Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Three ways your church can use text messaging

Text. It's cheap to send, and it's found in everyone's pocket. And it is a super effective mode of communication -- texts are so short, people actually read them. And people don't have to install any apps or create any accounts to get a text from you. Text messaging is already "baked in" the cellular phone system -- basically, everyone's got it. Text is the overlooked tool that gets the job done.

But that doesn't make text the answer to everything. Text is best used to complement your existing communications, like your newsletters, email, and social media. Here are three ways your church can utilize text messaging along with existing channels that can make a difference:

1) Reminders

Text reminders are not just to remind about services. Try this: Take your church's calendar and make a list of 5 or 6 upcoming events. Then schedule a text reminder to automatically go out for each of those events. For example, the day before a breakfast event, a message would be sent that looks something like this:

People will like receiving your message about the event -- it's another connection between you (the church) and the individual. It shows that you care. Even for the people who might have heard about the breakfast via another communication channel, this text message will bring the whole matter back to mind, and you may get another attendee.

The best way to gauge the effectiveness of text reminders is to try it out for a couple months and then ask the recipients what they thought about getting a reminder. It's cheap and takes very little effort to try out.

2) Staying organized

Ever been involved in a picnic, a play, or a fundraiser? Ever been responsible for coordinating lots of people and you need to communicate with some immediacy? Sometimes information, weather, or other circumstances will change and you need everyone to be updated right away. And you'd like some assurance that people actually read the message you sent. This is not an email or facebook moment. These situations are best suited for text messaging. And when that moment comes, you should have the right tool on hand.

3) Group communication

Got a youth group? Ever taken a trip with them? During these excursions, often times the whole group is split up and given instructions for meeting at certain points during the day. A simple text message reminding everyone to be heading back to the bus is a nice feature, and puts you in control. And for the parents at home, receiving text updates from a trip in progress is a great way to build a connection with the rest of the family. And wouldn't a parent like to know the ETA of the returning bus, in real time? These are small things that are appreciated when you are receiving the information.

Try it and see

By using text as a communication tool, you will increase awareness and attendance. You'll save time for everyone by reaching people where they already are (on their mobile). Would people like getting texts like this? The best way to find out is to ask them the simple question, "Would you like to get text messages from your church?"  And then try it out with 5 or 6 events from your calendar.

SendTree can help you try it out. In fact when you create an account with the button below, we'll give you a few dollars so that you can send free messages for a while to see how people like it.


It's about the relationship

For all of these examples, text is just a very small thing, yet it can make a big difference in the relationship you create between the church and individual members. You are creating another touch point with people who want a text. They will be happier, more engaged communicators.

Small thing. Big difference.