Expresso Tips & Tricks
If you’re not steeped in printing or technology, some Expresso terms may seem a bit mysterious. To ensure you’re taking advantage of everything Expresso has to offer, we will cover the key terms for creating and distributing a document such as a customer bill or letter.
At the end of the article, you’ll find a link to the Expresso Knowledge-base, with additional terms. Before you know it, you’ll be tossing off words like parser and mix-plexed like a document production insider.
At its core, Expresso is a tool for developing customer communications, ranging from statements and payment confirmations to marketing offers and HOA governance materials.
To create documents, Expresso users rely on key building blocks and layout options:
- Template—The pre-set format is used as a starting point for each document, so that the format does not have to be recreated each time. The template has preset attributes such as paper type, size, simplex or duplex, graphics or text.
- Zones—Sections in the template that are positioned and sized placeholders for content. They are similar to text boxes in MS Word. One zone might be established for containing the client name and address. Another might be for the salutation.
- Content—All of the information and text, merged with data and/or rules, that will make up the document. Content placement is restricted to existing zones in the template.
Drilling down further, what exactly is content? Content is made up of a lot of different information, which Expresso users create and store in their own content library. Content can be organized and saved in modular formats such as standard sentences, paragraphs or blocks of text that can be plugged into various zones. Content may also be an image.
Content blocks could include compliance language such as disclosures or preformatted text that requires information specific to the recipient to be inserted, such as account numbers, due dates, previous balance, minimum payment due, total payment due and so on. Content can be directed to multiple documents making future changes more streamlined.
Variables can be added to content using:
- Data input files—The secure data feed provided by the client, imported into Expresso. Each record in the data file is unique to each recipient of a communication.
- Rules—Programmed logic that controls the use of variable content. The rules might dictate, for example, how to calculate a payment due date or a marketing message for mortgage customers that’s different than one for maintenance fee customers.
- Custom Table: A collection of variables used in the document that are not provided in your data file. The tables link to a defined ‘Primary Key’ which is typically a field in the data file. Custom tables are editable in the Expresso dashboard. For example, the data may contain a resort code ‘123’ and the custom table can translate that information to the resort name, ‘Blue Moon Resort’.
Once you create a document, it is ready to be merged with your data file and mailed to customers. That’s the purpose of the mailing package.
For printed customer communications, the package is everything that’s mailed. If the communication is delivered electronically, the email or SMS/text message contains a link to the documents.
The package may include:
- Document—Core communication, such as billing statement.
- Lasered Inserts (PDF Upload)—Communications that are generic and non-personalized, uploaded into Expresso in a PDF format. The PDF upload is used when you want to include a notice or letter that is not addressed and does not contain any fields from the data file. An example is your annual privacy notification. It is printed in line with the document and preserved in archive.
- Envelope—Users select from a list of available envelopes for printed communications.
Once you’ve mastered these terms, you have the main elements and how they fit together for developing and distributing customer communications. You can find other commonly used Expressoisms in our Knowledge Base. At any time, though, please reach out to your Client Services Manager. We’re here to help!