Partner Spotlight: Restore Community Church

 In Blog, Resources

Meet Zach and our friends at Restore Community Church

Restore is a thriving church in the Kansas City area with a focus on helping people find their way back to God. This month they will celebrate their 8th year. Now a multi-site church, they are changing the spiritual landscape in Kansas and beyond.

Zach leads the Center for Excellence at Restore Community Church and in a recent interview, we were able to hear about some of the amazing work happening at Restore. He told us about a program they call, “Replenish”, working with local schools to pass out school supplies to kids and families who can’t afford them. “Since our mission is about connecting with people and helping those who are far from God, we thought this was a practical way to connect,” said Zach. “Maybe to even build relationships.”

They began using the connecting power of technology to mobile people and encourage people to get involved in the effort. “The push notifications feature was huge for us,”  according to Zach. “Because we could tell people to sign up for them so they didn’t miss critical updates. We could also create groups in our portal based on information people gave us and target our send out. That way we weren’t spamming everyone.”

They saw the largest increase in engagement by using the geofencing option with push notifications in their app. Geofencing is a feature that allows an app to create a specific notification when your phone enters a targeted area. “We set up geofences around KMart, Walmart, Target – basically any place where people went shopping. And when they got in a certain radius of those stores, a push notification would be sent. A reminder for them to take the bag provided for them from Restore and buy supplies.”

“We’ve seen significant growth in the program since we started using geofencing and push notifications to remind people what we’re doing and how they can be a part of it. It’s great to see our church respond and get involved.”

Push notifications can be one of the most powerful tools to engage people, but used poorly, they can become annoying and have the opposite impact. If you are considering using push notifications to increase engagement, here are 4 best practices to consider:

You CAN have too much of a good thing

Push notifications can provide relevant and timely information to your most engaged people. But, you don’t want to over do it. We all know someone on social media and is an ‘over-sharer’. People want to hear from you but not several times every day. Be strategic about what you push, make it timely, keep it brief, and only share important info. There is no magic formula of what to push and how often, so make sure you are asking for feedback on what you are sending out.

Thanks for sharing… now what?

Before you push send on a message ask yourself ‘what do I want people to do with this information?’ If it is not clear to you, it won’t be clear to them either. The most effective push notifications use action words and allow people to do something in response to your push. If your VBS registration closes in 2 days, send a push notification to parents in your church with a link to the form. Encourage them to check out your latest content or guide them to a particular feature that’s relevant to the message and drive them back to your app.

Serve up what people want

Use the analytics built into your app to find out how people are engaging on their devices and use that information to make sure your push messages will connect. If your most commonly used feature is engaging with podcasts of sermons, send a notification with a link to the latest post once you have added the content. If you have had lots of engagement in funding a capital campaign using smart online giving, text-to-give, and in-app giving, then send out a push notification when your campaign is 90% funded and invite people to help you cross the finish line. The key is to keep your messages relevant to how people are connecting in your community.

Are you talking to me?

I don’t think everyone need the reminder to sign up for the women’s retreat. In fact, if you are sending messages that are irrelevant to certain people, they may turn off all notifications. Consider who you will want to reach using notifications but you don’t want to over segment either. Spend some time thinking through who the major groups of people you will want to reach and build segments for them. If you want to communicate to a small group of people, a push notification may not be the best way to do that.

How are you using push notifications to get the right message to the right audience at the right time?