With the release of Thank Me Later 3.0, there has been some confusion about the introduction of targeting. Numerous questions I have received hint at the assumption being held that the updated plugin behaves in the exactly the same way as the previous versions. This post will explain why that assumption isn’t necessarily true.
Not all users are immediately affected by the changes. In particular, if you have only one catch-all ‘thank you’ message, the plugin behaves in the way you expect (more-or-less). If, however, you have have multiple ‘thank you’ messages, then there is a fundamental difference in the way the plugin operates. You will need to consider the impact this has on your Thank Me Later configuration.
How Thank Me Later 2.1 Works
Firstly, I will recap how Thank Me Later 2.1 works. In this version, you can create multiple messages, say ‘Message A’ and ‘Message B’. With each message, you are able to specify tags and categories to which the messages are sent — these are known as restrictions.
When a commenter leaves a comment, a message is selected at random from those which match the restrictions. If both tag and category restrictions are specified, they must both match. This selected message is then sent to the commenter after the corresponding time delay.
Only one message is ever sent for each individual comment. There is a global setting which restricts the maximum number of messages that will ever be sent to a particular commenter.
How Thank Me Later 3.0 Works
Thank Me Later 3.0 introduces the idea of targeting, which is an improvement of the restrictions idea.
You are able to select a group of tags, categories and posts to target. A key difference is that matches are exclusive. This means that if you are targeting ‘tag-1′ and ‘category-1′, then any post which is tagged ‘tag-1′ or is in ‘category-1′ is considered a match. With the restrictions model, a post would need to be in both for a match.
In 3.0, all messages which match are sent to the commenter*. So, using the previous example, if ‘Message A’ and ‘Message B’ are untargeted, they will both be sent in response to a particular comment — the commenter will receive two emails thanking them for their comment.
Furthermore, the send limits have been moved from a global setting to a per-message setting. So, ‘Message A’ and ‘Message B’ each have their own send limit — A could have send limit of 1; B, a limit of 2. Then, for a first comment, A and B will be sent. For a second comment, only B will be sent. And for third and further comments, no more messages will be sent to the commenter.
Clearly, this is a fundamental change in behaviour and may have profound implications for some Thank Me Later users.
(* Provided that the send limit is still satisfied.)
What Do I Need To Change?
If you only have one message which isn’t targeted to particular tags, categories or posts, then the plugin will behave in the obvious way.
If you have multiple messages, you need to think about which messages you want to be sent to commenters . On the ‘Messages’ page, the ‘Targeting’ column tells you which posts are targeted by each message.
If you want only one message to be sent to each commenter, you need to make sure that the targeting options are mutually exclusive. That is, that each post is tied to one Thank Me Later message only. You should also delete any untargeted messages.
For example, on this blog, I have configured a Thank Me Later message targeting the ‘thank me later’ tag. When you leave a comment on any post related to the plugin, you will receive that particular ‘thank you’ message. I could also target the ‘mamene’ tag and create a tailored message for those posts.
Why Has This Change Been Made?
I believe that targeting makes the Thank Me Later plugin more powerful and easier to use.
There are many ways of using Thank Me Later. The default method is to have one message which is sent for all comments. This works great for blogs focused on one topic, but you should spend some time writing a decent message which adds some value. (I am quite surprised at the number of people who install Thank Me Later, but do not bother to change the message.)
My preferred method is to remove the default catch-all message. I recommend you create individual, targeted Thank Me Later messages for different categories on your blog — perhaps even for individual posts. This method means you can really deliver valuable, relevant content to your commenters’ inboxes.