Health and Growth

Text Message Marketing: The Best Way to Engage Your Church Community

Why churches should implement text message marketing into their communications strategy immediately.

Text Message Marketing: The Best Way to Engage Your Church Community
by

Jesse Wisnewski

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.

Here’s what’s crazy:

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."

So, when it comes to talking to family and friends (and yes, businesses and churches too) most people prefer to get a text.

Not convinced?

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 messaging dominates in comparison when it comes to communicating with your church community.

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 message marketing isn’t a part of your church’s communication strategy, then you’re missing out on a HUGE opportunity.

In this post, I’m going to share with you eight ways churches are using text marketing to engage their church members and grow their church:

  1. Text marketing is easy like Sunday
  2. Send timely messages
  3. Start a conversation
  4. Increase giving
  5. Provide pastoral care
  6. Follow up with more first-time guests
  7. Create awareness for… everything
  8. Encourage your church

Let’s dig in!

#1. Text marketing is easy like Sunday morning

Do you know how to send and receive a text message?

Can you, someone on your team, or a volunteer write clear and concise texts?

Then you’re ready to add text marketing into your church’s communication calendar.

You don’t need a consultant.

You don’t need to attend an event.

You don’t need an in-house specialist to get started with text marketing.

Here’s the deal:

You know how to text.

You get how text marketing works (in general).

So, it will only take you a few hours to get started, learn the system, and send your first text marketing campaign.

#2. 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 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?

Remember, since the vast majority of texts are read within five minutes, sending a text message is one surefire way to contact your church—right this instant.

#3. Start a conversation

Here’s the beautiful thing about text message marketing:

The platform is built on having a conversation.

Sure, you can share as much information as you like with text marketing. But it’s also a tool you can use to engage people in a conversation. So, instead of just using text marketing as a promotional tool, plan on starting a conversation with people too.

For example, if you create groups, such as small group leaders or volunteers, you can use your text marketing platform as a way to ask for feedback, check in to see how things are going, and ask if anyone has any prayer requests.

As you look at your communication strategy, be sure to plan on adding conversational elements.

#4. Increase giving

Increasing the number of recurring givers in your church is one way you can increase giving.

The more people who are set up on monthly, automated giving tend to give more consistently and monetarily. Focusing on the number of recurring givers in your church is vital to your church’s budget.

To turn sometime givers into regular givers, you can send a text message with a link to how to set up recurring giving on their mobile device.

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 and start a conversation.

Start a conversation.

Ask questions.

Invite them to meet to chat.

Second, connect church members with each 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. Follow up with more 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 have to be prepared to capture their contact information and follow up with them after the service.

But let’s be honest.

Following up with visitors is easier said than done.

You may not have a plan in place.

Your staff is stretched too thin to make a call or send an email.

By the time you think about following up with someone, it’s been weeks too late.

Well, with text message marketing, you can quickly and automatically follow up with 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 contact information

After this initial contact, your text automation (automatic messages) will be sent on the days you’ve selected.  These messages can encourage them 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. So, this naturally plays into the way people prefer to communicate today.

#7. Creating 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 make announcements.

You include inserts in your bulletin.

You shared it on Facebook.

You even sent an email to your church.

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.

One of the most effective ways to reach people today is via texting.

Remember, nearly everyone in your church owns a mobile phone, and every text message is normally read in one hour.

Practically speaking, if you need to promote anything in your church, you can send a text message to encourage people to sign up or as a friendly reminder.

#8. Encourage your church

Everyone, including Christians, will battle discouragement.

At some point, in your church, someone will experience:

  • Struggles a work
  • General depression
  • Lack of faith
  • Stress about money
  • Difficult times with their children
  • Marital struggles

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).

But how?

By encouraging them to fight for encouragement in Christ.

With text message marketing, you can send a timely, encouraging word.

Think about the possibilities:

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 (phone, email), if you send too many messages, people will eventually tune you out.

Text message marketing for your church

In 2019, text marketing is the most effective way to connect with your church community.

Will this be the case forever and always?

Nah.

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 via texting.

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Text Message Marketing: The Best Way to Engage Your Church Community