How do the right and left sides of a Data Capture work?

Asking people for the same information (like name, email, etc.) over and over can be irritating and spammy (for them) and inefficient (for you). That’s why our PastorsLine Data Capture has a left-hand side (LHS) and a right-hand side (RHS) workflow.

NOTE: To go back and forth between the LHS and RHS of a data capture, you must turn on the right side so that the buttons for name, email and birthday are green. If any of the items on the right side are turned off (buttons are red), the person will be asked for the information, whether or not it is already in your PastorsLine database.

Let’s look at the process in detail...

Each Data Capture campaign contains two types of steps 

Type 1 is an auto-reply.

 There is the ‘welcome’ auto-reply (first message) which is sent immediately after the campaign keyword is entered. There is the ‘closing’ auto-reply (last message) which is sent immediately after the last data capture item has been dealt with.

Type 2 is a specific data capture step. 

E.g. Checking to see if we need to ask for the name; then asking for the name (if relevant) or not, and then waiting for the answer or moving immediately to the next step. 

Hang in there if you are feeling confused. We will talk more about these two types of steps in just a minute.

Data Capture logic

Our goal (as we mentioned earlier) is to keep this automatic process as human as possible while getting the personal information we need (name, email, birthday). So, we don’t want to ask again for any of the personal information we already have. 


When someone texts a KEYWORD to your number, we take the texter’s phone number and compare it to the numbers in all the contact profiles in your PastorsLine database. We will either find the phone number or we will not.

If we do not find the phone number, we know that this person is a completely new contact. We will then automatically add that person to your contacts database and to the group. We will process this person using the LHS only (see Step 1).

If we find the phone number,

  1. We will check for duplicates and add the primary record to that group. Whether we update that profile’s name, email and birthdate depends on how you have your data capture set up (Steps 2 - 4).
  2. If that phone number is already in the group, we will send the alternative greeting in Step 1 (RHS greeting).

Step 1: WELCOME (auto-reply)—We begin by welcoming the person who texts in. 

Every data capture campaign (by default) has both first messages enabled (both LHS and LHS) and can’t be turned off. The left-hand side welcome message (first message) goes to anyone new to this group, whether or not your PastorsLine database has a name or email on file for them. ‘New” means a person who has never texted this group before. This includes people who were deleted from this group and want to rejoin. The right side welcome message goes to anyone who has texted this group before AND is currently in that group, no matter which information(name, email, birthday) you have or do not have for that person.

Pro tip

It is possible for a person to text in who is new to the group but is not new to your database. That is, he or she already has a profile with some or all of their personal information. So, keep your first and last messages rather general and neutral. 

  • LHS ideas: Welcome to the (Bible study) group. (or) You’re through to the (Volunteers) group. Welcome!
  • RHS ideas: Welcome back to the (Bible study) group. (or) Hey Volunteer! You’re already part of this volunteer group. Visit FMI.

Step 2: NAME CAPTURE (Data Capture): 

Note: So that you can see fully how the data capture works, we are going to assume that ALL the auto-replies and data capture steps are turned on (buttons are green).

When your subscriber enters a group, we can capture their full name or we can send them an alternative message.

We capture their first name if:

  1. the RHS side of the name data capture is turned off. This means our system has no choice but to capture their name. 
  2. both the LHS and RHS name data capture are turned on, but the subscriber doesn’t have a name associated with it.


We skip capturing their full name if

  1. both the LHS and RHS name data capture are turned on but the subscriber DOES have a name associated with it already. 

Note: If you don’t want to ask for the person’s name again but you don’t want to send them a message, we suggest leaving the right side messages blank.

Steps 3 and 4: Email and Birthday Capture. 

This is very similar to Step 2. Same logic. You can also turn off any of these data captures entirely if you don’t need to capture this information. 

Step 5: Last Message (auto-reply)—We end by closing our conversation.

If this texter NEVER TEXTED THE GROUP BEFORE, we use the LHS closing message (last message). Otherwise, we use the RHS closing message. 

Pro tip

Now, you can personalize your closing messages with the name merge field.

  • LHS idea: So glad you joined this group, [name]. Praying for you!
  • RHS idea: We’ve got all your info, [name]. Bye for now!

Note: Have closing messages is not a must. They can be turned off...but it is nice to end the conversation in this way.

Mix and match

Each autoreply and capture step can be turned on or off EXCEPT for both opening messages (LHS and RHS first messages). This gives you the flexibility to ask for only the information you need.

Check out this article HERE for more details and help with Data Captures.

The video in this article is a great way to learn more.

Check out our article HERE that explains the Left and Right hand sides of the Automated Message Campaigns too! 

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