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Relationships with your community don’t have to end once you have their email, as texting is an incredible way to get new people signed onto your cause and grow your community with each new event. You can use texting to learn more about people and lead them to do the kinds of things they’re most happy to do. And, texting open rates often hover around 98% compared to the typical 20-30% for email.

I’m going to walk through setting up conversation trees in NationBuilder so that you can have fully automatic conversations with your community via text. This is a pretty advanced workflow, so if you’re new to texting with NationBuilder, you may want to familiarize yourself with how texting works as well as using pages to automatically trigger tags and paths before getting into the thick of it here.

What's a conversation tree?

When someone sends your Broadcaster a text keyword, it triggers a response. The most common use of those keywords is to get an RSVP, a petition signature, or sign someone up and then send them a thank you response. But by creating multiple keywords, you can walk your community members through a list of questions with tailored responses, and collect information from them as you would through a survey.

For example, let’s say we had an event last night where attendees could sign up to hear more from us by texting in. We don’t know much about these people other than the fact that they are at our event and they want to learn more. We can send them a general email next time we need to make a volunteer ask or do some fundraising, but why not reach out by text - the medium they signed up with - and ask them what they’re most interested in doing to help the organization? We can create a conversation tree to ask them a couple of simple questions that will make all our future outreach much more targeted and make those people much more likely to get engaged.

Who is our audience?

This is an important question any time you’re doing outreach with NationBuilder - and especially when sending people texts. Luckily this time around it’s a pretty easy one to answer. We’re going to reach out to the people who signed up via text at our event last night. We know those people have opted into texting, so they’re comfortable with the idea, and we’re also going to be sending a specific series of questions relevant to the event they attended, so it’s something personalized to them. Everyone who signed up via text at our event has already been tagged automatically, and our blast is already scheduled to go to them the next day.

Setting up the tree

Here’s our blast:

Thanks for coming to our event last night! Can you take a moment to answer a few questions that'll help us get to know you? Reply YES/NO. txt STOP to leave

YES and NO are our first text keywords. Right off the bat, we’re inviting people to opt into our survey, so we can learn more about them based on what they choose to do. For each of our keywords, we’ll want to use individual pages to set up tailored responses, as well as tags and a path, so that we can keep track of who’s participating and who might need an extra push or a different approach all in the control panel. Your finished product ends up looking like this, with survey responses dictating what text the responder receives in return.



When someone responds with YES, prompt them with your next set of keywords, like A/B/C, and when they respond, send them a tailored response with the next set, like Y/N. You won’t be able to use the same keyword twice, so mix things up with A/B/C, 1/2/3, YES/NO, Y/N etc. if you need to ask multiple questions of the same type.

Make sure to turn off auto-responses on each of the pages you create, to avoid people getting an email each time they answer with a keyword. An auto-response will be a great way to cap off your conversation at the end, so make sure it's only enabled for that last question/page. 

Use a Path and Tags to continue the conversation

For each new keyword response you set up, you should create a unique page to hold it. With just a few pages, you'll be able to set up an automatic workflow.


As people move down the engagement path and are tagged according to their interests, you can then follow up in the future with specific asks, tailored to their responses. That’ll increase your chances of leading that person to action, and making them feel more like a valued member of your community. You can use the information you learn to build a strong foundation for your relationships with your community members and lead them to accomplishing your goals

Looking to learn more about texting with NationBuilder? Check out the texting HOWTO.

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