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.

Introduction

As an alternative to using the elaborate functionality of a purpose-built email campaign service like MailChimp (a MailChimp integration is included in ChurchSuite), those wishing for simpler functionality can easily use the features of their 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 custom field for your various subscriber lists

The first step is to create a custom field for the various subscriber/mailing lists options you offer.

Head into the Address Book module settings via the cogwheels icon in the top-right corner of the module. You'll need at least "Manage" permissions to make changes. On the Module Options tab...

...scroll down to the Custom Fields section - click Add custom field.

On the Add custom field pop-up give the custom field a suitable Name. Set the field Type to Checkbox List, which is a multi-select type that enables people to select multiple options from the list - click Add option to add each of the subscriber list options you wish to offer. You'll be able to add further options in the future, or archive (or delete) options no longer being used. The list of options you add can be re-ordered - simply drag the up/down icon to the left of each option and re-position in the preferred order. The field needs to be set Not required as you'll want to give people the option to select no options, if they prefer.

Still working on the Add custom field pop-up, set the field Settings. In the example below, the custom field will be editable by your members 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).

When finished, click to Save the new custom field.

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

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

Building smart tags for each of your subscriber list options

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

Head to the Tags section of the Address Book module and click Add tag. Give the tag a suitable Name and set the tag's Type as Smart Tag. Next, add a single tag condition - like the example shown below - the Module will be 'Address Book', the Option will be your newly-added custom field, and the Value will be one of the custom field checkbox list options.

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. Then, as people opt in or out of the various subscriber/mailing list options, your Smart Tags will remain up to date. You should end up with a list of subscriber/mailing list tags like this example...

That's all you need to do - you're now ready to send your first subscriber/mailing list communication! Read on for further details.

Communicating to your opted-in subscribers

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

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

When composing a message, 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.

Having composed your message, click to preview and then to 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 into this case study so that others can benefit from your ideas too.

What next?

I really 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 support@churchsuite.com

All the best!

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