Get Emails Out of Spam, and Into Inboxes

As an Email Center Pro user, you are asking ECP to send mail to others on your behalf. Did you know that your customers’ mail service may be sending your mail to a spam folder, if it cannot recognize where your email is coming from?

Luckily, there’s an easy way to check whether Email Center Pro is listed correctly on your SPF record, so your email goes to their inbox.

What’s an SPF record?
The Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is a method to prevent email address forgery. It basically tells anyone receiving email from you whether that email really came from your domain, or is a forgery. It’s a good thing to have.

Open your Email Center Pro account, and your default mailbox. Compose a new message to:

dkim-test@altn.com

You can make the subject line anything you wish, but something like “Testing SPF Record” may help you find the return message later. Add content or not, and click Send.

In a few minutes, you will get an auto-reply from altn.com with a whole bunch of interesting results about your SPF record. The one you need to look for is near the top, in the first group of Authentication Results.

Look for the line that starts spf=; anything other than pass after that equals sign means you don’t have Email Center Pro listed correctly as a valid sender of mail from your main domain (yourcompany.com). This might show up as softfail or hardfail.

spf=pass

If there is a problem, you’ll want to make sure your SPF record uses our most updated recommendation to get your email where it needs to go.

See an example

Sometimes, all you need to get started is a simple example. If you’re working in a business or marketing plan, we give you a quick and easy feature that shows you how another business plan writer handled the same topic you’re trying to address.

To see an example for the current topic, click the Examples tab in the Instructions and Examples window:

Examples

Click Next Example to see more.

Click Paste Into Topic to paste the current example into your topic as a starting point for your own text.

Behind the Scenes, a Lot of Activity

Have you noticed that your Email Center Pro account is running faster and more smoothly? Our developers have.

Alex and Evan

Meet Alex and Evan, two of the dedicated ECP programmers who used to get woken up at 2:00 in the morning with alerts that the servers were struggling to handle all of your mail. These days, they’re a lot more rested.

The most recent improvements to Email Center Pro are largely behind-the-scenes upgrades that help you serve your customers faster and more reliably.

More helpful Search results

One change you can actually see is in the Search function. We noticed that a lot of our users were using search for “names@domain”, rather than opening the Contacts tab to look specifically for people.

You’ll see that the Search box on the top right of your Email Center Pro screen now contains an arrow. Click the arrow next time you’re using the search, and use the drop-down menu to focus your search results on emails, contacts, templates, or tagged conversations.

Search

Selling subscriptions

Are you a magazine or newspaper publisher? A SaaS (software as a service) provider? A nonprofit asking people to pledge periodic donations?

Then you might want to consider forecasting your sales (or part of your sales) with a subscription, or churn-rate, model. This kind of sales forecast allows you to make projections that take into account ongoing revenue, new customers, and cancellations.

Both Business Plan Pro and Marketing Plan Pro have a special add-in sales forecast for handling subscription sales. To access this feature:

First, download it from our website

  1. Make sure you have a working Internet connection open
  2. Open your business or marketing plan in your Palo Alto software program
  3. On the Tools menu, click Add-ins
  4. (Note: your serial number should automatically load in the web page. If it doesn’t, you can find it by clicking About in the Help menu)
  5. Scroll down the list until you find Sales Forecast-Subscription (Churn Rate) Model
  6. Click Download Component
  7. If prompted to Find a program or Save the file, click Save. Then browse to a location where you want to save it, such as your Desktop.

Then, import it into your plan

  1. Return to your plan software
  2. On the File menu, click Import
  3. Choose Import an Add-In, and click Next
  4. Browse to the location where you saved the downloaded file
  5. Highlight the downloaded file name and click Open, then click Next
  6. Click Finish

The new subscription model sales forecast will open for you to see and work with. Instructions above the spreadsheet get you started. You can also click Search on the Help menu, and search for “subscription” to find more information.

Finally, link it to your tables
The Subscription forecast currently exists in your plan as a stand-alone table. It doesn’t replace your regular Sales Forecast table, and doesn’t feed into your plan’s financial data. To make your subscription forecast part of your financial plan, you can build a link in the main Sales Forecast table to the “Total Sales” row of the Subscription Model sales forecast.

Click here for detailed instructions on linking your Subscription Model to your main Sales Forecast.

Get help: Any row, any time

Our software offers two ways to get data into your tables – table Wizards, which walk you through the data entry and questions about expected sales, costs, expenses, and so on, and table Spreadsheets, where you can enter the data directly in a format similar to Microsoft Excel.

While the wizards are designed for users who aren’t used to doing their own financial projections, the spreadsheets still offer a great deal of help in understanding what kind of data belongs where.

Row Help
In addition to the general Instructions above each table, spreadsheets contain definitions for every row, which depend on your Table Settings. To see Row-by-row help in your Spreadsheet, simply click on a cell in the row you wish to learn more about, and read the definition which displays along the bottom of your program window.

Can’t See Row-by-Row Help?
If you do not see the Row definition window below your spreadsheet, make sure there is a checkmark next to Row by Row Help on the View menu.

Example
The top line of your Row-by Row help lists the row number and label, to make sure you are reading the right definition. In the example below, all three row names have been filled in; note how the new row labels appear as part of the row definitions (“University Students“).

Row by Row Help

Business Plan Pro tip: How Do I…?

I have a confession: I hate to read help files.

How could this be? I WRITE help files for a living!

Well, first, they often have so much information it takes forever to wade through it to find what I want, and I’m terribly impatient. Secondly, help authors seem to phrase everything in unexpected ways – if I want to know about ADDING, they talk about SUMS. Harrumph. I’d much rather turn around and ask the expert user sitting next to me a question, in plain English, that cuts right to what I want to do.

Did you know that we’ve tried to give you that quick, expert user answer on every screen of Business Plan Pro?

How Do I?At the top right of every screen, just below the buttons to close and minimize the program, is a little “How Do I?” button, offering shortcuts to the most common questions our users have. Go ahead and click it; I bet your question is in there.

And since planning involves different tasks, like writing text, projecting financials, printing your plan, etc., the How Do I? button will give you additional task-specific tips when you click it from within a topic, table, or chart.

So there you go. A little digital expert to consult for your quick questions, with quick, easy to follow, simple answers.

Of course, when you’re ready for more complex questions, like the difference between expenses and assets, or whether labor costs for production belong in your Sales Forecast or your Profit and Loss tables, we’ve got that covered in the full Help file.

With features like full-text searching, an Index, and lots of ‘Related Topics’ links, we hope using the Help is easier in our programs than in some software we’ve had to use. But, if you end up using only the built-in Instructions, Wizards, and the occasional How Do I? tip, we won’t blame you.

In fact, we designed it that way.

Business Plan Pro tip: Finding tables, topics, charts

View menuWant to quickly jump to a specific topic, table, or chart in your plan, but can’t remember where it is in the Outline or Tasks list? The software has quick shortcut for finding exactly what you want:

  1. On the View menu, point to Tables, Topics, or Charts (depending on what you’re looking for)
  2. An alphabetical list of all the tables, topics, or charts in your plan will display
  3. Click on the name of the item you wish to open

It’s that simple!

And you can see the same list by clicking the All Items area below the Outline, then using the drop-down box to filter the list by Tables, Topics, or Charts.

Marketing Plan Pro Tip: Changing colors

Custom Charts
You can easily customize the look of your marketing charts by changing the colors. Here’s how:

To change the colors in all your charts:

  • On the Tools menu, point to Options and click Charts.
  • Click on the Colors tab.
  • Click the pull-down arrow and scroll through the list to see different palette options.
  • Highlight the new color palette name and click OK.

To change the colors in a single chart:

  • On the Chart formatting toolbar, click Custom Format.
    • Use the Palette button to change the entire chart.
    • OR, right-click on the data series (line, bar, or area) you would like to change and select one of the options that appears.
  • For more detailed changes to background, gridline, or chart box colors, click the custom format Properties button, and change the settings on the General and Y Axis tabs.

Business Plan Pro tip: Import from accounting files

AccountingBusiness Plan Pro has an Import function that lets you pull major categories and useful information from your QuickBooks or Peachtree accounting files into your plan file. (Note: Business Plan Pro UK Edition imports from Sage Line 50, rather than Peachtree.)

Bringing Planning and Accounting together
Accounting software and Business Plan Pro have different, but related, purposes. Accounting must necessarily go very deep into detail. Planning requires a balance between detail and concept, because there are times when too much detail is not productive. The key to bringing them together is being able to show the same summary categories in your plan projections as you have in your bookkeeping. This gives you a powerful tool for planning and management.

The Import function:

  • Imports accounting categories for sales, cost of sales, and/or expenses.
  • Matches major categories only, to turn accounting data into future planning. Accounting information for subcategories is summarized in the major categories.
  • Can optionally apply growth rates to past amounts to provide estimations of future amounts for planning purposes. The approximate amounts are only slightly different from accounting totals.

(Premier Edition) Additionally, users with the Premier Edition can import data as you begin to plan, so your business plan row labels match your accounting categories. Then import actual accounting data again in a few months or a year to start using the built-in Plan vs. Actual analysis tools.

To get started, click Import on the File menu, and choose your accounting software.

Business Plan Pro tip: “Goodwill” as an accounting concept

GoodwillWhen a company purchases another company for more than the value of its assets – which is quite common – the difference is recorded as an asset named “Goodwill.”  This is not a general term for the value of a brand, for example, but a very specific accounting term.

For example, if one business buys another business for $1 million, then it needs to show the $1 million spent as an asset. If there are only $500 thousand in real assets, the accounting result should be $500,000 in real assets purchased and another $500,000 in “Goodwill.”

Goodwill is normally amortised over 5 to 40 years, depending on variables determined by the accountants.

In Business Plan Pro, you would include this goodwill value as part of your Long-term Assets. You can then record the amortization of goodwill as Depreciation. Remember to explain this asset in the Balance Sheet topic.

Customer Service

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customerservice@paloalto.com