How to Use Text Message Marketing to Reach Your Church Community
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 as they do 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."
When it comes to talking to family and friends (and yes, businesses and churches), most people prefer to get a 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, church text messaging dominates in comparison when it comes to communicating with your community.
This doesn't mean you should abandon every other form of communication.
Far from it.
Your church's communication strategy needs to be multi-channel—e.g., church announcements, social media, email, push notifications, and more.
But, practically speaking, here's the big idea:
If text message marketing isn't a part of your church's communication strategy, you're missing out on a HUGE opportunity.
In this post, I will share with you eight ways churches are using text marketing to:
- Easily communicate
- Send timely messages
- Start a conversation
- Increase giving
- Provide pastoral care
- Create awareness for, well, everything
- Encourage the church
Let's dig in!
#1. Easily communicate
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 to 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. It's easy like Sunday morning.
#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 at 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 most texts are read within five minutes, sending a text message is one surefire way to contact your church—almost instantly.
#3. Start a conversation
Here's the beautiful thing about text message marketing:
The platform is built around 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 to start a conversation with people.
For example, if you create groups, such as a group for 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 from that group.
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 set up on monthly, automated giving tend to give more and more consistently. Focusing on the number of recurring givers in your church is vital to your church's budget.
To turn sometimes givers into regular givers, you can send a text message with a link prompting them to set up recurring giving on their mobile devices.
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 "One-Time Givers." Then, either send this group a one-time text or create a series of texts scheduled to send over a few weeks to encourage or remind them to give.
#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.
Start a conversation.
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. Create awareness for, well, 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.
Are you getting someone to attend your event?
That can be a crapshoot.
You make announcements.
You include inserts in your bulletin.
You share it on Facebook.
You even send an email to your church.
After all of this, you 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 most text messages are read within 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.
#7. Encourage the 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 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).
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 uplifting Bible verses.
- Provide links to a sermon.
- Invite someone to a Bible study.
- Share the latest reading from your Bible reading plan.
Pro tip: Be cautious with sending too many text messages. Like any message from any medium (phone, email), people will eventually tune you out if you send too many messages.
Text-message marketing for your church
In 2020, 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, the best way to engage your church and first-time guests is via texting.