Targeted communication, such as e-mail, results in more uptake and participation in church events. It is important that we make it quick and simple for the church to get in touch with the right people.
Direct and targeted communication complements the church newsletter
Many churches I meet have one address book in their Outlook, another in their Gmail, and various bits of paper lying about with contact information on. Unfortunately this is rarely used (and even more rarely organised into useful categories) which means that right now there are many people who could be missing out on information from their church. In many places the printed church newsletter has been phased out, or is on a limited release. This creates an even greater need for additional information to be sent out to the congregation, in order for them to be kept informed about what goes on.
Why an address book is essential for the church
Churches typically are not meeting their potential in relation to communication. It is easily possible for them to reach an even broader audience, but this supposes the church has an address book or directory where it’s possible to get an overview of the congregation, and use this to segment (into age, gender, interests etc) for more direct and marketed dialogue.
Most churches today do not have the data to reach out to the community in an easy and appropriate manner. Mailing lists, staff details, groups, church committees and many more stakeholders contact information is often stored locally in various formats. In time this can get forgotten or disappear. Every time this happens the church loses valuable information.
Information will be used to create value
There is an urgent need for easy and efficient access to contact details for the relevant people. These contact details also need a purpose - you gain no value by collecting information that you then don’t use. An address book should give good opportunities to send text messages and emails - as well as adapting to the design of the individual church. However, I fundamentally believe that an address book in itself does not give the church enough value. Only if it is fully integrated with a professional and user-friendly communication platform will it change the church and way the church communicates. Churches should rid themselves of bad workflows with the copying/pasting of addresses, problems with formatting of Excel sheets or hassle with getting e-mails in Outlook.
Benefits of a cloud-based communications platform tailored to the church
There are many advantages to using a solution that is cloud-based and adapted to your church (cloud-based means that it is not stored locally on a computer, and therefore is not lost when a person accidently deletes the desktop copy, or when the computer is upgraded). It can be accessed via the internet and by several people simultaneously. It gives you the opportunity to collaborate and get access independent of location.
The church is a unique institution and naturally it makes some demands of the tools that underpin its work. I therefore believe that a communications solution for the church should support the church's workflow and contact with the congregation. Hence, it is important to build segments. For example, it is appropriate to get in touch with new mums to invite them to a baby group, or with the choir to invite them to a local concert. This information can be collected automatically in a number of ways - for example, through the data input in event registrations. And we can see that it works! When the address book is easily accessible and used to send messages to a group of community members they become more engaged in church activities.