How to Use Your App Before, During, and After Easter

 In Blog, Connection

As this article “goes to print,” we are less than EIGHT WEEKS from Easter! We’d like to help you use your app at its highest potential as a tool to engage visitors in your ministry – to bring them in to your Easter service, to capture their interest and their information, and to extend that Easter Sunday Experience into their real lives.

EMPOWER AND EQUIP YOUR MEMBERS TO INVITE

I came across some interesting statistics from LifeWay Research on a site promoting “Back to Church Sunday” for this year. Frightening, yes…but also useful.

  • “Eighty-two percent of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited.” –Dr. Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door
  • “Only two percent of church members invite an unchurched person to church. Ninety-eighty percent of church-goers never extend an invitation in a given year.” –Dr Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door

You’ll most likely pass out a colorful promotional card for your congregation to use to invite their friends and neighbors to your Easter services. Based on that statistic above, 98% of them won’t do it anyway (and I am in that number, admittedly). We need a fresh, new way to invite.

Most of us are using social media and text messaging to communicate. “The number of text messages sent monthly in the U.S. exploded from 14 billion in 2000 to 188 billion in 2010, according to a Pew Institute survey, and the trend shows no signs of abating,” said Time magazine. Equipping your membership with a quick and easy way to invite friends and family via their smartphones will be a more effective way to get them to act. On the other side of that invitation, the more personal, the more effective. So, the best recipe for success is a text message or personal message through social media followed by an in-person or phone conversation. A general post in social media is less effective than individualized communication but still more effective than an invite card sitting in my purse until May.

In your Aware3 app, our calendar feature is ready for event sharing through social media, email, or text message. Link a 30-second video (maybe an Easter promo or a personal greeting to potential visitors from your Lead Pastor) to your Easter event in our Calendar feature, and you’ve got a dynamic invitation that’s quick and easy for your folks to share.

Team discussion point: What can we do to make sure our members think of our app as an OUTreach tool?

ENGAGE GUESTS DURING THEIR VISIT

All of your main points of engagement are in your app, from your visitor card to your event calendar and even to deep levels of engagement through registrations and small groups. Getting your app in the phones of your guests as quickly as possible is the best way to give them the information they’re really looking for about your ministry and for you to reach out to them in a real and effective way.

Here are some helpful tips to get your app into visitors’ smartphones.

  • BANNER AD ON YOUR WEBSITE It’s imperative that you have a banner ad that will show up on your normal website and your mobile website that points folks to your app. Visitors will check out your ministry online before they ever darken your door. Include some kind of verbiage in your graphic that lets visitors know the app is not just for “members.”
  • SATURATE THE ENVIRONMENT This is one of very few situations where QR codes can actually be effective. 
    • Big poster with QR code at your Cafe
    • signs with QR codes at your information desk
    • QR codes on Guest Teams’ name tags or stickers on their sleeves. Train them to chat about the app and invite guests to download it as they tour the building or check in their kids!
    • Announcement slide loop – a giant QR code is scannable from a distance.
    • QR codes on your printed programs and visitor info cards

Be sure all of your “launch” materials advise folks to opt in to push notifications – that a church app is different from a retail app, and push notifications will be used sparingly and for quick reminders or communications. 

Guests will usually arrive early to avoid trying to find a seat in the dark when music has begun. Because you’ve employed the suggestions above, your guests will likely browse through your app (especially if they’re reminded by a slide) once they’re seated in the worship center. Make sure you’ve got content built in there with non-attendees in mind. Great sermon series, blog entries, digital publications about different ministries, your event calendar, etc. Imagine if that guest can see a “New Here?” button meant just for them with quick links to visitor “hot topics” right at their fingertips. Include a digital visitor card there asking for contact information and also for any questions or needs they may have – in other words, not just “give us some info” but also “what can we do for you?” (Ask for this information only if you have a plan in place to follow up on it.)

Team discussion point: Are we effectively identifying visitors and making sure they feel welcome before and after the worship service?

FOLLOWING UP AFTER EASTER

Your app can offer you a way to reach out to your audience easily and effectively through Push Notifications aside from the personal follow-up methods you will employ. During the week following Easter, publish a blog or vlog (video blog) geared towards those who visited your Easter services with a preview for the next weekend’s services. A few days after Easter, publish the blog (it will auto-update to your Aware3 app) and send a push message along the lines of: What a great celebration on Sunday! Pastor’s Blog is live with a preview for next week. Check it out! That message can then “deep link” directly to that RSS feed or your video channel. If you take that week off, this can all be set up and scheduled ahead of time.

For continued “touches” through your app – for your visitors and membership – announcing the next sermon series by push notification is a nice way to reach out with content that grabs interest without sending too many pushes. Take that a step further and change your app background to match that new sermon series to keep the look of your app fresh.

Team discussion point: How do we need to prepare for effective follow-up after Easter?

I hope these ideas help you prepare for Easter. If you don’t have an app yet, let’s get going! Contact me at angee@aware3.com or fill out our contact form.

What ideas do you have? Share here in comments or send me a note so I can tweet and post!