Groups are ways to divide subscribers. Some important things to remember:
Groups don't cause any changes to the subscribers.txt file -- that is, when placing subscribers in groups. New subscribers will be added to the group you specify as well as the subscribers.txt file. The same subscriber can be in as many different groups as you wish. Because of the above item, you CANNOT send a message to an entire group. Instead, you must select an individual sub-group. After all, one person could be in a couple of sub-groups under one group, and they would receive the email more than once.
When I say "group" I'm refering to a group NAME. The actual lists of subscribers in a group are actually in a sub-group. Huh, you say? Let me explain.
Let's say that I have a rather large mailing list. I want to divide my current subscribers into groups based on what country they said they were from. This way, I can send different messages to people in different countries. So, I log in and go to "Edit Groups." I create a group called "country." This creates the directory http://ser.ver/subscriber/my_list/groups/country/ and also creates "general.txt" under that new directory. From here I have two choices. I can either have the script just automatically divide people in sub-groups (under the group "country") based on what they input (this is the second form on that page). Or, I can choose to search for certain terms and put people in the sub-group "general" (or whichever I may choose). Let's step through each option:
The first choice -- having the script divide the subscribers itself -- is quick and easy, but possibly messy (more on that later). I want to divide all of the subscribers based on what their individual "country" field says. So, I select "country" for the field and also "country" as the group (which I created earlier) to divide under. Let's say I have 8 subscribers (didn't I just say it was large?). Two are listed from "United Kingdom," two from "United States", one from "England," and three didn't supply any info for that field. So now, under the list's directory, four files have been created:
country----United Kingdom country----United States country----England country----not_given
In each of these files, the COMPLETE line for each subscriber (that is -- all of their information) is copied into the corresponding file (depending on what their country was). Note that the three with a blank field are put into a sub-group call "not_given." I also now have four sub-groups under the group "country." Sub-groups are what you actually send messages to. Also, the "country" in the filename refers to the information field, NOT to the group name. This tells the script that these are divided by that field. You could also choose to have them divided by a slot you use such as "state." So then, the filenames would be state----Florida, state----Colorado, state----West Virginia, etc... All of this would still be under the "country" group if that's what you chose. Another important note: case does NOT matter. Both UK and uk will be in the same sub-group.
This method of dividing based on fields is perfectly fine, but, as I said, can get messy. The above example shows what I'm talking about. There are two subscribers in the "United Kingdom" sub-group, and there is one under "England." However, shouldn't there be three in the same sub-group? After all, they ARE in the same country, and that's what you were trying to divide them by. So, you see where differences can cause headaches. You can avoid this (and still use the division method as opposed to search) by forcing information to be the same. How? Well, for the "country" field on the subscriber form, use a pull-down menu with a list of countries instead of just giving them a blank text input field (which opens the doors for variations in country name and speelign mitskaes).
Now comes time for the all-powerful SEARCH option. This is the way that I'm sure most people will add people to groups. In the above example, people from the same country were placed in two seperate country groups. With the search option, this can be avoided. How? In the country search field, just enter "United Kingdom
Using the search feature you can also combine multiple information fields that are similar. Let's say you have a TON of subscribers from England. You want to not only divide by country, but also a specific name. So you enter country as "UK" (or whatever) and name as "^Bob" and you submit the search. Then, under sub-group you enter "British_Bobs." Now you will have a sub-group called "British_Bobs" with a file named "British_Bobs." This file will contain all of the subscribers that have their country listed as "UK" and their name field starts (hence the ^) with "Bob."
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