Smart tags

In this article

What are smart tags?
Adding a smart tag
Adding conditions
Working with regular expressions

What are smart tags?

Tags are a function of the Active section of ChurchSuite's "people" modules - the Address Book, Children and Giving modules - and enable you to organise people into custom groupings around something they share in common. For example, if you need to group all the people who are 'members', or those who have opted in to be on your 'missions' subscriber mailing list. Tags are therefore ideal for targeted communications to just certain people groupings, but they're also powerful when used as filters in reports to narrow down the matching results to just those in a particular tag. Tags are an admin feature of your ChurchSuite modules only - tags are not surfaced in or visible within the member-facing My ChurchSuite platform. Tags can only be assigned to people in the Active section of a module - tags are unassigned when a person is archived or deleted from a module.

ChurchSuite has two types of tags: Fixed Tags and Smart Tags. Fixed Tags are a fixed list of people that remain unchanged over time unless the list is changed by a User. Smart Tags are a list of conditions with the tagged people reflecting a list of those who meet the tag's conditions. With Fixeda User manually adds or removes people from the Tag a User. With Smart Tags, the list of tagged people will constantly change and automatically update as people's data changes relative to the conditions of the smart tag.

People can be assigned to multiple Tags. For example, you could have Tags for the "Senior Leadership Team", everyone who has been "Baptised", "Students", or a Tag in your Giving module for people who have an active pledge. How you use Fixed and Smart Tags to create bespoke groupings of people is only limited by your imagination!

With Smart Tags, we've tried to reimagine the way organisations want to interrogate and ask questions of their data - to get the most up-to-date answers for just those who precisely meet the conditions of the tag. Smart Tags can also work across multiple modules, allowing you to build highly bespoke queries about people across multiple modules.

For example, you're organising a men's event and you need a list of all the fathers aged between 30 and 45, who are not currently a member of any small group, but who all live in a certain geographic postcode area. It's simple with Smart Tags...

Want to strengthen student integration by seeing a list of students who are either not yet in a small group or not serving? Again, this is simple with Smart Tags! And once a student does begin to serve on a team because they cease to satisfy the Tag conditions they'll no longer be returned in the Tag results.

When do smart tags update and how often?

Smart Tags are dynamically updated whenever the underlying data affecting any of the Tag conditions change (e.g. a new Key Date added, a change in marital status, someone joining a small group, etc.), and again every night (to cater for changes in age). Smart tags are refreshed when a specific Smart Tag is viewed, and if the Tag conditions are edited and the page is saved. A smart tag should never be more than 60 seconds out of date!

Avoid creating infinite loops

ChurchSuite includes recursion detection to ensure you'll never find yourself in an infinite loop with Smart Tags. If a Smart Tag references another Smart Tag which references the original Smart Tag we'll display an error and the Tag will be created with no people showing in the results.

Smart tag dependencies

Be careful when deleting tags, key dates, flows, groups, and ministries that may be dependent conditions in your Smart Tags. Deleting a dependent condition will break the Smart Tag and produce unexpected results with the remaining conditions. This is especially important when Smart Tags are used in module settings and integrations, perhaps to restrict the visibility of certain features.

Smart tag examples

We've provided several smart tag examples that you can select to install on your account, which may be a helpful starting place to help you visualise how conditions and batches work.

Adding a smart tag

Smart Tags functionality exists in the Address Book, Children and Giving modules. The principles of creating Smart Tag are identical in all three modules. In this article, we demonstrate within the Address Book.

Head into the Tags section of the module and click Add tag.

On the Add tag pop-up, choose Smart Tag and click Proceed.

On the Add tag page, give the tag a suitable Name and optionally add a Description to help your Users understand the purpose of the tag. Optionally assign a Colour, perhaps to help categorise and distinguish between your different types of Tags e.g. engagement tags. You can optionally restrict the visibility of tags to particular User Groups or to just yourself - by default, tags are Visible to all users - see our related support article for further information about Restricting visibility and access with User Groups.

You can now add the tag conditions, which we explain in further detail in the next sections.

Adding conditions

Conditions are the building blocks of Smart Tags - they determine the people matched and returned in the tag results. You can add multiple conditions to a tag, and for each condition, you'll select the condition's Module, Option and Value.

For example, for tags created in the Address Book - which always returns Address Book contacts in the results - you can add conditions for the Address Book, and also for several other modules where contacts are referenced...

...whereas tags created in the Children module - which always returns children in the results - you can add conditions for the Children module, and also for several other modules where children are referenced...

...but for tags created in the Giving module - which always returns givers in the results - you can only add conditions for the Giving module...

For the Address Book, Children and Giving modules, each condition Module has its own set of Options available. These Options are the various fields within that module that you can query. For example, conditions for the Address Book Module have options for fields like sex, age, and postcode; but you can also query things like people's Tags, Key Dates, Custom Fields, and their communication options and privacy settings.

The Option selected determines the Values that you can query. For example, for 'Sex', you can query values for Male, Female or Unknown; for 'Is Parent/Carer?' you can query values for Yes or No, and so on.

Top Tip!

When creating a Smart Tag, the Country condition requires a country code Value specified in ISO-3166 format. A list of countries and their corresponding ISO-3166 code can be found here.

When adding multiple conditions, notice the option to Match 'any' or 'all' of the following - enabling you to select whether the tag results are to match people who meet any one of the conditions (a wide results list) or all of the conditions (a much narrower, specific list). In this next example, the tag conditions match contacts who are married AND have an 'Attended Marriage Course' key date dated within the last 24 months - so the tag matches all of the conditions rather than any one of the conditions, which would likely be a longer list.

You can invert any condition to include people who do not match the specified condition. Change the green tick to a red cross. Smart tags can contain combinations of inclusive and inverted conditions. For example, the following conditions match all married Address Book contacts AND anyone that does NOT have an 'Attended marriage course' key date.

In the previous example, the tag matched based on two conditions together into a single batch. However, it's also possible to add multiple condition batches to a tag and set whether the tag should return results including people who match any of the batches or all of the batches, a much more specific group. Click Add condition batch to begin a new batch. For example, the following 'engagement' smart tag looks for those who are serving, giving or in a small group and returns a list of people who meet any two of those three things. The first condition batch matches those who are in an active ministry in the Rotas module AND in an active small group. The second condition batch matches those who are in an active ministry in the Rotas module AND have given in the last 6 months. The third condition batch matches the final combination - those who have given in the last 6 months AND are in an active small group. Notice how you can specify the relationship between the batches - AND or OR. In this example, we are matching based on those meeting the conditions of the first batch OR the second batch OR the third batch. Had we selected AND the resulting list of matching contacts would be a much more exclusive list i.e. those who match batch 1 AND batch 2 AND batch 3.

When working with condition batches, notice how you can re-order batches using the up and down arrows located in the top left corner of each batch, or you can delete a batch by clicking the X in the top right corner of a batch.

As always, remember to Save the tag before navigating away from the page. You can return to the tag "View" at any time - the page is divided into three tabs for People, Statistics and Conditions. From the tag "View" you can easily Communicate with the tagged members. The tag's Advanced Search enables you to further filter by other Tags and even Invert the results.

When working with groupings of people, like Tags, notice the Add options, to add the tagged people to a flow, group, key date or fixed tag.

Back in the Tags section of the module, you can Search and locate a particular tag within a long list of tags - as you type in the search the list automatically filters. And from the tags Actions you can select View, Duplicate, Edit or Delete a tag.

As you are hopefully beginning to appreciate, Smart Tags are incredibly powerful and flexible - enabling Users to drill down into the data in your ChurchSuite modules to identify highly specific lists of matching people, perhaps for targeted communications or report filtering.

Multi-site customers

For multi-site customers, a Site condition is available. Smart tags with site conditions are not visible unless the User has site permissions for all the sites referenced in the tag conditions and is viewing as All Sites or My Sites. For example, this tag has conditions to match Main Site and South Site people whose sex is male.

This tag cannot be used if the User is viewing as South Site only, because the tag will be unable to return Main Site people in the results. The tag will be hidden when the User is viewing tags for a single site. As long as the User has site permissions for Main Site and South Site, the tag will be visible to them when viewing as All Sites or My Sites.

Multi-site tags are distinguished by a Site icon in the Tags section of a module.

Working with regular expressions

Regular Expressions (RegEx) are a form of SQL syntax that many programmers and developers will already be familiar with. In its simplest form, using simple syntax expressions you can perform "wildcard" matches against the data in text fields in your data (including custom fields and postcode fields). We've provided four simple functions for text field Options - Is..., Contains..., Starts With..., and Ends With... For each of these functions, you can enter a string value (not in quotes) that the tag condition matches.

Is... will match where the text in the field is the same as the specified value, whereas the other three conditions match less specifically. For example, for a Postcode condition, 'Is...NG7' will match any contact whose postcode is exactly 'NG7', but will not match a person whose postcode is 'NG7 6JE'; but a condition 'Starts With...NG7' returns that person in the match.

For the more advanced Users, we've also provided a fifth function, Regular Expression. The Regular Expression syntax should be added as plain text and not enclosed in quotes.

For those unfamiliar with Regular Expressions, the ChurchSuite team is happy to offer guidance on the correct syntax required to match a particular search you are trying to achieve. Consider the following Regular Expression examples:

  • ^B[1-9]{1}[[:space:]] will match any postcode that starts with the letter B, followed by a single digit 0-9 and then the space character. For example, B1 1AA, B3 7BB and B9 9GG would all be matched, but B12 1BB would not.
  • ^B1[2-4]{1}[[:space:]] will match any postcode that starts with B1, followed by a single digit 2-4 and then the space character. For example, B12, B13 or B14.
  • ^B[0-9]{1,2} will match any postcode that starts with the letter B, followed by either 1 or 2 digits in the 0-9 range. For example, any postcode B1-B99.

Top Tip! Postcodes within a radius

A great use for Regular Expressions is when identifying contacts that match a full postcode within a certain radius of a central point on a map. This is achievable but requires a little more work to construct the Tag. Here's how...

Begin by using a tool like this one here, which enables you to define a central postcode point on a map and specify a radius around that point. The tool then builds a list of all matching full postcodes within that radius. Within the tool, copy and paste the comma-separated list of matching postcodes into a text editor like Microsoft Word. Using Word's "Find and Replace" feature, find and replace all commas with the "|" (pipe) character.

Next, back in ChurchSuite, click to add a new Smart Tag with a condition set as follows: -

  • Module: Address Book
  • Option: Postcode
  • Value: Regular Expression

In the Regular Expression text box type the word "In", followed by a space, and then copy and paste the pipe-separated list of postcodes from your text editor.

Save the Tag and voila! - a Smart Tag that matches all contacts in your database who live within the specified radius of your specified central point using exact postcode matching.

Further third-party tools can even help you create a list of all full postcodes within a parish boundary, which can then be used to construct a smart tag of those who reside within (or outside of) the parish.

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