Recently we've been trying to figure out how to do a better job of acquiring visitor data. The old "Friendship pads" are difficult to replenish and collect (we have a very large sanctuary) and it takes a long time to pass the pad down a pew and have everyone sign in - and most people don't bother.
At Christmas we have a number of special events where we have large numbers of visitors who will probably escape our existing visitor data collection efforts. So we are implementing a SMS (text message) collection system in time for Christmas.
It works like this: using a vendor (www.txt180.com) that we selected on the basis of price, we are using keywords on a shared short code. An SMS short code is a 5- or 6-digit number that receives text messages. The keywords we purchased are "FPCE" (for First Presbyterian Church of Englewood) and "FPCFAMILY" (for our Family Ministries).
A visitor texts "FPCE" to the designated short code and the exchange looks like this (a screen capture from my phone):
Sending the text produces an auto-response that welcomes the person and includes a link to a form on our Web site asking the person to enter their name, email, street address, etc.
The Web form looks like this on the left.
Using a commercial vendor ensures that we will comply with FTC/FCC requirements for controlling SMS spam.
Using SMS rather than relying solely on paper-based data collection will also allow us to collect data more easily at events that don't take place in our sanctuary.
A one-year subscription to TXT180 cost us $105 for up to 500 outbound text messages per month and includes one keyword. We also paid $27/year for the second keyword.
We don't know how effective this will be, but for $132 it seemed like a good bet.
This fits with our continuing strategy of being "smartphone/tablet-friendly" in church. We're putting up sermon notes as a YouVersion (Bible app) live event. We provide Wi-Fi access in our worship spaces. Devices are increasingly such an integrated part of our lives, we need to help people integrate them into their worship life.