The landscape of digital marketing is in a constant state of evolution, with new ways of interacting with target audiences continuously emerging. Fortunately, the trend is moving towards respecting people’s boundaries. Push notifications straddle this line perfectly by enabling churches to instantly inform their followers of any updates, while allowing users to decide which notifications they receive.
But what are push notifications, and what sets them apart from other communication methods? Are they worth implementing, and how can ministries get started with them? Furthermore, how can push notifications be used to drive growth and foster thriving communities within churches?
What Are Push Notifications?
Push notifications are a tool. They are there to ensure that the people interested in your content can see it as soon as you publish it. They are messages sent from an app to notify you of something without actually opening the app. The central server can push the news to you without any help.
It’s often a small message that has a limited character count. The easiest way to think about them is like a text message. There are many things you can do with push notifications.
- Send a brief text message.
- Trigger a sound notification (e.g., beep) for new emails or messages.
- Modify the notification appearance by running code before it appears on the screen.
- Edit or delete notifications that have already been delivered.
- Set a badge number on the app icon to indicate the number of messages or likes in the app.
- Send notifications to a group of users.
- Include media attachments in the notification message.
- Quietly instruct the app to perform a task in the background.
- Show a customized user interface within the notification message.
Your mobile device allows you to control push notifications by granting permission to receive them and specifying the frequency and type of notifications from individual apps. This way, you can receive important notifications and block out irrelevant ones.
While this article focuses on the use of push notifications for churches, if you’re interested in managing notifications from the consumer side, here’s a useful article that outlines the types of notifications that apps can send and how to control which apps are authorized to send them.
What Makes Push Notifications Different?
Push notifications are like text messages, but they have some differences. They are sent over the internet and require either Wi-Fi or mobile data. They are free and do not count towards a user’s texting plan. Unlike text messages, there is no cost per notification.
When you receive push notifications, they appear directly on your mobile screen. You can see them even when your phone is locked, and they can be identified by a little beep or vibration — like those alerting you of a new Facebook message or email.
Do Push Notifications Work?
If you check out the research, the answer is obviously “yes.”
- 70% of consumers consider push notifications valuable.
- Notifications have a 50% higher open rate compared to email.
- They also have click-through rates twice as high as email.
- 71% of young consumers have downloaded an app from their favorite brands.
With open rates as high as 90%, push notifications and text messages have proven to be effective tools for boosting engagement and retention rates. Marketing companies are increasingly targeting people through their mobile devices, as consumers are more likely to respond promptly to messages on their phones. As a result, churches and businesses alike can benefit from higher response rates by utilizing mobile notifications.
Setting Up Push Notifications for Your Church
The type of setup needed for push notifications depends on the type of notification and where it needs to be sent. If you are creating your app, coding tutorials may be necessary. The tutorial required would differ based on whether you are developing for iOS or Android. You can add push notifications to your apps if you are a developer. For non-developers, non-coding options exist.
Various push notification services are available to help send notifications without coding. They can be sent to mobile devices or web browsers, with some services specific to iOS, Android, or the browsers themselves. Amazon’s Simple Notification Service is one such service that can send push notifications to any device.
OneSignal is also a free plugin for WordPress websites that enables users to send notifications to web browsers. They have videos available to guide users through the process. These notifications are small pop-up boxes that appear when visiting certain websites and can be sent through web browsers. Websites often use them to notify visitors of new content.
How Does a Mobile-Friendly Service Generally Work?
- Open an account with the push notification service. This can involve downloading their mobile app or signing up for their services. Many services offer free trials or allow you to use their tools for free when you are starting out small.
- Get started as a “developer” if necessary. To send push notifications through iOS, you need to sign up as a developer and register with their APNs (Application Push Notification service).
- Create an app, which is the container for your notifications. If notifications are all you are doing, this is mostly just a technicality. However, DonorWerx can create such apps for you.
- Set up the notifications you want to send, such as events or messages you want to notify people about.
- Test your notifications with an actual device to ensure they are working correctly.
- Start subscribing people to your notification list.
Ways for Your Ministry to Use Push Notifications
Adding notifications to your engagement toolkit can be a great way to keep your church community informed and in control. By gathering people into your notification list, you can foster stronger relationships and ensure that everyone is updated with what’s happening at your church.
The Advantages You Gain
As a church, you have an advantage over many businesses since you have a personal connection with most of the people you will be sending notifications to. It’s important to ask them what kind of notifications they are interested in receiving. This gives you the opportunity to segment your subscriber list in a more personalized way than businesses that can only gather people online.
You can inform your subscribers about upcoming events such as church gatherings, meetings, or services using push notifications. Churches can include details about the event, like the date, time, and location. You can also segment your subscribers based on their location. For instance, if you have a group of members who want to invite other churchgoers for a board game night, you can send notifications to those who live in the same area.
Similarly, if you’re having a lunchtime barbecue, you can target friends who work in the area and encourage them to bring their coworkers along.
Staying Organized, Pushing On
Staying organized in your daily life is essential. For instance, if you’re organizing a big event, you can use push notifications to inform the planning team of last-minute details or schedule a meeting. You can also:
- Share your teachings with interested people. You can instantly notify your followers of new blog posts and send targeted messages at specific times of the day, like for evening prayers or reflections on a daily Bible verse.
- Consider having short bursts of Bible study throughout the day. You can “push” a daily verse to your subscribers, connecting with them on a personal level. Varying the verses keeps the messages fresh, making it easier to stay connected with their lives.
- Bring your community closer by informing them of significant events like births, birthdays, and local or national elections. In emergencies like house fires, you can quickly mobilize a response team to provide support, showing your care for those in need.
Today’s technology provides numerous tools to stay connected with people, enabling us to develop closer relationships with those who matter most.
Push Notifications Best Practices
To ensure that push notifications don’t become overwhelming, it’s important for your church to keep some best practices in mind when utilizing this useful tool. These include:
- Push notifications are not an open invitation to spam people. Spam is never appreciated, especially from an institution they are supposed to trust.
- Time notifications right. Avoid waking people up or interrupting them when they are busy. The general recommendation is to send notifications between 12 and 5 pm Tuesday through Friday. Keep Mondays out of it.
- Keep it brief. Ten or fewer words will give the best result. Messages that get to the point have the highest response rate. If you have a lot to say, write a post about it and send a notification asking them to read it.
- Target strategically. Don’t try to go after everyone, everywhere. You can specifically target people based on geography. Use their proximity as an opportunity to engage with them.
If you’re looking to stay connected with members of your church, push notifications can be a great tool. They’re fast, easily visible, and allow users to control their frequency. Plus, they’re cheaper than text messages and more engaging than emails. Fortunately, several services allow you to set up push notifications without requiring coding knowledge. Consider adding push notifications to your communication strategy to enhance your connection with your church community.
If you want to go a step further in engaging your congregation, DonorWerx can assist. Schedule a Discovery Call with our giving experts today. We’ll show you how to better engage churchgoers and donors and how this will increase your ministry’s overall revenue.