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My name is Matt, and I'm the product owner who worked on this exports project. I want to jump in to explain why we broke this Excel Workbook format up into multiple csv files. But first, I want to say I'm really sorry to hear this is causing problems. We had hoped this update would be an improvement for everyone across the board. I approached this project with one main problem to solve: Our exports were very, very slow, and if you were exporting a list of any size (say, over 15,000 contacts) it could take hours to complete. (One client was experiencing exports taking up to 24 hours to complete.) In some cases, the export wouldn't work at all.
This was our most reported bug in our application. Larger accounts couldn't export their data at all, at least not without the help of someone here at Emma. There are two main chunks of work done when exporting data like this. First, the data is gathered from our system. Second, that data is transformed into a presentable format for the user. As we analyzed this work, we found that while we could make our gathering of the data a bit faster, more than 80% of our speed problem lived in that second part, transforming and presenting the data as an Excel workbook.
We researched some options to see if we could make this faster, yet creating an Excel workbook with multiple sheets is a costly process when you have a lot of data in play. That's when we made the decision to switch from an Excel export to a csv format. We knew that csv files would not allow a tabbed spreadsheet, but they do allow for lots of speed. It also meant that users could pick and choose the data they wanted instead of having to download the entire detailed export (a request we received pretty regularly). In this way, we could give you the same data to choose from with options for what to receive, while speeding up the process immensely. After this change, that export that took over 24 hours can be run in just over four minutes. That came at the expense of eliminating the Excel workbook approach.
I'd love to know more about what you're doing with this exported data to understand where you're hitting a roadblock now. If we can understand the need you're trying to meet, maybe we can figure out a way to get there by a different path, whether that means tweaking this exporting code or perhaps introducing some other feature to meet that need in a different way. We do have some additional export improvements on the roadmap for the near future, and of course, we always want to hear what would be most valuable to our users. Thanks in advance for sharing your workflow!
Thanks so much for all of the feedback here, and again, I'm sorry to hear that this new exporting method is creating some headaches for you. However, going back to the old method really isn't an option in this case. The previous exporting code had many, many bugs that were fixed with this change, and it also required a lot of system resources to do any export, often causing the Emma application to slow down for all of our customers, even for small exports.
I am continuing to research possible ways to ease the problems you're having, and I'll update here with any new details or plans as that develops. For now, I also wanted to share a few other features that are under consideration that I hope will help here. None of these features involve an Excel spreadsheet, but they are all designed to make accessing and manipulating your data easier.
- Export mailing response overview as a PDF file - In many cases, we've found that folks are exporting their response results in order to create a more visual report about their mailings. We want to provide that visual reporting for you so that you don't have to recreate it elsewhere.
- Multi-user support - In many of the cases above, it sounds like you're exporting data so that someone else can have the data for various purposes. We'll be rethinking how multiple users collaborate within an account soon so that those folks can access that data directly themselves with their own login.
- Buttons to export data on each response tab - This is a small update, but will allow you to export the data you need directly from the page where it lives.
If there are other features or additions we could make to help this process outside of bringing back an Excel workbook, I would be eager to hear them. I'll certainly continue researching that option, but so far, the findings haven't been encouraging.
Also, if your use case here is that you are exporting this data in order to manually enter it into your CRM, I'd be very interested to know what CRM you're using. I am also the product owner for all of our integrations, and it's possible that we could address this problem in an easier way than importing and exporting data.
Thank you again for your feedback on this, and I truly hope we can find some solutions that make your workflows easier while also allowing Emma to work at peak performance for all of our customers.
Hello again everyone,
Thank you for your continued feedback here, and again, I am very sorry to hear that this change has caused so many problems for you. As I stated above in my last large post, going back to the previous method is not an option for a lot of different reasons, but I am hopeful that there are ways to solve the problems you're facing in a different and better way.
When I read through these responses, what I hear is that many of you have traditionally been exporting your full response data so that you can manipulate the data in additional ways which you then provide to other members of your team.
This is the problem I really want to solve.
You shouldn't have to export a giant spreadsheet and manipulate pages of data in order to have something presentable to your colleagues. You shouldn't have to export every mailing individually (or at best, five at a time) so that you can compile those results in one place for comparison. You shouldn't have to re-enter data from Emma into another system in order to keep things up to date.
Here's what you should be able to do:
- Access useful data easily and quickly inside of Emma
- Report on that data in a useable format
- Share those reports with your colleagues and management in a readable and understandable format
- Pick and choose what data you want to report on, even beyond the standard response data we show now
- Connect this data back to your CRM or other internal systems that need this data
We already have plans in motion to address much of this. We want to provide data to you that's valuable and easy to manipulate. In reading the responses above, I see a lot of hours spent copying and pasting, formatting, re-arranging and contextualizing data. I would rather save you all of those hours and have Emma do this work for you. Here are some of the ways we're planning to address these issues:
- Improve our comparative exporting - We want to allow you to compare as many mailings as you like, with an easy way to search and sort for those mailings you need. We also want the export itself to actually be comparative so that you can see trends and changes.
- Better types of reports, phase 1 - Right now, you can get information about one mailing at a time. We'd like to provide the ability to see things like open rates over time, click rates over time, etc. We'd like to provide this in an exportable format that gives you the data itself, or a slick looking graph or chart that's easily understood by your entire team.
- Better types of reports, phase 2 - We're currently beefing up our database capabilities behind the scenes, and the end result of that work will allow us to provide even more interesting reporting options. How about comparing two different groups or segments to see how their open rates compare over the last six months? Or maybe you want to compare the engagement of two different demographic groups? How about comparing open rates from different locations? These are the sort of more in-depth reporting options we are aiming to provide in 2016.
- Expanded integrations - We're continually working to improve the integrations we already have with other companies, and we'll continue to add to that list as well. Integrating into your CRM is a great way to cut down on the manual labor of updating numbers in multiple places.
I am still very interested to hear from you to understand your workflow and what you're doing with your Emma data. Your input here will definitely inform our future work as we continue to try and improve the Emma product.
If you're willing to schedule a call to talk through your workflow in more detail, please comment below and I will reach out directly. Even better, if you're close to Nashville, I'd love to come to your office and see what you're doing firsthand. The better we can understand the needs of all of our customers, the better we can serve those needs.
Thanks again for all of your input here so far.