How To Ensure Success with Your App

Is your app a magic pill? Not exactly, but with the proper strategy in place, you can be sure that it will help you engage with your community. Here at Subsplash, we’ve helped quite a few churches use their app to boost engagement, so we wanted to compile a short list of things you can do to ensure your app is successful.  


 

Talk About It

No one is going to use your app if they don’t know it exists. Make sure your pastor and team are giving it some love from the stage on Sunday mornings. If you are a pastor or staff member, your congregation looks to you as their leader, and chances are they will get on board with something if you show excitement about it. The churches we work with typically see a huge spike in app downloads after it is pushed on Sundays. This can even help you cut stage time for announcements. Instead of spending valuable stage time going through a handful of announcements, you can encourage people to download the app for the latest updates, and then send your announcements in push notifications.

 

Keep people coming back

So you’ve announced your app from the stage and people start downloading it. Awesome! But what’s next? Downloading the app is great, but having people download the app and then never open it again is obviously not what you want to see. How do you keep them coming back? A great place to start is by intentionally putting content in the app that is relevant and useful to your congregation. If your app is simply a carbon-copy of your website, chances are you won’t see much engagement with it (we wrote about that last week). What things are helpful to your congregation? What do they want to use the app for? Focus on providing fresh content that is relevant to your congregation so the app becomes a helpful tool to them.


 

The best mobile experience

You have great gospel content, and that content needs to be presented well if you want to see people engaging. If your app simply links out to a bunch of websites or pulls in media from outside sources like YouTube, Soundcloud, or Vimeo, then your users are missing out. Even worse, they may stop using the app completely. Why? Simply put, these things do not provide users with the best mobile experience. There is a reason YouTube and Vimeo push you to their apps when you try to watch a video in your mobile browser. It’s simply a better experience that gives the user more control with the playback. Providing your congregation with the best possible mobile experience inside the app will keep them engaged. If you are curious to see how you can accomplish this without adding extra work to your plate, check out Subsplash Cloud, along with our many integrations that optimize your content for use inside the app.

 

Discipleship is key

At the end of the day, your app is not just a piece of technology. It is a discipleship tool. Having people engaged with the content in your app is great not because it makes your numbers look good, but because that means people are using it to grow in their walk with Jesus. Your app is going to become an invaluable tool to your congregation when you fill it with content for this purpose. This could include devotionals, Bible reading plans, prayer requests, daily encouragements, stories of God’s grace, and more.


 

So to summarize, you can expect people to use your app regularly when:

  • They know it’s important

  • Your app provides them with a top-notch mobile experience

  • The app is filled with relevant content that helps them grow in their walk with the Lord


If you are wanting to implement these ideas, we would love to help! You can contact our team here.

Maximize Your Communication Strategy in 2017

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Eat healthier? Work out more? Maybe you want to develop a rock-solid communication strategy for your church. If that is the case, we can help! When thinking through your communication strategy, it is important to identify the audience and purpose for each of your channels. Having too much overlap can create unnecessary work for your team, and even has the potential to cause confusion for your congregation. Let’s take a look at two of your most important communication tools: your website and your app.

 

Maximize Your Website

Outside of Sunday morning, your church’s website is truly going to be the “first impression” for visitors. If someone in your area is looking for a church, they will probably search Google for a congregation in your town. Maybe they drove past your building and want to find out more information, so they go online to learn what your church is all about. Or maybe they saw your Facebook ad that links to your website. Presenting your content in a way that is fresh and easy to navigate on the web is going to help get that person in the door.

Statistics show that if a person can’t find what they’re looking for on your website within the first five seconds, they are likely to give up all together. What is a new visitor to your website going to want to know? Most likely they will be looking for when church happens, where church happens, what your church believes, and who the pastor is. Most churches we work with report that these pages typically get the highest traffic on their websites. Making that content extremely visible will help you communicate what your church is about to those people who are interested in coming.

 

Maximize Your App

Having a good website is imperative for communicating to guests, but it is not going to be the best avenue for long-term communication with your congregation. Studies show that 89% of consumer media content is taken in through native apps. The numbers don’t lie. If you have a high-quality app filled with content that is pertinent to your congregation, you have a much higher likelihood of engaging them there rather than through your website. The app is going to provide a much better experience for things that people in your congregation need on a regular basis, such as sermons, sermon notes, Bible reading plans, prayer requests, events, and giving. Churches that use the Subsplash platform and push people to the app for these things are experiencing a huge increase in engagement: over twice as many sermon plays, giving increasing by 15%, and more people engaged with events and reading plans.

 

4 Tips to Maximize Your Communication Strategy

With all that in mind, here are four tips to help you maximize your communication strategy as you head into the new year:

  1. Make sure information such as service times and location, doctrinal statements, and staff listings are easily accessible on your website. This is the primary information visitors are going to be interested in when they find your church. If it is not readily visible, the chance of them coming on Sunday decreases drastically.

  2. Have a link to download your church’s app on your website. This helps communicate to your congregation that the app is the primary tool that will help them stay connected when they aren’t in the building on Sundays. Directing people to the proper channels will help avoid confusion and keep everyone on the same page. Additionally, you can direct people to your app from the stage on Sunday to reinforce this.

  3. Make content such as sermons, events, forms, Bible reading plans, giving, prayer requests, small group curriculum, and anything else that is important to your ministry available in the app. By doing this, you are providing your congregation with all the content they need in one central hub that is with them at all times. No more telling people to go home and find that event form online….they already have it in their pocket.

  4. Use push notifications to keep your congregation up to date. Once they have the app, you want to make sure you are using it to its full potential. Push notifications receive much higher visibility than emails, and they are a great way to send out devotionals, reminders for events and financial campaigns, prayer requests, etc. With the Subsplash Platform, you can even send specific content to targeted groups of people in your congregation.

 

Creating a strategy that identifies the proper audience for each of your communication channels is going to help you clarify your message and increase engagement in your local congregation. If you haven’t implemented these tips, the new year is a great time to start!

 

What A Year!

2016 is drawing to a close, and for many of us, this year has been a whirlwind. What all happened at Subsplash this year? Well, a lot! Here are just a few of our favorite things that went down over these last 12 months:

  • We added 25 amazing new people to our team! Working at Subsplash is pretty awesome, and for two great reasons: we get to help churches and ministries share the good news of Jesus, and we get to do that alongside some of the coolest people in Seattle. We are so excited about the awesome people who joined our team this year!
  • We added over 75 new features to the Subsplash Platform. 2016 saw some unprecedented improvements such as digital bulletins, upgrades to analytics and branding, new media uploading experience, web embeds, upgraded hosting on Subsplash Cloud, ChMS integrations with CCB and Fellowship One, a brand new Knowledge Center, Google Cast for iOS, and of course, Subsplash Giving!

  • Speaking of giving, a huge number of churches started using Subsplash Giving in 2016! When we launched Subsplash Giving in the Spring, the goal was simple: help churches steward their resources well and help make generosity easier for the congregation. We love hearing stories of churches increasing their giving and saving money with GrowCurve.

  • Over 4,000 churches and ministries are now using the Subsplash app platform. From day one, our desire has been to serve the church. We are so excited to now have over 4,000 amazing churches and ministries to partner with!

  • Churches used the Subsplash Platform to reach more people than ever before with the good news of Jesus. This year, we saw over 6 million app downloads, over 77 million sermon plays, over 156 million app launches, and over 556 million app impressions on the Subsplash Platform. Amazing!

  • Oh, and we had a TON OF FUN!

While 2016 was a big year for us, we have our sights set on making 2017 even BIGGER. There is much to be excited about, but no matter how many amazing new people join our team, no matter how many new features get added to the platform, and no matter how much more fun we have, one thing will always remain the same: the heart behind everything we do. Our top priority as a company is not to make lots of money or build some crazy tech empire. Our heart is to equip the church with the best communication tools so that more people can hear the good news of Jesus and become better disciples. That’s what matters most, that’s what we are fully committed to, and that’s what we are most excited about as we move into 2017. Cheers to the new year!

5 Ways to Promote Your Church's Christmas Services

Can you believe that Christmas is only 10 days away?! Or maybe even closer if you’re reading this in the future. With one of the craziest weekends for churches quickly approaching, we wanted to create a list of five (free!) ways you can promote your church’s Christmas services so that more people can hear the good news of Jesus this holiday season.

 

Talk About It!

This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s the most important. Your team needs to be talking about your Christmas services from the stage on a regular basis. Simply put, if your pastor and staff is not excited about something, then chances are your congregation isn’t excited about it either. Having your pastor show visual excitement and build hype around an event (i.e. your Christmas services) will go a long way in getting your congregation to buy in.

 

Social Media

Whether you like it or not, social media is one of the most effective ways to share information. With one click, you can reach thousands of people with your message. Make sure you are promoting your Christmas services on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can even get creative and come up with a fun “campaign” of regular posts that are both humorous and informative. Maybe that looks like a funny photo of your team rocking their best “we are so hyped on life right now!” face and a caption that says “These guys are excited for [your church’s] Christmas services….are you?” People love a little humor, and a little humor combined with important information will definitely be helpful to your audience. Additionally, you can ask members of your congregation to share information about your Christmas services on their personal social media pages. If just 20 people with 500 friends each share about your services on Facebook, that’s up to an additional 10,000 people who can learn about your church.

 

Tell a story

Is there someone in your church who was deeply impacted by a past Christmas service? Tell their story! This could be a blog post, an interview on Sunday morning, or a video that you share on your app, website, and social media pages. Ask them questions like, “What was going on in your life before coming to church?”, “How did God speak to you during the service?”, and “How has God used this community to draw you closer to him?”. Being transformed by the love of Jesus is truly the best thing that could happen to someone this season (that’s why we want people to come to church, right?), and sharing tangible stories about that transformation is a great way to connect with people on a personal level.

 

Push Notifications

Like we mentioned above, you need to be building some hype around your Christmas services from the stage, but unfortunately some (or let’s be real….many) people will go home from church, become busy with their daily tasks, and forget that important call you made to share your Christmas service info with their friends. Push notifications are a great way to follow up announcements made from the stage. If you have a Subsplash app, you can easily schedule out a few friendly reminders for people to invite their friends, and share the event on social media. If there is an action item someone could do from their phone, make sure to include that in the notification as well. Push notifications have a much higher visibility rate than emails, and your congregation will be able to respond immediately. 

 

Make it easy to get connected

So Christmas comes and you have a great service. Lots of people show up, hear the gospel, and want to get more involved in your church. What’s next? Following up with clear communication. This may seem like another obvious one, but it will be the difference between those new people getting connected to your church or never coming back. Make sure that any resources about becoming a part of your church are easy to find an readily available. If you have a connect card, make sure to have it available both during your service and in your app so people can fill it out at any time. If your church has small groups or service teams, make sure that information is easy to find in your building, on your website, and in your app. Any next steps for newcomers should be clearly communicated and readily available.

 

As Christmas quickly approaches, our team here at Subsplash is praying that this season would be fruitful and that God will use each of your churches to forward the gospel. We love serving you and can’t wait to hear your amazing stories of God’s grace over the next few weeks!

 

How to Create Great Sermon Artwork

We live in a visual culture. Some of the most successful social media platforms (ahem, Instagram) are built upon visuals alone, and studies have shown that content with visuals gets almost 2x as many views as content without. Visuals are clearly correlated with engagement, but it can be challenging to constantly produce new and interesting artwork. It takes time, resources, and planning — and, ideally, it would reflect your church's unique personality. 

Luckily for you, we've created a step-by-step guide to help you create great artwork using free online tools. Sound good? Let's get started!

 

Overview

The image formula is as follows:

Background + Tint + Text = A Great Image

You may be wondering how to combine these elements, or how to create a tint. Don't worry — we will walk you through the whole process step-by-step below.

 

Step 1: Select a Background

First, you’ll need a background. This can be a photo, a pattern, or a solid color. UnsplashPixabay, and Pexels are all great resources for free, high-quality images (although keep in mind that The Church App is in no way affiliated with these sites, and as such we have no control over the content contained in them). Not only that, but all of the images on these sites are 100% commercial-use friendly, meaning that you can modify and distribute them in any way you choose without worrying about infringing on a copyright license.

 

Step 2: Add a Tint

Once you’ve found a background that you like, the next step is to add a tint. Adding a tint is optional, but the benefit of a tint is that it will help any text placed on top of your background to be readable. For the following steps, we are going to use Canva.com, a free online tool that will allow you to add elements like tints and text to your background image.

Once you create an account on Canva, click the Canva logo in the top left corner of your screen to start a new project. Then click “Create a Design” and “Use Custom Dimensions”.

Where your graphic will appear will determine the size you enter. 1920 x 1080 is the standard size for presentations and large displays, such as TV screens. If you'd like to promote your sermon on social media, check out this handy guide with all the sizes you'll need for every platform.

Drag your background image into Canva. Once it is uploaded, scale it to fill the whole background of your canvas.

Next, add a tint on top of your background by selecting the “Elements” tab then “Shapes”. Drag the square shape on top of your background and scale it to fill the canvas.

Click the white square in the upper left corner of your work area to change the color to black.

Next, adjust the transparency of that shape to create a tint. Click the checkered icon in the upper right corner of your work area and set the transparency to 50.

Voilà! Now we have a tint.

 

Step 3: Add Text

Lastly, add your text by selecting the “Text” tab and then dragging “Add Heading” onto your canvas. Feel free to adjust the size, color, and font of your text. White is always a good choice for a black tint, as it will stand out from the background.

If you’re not sure what font to pick, try using a simple font as they are timeless and easy to read. Here are some fonts we recommend that are available on Canva.com:

Aleo

Bodoni

Exo

Josefin Slab

Kollektif

Montserrat

Nixie One

Quattrocento

Source Serif Pro

Vollkorn

Feel free to experiment with using all uppercase letters or adjusting the letter spacing of your text. These small details can really make your image look polished.

Canva also provides templates that combine different text styles for you – try out your headline in a template and see how it looks!

 

Conclusion

That’s it! You’re well on your way to creating beautiful sermon artwork. If you found this tutorial helpful, please let us know by tweeting us some of your artwork @subsplash of using the hashtag #subsplashhints. We'd love to hear from you and see what you create!