Reach Current and Prospective Congregants With SMS Text Messaging

Published on: September 1, 2012

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SMS is the text communication feature of your phone, Web or mobile communication service that allows the exchange of short text messages between mobile phones, some home phones and Web applications. SMS allows for text messages up to 160 text characters in length, and it is the most widely used data application in the world, with 2.4 billion active users (74% of all mobile phone subscribers).

SMS texting is easy to set up and use. An SMS texting service can provide you with a unique number called a short code that identifies you to the people you text. You can also select an identifying keyword that is easy for your congregants to remember. Promote your short code and keyword by adding it to social networking sites, Web pages, print marketing material, church bulletins, signage, storefronts, Q tags, etc. SMS message all congregants for special events, services or new promotion, and authorize use of your SMS service by team leaders to keep small groups informed.

Here are some ways to use SMS text messaging:
•    Call-to-Action (Prayer chain)
•    Coupons (Present your church bulletin at the bookstore and get 10% off today!)
•    Special Event (Pot Luck Sunday. Remember to bring a dish to share!)
•    Congregant Appreciation (Thank you for your generous donation.)
•    Affirmation of the week.
•    Increase Your Database (Free t-shirt for all who get 10 new opt-ins to SMS.)
•    Reminders (Choir practice tonight at 7 p.m.)
•    Warnings (Weather, etc.)
•    Default Messages (Weekly calendar)
•    Follow-Up (So glad you visited us! Come again!)
•    Cross Marketing (Read our blog.) (Like us on Facebook.)

One benefit of text messaging is that it has a more than thirty percent response rate, making it the most effective way of marketing. Send messages for daily, weekly or monthly events and watch your church grow. SMS texting can be scheduled many different ways, and by scheduling your messages, you will minimize the time spent setting up your campaigns while maximizing their effectiveness. Send out a text message to each church member by typing just one message, which will go to everyone on your list within a matter of seconds. Or set up specific groups to target. Think fax or email blast via cell phone.

  • Send out on Saturday evening: Join us tomorrow. Dr Fox at 10:30 on “Unity of the Future; Where Do You Fit In?” Q&A to follow. See you there!
  • Report a recent change in schedule: Youth of Unity time has been changed from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Bring your book study suggestions!
  • Reach new prospects who have visited your church with a welcome, thank you, or “hope to see you again” message.

SMS texting can be used to target market:
•    Everyone with information about services and activities.
•    Newcomers.
•    Youth of Unity.
•    Team members.
•    Prayer chaplains.
•    Choir and music team members.
•    People celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and celebration days.

To implement SMS texting, form a volunteer team to research and develop a plan. The only cost of advertising, direct mail, or telemarketing your SMS code is the cost to add your keyword and short code to existing marketing materials. The cost-to-impact ratio on other products/services is positive, as SMS texting offers an opportunity for reaching more people faster in a very cost-effective manner. Once purchased, contacts uploaded one at a time or via a mass CSV file will automatically receive the opt-in confirmation message giving them opportunity to opt out.

Here is one example of cost of service:

  • $9.95/month: 500 outbound messages. Unlimited inbound messages. Phone and email support.
  • $17.95/month: 1000 outbound messages. Unlimited inbound messages. Unlimited subscribers. Additional Message Bundles* are:

1. 1000 messages $40 (.04/msg)
2. 2500 messages $87.50 (.035/msg)
3. 5000 messages $150 (.03/msg)

*Additional messages never expire and remain on your account until they are all utilized. Every month your messages will be deducted from your monthly recurring messages first and, if you run out of those messages, they will start to deduct from any additional messages you have purchased. Some additional charges might be additional keywords, which are around $2 a month.

To find an SMS text messaging service, simply Google “SMS Text Messaging for Churches.” Be sure to shop costs, services, and references. Find a service that handles texting for churches specifically. Then enjoy this efficient new way to stay in close contact with your congregants!

Donna Summers
Rev Donna Summers is a Unity minister and businesswoman. As owner of a text messaging service designed specifically for churches, she is delighted to help you with ideas and technologies.

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