One of the challenges that larger ministries tend to run into when looking at developing a mobile ministry strategy, or even developing a mobile ministry website, application, or service, is that of taking their entire plate of content and making it mobile-friendly. Chances are, if you are at this place in your mobile strategy, you’ve probably hit a nice speed bump. Here are some tips to help you over that bump and move towards something a bit more digestible to your audience.
First: Understand What It Is People Do On Mobile Devices
This part doesn’t take any complicated statistics, viewpoints, or trends studies. It actually is just one of those common sense moments. You have a product or brand experience that you’d like to offer on mobile. How much of that experience translates well into a 10-30 second glance on a 3.5in screen?
Take email, people get notifications of messages. They check it. They might throw out a short reply. Then the device goes back into their pocket. You might get them to scroll a bit. But, you know how it is – get too much scrolling or the subject matter is too thick and that’s something relegated to viewing on a larger screen like a tablet or laptop.
Think about contexts like this. What about your brand experience translates to how people already use mobile devices? Will what you offer on mobile expand on that existing behavior, or invent something new?
Second: Figure Out All of the Features/Services That You Offer
This might come as a shock, but in many organizations, there are a number of people who don’t visit that organization’s website. Even more shocking, you might find that the people who do visit it don’t go to the places that people who don’t work for the company venture to. This mis-association with websites leads people to not know the entire swath of services/products that the organization offers.
Once you’ve figured out what all it is that you offer. Make a two-column list. Title one column “things I’d like to see us do on mobile” and the other “things I couldn’t see on a mobile.” Then, take that first column and, using your mobile device, do those items. Log that experience. You might need to adjust the number of items in one column versus the other.
Third: Determine What is Uniquely Yours to Offer in/on Mobile
Of that listing of items that “you’d like to see us do on mobile,” there are hopefully some items which are unique to your ministry or organization. These might be siloed items (meaning that they have very loose connections to the overall brand/marketing strategy of your ministry/organization) or that they might be so very custom that it might take some signifiant work with either communications behaviors, technologies, or even convincing executive company members. Still, these are unique to your mission, and have some value if you can determine what in these can go mobile. This is where the bulk of your decision process for specific mobile features needs to lie.
Fourth: Reach for the Low-Hanging Fruit First
The last thing, and the most focused thing is taking that list of what you’d like to do, that’s been filtered to what you uniquely do, and then saying no to everything except one. Go for the low-hanging fruit. This will be your initial mobile app/web/service offering. It will allow you to make mistakes, generate successes, and see a faster return-on-investment for your efforts.
The Example (Fictional, Based on a few Real Ministries)
A ministry has been working in the southern region for sometime, and they’ve created a wealth of communications materials (daily devotionals, newsletters, reading plans, and the occasional multimedia piece that coat-tails on a popular local event). They want to “go mobile” but find that they have entirely too much content, and an unwilling content management system (incl the organizational processes) behind it.
They decide to take a look at their goals for going mobile. Thankfully, this is encapsulated in their mission statement (entreat, reach, and teach). These goals – when viewed through some of the unique characteristics of mobile – flow nicely with that initiative. They look at what they offer right now in terms of features (daily devotionals, newsletters, reading plans, and the multimedia items). All of these can go mobile, but only the daily devotionals are unique to them. They decide that their first engagement in the mobile space will have these daily devotionals as their backbone.
Due to the current reach of those devotionals (email and web analytics give this information), they know that developing a mobile website is a better proposition. They don’t have the in-house resource to create a mobile website from scratch (see other Mobile Web App services), so they invest in the Mobify service in order to make it happen. Those devotionals are already on their website, so they just need to use Mobify’s content editor to add their own branding and styles. At the end of the process, they choose a paid option for Mobify since their was little upfont costs in terms of reflowing content or learning HTML/CSS.
They release the next newsletter, daily devotional, and multimedia event with a link to the mobile-enabled daily devotional. The new m.fictionalministry.com website URL points only to the daily devotional which has links at the bottom of it to be shared with social networks. They also realized during the process that SMS (text messaging) also needs to play a part in sharing, and so they investigated Greater Calling and other SMS service providers whom are able to take the mobile-enabled devotionals and send those as a link via SMS.
We now have a ministry that’s utilized their brand position to take a deliberate and specific step into mobile. With minimal effort, they’ve been able to take existing content and make it available within mobile channels using both web and (version 2) SMS. Using the analytic tools within those services, they can see what works and what doesn’t and refine their plans for other areas of their site assets which need to go mobile. And to those portions of their ministry assets that cannot, they don’t lose the positive feelings generated by what does work well. Its not their entire offering, but just enough to feed the mobile appetite.
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