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How to install MLM on your server

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MLM stands for Mailing List Manager. To make things simple let's say it is the online part of MaxBulk Mailer. Indeed it does all what MaxBulk Mailer can't do by itself. MaxBulk Mailer is a desktop application you run when you need it and quit once you are finished. MLM however is a script running on your web site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. MaxBulk Mailer takes advantage of MLM to perform tasks and to offer services that require full time availability. Imagine you were to maintain your computer with MaxBulk Mailer running indefinitely at home or at the office. This is simply inconceivable, hopefully you don't have to do that since MLM run on a web server and web servers are always running!

MLM installation is optional, yet it adds two important services to MaxBulk Mailer. On one hand it offers the possibility to maintain lists on your web site allowing your visitors to subscribe or unsubscribe from any of them. On the other hand it adds the possibility to find out what happens to a message once it leaves your computer, if it has been opened by a recipient or if a recipient has clicked on a link.

MLM fully integrates with MaxBulk Mailer. Once you have installed MLM on your server and set your subscribe page, everything else is handled transparently. Actually if you did not have to install MLM to your server you would never have heard about it.

MLM installation and operation are supposed to be easy and actually they are 99% of the time. Indeed we have worked really hard to create MLM and the MaxBulk Mailer built-in FTP installer making them as easy-to-use and trouble-free as possible. However there are times the installation will fail or MLM will not work as expected. That's because given server settings may be incompatible with MLM or with given MLM features. In those specific cases you will likely have to contact your server support to get help. Most of the time server administrators limit given features arguing security concerns. Anyway, if you belong to that unlucky 1% group of user with MLM troubles, don't give up, MLM represents a great improvement for MaxBulk Mailer so it is well worth the effort.

There are two ways to install MLM on your server, using the MaxBulk Mailer > Install MLM menu or manually by using you favorite FTP software. This tutorial explains how to install MLM on your server using the MaxBulk Mailer built-in installer (and at the bottom, how to install MLM manually).  It is made of 5 steps:

 

Step #1 - MLM Settings

This step is all about MLM settings. There are 4 groups of settings numbered 1 to 4. Note that the data used in the screenshot above is just an example. You have to use your own.

1.- Your MLM User ID and Password: Choose whatever you prefer here! This data is to protect the MLM access. MaxBulk Mailer will need this data to access MLM. You will need this data if you decide to access MLM directly with your Web Browser.

2.- Default Language: This is the language that will be used by default by MLM to display responses, errors and so on. It will be the language used for sending emails to the recipient as well.

3.- Your data: It will be displayed on all MLM pages and added to all MLM email messages. In addition administration messages and errors will be sent to 'E-mail Address'.

4.- Data storage: First select how you want data to be stored, mySQL or Plain Text. If you select 'Plain Text' then you are finished with this step, just click on the 'Next' button. If you select 'mySQL' you will have to type all your mySQL server data below, that is, the server host address which can be 'localhost', an IP address like '186.412.88.10' or a server address like 'mysql.mydomain.com', your account ID, your password and the Database you want to use to store your data. Note that you have to use a full access mySQL account, the one that allows you to create tables! If you don't have any database created just select a name, MLM will create it for you. Using mySQL is highly recommended!

Once you are finished click on the Next button.

 

Step #2 - FTP Server Settings

MLM has to be installed on your web server. The common way to transfer files to a web server is using the FTP protocol, the same protocol used by your favorite FTP client software such as FTP Disk, Transmit, Fetch or Core FTP.

1.- Server address, User ID and Password: You have to provide your FTP server address, your user ID and your password. Most of the time your FTP server will be in the form 'ftp.mywebsite.xxx'. This is the same address, the same user ID and the same password you are using with the FTP software you are using to upload your HTML pages to your site!

2.- FTP path and Web URL: On many servers your public HTML files must be placed into a special folder. It can be labeled 'public', 'html', 'public_html', 'web', 'www', 'httpdocs' or whatever. Perhaps there is no such folder and your public files are located at your account root level. You should know that actually since you already uploaded files to your server, right? Just check and type the public folder here if any. The Web URL is the web address of the site corresponding to your FTP account. Both the Path and the Web URL are used to generate and add the MLM URL to the MaxBulk Mailer preferences. Nothing else actually! If you make an error, that URL will be wrong. You can edit it anytime from the MaxBulk Mailer preferences, second panel. More information on this in step #5.

3.- FTP connection settings: Those settings are here just in case you need to use a different port, a secure protocol or active mode instead of passive. Default settings should be fine though.

Once you are finished click on the Next button. If all the data is correct you will get connected to your FTP server.

 

Step #3 - Destination folder

As soon as you are connected select the folder where you want MLM to get installed.

1.- Destination folder: You can see where MLM is about to be installed. By default it will be in a folder labeled 'lm', inside the folder you select if any. In this example we have created a folder named 'scripts'. You can of course install MLM directly in your root folder.

2.- Folder contents: As with any FTP tool, you will see the list of files on the selected folder. In this case it is empty since we just created the script folder and moved to it.

3.- Browsing buttons: You can use those buttons to go back and forward through your server folders.

You can also use the Open button to open a folder (same as double-clicking) and the New Folder to create a new folder in the current directory.

Once you are finished click on the Select button to select the destination folder and to start the installation.

 

Step #4 - MLM Installation

During the installation you will see the detailed progress and the FTP log below. All the MLM files will be uploaded to your server, then the 'lm' folder permissions will be set to 777. If everything goes well you will end with a blue 'Installation complete' message and a grey checkmark on each line. If something goes wrong you will get a red error message and a red cross on the line that has produced the error. You can try to install again clicking on the Back button. If the error persists you will have to install MLM manually as explained at the end of this tutorial.

Once you are finished click on the Close button.

Note that the MaxBulk Mailer built-in installer try to set the 'lm' folder privileges/permissions to 777, if it fails it will then try 775, 755 and 705. 777 use to work with most servers but not all. If you try to log into MLM with your browser using the lm.php URL (ex http://www.yourdomain.com/pathtomlm/lm.php) and you get an 'Internal server Error', that means your server doesn't like the current permissions. If the installer failed to set the permissions, just CHMOD the 'lm' folder to 777 manually and try again. If it fails CHMOD the 'lm' folder to 775. If it still fails CHMOD the 'lm' folder to 755. If it still fails then CHMOD the 'lm' folder to 705. It should then work. You can CHMOD a folder with your FTP software. For example with FTP Disk connect to your server, select the 'lm' folder and either click on the 'Get Info' menu or use the Cmd-I on Mac OS or Ctrl-I on Windows. You will get a window with the file permissions at the bottom. Write the new number next to 'Unix:' and click on 'Apply'. That's all!

 

Step #5 - Checking the MLM URL in MaxBulk Mailer preferences

Now go to the MaxBulk Mailer preferences, second panel 'General'. Make sure the MLM URL is correct, you can check with your browser by clicking on the 'Tool' button next to the MLM URL and select  'Web Interface' (or copy and paste or drag and drop the URL to your favorite browser). You should get the MLM Login screen. Make sure you check the 'Click-Through tracking' option if you plan to do tracking.

You can also check whether MLM has been installed and is operating correctly either by running the diagnostics (Tool button > Diagnose) or by logging into it with the ID and password you entered at the beginning of the installation. Go to 'Lists', try to create a test list and try to add a recipient to that list. If you get an error, check the '../lm/lm_settings.php' file on your server. It is the file the installer has created with all the settings you have provided. For example you can use FTP Disk to connect to your server, open the 'lm' folder, select 'lm_settings.php' and click on the 'Edit' button. That will open the file. You can edit it and save the changes like with a regular text editor, the only difference is that the changes will be saved directly to the file on the remote server.

Another way to check if MLM was installed properly is to run a diagnostic manually on your browser. Use following command:

lm.php?cmd=diagnose&pwd=YOUR_MLM_PASSWORD

 

The Statistics - Message opening and click-through tracking

By clicking on the MaxBulk Mailer 'Statistics' toolbar button or by selecting the Delivery > Statistics menu you will access the message opening and click-through tracking window. On the left side, your deliveries, delivery number and message subject, grouped by similar consecutive subjects. On the right side, the statistic entries and the summary at the bottom. Note that you have to check one or more deliveries in order to see the corresponding statistics, selecting a delivery does nothing. The list displays all recipient actions, by default, opening and clicks. Use the actions pull-down menu to display more specific info (only opened messages, only the click on links, the unsubscribes or the bounces).

An opening action is when the recipient opens your message in its email reader application. A click action is when the recipient clicks on a link in that message. A recipient may open your message more than once by scrolling up and down thru its message list. He can also click more than once on the same link. Duplicate actions are grouped. The unsubscribe action is when a recipient have clicked on your message Unsubscribe link and its address has been removed or unsubscribed from your list. Bounces are delivery errors, they are added to MLM by using eMail Bounce Handler.

This window updates itself automatically every 60 seconds. That can be changed to whatever you like by clicking on the Preference toolbar button. The 'Update Now' button forces that refresh. The 'Refresh' toolbar button reloads the Delivery list. The information can be exported to a file by using the toolbar Export button.

 

Remote Lists

By selecting the 'Remote Lists' from the list pull-down menu you can access all your MLM remote lists. Remote lists can be created by directly uploading them to MLM thru the Recipients > Upload to MLM menu or using a subscription page on your web site. The lm/html folder includes a few sample pages for subscribing customers to your lists (to a fixed single list, a single list from a selection or multiple lists at once) and a sample page for uploading lists to MLM (despite you can already do that from MaxBulk Mailer ).

The lm/html folder contents:

subscribe_auto_multiple.php is a sample subscription page with a form that automatically displays all your MLM lists with check boxes (Example)

subscribe_auto_single.php is a sample subscription page with a form that automatically displays a pull-down menu containing all your MLM lists (Example)

subscribe_multiple.php is a sample subscription page where you can manually set what lists to display with check boxes - HTML modifications required!  (Example)

subscribe_single_fixed.php is a sample subscription page where you can manually subscribe to one unique implicit list - HTML modifications required!  (Example)

subscribe_single_selection.php is a sample subscription page where you can manually set what lists to display in a pull-down menu- HTML modifications required (Example)

upload_list.php is a page you can use to upload lists to MLM  (Example)

Note that there is no sample page for the unsubscribe action. Actually there is no need for it, just add the [Unsubscribe] tag to your message and MaxBulk Mailer will create the proper link for you. The substitution text for that tag can be edited from the MaxBulk Mailer preferences, Tags panel, at the bottom. By default it is 'here' so if you add this to you message: "If you don't want to receive messages from us just click [Unsubscribe]." it will be converted to: "If you don't want to receive messages from us just click here.", "here" being a link to the MLM unsubscribe script. You can use the sentence you like with the substitution word or sentence you prefer. The link will always allow the recipient to unsubscribe from your list. The MLM unsubscribe behavior can be modified by editing the lm_prefs.php file, you can tell MLM to keep unsubscribe addresses in the list, ask for a confirmation or send (or not) a confirmation email.

 

The MLM web interface

As shown above you can access your remote lists and delivery statistics by using the built-in MLM Web Interface, from your Desktop Computer, your Notebook, your iPad and even your iPhone. The interface will resize automatically. This interface allows you to access your delivery statistics and to create and modify your lists. To access this interface just use the lm.php URL on the device web browser. That will show a login screen, enter your MLM user ID and password.

 

Installation Errors - How to install MLM manually

When you get errors during the installation the best will be to install the software manually. You can do that with a FTP software like FTP Disk, Transmit, Fetch, CoreFTP... First download the very last MLM release here: http://www.maxprog.com/goodies/mlm_pro_php.zip. This how you have to proceed:

1.- Open the lm/lm_settings.php file with a text editor (Notepad on Windows or free TextWrangler on Mac OS).

2.- Edit the script settings and save (each setting is explained in the file). [1]

3.- Upload the 'lm' folder to your FTP server (in your public folder). [2]

4.- Use your FTP software to CHMOD the 'lm' folder to 777 (775, 755 or 705). [3]

5.- Enter the 'lm.php' full URL and your user ID and password to MaxBulk preferences.

6.- If you have selected to use mySQL run the script with the 'Init' command:

     http://<script_path_here>/lm.php?cmd=init&pwd=password

[1] The lm/lm_settings.php contains all the parameters you can change to customize the script to match your needs. When doing a manual installation it is important to open that file with a plain text editor like Notepad on Windows or TextWrangler on Mac OS.

[2] Never upload MLM to your home root folder if you have a specific folder for public html documents like 'public', 'html', 'public_html', 'web', 'www', 'httpdocs'. Just open the folder or any subfolder first!

[3] You can CHMOD a folder with your FTP software. For example with FTP Disk just connect to your server, select the 'lm' folder and either click on the 'Get Info' menu or use the Cmd-I on Mac OS or Ctrl-I on Windows. You will get a window with the file permissions at the bottom. Write the new number next to 'Unix:' and click on 'Apply'. Note that the 777 permissions work with most servers but it's possible your server doesn't allow them showing a FTP error as soon as you try to change them or an HTTP 'Internal Server Error' when you try to run MLM with your browser. In such case try 775, 755 or 705.

You can check whether MLM has been installed and is operating correctly either by running the diagnostics from the MaxBulk Mailer preferences second panel (Tool button > Diagnose) or by logging into it with your browser using your MLM ID and password (Tool button > Web Interface). Go to 'Lists', try to create a test list and try to add a recipient to that list. If you get an error, check the '../lm/lm_settings.php' file on your server. To log into MLM manually with your browser just use the full lm.php URL. Another way to check if MLM was installed properly is to run a diagnostic manually on your browser. Use following command:

lm.php?cmd=diagnose&pwd=YOUR_MLM_PASSWORD

If you get mySQL connection errors it is very likely because your mySQL settings stored in the lm/lm_settings.php file are wrong, especially the server address. Try 'localhost' or the server IP address.

 

MLM seems to be installed properly but you don't get any stats?

To register statistics with MaxBulk Mailer and MLM you need to:

- Enter the right MLM URL in the MaxBulk Mailer preferences

  (starting with http:// and ending with lm.php).

- Enter the right MLM credentials in the MaxBulk Mailer preferences

  (MLM User ID and Password).

- Activate Click-through tracking in the MaxBulk Mailer Preferences.

- Activate the Singly option in the MaxBulk Mailer Settings panel.

  (What is the 'Singly' option for?)

- Send your message as Styled Text or HTML

  (no opening tracking for Plain Text emails, only click-through)

The MaxBulk Mailer MLM built-in installer is suposed to enter the right MLM URL, the right credentials and the right settings for you based on your inputs however if you make a mistake when filling the installation window you will get that same mistake in the MaxBulk Mailer preference panel. As a result, if you have problems check the MLM URL in the MaxBulk Mailer preferences (second panel from the left). The URL has to be the full URL of the MLM main file starting with http:// and ending with lm.php. Look at the MaxBulk Mailer Settings panel, is the Singly option checked? It should! Look at the MaxBulk Mailer message panel, is the format set properly? If you select Plain Text you will not get opening stats, that format is the only one that is limited to click-through tracking only. Is the message arriving to the Inbox, not the spam box? Messages flagged as spam/junk will only generate click-though stats, no opening stats.

On the MaxBulk Mailer Statistics window make sure you check the right Delivery on the left side list. Indeed MaxBulk Mailer will only show the statistics of the checked deliveries. You can check as many as you want. Selecting/highlighting a delivery is useless, you have check it!

Any question?



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