Build a Close Community for Your Church with Text Message Marketing
It’s a typical Sunday morning, except today you surprise your congregation with an announcement: you are launching a new way to communicate with them. To get started, you ask them to take out their cell phones. Instead of your usual request to turn them off before the service begins, today you ask them to turn them on. This, of course, gets a few laughs and the irony isn’t lost on you. The reason you are asking them to do this is you want everyone to be able to participate in this new communication tool, Text Message Marketing. Don’t let the word marketing scare you. Marketing is all about communicating and a text message is today’s most common communication. You give them a few simple instructions and 90% of the people in the room are now in your cell phone database. Don’t worry, for those who left their phones in the car or at home today, you are passing around simple forms for them to fill out. Later that day, a volunteer will spend just a few minutes transferring the information on the form into the database.
They send a keyword, in this case CHURCH to a short code (a five digit, easily remembered number):
Taking the message deeper
Why have you done this today? You let your congregation know that now you will be able to send them daily inspirational messages, Bible verses, prayer requests, and announcements about weather related church closings. When a family in your congregation is in crises, you’ll be able to let the congregation know about the family’s needs more quickly than ever before. Perhaps you’ll send reminders on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday about the principal points in your sermon from the previous Sunday. Then on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, you’ll send them a taste of the sermon you’ll deliver that coming Sunday.
Spreading the word
Or maybe you’ll let them know to watch their cell phones around 7:00 the following evening. You tell them to expect a text from you with a link to a short video you recorded the night before on your computer. The message has to do with the theme of the upcoming outreach program and an invitation to attend the program series starting at your church the following week. You ask them to forward that message to five of their friends and neighbors. Now, instead of your message reaching just 1000 people, it’s been offered to those 1000 plus 5000 additional friends.
Being good stewards
About 8:00 on Sunday morning, your congregation gets a text message from you with a link to your mobile website where they can find the bulletin for the day. (Of course, this was all set up to go on Friday. It was so easy to do that anyone who can send an email can do it!) Now, instead of printing 1000 bulletins for the service—most of which end getting thrown away on Sunday afternoon—they have the bulletin in their phones and can refer to it all week long. You’ll still need a few for guests and those who don’t participate in the program, but how much money will you be able to save in printing costs?
A few minutes later, your members get a second text message. This one lets them know that even if they can’t attend the service that day, they can still make their much appreciated and needed tithe by clicking on a link right in their phones. This link takes them to a secure site where, within seconds, they can make a donation of their chosen amount without ever taking a credit or debit card out of their wallet.
Here’s what that would look like
What we have just imagined together are a few examples of how mobile text messaging can be used to deepen your levels of engagement with your members through in-reach; quickly, easily, and inexpensively expand your outreach efforts; and be a better steward of your financial resources by not only saving money but also raising more of it by offering your members a convenient way to donate. We’ll suggest some other ideas about all three of these areas later in our next blog post, but are you beginning to see the possibilities? Would all of this be a good thing for your church?