Welcome back to the Tech In Church podcast! Today we’re talking about all things guest communications with Caleb Oliver. He is here to tell you how to use tech to communicate with his community and church attendees before and after they come to the church. Tune in to hear how you can use his strategies; not just for those big events like Easter, but all through the year. Tune in today to hear how Caleb moved from a big catch-all event to a small on-ramp with specific roadways to enter their church community. You’ll also receive two great resources to up your church’s communication strategy today. Thanks for tuning in!
Key Points From This Episode:
Most churches really struggle to communicate consistently with their people and that can leave them feeling disconnected. Text In Church is an easy-to-use 2-way texting system created for churches to connect with their members and guests beyond Sunday mornings to make them feel known, noticed, and loved.
Text the word, CONNECT, to 816-429-9396 to start your free 60-day trial of Text In Church today to see just how easy it is.
Tech in Church Podcast
Text in Church on Facebook
Plan a Visit Blueprint
The Ultimate Guest Follow-Up Plan
The Tech In Church Podcast is a Text In Church team production. For more information about this podcast, go to https://podcast.textinchurch.com. For more information on Text in Church, visit https://textinchurch.com.
[0:00:00.5] NH: Welcome to the Tech in Church Podcast, brought to you by Text in Church. I’m Nina Hampton and I’m here with my cohost, Jeanette Yates. If you are ready to make huge, long-term impact in your ministry using technology the right way, then you are in the right place. In each episode, you’ll hear from church administrate leaders who will share their real-life examples of how to use the right technology, so that they can spend more time building relationships and doing the things that got them into ministry in the first place.
[0:00:30.2] NH: Today, we’re talking about all things guest communications with Caleb Oliver. He uses Text in Church to help him connect with his community and church attendees before and after they come to the church for a big service or event. We’ll break down how you can incorporate his strategies into your church communications, not just for these big Sundays like Easter but any time of the year. Let’s get started.
[0:00:52.6] NH: Caleb has developed some amazing strategies for his church over the last few years. He uses a combination of organic social media, Facebook ads, texting and other more traditional methods of promotion to invite his people to church for services and events. He then hosts those people very well and then does an amazing job following up with them too.
[0:01:12.9] JY: That’s right. They’ve had really great success in the past with hosting their community for a Christmas event, which we’ve talked to him about before and he’s been using those strategies but when we talked recently about Easter, he said they were changing things up a bit this year. So let’s take a listen.
[0:01:28.9] CO: This year, one of the things that we noticed though is that post-Easter, even 2019, 2021, even though we were offering six week follow-ups with text and emails, even though we were doing some sort of hook to get people back, we would do like the meet the pastors or lunch with the pastor's event the week after Easter and returns.
Part of the reason is because, obviously, Easter, it’s a big Sunday, people are going to be at church anyway a lot of times, depending on what region of the country you’re in but also, because it’s a big event and we did our big events on Easter Sunday, people who were maybe loosely attending a church or weren’t attending in church, they were coming to the big special event for their kids and their families, but we weren’t really able to assimilate them.
So this year, what we’ve decided is that we’re not going to do a big, fantastical Easter event on Easter Sunday. Instead, we’re going to do a normal service, we’ll have something special for the kids in the kid’s service but we’re not going to do something big before or after service but what we are going to do is we’re going to do a big special, fun food truck event the Sunday after Easter. We’re going to use Easter as a way to get people in the door and then we’re going to offer them the opportunity to come back.
[0:02:47.2] NH: Okay, so, no Easter egg hunt or spring festival and no big Easter worship experience. They are flipping things around a bit here. So churches often use those community events pre-Easter to promote their Easter services but what they found is that people were coming to those services anyway so they turned their focus into getting people back after Easter.
[0:03:08.0] JY: Yeah, so this kind of blew my mind when he talked about this. Caleb and I were discussing this and he did discuss how important it is to evaluate strategies and change them when they aren’t helping you reach your goals. So for them, their goal was not just to get people to Easter. I mean, we all want that but he wanted to go beyond that and get them connected and assimilated into their church community.
Having the big event after Easter gives people a reason to come back. So his church is hosting a food truck event the Sunday after Easter and because you know, we love a digital connection card, if they text the keyword and fill out the connection card on Easter, Caleb’s church is paying for their lunch.
[0:03:51.4] NH: We’re going to talk about Caleb’s Easter follow-up in a minute but since he’s not doing a big pre-Easter community event, let’s hear his strategy for letting people know about the Easter Sunday service.
[0:04:04.3] CO: Sure, well let me first start off with how we’re advertising our Easter service because we’re not doing those big events. So we have Facebook ads that have started running for our community. I have a couple of people at our church that are filmed a selfie style video, we also have Google ads that a third-party company is managing for us. So we have some advertisements, we also have nice handouts.
I actually, our process for getting people in the door really calm, thanks to Devon Galloway and his engaged talk back in February. He talked specifically about on ramps, he talked about having less. So our process for assimilation is this funnel of this large opening for people to come in and slowly assimilating in. What he talked about which he didn’t say it this way but this is how I visualized it.
It's like an upside-down funnel where you’re giving them a little bit of information at a time so they’re not overloaded and they don’t have an obstacle to taking their next step before even getting in the door and so he talks a lot about that and so, we actually applied that in our plan your visit cards.
I don’t know how bright it’s probably too bright to see but it doesn’t have a lot of words on it, it literally has just the information of this service, service time, direction and then the QR code takes them to a plan your visit Text in Church card with a video from our lead pastor, talking about what our service is going to look like.
[0:05:32.8] JY: As Caleb mentioned, it was something from engaged conference and Devon Galloway7 session that made them go from a big catch all event to a small on ramp with specific roadways to enter their church community.
[0:05:46.6] NH: Caleb also mentioned that his new way of promoting Easter shares a less information so as not to overload a potential visitor and this is really something that we see a lot with church communication. The temptation is to get as much information as possible because they think that that brings clarity but actually, too much information can lead to confusion in your community and so using clear specific information with just one call to action, removes the obstacle of overload.
[0:06:14.0] JY: So, if we think about this, the practical example would be, when you print invites for your church service. Whether that be Easter or maybe you’re having a new sermon series and you want to send out those invite cards or maybe even give them to your members to invite a friend, the temptation is to print everything about the service for this erase on the card.
I don’t know if this is what will happen in a church where you worked but sometimes you might even want to add, say, another promo for the small group that’s going to start after or something else because you’re like, “Oh, well we’re paying to print, might as well print as much as we can possibly…” You know, we also want them to know about the VBS and we also want them to know…
[0:06:54.6] NH: Right, all the things.
[0:06:55.5] JY: Yeah. Please do not do that. Use the card to draw attention to one specific service or event, provide just the key information they need and why someone would want to attend and then give them a call to action. Use a QR code and ask them to scan it to receive more information about the service. The goal of this card is to get people to take the next step, not all the steps, right?
This step, it’s the ones that we want them to take is scan the QR code. After they do that, then your landing page or website should encourage them to take their next step.
[0:07:26.3] NH: Exactly. So in the interview with Caleb that you did, he held up a small card with the QR code on it and talked about how they are intentionally focusing the message on one thing, the Easter service, and how to find out more by scanning the QR code. So let’s talk a little bit more about the QR code strategy that Caleb is using here.
It’s not just about having the QR code, go to a landing page with all of the information. Using the Text in Church QR code will actually help you connect with your potential visitor in a more meaningful way.
[0:07:55.2] JY: That’s a good point. So the QR code, Caleb’s church use, send people to a digital connection card that allow them to share their contact information with the church. Then, they use a series of prescheduled messages to text and email people to help them know more about what to expect on Easter Sunday and how to plan their visit. That’s what makes this particular QR cord strategy so helpful.
You don’t have to have all the information on the postcard and you are not driving them to a landing page that has all the information that’s still going to be overwhelming.
[0:08:23.8] NH: Right.
[0:08:24.3] JY: You are just getting the information that you need to be able to communicate with them so that you can invite them to learn more and give them smaller chunks of information as their visit approaches. Again, this was about Easter but really, you can do this for any Sunday.
[0:08:38.6] NH: Yeah, that is really true Jeanette. So the plan of visit is a feature and the system that Caleb talks about is really simple and you can just send a follow-up email with the details about the visit and then schedule your text messages out to remind people to show up and of course, if you want to make this easy on yourself, then you definitely need to head to our show notes and download the plan of visit, there’s a blueprint.
It is a completely free resource that walks you through all of the details of how Caleb’s church and other churches help people plan their first visit to your church. It’s amazing how they are turning website visitors into actual real first-time guests that come through the door.
[0:09:11.9] JY: Yes and speaking of making things easier, the next thing Caleb talked about during the interview was their post-Easter follow-up process. His church is using a six-week guest follow-up strategy the team at Tech in Church developed along with the help of thousands of other churches who have shared what’s been working for them right now.
This was the framework that allowed them to actually plan out what would be happening for the next six Sundays at their church, knowing this time of year is hectic for families as the school year winds down and the summer picks up, they wanted to focus the six Sundays on creating events like the food truck event he mentioned that would help newcomers get to know the church community and campus better. Check this out.
[0:09:50.0] CO: So here is our six-week follow-up, generally speaking, it will be text and emails. So April 24th, Sunday after Easter, big event, food trucks, all that stuff. May 1st, two weeks after Easter is meet the pastors. Going to go through our just our vision and meet staff members, meet all of our staff. We have six staff members and so again, this is the funnel for new people.
May 8th, which is three weeks after Easter is Mother’s Day. We have another big event on Mother’s Day. We will do some sort of special event. We usually do, we have a family photo booth. We have a professional photographer come in and do family photos, we usually do some fun things for the kids to give their moms. We do Mother’s Day cards in the men’s bathroom, that’s like right as they walk in like, “Did you forget? Here, here is some Mother’s Day cards.”
[0:10:35.9] JY: Yes, there are people that they’ve got all day when at the end of the day, some of them –
[0:10:39.6] CO: They get used a lot more often than I feel like they probably should get used but it’s awesome and then we have a special gift for all the ladies in attendance. So we will do something special on Mother’s Day, again, a fun event to get people involved and then we are going to try something brand new that we have never done. We are still literally writing, so this is not completed yet.
May 15th and May 22nd, we’re going to do essentially a one-on-one, first steps into assimilation class. We do our church calendar based on semesters and so it’s really hard to get people to assimilate this late in the spring season because by mid-May, all of our groups are winding down. Almost all of our groups have less than three weeks before the summer. We could invite people to serve in the summer but with so many people traveling and out of town, it’s really hard to get that.
So the only other assimilation process that we currently have is membership class but we don’t want a person who has been coming for six weeks to go, “I want to become a member” even though they haven’t actually served on a team, they haven’t actually attended a group they don’t really know anybody yet we assume, so we’re trying something new. We kind of break out our membership class into a one-on-one, two-on-one, three-on-one type, which I know a lot of churches do.
So that’s our process is again, it’s a six-week follow-up. We have done six-week follow-up because in the past, we just haven’t done an intentional week. Every Sunday we have something for people. So our big goal from April 1st until June 1st is we want a 100 people to text new on Easter Sunday, which we feel like we can do, and then by May 29th, 10%, so ten people will have gone through this class, which is pretty good if you understand assimilation statistics in the church. If 10% within five weeks of our church have come to an event like that, they’re in.
[0:12:35.4] NH: That was really good. I love how he specifically said that they are stepping up their follow-up game and because we work with thousands of churches, we know that six weeks of follow-up is going to be more effective than just one or two weeks. This is especially true when you are trying to connect with people who aren’t in the habit of going to church, you know what I mean? I haven’t missed a Sunday and I can’t tell you how long.
[0:12:56.6] JY: Right.
[0:12:57.0] NH: You know, but these people are not in the habit of coming to church. So I love how Caleb’s church is going even beyond that step and customizing our six-week follow-up message templates and intentionally inviting people to return every week for a unique experience that walks them through connecting with the church community that pastors and finally and most importantly, a connection with Jesus Christ.
[0:13:18.3] JY: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right, that is what it’s all about. The reason for using an automated six-week follow-up process and text messaging service like Text in Church is not just to schedule some messages and call it a day. Yes, you can and should automate the messages but you can’t automate the community building.
[0:13:33.7] NH: Literally.
[0:13:35.3] JY: That is where being intentional about what your messages say and how you are communicating them comes in. To learn more about how to create a follow-up process that helps you spend less time managing tools and more time building those relationships, head to the show notes. That’s right, Nina’s not the only one giving away freebies today. She thought she was going to be the star of this one but no-no, I am coming in here.
I am putting in a resource for you to download called, The Ultimate Guest Follow-up Plan, you can download it for free and her freebie too, The Plan of Visit Blueprint. You can do that by heading to podcast.textinchurch.com.
[0:14:10.7] NH: Yeah, you look at you doubling up on freebies today Jeanette.
[0:14:13.9] JY: I like surprises. I am trying my best to have a little fun here with our peeps today but after Caleb shared how critical it was for his team to have a guest follow-up framework to build on, tweak and make their own, I could not hold back. I wanted to make sure that everybody had that in their hands.
[0:14:31.0] NH: Yeah, absolutely and before we sign off here, I’d like to revisit another key point that Caleb made when it comes to promoting your events or your services and it was about keeping your message simple and clear. People don’t need to know everything about an event when you first introduce it, you just need to provide the key information that they need to know to take action on what you are asking them to take, which in Caleb’s case is asking people to scan the QR code on the invite card. That’s it.
[0:14:58.2] JY: Yep, exactly. Easy-peasy lemon-squeezy. You only have them to take one step or make one decision at a time and this should be the case for your invite cards, the landing page on your website or even a Facebook ad. Think about what is the one step you need people to take at each step of the registration process and encourage them to do just that.
[0:15:19.6] NH: All right friends, it’s time to take action. Go to our show notes at podcast.textinchurch.com to download the two free resources that we told you about. The Plan of Visit Blueprint and The Ultimate Guest Follow-up Plan.
[0:15:33.8] JY: We want to break down any barriers for you to get the best training and resources to move your ministry forward and these are two of our best resources. They will help you turn more website visitors into actual attendees and then follow up with all of your guests in a simple meaningful way, making them feel known, noticed, and loved.
[0:15:52.7] NH: All right, that’s it for this week’s episode of the Tech in Church Podcast. Be sure to follow us on your favorite podcasting app to know when episodes are available.
[0:16:00.3] JY: I’m Jeanette.
[0:16:01.6] NH: And I’m Nina and we’ll talk more tech next time.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:16:04.4] JY: The Tech in Church Podcast is a production of the Text in Church team. To get the show notes for this week’s episode and to download the resources mentioned, go to textinchurch.com/podcast. For more information on Text in Church, visit textinchurch.com.