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    TC-40D SS New Holland

    Default Re: Software recommendations for collecting data.

    <font color="blue"> If you have your own web server under your own control... i.e. not a hosted solution, then MySQL Database software and PHP scripting, in conjunction with your current web server package could do everything you ask totally free. Both are open source and rather easily implemented.
    </font>

    While it is currently true that our site is hosted elsewhere, within the next month we will change to local servers/hosting services. At that time we will have access to the web server itself.

    Can you make further recommendations?

  4. #4
    Platinum Member
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    Kioti CK20HST

    Default Re: Software recommendations for collecting data.

    If you are moving to local web services, then check around with your local universities. You will be able to find people willing to help with the programming required for a VERY reasonable fee.

    MySQL Database software, can be integrated with nearly any web server package out there... Apache web server, and Microsoft IIS being two of the most popular. PHP does a great job as the "bridge" between the two and is the logic that pulls it all together. All software packages are available for free (MS IIS is not exactly free, but is included in the purchase price of Windows Server packages).

    In fact TBN is an Apache/MySQL/PHP site. It is very powerful and with relatively little programming effort can be automated to do exactly what you want.

  5. #5
    Gold Member
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    SE Pa (Chester County)
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    John Deere 4300, John Deere 3010 w/48 loader

    Default Re: Software recommendations for collecting data.

    Mike,


    Looks like a good plan.

    Just a couple things to think about.

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( member name )</font>

    Separate columns for first and last names will make it easier and faster to search and sort.


    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( automatically delete non-existent members, triggered by bounced email )</font>

    Rather than delete the data, you might want to use an active flag (a column which contains a single character that can be used to filter the mailing list) instead. You can use whatever characters you choose - perhaps A for an active account, B for deactivated due to bounced email, U for user opted out.

    When you generate the mailing list, simply filter out those addresses which do not have the desired active flag value.


    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( allow all members to opt in and out of the list at any time )</font>

    This will require authentication. If you do not currently require the users to log in, you will need to add the login requirement to allow the user to edit their profiles.


    You might also want to capture the date/time of the creation of the record and the date/time of the most recent activity. At some point, you'll probably want to purge accounts that have been inactive for a period of time, based on the deactivation date.

  6. #6
    Super Member
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    Default Re: Software recommendations for collecting data.

    Would majordomo be a reasonably good choice here?

  7. #7
    Gold Member
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    May 2004
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    277
    Location
    Detroit Suburb
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    Kubota 7610

    Default Re: Software recommendations for collecting data.

    I agree w/ getut on the php/mysql/apache scenario. You can find alot of free already done (except for look and feel) scripts that might fit your needs out of the box.

    What is nice about the combo above is that in recent years apache/mysql/php on windows has become quite a stable platform at least in the scale you are talking and install and config is quite user freindly. You no longer have to deal with linux/unix if you are not from that camp (Although linux/unix is my first choice).

    Hot scripts is a good place to look for php scripts/packages and is catagorized by type. Take a look and see what you find that might suite your needs and then look at what is involved in setting it up and make your descisions from there.

    Hotscripts

    I'm sure I've seen mailing list managers with web based, consumer opt in forms.

    Regards,
    Kevin

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