Do you have difficulty connecting with church members or getting them to attend services on a regular basis? How limited is your time and marketing budget for reaching out and keeping in touch with congregants? Most religious organizations have limited budgets to keep their members informed of upcoming events or announcements. Additionally, working with a mostly volunteer staff makes it hard to manage continuity of information to worshipers. With paper and postage rising in costs every year, how can you reach out to your people and be sure that they are receiving and reading your messages?
SMS Marketing Spreads the Good Word Electronically
One of the best methods of communication that is more likely to be read immediately when received is SMS text messaging. SMS is an ideal method for church marketing because it fulfills several needs that churches have.
- SMS marketing is inexpensive to run. It is cheaper than mailing newsletters and printing flyers.
- Using SMS texting is easy and quick. It doesn't take up much time, and your volunteers can learn how to send messages with little training.
- It is an opt-in service requiring your members to approve it before they receive any communications.
- People read and respond to text messages more quickly than any other method of marketing communication.
Changing Communications Preferences
People are moving to mobile communication in droves. They typically are never without a cell phone, laptop or mobile device at their side. Many people even sleep with their cell phones. What this situation describes for you is a sure way to reach your members on their preferred method of communication. Using SMS marketing you can manage your interactions with members in a vigorous and high-tech manner that they like to use. Young people especially communicate more using texts than most other methods.
You can broadcast your newsletters, prayer requests, sermon topics, inspirational quotes and church lifecycle announcements using this quick delivery system. Appointment reminders, invitations and messages can all be sent out to groups or individuals via texting. You can also track your efforts to see which type of message has a better response than the others.
You can also automate much of your messaging, giving yourself more time to delve into deeper mysteries or personally guide your flock. Birthday messages, holiday wishes and more can be sorted automatically by interest groups, behaviors or activities that you select. Setting up and sorting church members by criteria that you choose is easy; the technology does the work for you.
Receive Valuable Feedback
With SMS messaging, you can send out a survey or voting campaign for immediate feedback before you move forward. You can use texting to alert your members of a relevant blog or social media post, or ask them to participate in making a decision for your organization. Asking for feedback also offers people a chance to get involved, even if it is only in a small way. Your members will feel more invested in the congregation, and that you care about their opinions.
Create a Subscription List
You can gain new congregants by offering members and prospective members a chance to opt-in to your messaging service. By letting them know upfront that you will be sending messages relevant to them via texting, people will opt in because they are truly interested in participating in your church. Once they sign up, they become part of the community and invested in what you have to offer. You can also use texting as a method of inviting new members to meet your established members in smaller groups or home visits. SMS text messaging offers a variety of marketing outreach methods for you to use to engage your congregation.
Churches Around the Country are Adopting SMS
Several churches are thrilled with the success of SMS marketing for their congregations. Here are some of them and how they have used SMS:
Mariners Church uses SMS to broadcast special events to all of its locations to members in junior and senior high school, college or post-grad education.
Renew Church (New Braunfels, TX)
Renew Church uses SMS messaging to keep members updated with auto-sorted text notifications for its age and gender-specific events
Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX)
Fellowship Church is looking for ways to encourage members to attend services and events and become more involved. They use SMS to remind people of Sunday service times and send motivational messages during the week.
St. Joseph Parish (Wauwatosa, WI)
This church sends members messages about service schedules, special upcoming event dates such as baptisms to request community support for other members.
Wickline Youth (Midwest City, OK)
In order to inspire younger congregants, Wickline Youth sends encouraging messages and notifications of youth-focused events.
Potential Church (Cooper City, FL)
Potential Church sends out thank you messages to members and visitors who attend Sunday services with a link to the church's website.
All of these examples offer creative ways to reach out to members and prospective members using text messaging. These ideas are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to effective ways to use SMS for connecting with your community.
Getting Members to Opt-In
There are a lot of ways that you can encourage members of your church to opt-in to your SMS marketing list. One method is to create a drawing with anyone who enters each week using a pre-determined one-word text message. You can also promote campaigns through email and by announcing them at services. Using other marketing messages in conjunction with texting is an excellent way to grab your members' attention.