As a church or ministry leader, you want to know as much as you can about your members. But where should you start? What is the most important thing to get your members to do first?
No, it’s not to fill out your registration form or visitor card. It’s not to visit your Facebook page or website. It’s not to download your church app or attend some event.
Some of those may be helpful, but they are not most important (and can needlessly stifle the relationship). The most important info to get from your members is their cell phone number and their email address.
WHY? There are 4 main reasons:
1. Email and cell phone number are the new “home addresses” for your members.
In the past, having the physical “home address” (i.e. mailing address) was most important. This used to be the contact info that changed the least and was therefore, most reliable over time. That’s not necessarily the case any longer.
Nowadays, people change cell phone numbers and email addresses even less than their physical mailing addresses. After all, their email address and cell phone is how they communicate with and access the most important people (family, friends, coworkers) and things (banks, social networks, bills, etc.) in their life. We rely on them more than any other communication channel. So we don’t change them much anymore. They are the new “home addresses” for your members.
2. Email and text messaging are the most effective ways to communicate with your members.
What communication technologies are used most prevalently among your congregation? Email and cell phone. No other technology (social network, app, web service, etc.) comes anywhere close to them (~91%). That means the largest percentage of your members can participate.
What communication channels are checked and used most frequently by your members? Email and cell phone (specifically, text messaging). Despite the growth of specific mobile apps and social networks (which unreliably change every few months), people still use their mobile devices far more for email and texting than for any other tasks.
What communication channels have the best open rates (i.e. the % of people who open and read your message)? By far the answer is text messaging (with good email usage coming in a solid second). More on that here. Some people may classify “push notifications” from mobile apps up here as well. However, mobile apps come with the very significant downside of having to first convince somebody to download an app (something that takes multiple steps, lots of time and that primarily only your most engaged members will do), then get the person to separately turn on (and keep on) push notifications for that app, and THEN make sure they re-do ALL those steps every 1-2 years when they get a new phone. Text messaging is a far, far superior option.
What channels are you most likely to be able to engage your members over? Email and text messaging. This is for two reasons. First, because it’s through these channels that members are most likely to GET the message in the first place (that’s why Facebook doesn’t win here). Second, because the “barrier” to reply is extremely low. They don’t have to log in to a service or remember to check or load an app. They don’t have to change any of their existing habits. The message is pushed to them and then they simply click “reply” and start typing. (FYI – Flocknote makes capturing all those replies in an organized fashion super simple).
3. Having a member’s email or cell phone number makes everything else you do easier!
Once you can easily email or text message your members, achieving all of your other goals just got easier. You are then most able to get somebody to take a next step, click a link, donate, RSVP, answer your question, visit your website, fill out a form, give you more info or otherwise respond to some call-to-action you have for them. So it’s just plain smart to start with email and text messaging.
4. Email and cell phone are easiest to capture.
People are accustomed to typing their email address or phone number multiple times per day. And it takes them less than 10 seconds to do. Best of all, they can give it to you right now in less than a minute using a device most of them carry with them at all times: their mobile device.
And Flocknote makes that part amazingly fun and easy. Next Sunday, using our Text-to-join feature, just ask your flock to pull out their phones and text YOUR_KEYWORD to 84576. It immediately texts them back a unique link they can click right there on their phone where it then captures their name and email, too. In the very next step, it shows them all your ministries and groups and lets them select which ones they’d like to get updates from. All right there from the pew using their mobile device.
So in about 2 minutes in one Sunday you capture every person’s cell phone number and email address (i.e. their most important contact info) AND allow them to choose their communication preferences and what ministries they’d like join. (Psst, Flocknote let’s you embed this whole process right into your website, too.)
Even better, Flocknote empowers every ministry leader — with the click of a button — to immediately reach out to (and hear back from) large groups of people via text message or email. Learn more here.
So get their email address and cell phone number first. You’ll be more connected to your community than ever before. Learn more about Flocknote’s mission to build a more connected Church.