It’s a Date! New Formatting Options Have Arrived

Jocelyn Yale, Product Manager

Jocelyn Yale, Product Manager

Author Bio

A Bronto since 2011, with experience on both the Support and Professional Services teams and a background in Deliverability, Jocelyn is a subject matter expert in all things Bronto. She gets the credit (or the blame) for creating the Bronto Certified Specialist exam, and is still waiting for someone to get a perfect score!

Jocelyn joined Bronto's Product Management team as a Product Analyst in 2015, taking ownership of SMS and MMS offerings, as well as the database of feature requests and platform feedback. She’ll happily accept your requests via our Ideas forum. With her varied experience at Bronto, Jocelyn brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Product team and is excited about helping to shape the future of the Bronto platform.

You have a big event coming up. Perhaps it’s a birthday or an anniversary. Shortly before the big day, you receive what should be a fun email reminder that offers you a free item to celebrate: Be sure to claim your free treat by 08/12/16.

Wait. Does that mean August 12? August 16? December 8? While it may be fairly easy to decipher within the context of your message, anyone with global customers knows that there are many date formats out there. Readers are bound to interpret the message in different ways. The best solution? Instead of using numbers, spell it out: Be sure to claim your free treat by August 12. Now we’re all on the same page. So how does Bronto convert your data into such a personalized, easy-to-read format?

Until now, date displays in Bronto emails were rather restricted, unless you were willing to convert the date manually or work a bit of Excel magic first. As much as I’m always up for some exciting Excel wizardry, it was time for another solution. So we created a new tag that allows you to format a date however you’d like by using this format:

%%!formatdate.(format).(fieldname)%%

Here are a few examples of how to use this new tag based on a field named “birthday.” Just be sure you only use the field name and not a field tag or label.

What You See What They See
%%!formatdate.(MM-dd).(birthday)%% 08-12
%%!formatdate.(MMMM dd).(birthday)%% August 12
%%!formatdate.(EE, MMM d).(birthday)%% Fri, Aug 12
%%!formatdate.(EEEE).(birthday)%% Friday
%%!formatdate.(YYYY/MM/dd).(birthday)%% 2016/08/12

But this new feature not only formats month, day and year. You can also use it to calculate content based on time zone, hour, week of the year and much more. For a list of all available formatting abbreviations, visit Bronto Help.

As you can see above, the way your data displays depends on the number of times you include each abbreviation, and for some options, whether you use capital or lower-case letters.

Here are the options for month (M), day of the month (d), day of the week (E) and year (Y) – all of which follow similar rules.

What You See What They See
M 8
MM 08
MMM Aug
MMMM August
d 1
dd 01
E Fri
EEEE Friday
YY 16
YYYY 2016

With these formatting options, you can have a much more relaxed conversation with your recipient. For example:

Friday is your birthday!
August is our favorite month. Here’s a special coupon for your birthday on Friday.
August 12 is almost here! Show this email at checkout on your birthday for a free gift!

You can even use these formatting options in the subject line! Imagine: Jane, Have a Happy Birthday this Friday!

Important note: You must send a test delivery to see the formatting changes. They will not display in any Preview window.

Pretty awesome, right? Well, in the words of Steve Jobs, “There’s one more thing …” We taught Bronto how to do math! Or at least how to add and subtract from dates. We’re still working on long division. Bronto math follows the same formatting as above, with one additional variable:

%%!formatdate.(format).(fieldname).(math)%%

Here are the same examples as above based on a birthday of August 12, 2016, but this time with some extra time added:

What You See What They See
%%!formatdate.(MM-dd).(birthday).(+10D)%% 08-22
%%!formatdate.(MMMM dd).(birthday).(-1W)%% August 5
%%!formatdate.(EE, MMM d).(birthday).(+3M)%% Sat, Nov 12
%%!formatdate.(EEEE).(birthday).(+3D)%% Monday
%%!formatdate.(YYYY/MM/dd).(birthday).(+2Y)%% 2018/08/12

Sending a welcome message with a coupon? Tell your recipient exactly what date the coupon expires. Or consider creating an order confirmation email with a built-in reorder date.

This special offer expires in 10 days on August 22.
Your payment has been received. Your next payment is due in 30 days on Sept 11.
You have one week to use this offer code. Be sure to shop online before next Thursday!

Now go forth and format! If you need help with a specific combination, don’t hesitate to comment here or reach out to our support team.

  • fsuinnc

    Can you use current date (send date) in the date formatting? what label is used? for example, an automated email that goes out each day might have an expiration date three days in the future.
    %%!formatdate.(EE, MMMM d).(*Label).(+3D)%%

    • Great question! If you leave the (fieldname) variable empty, the system will automatically default to the date of the delivery. In the example you provided, I would recommend using the following:
      %%!formatdate.(EE, MMMM d).().(+3D)%%

      There are some additional examples provided in the Help Documentation, but I’m happy to assist if you have any other questions.

      Thank you!
      – Jocelyn Yale

  • David Cox

    Used this for an email of mine -worked perfectly!

    I do have a side question though I am hoping you can answer… In terms of the Dataloader in Bronto… would love for there to be an additional help document that lists out examples of wildcard delimiters for Filename Matching Patterns. I am only posting this question because it is about date formatting (but for a different use).

    Ex:

    filename_2017_06_07.csv
    filename_2017_06_08.csv
    filename_2017_06_09.csv

    On my FTP i have the 3 above files that I want to be consumed individually once a day for that respective file. From my understanding, you have to write a wildcard rule to do this. Unfortunately on live chat today with a Bronto rep, they said they didn’t have any.

    Any documentation or advice would be extremely helpful.

    • Hi David!

      Glad you’re making use of the date formatting! We were excited to roll this one out. 🙂

      The wildcard for file-formats in Data Loader is an asterisk. When you’re in the Data Loader app, hover over the question mark next to “Filename Matching Pattern.” The pop-up window outlines the three matching options. For convenience, I’ve included the information below.

      This should get you what you need, but let me know if I can be of further assistance!
      – Jocelyn

      > Starts With: contact will match contact_export.csv, contact_import.csv, and contact_text.txt
      > Ends With: .csv will match contact_export.csv, new_contacts.csv, and contact_import.csv
      > Custom Glob: contact*.csv will match contact_export.csv and contact_import.csv