The 9 Essential Features You Need in a Church Texting App
Are you disappointed with your church Facebook page's low engagement and the lackluster response to mass emails to your congregation?
If you are, you're in good company. A lot of churches have felt this pain and that's one of the reasons they're flocking to church texting apps.
The remarkable text message marketing statistics are hard to argue with. An impressive 98% of text messages are read compared to only 21% of emails. And, 90% of texts are read within the first three minutes. So, not only are your messages virtually guaranteed to get read, they're going to be engaged with nearly instantly.
In addition to getting a tremendous response with their messages, many church staff members are surprised at just how simple and fast bulk text messages can be.
So, deciding to jump into church text messaging is easy when you combine these factors. But, finding the best church texting app can be a little more difficult.
We'll show you which features to look for in a texting service for churches so that you can separate the best platforms from the average services and use text messaging to engage and grow your congregation.
New to bulk texting? Check out our Beginner's Guide to Church Text Messaging
9 Must-Have Church Texting App Features
We're going to start off with a couple of components which are often overlooked by marketers when they're shopping for texting apps. Then we'll get to the more traditional feature list. Make sure that any text messaging services you explore check all of the following boxes.
1. Ease of Use
Ease of use should be the highest priority on your list. If the platform is confusing, you'll waste time and make mistakes in the short term. Down the road, you'll want to cross-train a few team members to help with texting campaigns, so make sure the software will be straightforward for the least tech-savvy member on your team. Look through the church texting app's testimonials and third-party reviews and keep an eye out for comments regarding ease of use.
2. Fantastic Customer Support
Stellar customer support should also be a top priority for church texting apps. No matter how shiny the app may look, at some point, you're going to need some help. Will the app provider deliver support which is timely, knowledgeable, and friendly? Similar to the way you'd evaluate ease of use, check out testimonials and reviews to see if other users have had positive or negative experiences with the app's support team.
Look for comments like these from one of our customer reviews on G2 Crowd:
Easy to use. Amazing customer service. The interface is simple and really requires no experience to use it. Just read the directions and start. My one question was answered promptly by the online chat associate who was friendly and knowledgeable. So simple and so effective.
Keywords are the lifeblood of your text campaigns. You'll use keywords in combination with short codes to get members to join your church group messaging list. (Text marketing is a permission-based activity, so you have to get people to opt in before you can send them text messages.) For instance, Grace Church might use the keyword 'GCUPDATES' to encourage members to join their list.
Your church texting app should make finding and securing a keyword simple and fast. To learn how Rick Warren's megachurch, Saddleback, used keywords to grow awareness during major services, check out the Saddleback Church case study.
4. MMS Images
One of the most powerful uses of mass texting is inspirational messages through Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) images. This can be a powerful tool to encourage your members on a daily basis. Many thriving churches send bible verses, inspirational quotes, and even sermon notes to remind attendees of what they heard on Sunday. If you're on a tight budget, keep in mind that some apps charge more for MMS messages than they do Short Message Service (SMS) text-only messages. Ask about this before signing on with a provider.
Your congregants lead busy lives and many of them will forget to put events on their calendars. They don't want to miss out on the programs and gatherings that your church offers, so send them a reminder to increase attendance. This is also a good opportunity to make sure they arrive with everything they need. Reminder campaigns should be easy to set up within the church texting app.
Craig Zuithoff, Student Ministry Leader at Third Reform Church in Pella, Iowa, sends reminders of upcoming events and meetings about two times per week. Using text reminders, he has seen a significant increase in special event attendance. Read the full Third Reform Church case study here.
6. Text to Vote Polls
Do you have a finger on the pulse of your congregation? Do you know where your church members need help? Using text-to-vote polling can be a great way to understand what your people want and need. Send an occasional poll to learn what types of classes, events, and topics your congregants are interested in. Make sure that your texting app includes this valuable feature.
7. Drip Campaigns
How does your church communicate its mission and activities to guests? This has been a struggle for many churches because first-time guests typically don't want to stand and have a long conversation on their initial visit.
Some churches have taken a cue from the business marketing world and successfully crafted drip campaigns to deliver bite-sized nuggets of information for a few days after an initial sign-up. For instance, when a visitor agrees to receive text message information about your church, they might receive info about ministries, vision, and beliefs every couple of days. This kind of drip campaign is activated and delivered automatically once you set it up.
8. Advanced Reports
One key to successful long-term text marketing is analyzing your SMS campaign activity and adjusting to get better engagement. Your text messaging app should give you the ability to quickly and easily understand the performance of your messages so that you can see what's working and what isn't. Make sure you can analyze your data by message, contact, keyword, and date, and that the graphs and charts are clean and clear.
9. Contact Groups
You're going to need to segment your contacts into specific groups because you'll send messages specific to certain people. For instance, you might have groups for youth, youth volunteers, deacons, small groups, staff, etc. On our platform, churches can create as many groups as they like. There's no limit or fee for forming a lot of groups. Make sure the app you select gives you the option to create an infinite number of groups.
Test Out the Leading Church Texting App
As you look for the best church texting app to help you grow your congregation, look for a provider that supplies these must-have features. Of course, at EZ Texting we believe we're the best church texting app available, and we're not alone in that assessment.
We've helped over 160,000 organizations send more than 4 billion (with a "B"!) text messages over the last decade, many of whom are churches. Our team of text messaging experts understand the unique needs of churches and are available to help you get started on the right foot. Check out our low-price plans or take a video tour of the platform.
We also offer a free trial of our app, loaded with plenty of credits for you to test out the system out. The free trial includes a helpful automated wizard which will show you the highlights as you see the platform for the first time. Getting started usually takes less than five minutes. Start your free trial right now.