Many pastors, church leaders and ministers face the same problem: how to quickly communicate important information to your entire congregation.
In the past, there were easy, straightforward solutions. You could send something in the mail, hand out a note at church, or call people.
There was a time when writing a letter was the easiest way to communicate with family and friends all over the world.
Then, the computer was developed, and a while after that, the World Wide Web (Internet) sprang into existence. This combination enabled email.
Email was like a letter-writing revolution. It seemed like overnight, ‘snail mail’ became a thing of the past. Every email was opened with enthusiasm and curiosity. Now, most of us are VERY used to email. We scan the subject line and only open the most relevant ones—even if it is from someone we know!
As soon as cell phones became small enough to be carried on the hip or in the pocket, they became a consumer item that everybody seemed to need. Email was available to them at any time, anywhere. It was not long before text messaging evolved, but most consumers didn’t understand how they could send anything of importance using just 160 characters.
Then, along came the teen-aged crowd and showed them how to abbreviate sentences to a minimum. Now, entire conversations are held over SMS text messaging and email has been left behind, with only 20% of all email messages being opened. Compare that to the number of text messages read within an hour, and there is no doubt which form of communication has become the norm within the electronically connected family. The lasting beauty of text messaging is it does not require any data/Internet subscription.
The emergence of numerous digital, mobile and online communication channels has created a wide variety of options and tools that you can use to get your message out.
If you are talking about communicating with people on their phones in a more personal way, then you would look at text and mobile app push notes. Text provides a way for you to send messages to everyone on your list. With mobile apps, on the other hand, you can use the push notes feature to send messages to everyone who has downloaded the app. Both of these should be part of a robust communications strategy, but many churches and ministries choose just one to get started.
Both of these tools will reach your audience quickly. When a message is sent, people are visually notified about it on the screens of their phones right away.
Email is not dead. It’s a tool that many churches and ministries use to communicate with their members, and people use their phones to check email.
So how does this impact your mobile digital strategy? Here's a chart that compares these main mobile communication mediums in order to help you understand how they all fit into a comprehensive digital plan.
Clearly, texting is more effective in private, personalized, mobile communications. Thus, including texting as one of the main tools in your complete digital strategy appears to be a no-brainer.
For those of you who are still using email as your main tool to communicate with your congregations, it is time to reconsider. Most of your audience simply do not open your emails. The best use for email is highly-targeted content that really adds value and motivates recipients to open the email, read it, and click through to your landing page.
A mobile app is a great tool for getting messages out to your congregation using push notes, but these have a lower open rate than text messaging. People simply don't open push notes as often as they open text messages. However, push notes open rates certainly exceed email open rates. In addition, only people who have downloaded your app and kept the notifications feature on will receive your messages. The bonus is that a mobile app provides robust functionality and is not limited to communicating brief messages.
Text messages are certainly the most efficient solution if you are looking to get a brief message out to the majority of people. With a 97% open rate, it is worth the small cost for each message. You can be certain that nearly everyone who receives the message will read it.