Case Study: Managing subscriber mailing lists

About the author...

Paul, and his wife Fiona, used to lead a Vineyard church in Bournemouth, UK. Paul now heads up customer support and training at ChurchSuite. In this article, he explores how those not using third-party systems like MailChimp can use ChurchSuite's features to help manage their various subscriber mailing lists and send communications directly through ChurchSuite.


As an alternative to using the elaborate functionality of a purpose-built email campaign service like MailChimp (a MailChimp integration is included in ChurchSuite), simpler functionality can be achieved using the features of the ChurchSuite Address Book to organise and manage subscriber lists. In this case study, I outline an easy-to-deploy, easy-to-use method using a single Custom Field and Smart Tags. Let's see how...

Creating a subscriber list custom field

The first step is to create a custom field for the various subscriber/mailing list options you offer. Head into the Address Book module settings via the cogwheels icon in the top-right corner of the module. On the Module tab, scroll down to the Custom Fields section - click Add custom field.

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On the Add custom field pop-up, give the custom field a suitable Name. Set the field Type to Checkbox List and click the Add option button to add each of the subscriber list options you wish to offer. You can add further options in the future or archive (or delete) options no longer needed. The list of options can be ordered. The field should be set Not required as you'll want to give people the option to select no option if they prefer.

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Still working on the Add custom field pop-up, set the field Settings. In the example below, the custom field will be editable by contacts in the member-facing My ChurchSuite (but will not be visible to others). The field will also be editable if the custom field is surfaced in the Connect "My Details" form or Address Book "Embed" form (see the related support articles for further information on these two features).

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When finished, click to Save the new custom field.

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Now, when adding or editing Address Book contacts, the newly-added custom field will be editable to your Users.

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Similarly, members will be able to self-manage their subscriber/mailing list preferences when updating their details in the member-facing My ChurchSuite - opting in or out of the various options you provide.

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Building smart tags for each subscriber list option

Having created a custom field to store each person's subscriber/mailing list preference, the next step is to create a series of Smart Tags - one for each subscriber list option that you added. It's these Smart Tags that will be used when sending communications, ensuring your message is only sent to those who have selected (opted in) to a particular option. Here's how...

Head to the Tags section of the Address Book module and click Add tag. On the Add tag pop-up, choose Smart Tag and Proceed.

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Give the tag a suitable Name and optionally choose a colour, tag visibility and add a description. Next, add a single condition - like the example shown below - the Module will be 'Address Book', the Option will be the newly-added custom field and the Value will be one of the custom field checkbox list options.

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Important - you'll create a separate Smart Tag for each of your subscriber/mailing list options. You can use the Duplicate tag option to speed up the process of creating multiple tags. Importantly, each Smart Tag will typically have just one condition relating to each custom field option. As people opt in or out of the various subscriber/mailing list options, each Smart Tag remains up to date. You should end up with a list of subscriber/mailing list tags, like this example...

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You're now ready to send your first subscriber/mailing list communication! Read on for further details.

Communicating to opted-in subscribers

The Smart Tags created in the previous section are used to send targeted communications to just those who opted into a certain list. For example, from the "Weekly news" tag 'view' page you can select Send email to email just those tagged contacts who have opted in to receive that type of message.

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The functionality is the same in the Address Book module's Communication section. Switch from viewing Contacts to Tags (as shown below) and then choose the subscriber/mailing list Tag you wish to communicate to. Click Apply tags and proceed with composing your Email or SMS message.

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When composing messages, consider making use of the Communication override, selecting Do not respect Communication settings. Add an explanation of why the recipient is receiving the message, like the example below. Using the override will disregard the "Receive general emails" setting for each tagged recipient - relying instead on each recipient's subscriber/mailing list "opt-in" consent.

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Having composed your message, click Preview Email and then Send or Schedule the message.

How are you using ChurchSuite?

The suggestion outlined in this case study is just one method of managing subscriber/mailing list communications. We'd love to hear how you're using ChurchSuite to help you manage your various target audiences and communication strategy. If you send us details of your method we'll happily consider adding them to this case study so that others can benefit from your ideas too.

What next?

I hope the above subscriber/mailing list suggestion is helpful. If you have any questions, do get in touch with the support team at ChurchSuite, we'd be delighted to help. Email

All the best!

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