Best Practices: Text vs Push Notification

Put aware3 to work.

We have ways to keep your mobile tools fresh in every season.

Four Key Factors for deciding to use Text vs Push Notifications.

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Today churches have a plethora of choices when it comes to communications – Facebook, email, phone calls, print, Apps, text, Twitter, and their website, just to name a few. Push notifications have higher engagement rates than emails, which makes them a popular choice. It may also be difficult to know when to send a push notification and when to send a text message (SMS).

Here are four factors to consider when deciding how best to communicate:

1. Audience.

Text – Sent to anyone that has an app profile (you have their phone number)—you can also import a list to include others who may not have the app.

Push – Sent to anyone who has downloaded your app (who have not opted out of push messages).

Texts cast a much wider net, all you require is a phone number and you’re able to send a message. This means that Push notifications are best for your members or regular attendees, but they also offer much more functionality for engagement.

2. Engagement.

Push notifications give you the advantage of deep-linking. This means that when you send a message you can direct people to specific locations within your app. Whether you need to send a survey, remind people to register for an upcoming event, or just want people to check-in, push notifications can increase engagement in your app.

Additionally, push notifications have the advantage of being geo-location specific. For example, maybe you want to communicate that there’ll be a potluck in the lobby after 2nd service today. You wouldn’t want to blast a message to everyone on your list, as it would not be applicable for most. With geo-fencing you can send the message to only the people at your location, ensuring timely and appropriate content for the people who would be most interested.

3. Cost.

The next issue to consider is the cost. Push notifications are free, but may not reach everyone in your intended distribution, especially if they’ve opted out of communications. With text you can potentially reach more people, but you should also be aware that there could be a cost to you (depends upon your plan) and to your recipients (depending upon their data plan).

4. Urgency.

Text messages create a greater sense of urgency, making them a great resource for last-minute communications, or can’t-miss alerts. Push notifications tend to be viewed as less intrusive as they follow the device’s settings for privacy and preference.

Both text messages and push notifications have their advantages, and their disadvantages. While there is no absolute right and wrong choice for sending one versus the other, these are four factors to consider as you communicate with your congregation. Like any form of technology though, it’s also up to you to use it responsibly. Don’t over communicate as you may cause more people to opt-out and tune out your message all together.

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Got your own story to share? We’d love to hear from you. Tell us the creative uses you have for any of the aware3 features. An upcoming post can feature your idea to inspire and serve churches all across the globe.
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Put aware3 to Work: Magical Info Pages

Put aware3 to work.

We have ways to keep your mobile tools fresh in every season.

Our Favorite examples of Info Pages.

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Whenever we talk to our church partners, it’s exciting to see their creative uses for features we release. What may have started as an Info Page gets the creative spin of Church staffers – and presto – it’s a Bulletin, Pastor’s Corner, I’m New and so much more. It’s basically magic!

Here’s a few real churches to help inspire your own magic.

1. I’m New Here – Living Stones Church.

Rather than making the same announcement each week, this church is able to share information with the people seeking it! Notice how they set expectations to help set newcomers at ease?

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2. Student Ministry – Trinity Lutheran, Enumclaw.

Remember when your high school student told you everything important in their life? Me neither. Parents and students alike can get the 4-1-1 right from their mobile device.

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3. News & Announcements – STSA Coptic Orthodox Church.

Check this one out – an important upcoming event – with all the relevant registration links, dates, etc – and it didn’t go into a spam folder like email can.

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4. Meet the Staff – The Ransom Church.

Help people get to know and connect with your church staff. Because they included it on their church app it makes sending a quick email, text or phone call super easy.

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5. Pastor’s Corner – Baltimore Faith.

Many pastors have blogs, devotionals, or sermon deeper-dives. Creating a dedicated section for these discussions can help your  pastor extend God’s message to even more people.

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Got your own story to share? We’d love to hear from you. Tell us the creative uses you have for any of the aware3 features. An upcoming post can feature your idea to inspire and serve churches all across the globe.

Share your Story.

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Provide The Best Experience For Your Volunteers This Easter

Key events during the year often call for more Sunday morning volunteers than usual. The hope is that the volume of churchgoers is higher than what is expected for just a typical Sunday. Easter, Christmas, Sundays with a missions emphasis, etc. are all types of services that call for a coordinated effort between a church staff and volunteers to make the best experience and environment possible for someone to learn more about God’s greater message.

Inviting and encouraging people to volunteer for the Easter season is well underway in many churches. As Easter gets closer, your team has put in a great deal of effort to carefully select and contact the best volunteers for each role. Sundays like Easter, for example, are also great times of the year for someone new to start serving for the first time. Positions are open, the needs are clear, and often the environment of excitement and celebration makes it easier to start something new.

It’s not a secret that people have an innate human desire to help. They genuinely, truly, and sincerely want to pitch in and be a part of something greater than themselves. From kids and preschool workers to the tech team and greeters, there’s a place for everyone. So, even though engaging with and identifying potential new volunteers can be challenging, it’s not the most intensive part of volunteer management. With a large pool of volunteers for Easter now available for future serving opportunities, it becomes more about retaining volunteers beyond the seasons of celebration. Sometimes we expect that people will seek us out and ask to serve again, but that isn’t always the case.When your volunteers show up on Easter morning, you want them to have a great experience so they will see the opportunity to serve again as a joy and not a burden.

At every step of a volunteer’s journey, people need to know they are cared for by your team and that they are making a difference. The good news is that people are the one resource every church has more than anything else–so your seats are filled with resources that will help spread the word about their positive volunteer experiences. But, how do we ensure that each volunteer has an exceptional serving experience? Start with something simple: transparent communication. Volunteers need to feel confident and empowered that they own what they are doing and the position they have taken on. They only way they can confidently do their job is if you tell them what to expect and how to succeed.

Chat With Your Volunteers All In One App

Time is precious for everyone, so asking volunteers to attend a meeting or training with such little time before Easter is unlikely to fit into their schedules. After gathering your volunteers, the easiest medium to communicate with them through is a through a medium they are already using: a smartphone app. An aware3 church app has group chat capabilities right in the app that allow you to communicate with all your volunteers in one place. Create a group for greeters, kids ministries, or the worship team. Then, all you need to do is send them all a message to these groups with all the details, instructions, and introductions needed to ensure everyone feels confident about what to do on Sunday.

Two-way communication among specific groups helps in making planning a breeze. Conversations as simple as what snacks everyone likes so you can have them on hand at a volunteer center, to reminders about what time to show up that morning. This will help with increasing volunteer retention, participation, and overall interest in serving.

Once Sunday is over, you can send a message thanking everyone for their hard work and let them know they are all appreciated.

Every volunteer is different, which is no surprise, since God created us uniquely in His image. He gave special gifts and strengths that can be used to serve others as well as the church. With this in mind, let’s make the serving experience something that people feel like they’re missing out on if they don’t do it. Let’s clearly communicate with our volunteers this Easter season; let them know they are appreciated. You just might find that the spiritual health of your church community will reap the benefits of your efforts.

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Put aware3 to Work: Promoting your Church App

Put aware3 to work.

We have ways to keep your mobile tools fresh in every season.

Promoting Your Church App: One of our Favs.

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Promoting your church app can be a game changer. Your App will increase in value as more people use it and view it as the central source for connecting at your church. We often hear from church partners who wonder about the ‘best practices’ for promoting their new app, and this week we wanted to highlight one of our favorites: First Woodway Baptist Church in Waco, TX.

1. Church Bulletin.

Woodway prints this bulletin and shares it with members. Notice how they keep things simple by highlighting one specific app feature? One high-class touch we really loved is how they offer a computing class on Wed that allows people who might struggle with technology to have a person to talk to. A+ guys!

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2. Video.

Video may dominate web traffic, but don’t let it intimidate you. Woodway made a very simple video that highlights to attendees the benefits of their App. Check it out

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3. Website.

The majority of first-time visitors are going to check you out online before physically visiting your church. Take advantage of that fact by highlighting your App with links on your Home page.

4. Text.

For churches with our Text Engagement plan you can promote a simple way for everyone to grab your app. Want to give it a try? Text “App” to 816-760-2684 to download our sample app.

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Personally Inviting People To Easter Is Easier Than Ever

It is never too early to talk about how many pastel M&Ms, Cadbury eggs, or Starburst jelly beans you are going to eat this Easter season, is it? While Easter does bring delicious treats for all ages to enjoy, it is also a season of reflection and meditation as the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus approaches. For Christ-followers, Easter brings a sense of peace and thankfulness as we acknowledge the sacrifice that Jesus made for all mankind many years ago. For non-believers, it might just be about the egg hunts and candy. But, it does not have to be.

Similar to Christmas, Easter is a time where people are looking to try out a new church or returning to church after a hiatus. Research shows that when the holidays roll around, there’s an increase in searches online for churches, and this is especially true at Easter. In fact, the highest share of searches for “church” is on the week of Easter Sunday. This helps prove the great opportunity that Easter provides as an entry point into your church.

There is nothing more powerful than a personal invitation to church. A visitor’s journey doesn’t start with the initial greeting at the church doors. It starts with a personal relationship.

Why Personal Invitations Matter

According to Christianity Today, LifeWay Research conducted a survey of 15,000 adults for the North American Mission Board to try to determine which of 13 approaches is the best-received when a church wants to be heard. The research proves that best-received medium of communication for seeing new people walk into a church is, well, a personal invitation. Here’s the proof:

  • 67% of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 63% of Americans say a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 56% of Americans are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a friend or neighbor

Equip And Empower Your Church With Push Notifications

When you are shepherding church members and attenders, creativity is often required when you want them to engage in an event or ministry. Whether it is to serve, give, or grow, if people are invested in your mission and values, they will listen and have the desire to follow through on whatever is being requested of them.

With a church app, you can send targeted reminders with push notifications right to a mobile device. And, you can even add emojis ⛪️ ? to make your reminder about inviting people to Easter more fun.

Geo-targeted notifications are also key to sending reminders to people to invite others to Easter services. This feature provides the ability to establish a radius around a pre-defined area so the opportunity to interact with someone during their regular weekly routine. As your app users enter the defined area, you can set the app to push a message to them. Some great places to geo-target include daycare centers, schools, gyms, grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, or coffee shops. These are common places where people may have friends or acquaintances that can be invited to church. By reminding your audience of the opportunity to invite someone to Easter in real time, the more likely they are to take a step and extend an invitation.

By helping churches grow through member engagement, we are deeply invested in changing lives for the Gospel. We are passionate about helping you be the most impactful leader you can be for your community, and for us, that begins by providing the tools to make connection and meaningful communication available at your fingertips.

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Put aware3 to Work: Video is for more than just Sermons

Put aware3 to work.

We have ways to keep your mobile tools fresh in every season.

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There’s no doubt that 2017 was the year of video. It was estimated that 74% of all online traffic was video last year. That’s why we made massive enhancements to our Custom Video portal. Our in-app video experience syncs directly with your YouTube or Vimeo account, but allows for a stylish experience, making it easier for your members to find the content they’re seeking. Here are just a few of our favorites. .

The top use of video by churches is sharing their sermon series. It makes perfect sense too, allowing people who missed a key message to go back and catch up. Video archives can also help you reach new people who may be unable to attend a physical gathering, or even people who loved being a part of your community in the past, but whose life circumstances required them to relocate. While this may be the most popular use of video, it’s not the only option.

Here are our top 5 favorite additional video uses:

1. Announcements. People only retain 10% of what they hear, so why not make those important announcements handy for easy recall?

2. Volunteer Training Want to make sure children’s volunteers all get the same basic security training? Or have a specific list for Ushers to learn? Share the information in a video and they’ll be able to review it on demand.

3. Bible Study / Small Groups A picture is worth 1000 words. Share key discussion questions, or even inspiration and gratitude for leaders through a dedicated video channel just for them.

4. Worship experience Did you miss worship service, or want to re-live your Sunday experience mid-week? Why not provide a way for people to get inspired whenever they need a pick-me-up by having a channel just for recordings from Sunday worship.

5. Welcome / What to Expect. Ever thought that new parents would be put to ease if they could just see how incredible your Children’s ministry is? Show them with video. .

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Release Notes: March 2018

Notable features, bug fixes, performance enhancements and updates in this series of releases:

  • Planning Center giving link is now more intelligent about searching for existing Batches, eliminating duplicates (AMP-2533, ∞ All Versions)
  • umcGo listings now have a default UMC cross and flames icon (AMP-2517, ∞ All Versions)
  • Outbound Text is now disabled by default to prevent any accidental charges when sending text messages (AMP-2504, ∞ All Versions)
  • The iOS profile page is smoother and loads more quickly (AMP-2415, 26.9)
  • Some listings in churchOn and umcGo were listing the physical address twice (AMP-2562, 26.9)
  • Administrators can now see if People profiles have been verified via text/email (AMP-2500, ∞ All Versions)
  • iPhone X splash screen is now available for upload on the Setup page (AMP-2469, ∞ All Versions)
  • The home page statistics for downloads (by platform – iOS or Android) as well as sessions are now available (AMP-2534, ∞ All Versions)
  • Chat and Campaigns features in the App editor now link appropriately to the chat / campaign sections in the portal (AMP-2540, ∞ All Versions)
  • Audio uploading wasn’t allowing reordering for a moment (AMP-2638, ∞ All Versions)
  • Info page editing was thrown off by large images during saving (AMP-2635, ∞ All Versions)
  • Form fields weren’t respecting the “required/optional” setting (AMP-2620, ∞ All Versions)
  • The Funds page was struggling to display external funds. Struggling is now gone (AMP-2613, ∞ All Versions)
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