In today’s ever-evolving tech world, it’s so easy for wires to get crossed. What’s the difference between an app and a mobile-responsive website? Aren’t they essentially the same thing? Do I really need both? The lines get blurred a lot with these guys. Here’s what they each bring to the table and why your church needs both:
MYTH: I have a mobile-responsive website so I don’t need an app.
Making your website responsive ensures that it works well for the user across devices, most importantly on the smartphone. Essentially, the design of your website adapts to the size and shape of the mobile device to optimize the browsing experience.
In short, it’s your website modified for members’ phones. They still have to go to their browser to access it and the content doesn’t change, just the scale and layout does. An enhanced look and experience is fantastic, but it’s critical to be mindful of varying audience needs/wants and intentional about placing your content.
How to effectively utilize your mobile-responsive website
Websites are great for first-time visitors hoping to learn more about your vision, mission & message as well as to find practical information like your location, service times, and more. People love to scope out church websites before visiting in person. Websites are research tools that should be part of a church’s marketing strategy and act as an outreach touchpoint.
First-time visitors are looking for an easy, low pressure way to learn about who you are as a church and how they might fit into your mission. At the same time, other members are looking for different kinds of information and experiences like small group details or specific ways to serve. When websites are built for visitors AND members they can become overwhelming and difficult to navigate.
We like to think of the mobile-responsive website as a digital front door or greeter. It welcomes newcomers with a nice, clear picture of what your church is about and guides them through key church pillars and important information. It can also be a great resource for current members searching for high-level information.
Websites work best when they focus on quickly and easily providing people with the information they came for.
This interactive tool should be a part of every church’s member engagement & communication strategy.
If the website is a digital front door, an app is the bustling home inside. An app is one simple, safe place with direct access to everything the church offers. Regular attenders, members, admin, and staff gather here to connect with the message, connect with others, give, volunteer, learn, grow and more.
Custom Branded Mobile Apps: Create a personalized experience
Members can make the app exactly what they want it to be and what they need it to be. They can:
- Subscribe to the exact things they want to keep up with / get notifications for
- Choose to be a part of chats and groups
- Interact with live polling questions and provide feedback on the spot
- Participate in the message with interactive sermon notes
Members can do all this and more. In addition to simply enjoying content like sermons, devotionals videos, and podcasts that are relevant to them.
This tailored experience creates a feeling of true ownership within the community. When members feel personally invested in your church and your mission that can lead to powerful acts of faith and service.
Facilitate generosity & good works
An app makes it super easy to reach people and empowers them to get involved and give. According to the New York Post, ⅓ of millennials surveyed say they rarely or never carry cash with them and a large portion find cash to be inconvenient. With in-app giving tools, members can give in a matter of seconds, no cash or check required. Plus, they can give from anywhere. So whether they are worshiping in your church or streaming from home, they can still take part in the offering. (or just give whenever they feel inspired to, any day of the week!)
On top of that, members who are plugged into important missions at their church as well as informed on the needs of their church give more and are more involved. Sending personalized texts to rally volunteers, sharing the story of a mission with campaigns, or putting out a regular podcast are all ways an app helps you inform and inspire members. Plus, apps knock down pesky barriers to giving and volunteering by offering a simple, consistent method to serve.
Make interaction second nature
Think about how often you click on Facebook just merely out of habit. The home screen is precious real estate and when an app lands there, users naturally want to engage. Now, we’re not promoting mindless scrolling but it helps demonstrate a point: A one-click entry point to a consistent, reliable, and value place is habit forming. However, we think there should be more meaning behind that habit. When it comes to mobile, what could be more meaningful than an app that connects your members to His Word and fellow church members?
In time, members will begin to look for information and notifications as well as seek out new content, announcements and opportunities to serve. In other words, engaging with your community becomes second nature.
At first glance, one might think, don’t they do the same thing? And the answer is: sure, there is some crossover in what they can do but as you’ve just read, they really shouldn’t be used for the same purpose. When we consider how different church audiences arrive at each digital space and understand what they hope to gain from the differing platforms, having a specific strategy and content for each makes perfect sense.
One acts as the front door, welcoming members in and spreading awareness of your presence and purpose, the other as home for inward engagement and connection as well as a house for all your communication and management needs.
Now, you might be thinking, having both sounds awesome! It also sounds expensive….We’re here to tell that adding an app can actually be super budget-friendly, despite some sources speculating that it will cost you upwards of $100k. Thankfully, this is absolutely NOT the case with us. In fact, that’s over 31x what our most expensive package costs.
Technology and faith intersect in so many wonderful ways. Leveraging an app and a mobile-friendly website to spread the word of God and connect your community is a beautiful example of this.