Jesse Wisnewski: 10 Ways You Can Use Push Notifications to Grow Your Church by Increasing Engagement

In 2016, mobile Internet usage exceeded desktop computers for the first time. This means that most people in your church and community use their smartphone or tablet to access the Internet.

How people access the Internet has enormous ramifications for your church. Basically, if you don’t have a mobile strategy to promote your church, you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity.

Today, the vast majority of people in your church and community own a smartphone. With the rise in smartphone usage, the decline in email open rates, and general oversaturation of communication, your church needs to explore different ways to communicate with your church to get their attention.

Enter Push Notifications

Churches often overlook push notifications, but they provide an effective communication channel you should use.

According to a study by MIDIA Research, more than 50 percent of smartphone users have push notifications enabled on their devices.

Since so many people enable push notifications on their device, if your congregation downloads your church app, you can engage your church more effectively than social media.

Below, I’m going to walk you through 10 tactics you can use to engage your church. But first, let’s quickly define push notifications and talk about how they work.

What is a Push Notification?

A push notification is a short message an app you’ve downloaded can send you to get your attention.

Here are some examples.

Have a social media app on your mobile phone?

You might get this message: “Jesse just posted for the first time in a while.”

Playing the latest version of Candy Crush?

Then you’re probably familiar with this notification: “You now have full lives! Tap here to continue your saga.”

Did you download the Starbucks app?

Well, you might get this message when you’re close to one of their stores:

“Hi Jesse! You are near Starbucks Main St. Currently 50 percent off on your favorite drink: Vanilla Latte!”

There are a variety of notifications you can receive (and send) regardless if you’re actively using the app. The type of message you’ll receive will depend upon the app you downloaded.

How do Push Notifications Work?

Push notifications are similar to text messages and mobile alerts. But you can only receive notifications from apps you’ve downloaded, and you can just send notifications to people who’ve downloaded your app.

Here’s the great thing about using push notifications for your church: You can use push notifications to lead people to engage with your church in person or online.

10 Tips on How to Use Push Notifications to Engage Your Church

Now that you have a solid grasp on push notifications, let’s turn our attention to 10 different ways you can use notifications to engage your church.

#1. Lead people to download your app

To send push notifications to your church, you first need to have a church app, and then you need to lead people to download your app.

At Tithe.ly, we provide our churches with a smart link called “App Download Link.”

When someone clicks on this link from their phone, it will automatically know if they are on an Apple or Android device and opens up to the page to download your church’s app from the App Store.

You have to prompt people more than once to download your app. It will take some people hearing the same message several times before they take action. So don’t bank on just making one announcement to your church.

Here are four ways you can regularly remind your church to download your app:

  1. Acknowledge it during your weekly announcements
  2. Include it in your church bulletin or email newsletter
  3. Create a page on your church’s website for people to download your app (e.g., http://www.yourchurch.com/app)
  4. Promote your app on social media with posts or in your bio

There are more ways you can promote your church app. But these four will be enough to get you started.

When you promote your church app, make sure to remind your congregation to enable notifications. Most of them will since you’re asking for them to download it. But some of your congregation may need a little bit more encouragement.

#2. Create irresistible content

“If you build it, they will come.”

That was the message Kevin Costner’s character received in Field of Dreams.

This message makes for an excellent motivational poster. But it’s terrible advice when it comes to getting people to use your church app.

One key to the long-term success of your church app is to create new content.

You can have a slick looking app, and you can promote the daylights out of it. But if you don’t regularly provide new content, you’ll never gain long-term traction.

Eric Bryant, the implementations team lead for Tithe.ly, offered the following advice to create irresistible content:

  • Regularly share content—e.g., sermon notes, weekly bulletin, blog post, podcasts
  • Use RSS feeds to pull new content automatically
  • Balance content for new guests and regular attendees
  • Recruit 1-3 volunteers to help create or curate content
  • Create exclusive content (more on this below)

Adding content to your app will provide a compelling reason for your church app users to return.

#3. Exclusive content

In your church’s communication calendar, make room to include exclusive content only available in your church app. Providing some type of content only available in your app is one surefire way to increase the number of people who download your app and use it.

Here are some ideas you can consider:

  • Create Spotify Playlist of worship songs your church sings
  • Add a special video message from your pastor or staff every week
  • Provide access to a Bible study or reading plan

Here are a couple of push notification examples from churches who promote exclusive content:

  • “Pastor’s Monday Morning… Hello, Rock Stone! Our word for Monday comes from Jude 1. Remember to be bold and courageous.”
  • “Here’s your quote of the week: ‘I’ve made mistakes, but I’m not my mistakes!’”
  • “June 11th Devotional: No longer I, but Christ. Galatians 2:20. Click to read the full devotional.”

At first, I wouldn’t get bogged down in this step. Instead, focus on regularly sharing the content your church already creates if you’re not doing this already.

Click here to read more.
Source: Church Leaders