People prefer texting over talking.
This is especially true in the United States.
According to a recent study, Americans send and receive five times as many texts every day compared to phone calls, and they’re spending 26 minutes per day texting.
When you look at younger generations, texting skyrockets as the preferred way to connect. In a poll conducted by Gallup, surveyors discovered that “sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for Americans younger than 50.”
When it comes to talking to family and friends (and yes, churches too) most people prefer to text.
Take a moment to ponder these statistics:
- 82% of texts are read within five minutes
- 97% of texts are read
- The average response time for a text is 90 seconds
- 45% of texts receive a response
- 99% of texts are opened
Stacked up against phone calls, emails, and social media, text marketing dominates when it comes to getting your message across.
This doesn’t mean you should abandon every other form of communication.
Far from it.
The communication strategy for your church needs to be multi-channel—e.g., church announcements, social media, email, push notifications, and more.
Practically speaking, here’s the big idea:
If text marketing isn’t a part of your church’s communication strategy, then you’re missing out on a HUGE opportunity.
To help you get started, I’m going to share with you seven text marketing best practices your church can use to engage your congregation and reach your community:
Let’s dig in!
#1. Send timely messages
Need to let your church know something, like, right now?
Do you need to cancel your worship service?
Did your youth group activity change in the last minute?
Need to send out a prayer request for one of your church members?
Don’t have enough volunteers to manage your church event?
Since the vast majority of texts are read within five minutes, sending a mass text message is one surefire way to contact your church—right this instant.
#2. Start a conversation
Text marketing is more than a promotional tool.
You can also use it to start a conversation.
For example, if you create groups, such as small group leaders or volunteers, you can use text marketing as a way to ask for feedback, check-in to see how things are going, or ask if anyone has any prayer requests.
What is more, you can also use it as a way of connecting with first-time guests, which brings me to the next point.
#3. Follow up with first-time guests
Leading someone to visit your church is one thing.
Encouraging them to return is a totally different ballgame.
When someone visits your church, you must be prepared to capture their contact information and follow up with them after your worship service.
But let’s be honest.
Following up with your visitors is easier said than done.
Your time is limited.
Your staff is stretched too thin to make a call or send an email.
And by the time you think about following up with someone, it’s been weeks too late.
With text marketing, you can quickly and automatically follow up with your first-time guests.
Here’s one way it can work:
- Create a first-time guest text automated follow-up
- Offer first-time guests a gift
- Ask visitors to text “hello” to your number to redeem their gift
- Require them to provide their contact information
After this initial contact, your text automation (automatic messages) will be sent on the days you’ve selected. These messages can encourage people to revisit you, take the next step with your church, request a visit from the pastor, and more.
Here’s another good thing about automated text messages:
After a text is sent, recipients can respond, and you can have a conversation with them via text.
Remember, most Americans prefer texting over talking on the phone. It's why this tactic naturally plays into the way people prefer to communicate today.
#4. Talk about giving
Increasing the number of your recurring givers is one way you can increase giving.
The more people who set up automated giving give more consistently and throughout the year, which is vital to creating a healthy church budget.
To turn sometime givers into regular givers, you can send a text message with a link to how to set up recurring giving from their mobile device.
Know what else?
You can also use text marketing to encourage people to make one-time contributions.
To encourage people to experience the joy of giving, you can run a short-term campaign to collect small-dollar amounts ($1 - $10) to go toward a specific cause. After you raise the money you need, be sure to follow up with your church to let them know how the money was used.
Pro Tip: Make a list of people who have donated at least once or inconsistently over the past six months. With this list, create a group in your text marketing service and name it something like “Onetime Givers.” Afterward, either send this group a one-time text or create a series of texts scheduled to send over a few weeks to nurture them (this is what’s called a drip campaign or text automation).
#5. Provide pastoral care
Want to make it easy for people to receive pastoral care?
Create a text marketing campaign.
Here are two ideas.
First, encourage people to text their prayer requests.
During your church announcements or in your bulletin, encourage people to share their need for prayer. After you receive their request, at a minimum, let them know you’re praying for them.
Here’s one more thing:
You can also text them back to start a conversation, ask questions, or invite them to meet and chat.
Second, connect church members with one other.
For instance, if someone has a need, send a bulk text message to your church, let them know about the need, and encourage them to reply if they can help. Afterward, you can connect these people.
Pro tip: Don’t divulge personal information via a text. Don’t include a name or specific details. Just let people know about the need in general, ask if they can help, and then let them know you’ll connect them afterward.
#6. Create awareness for … everything
Running a successful church event is challenging.
The planning and organizing part is easy enough.
You can control whether or not something gets done.
Getting someone to attend your event?
That can be a crapshoot.
You can …
- make announcements
- include inserts in your bulletin
- share your event on Facebook
- send an email
After all of this, you will still hear one of these questions:
- “Where is the bake sale?”
- “When does the youth group activity start?”
- “Are we hosting a mission’s conference this summer?”
I know this is frustrating, but here’s the reality of promoting anything:
People prefer certain types of communication.
With the digital revolution, paper hasn’t become obsolete. It’s just that there are so many more ways you can now connect with your church community, and one of the most effective ways you can reach people today is via texting.
Remember, nearly everyone in your church owns a mobile phone, and every text message is normally read within an hour.
Practically speaking, if you need to promote anything in your church, send a text message to encourage people to sign up.
#7. Encourage your church
Everyone, including Christians, will battle discouragement.
At some point in your church, someone will experience:
- Struggles at work
- General depression
- Lack of faith
- Stress about money
- Difficult times with their children
- Marital difficulties
During these moments, people (including yourself) will be tempted to wallow in self-pity. But you want to help your church members from indulging in these feelings (1 Pet. 2:11).
By encouraging them to fight for encouragement in Christ.
With text message marketing, you can send a timely, encouraging word.
Think about the possibilities:
- Send encouraging Bible verses
- Links to a sermon
- Invitations to Bible studies
- Text the latest reading from your Bible reading plan
These text messages can be sent manually. Or you can create an automated text marketing campaign that sends an encouraging message once per week or however often you’d like.
Pro tip: Be cautious with creating too many automated text messages. Like any message from any medium (e.g., phone, email), if you send too many messages, people will eventually tune you out.
Text marketing for your church
Text marketing is the most effective way to connect with your church community.
Will this be the case forever and always?
But that’s not the point.
The point is knowing how people in your church prefer to communicate, and then connecting with them in ways that are relevant and meaningful.
Today, that best way to engage your church and first-time guests is with a text.