Our first visit to CiviConUK was extremely fruitful, meeting many friendly people and listening to a number of great talks on topics from running reports to new extensions and themes in the pipeline, about to be released.
The venue, Arlington Conference Centre, was perfect for the size of the event and being in the heart of Camden Town, a great location to get to and from.
I'll Start At The Beginning...
Erik Hommel (CiviCoop) & Jamie Novick (Compucorp Ltd) kicked us off with an introduction to the conference, a heads up on what to expect and important information. Jamie also highlighted some important CiviCRM facts including of the 10,500 CiviCRM installs out there, 2.5m contacts are being managed, 1.5m donations have been taken and 31m participants have registered for event via these sites!
Drupal and CiviCRM: Webform + Views
Oliver Gibson (North Bridge Digital) gave a great talk on using Webform and Views with CiviCRM, explaining the simple process of linking Drupal Views with CiviCRM and using the Webform_CiviCRM module to do the same.
With Views you can create any type of display for your CRM data on your Drupal frontend customer facing website or backend admin area. Whether that's a list of upcoming events, participants in an event or members of your society or group.
Webform integration is a powerful tools allowing you to create/update one or more contacts and optionally create relationships between them, auto-fill forms for logged in users or anonymous users following a personalized link from CiviMail, leverage CiviCRM contact data to display personalized messages, customize emails, or set access restrictions to the form and accept credit-card payments for events, memberships, and contributions.
Mailing and SMS with CiviCRM
Michael McAndrew (Third Sector Design) gave a cool, if risky live demo of SMS integration with Civi. Due to network issues there were a few hiccups but he got over them to illustrate an example Q&A session you can have with someone via the CRM.
Michael gave a brief overview of some SMS service providers such as Twillo plus backend CRM and the Q&A demo configuration. Having setup a trigger word in the CRM, some of us texted "Pets" to the number shown below which illustrated the questions, that on a successful response, lead on to follow up questions. In addition to this you can provide a different follow up question depending on the answer of the recipient. Here's my Q&A below:
A simple example but a very powerful tool. Then within the CRM you can take the information and create contacts and fill in their profile with their answers.
Guanhuan Chen (Compucorp Ltd) then gave a quick overview of the Mosaico extension to the CiviCRM Mailing system allowing you to use a simple drag and drop UI to create mailings to your contact groups. It looks a great extension and could mean you use this extension rather than MailChimp or similar service for your newsletters.
Using CiviCRM module: CiviCRM Events
Dave Moreton (Circle) gave a very clear and good explanation of events within Civi, explaining the process for admins and what the registrant will see.
He also highlighted an important feature whereby you can send a link to a registration form which pre-fills the form with a participants details, if that participant is in the CRM system already. In addition to this you could also use a QR code or barcode to do the same thing.
Reporting with CiviCRM
Rose Lanigan (Ruza Solutions) gave a good talk on reports and illustrated the difference between a search and a report. Sometimes a search is all that's required instead of producing a report. Rose also explained how to create reports and how to save them for future use, not only for yourself but someone else in the admin team.
William Mortada (Technology for Social Purpose) extended the talk with some demos of extensions that help with reports and visualisation, using Civisualize extension to bring your data to life, very cool.
Parvez Saleh (Veda Consulting) highlighted the impending GDPR regs that are coming our way and an extension his team has put together. A topic of interest to a lot in the room but he assured us not to be afraid and definitely not to unsubscribe all our contacts from our mailing lists!
In conclusion it was a great conference, one I shared with my colleague Robin Miles (i-Publishing Consultants), which gave us both inspiration to utilise CiviCRM further and help our clients make the most of their membership data.
I'm also looking forward to trying the new Shoreditch theme built on Bootstrap css giving a much simpler and responsive look to the backend.
We shared a few drinks at the after conference party, meeting more attendees and discussing Civi, Spurs and Brexit! Roll on the next conference.