How to Win with Mobile
In 2002, Minority Report was released in theaters. At that time, much of the technology in the movie was pure fiction, but now many of the technologies in the film are a reality or in development. Since the release of the film, we have begun using multi-touch sensors, like the Microsoft pixelsense tables, and now even your iPhone has biometric sensors, using thumbprint technology to unlock your device!
The pace of technological advancement is rapid and seems to be getting faster every year. A major factor in technology advancement is the rate at which popular society can absorb or adopt the new tech. People dislike change, and are often skeptical of new technologies. There is a commonly accepted model called the Innovation Adoption Lifecycle. This view breaks down the diffusion of new technology into five categories: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and the Laggards. The first three (innovators, early adopters, and early majority) make up 50% of the population. These are the folks that are most excited about new technology and quickest to embrace it. The other 50% (late majority and laggards) made up of the other 50% of people.
The problem for us as church leaders is that the majority of our organizations and people skew towards the slower to adopt section of the bell curve. This means that many churches are behind the curve in embracing new tools and approaches, making it harder to connect with people. I recently asked a friend of mine who manages technology for a large church, what projects he was working on. He didn’t skip a beat. “Y2K.” When I gave him a quizzical look, he said, “yeah, we are that far behind the tech curve”. That was 2015.
Today, the most effective and ubiquitous technology is mobile. Smartphones and tablets now account for over 50% of global consumer electronics sales and are quickly making desktops and laptops seem obsolete. If we are going to close the church tech gap, we need to begin thinking differently about technology. This begins by being intentional about how we leverage it.
Here are 5 ways to think about leveraging mobile technology for your church:
Build a Digital Front Door
People kick the tires before they buy the car. When it comes to your church, they explore your church digitally first. Building a mobile responsive website and using mobile apps allow people the time and space to ‘get to know you’ at their pace. Your mobile app can be your digital front door.
Keep it Simple
You don’t just need a mobile app. You need a mobile strategy. If you don’t make a plan with clear ‘wins’ that are measurable and solve problems for your users, then you run the risk of building a complex, confusing and scattered mobile tool. Begin by defining your top 3 wins and how you will measure achieving them.
Identify Your Audience
You need to have a clear picture of who you are talking to, and how you are helping them. Is your website’s main goal for first-time visitors? Then the goal of the site should be to help them get the information they need to feel comfortable showing up on a Sunday. If you are not sure who visits your site, there are many ways to find that out. You can do a survey with your congregation or use tools like google analytics to see how the percentage of your website traffic that is return visitors vs first-time visitors. Your mobile app would likely have a different goal. Are people using it to connect with other people in the church, consume content like Bible studies and podcasts or for giving? Use the analytics that come with the app to find out how people are using it. Each tool should have a specific audience and be built to serve them.
Having great tools is great, but unless people use them, it is worthless. Before you launch a mobile app, do an assessment of the major stakeholders and identify who will be quick to adopt it and who will need more convincing. You can use the bell curve above and place the different groups into those categories. Once you think you know how open to the change your people are, build a plan to develop buy-in. This includes listening as much as it includes talking. Building buy-in is all about finding ways to add value to others.
Reinforce the Change
This may seem obvious, but consistent communication must become part of your strategy. It’s too easy just to announce the change and move on. The reality is that you have new people coming all the time. Additionally, if your people are not continuing to find value in the mobile app, they won’t come back. This is a quick way to have your app end up in the trash. Be sure to constantly remind staff, leaders, members and visitors about your app and make it an invaluable part of your church culture.
Mobile may be new to the church, but it isn’t new to your people. They are using apps to give, connect, learn and entertain themselves. But having an app isn’t enough. The world doesn’t need another app. Your people don’t need another app. People need connection. They need connection to others, to your church and most importantly, to Christ. Technology without a purpose or plan is just noise, and the world is already pretty noisy. But, if you use it well, it will help you connect more deeply with the people you are trying to reach and become a key component of how you deepen engagement.
How is your church using mobile? What impact are you seeing as a result?