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2015 is here! Are you “going mobile”?

Category - Religion
by Bob Wolfe on June 2nd, 2015

We “marketing types” are always studying the stats…the national trends. We do this, of course, with a keen eye toward understanding which emerging technologies and services will best serve our clients. One intriguing topic for us for some time now has been “mobile technology.”

Who’s going mobile? Are you? How much? Sure, it’s easy to say that “the kids love it” or that millennials – generally understood as those individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century – have grown up with mobile technology of some kind or another. But just how prevalent has “mobile” become in the wider culture? For some answers, we looked at a survey by Exact Target, which featured the following questions and answers in its 2014 Mobile Behavior Report:

What are some top-line statistics about mobile usage? Who is using it? What do people mean by “mobile technology,” anyway?

  • 85% of survey respondents said mobile devices were “central to everyday life” – 90+% of those 18-24 year of age agreed with this sentiment.
  • On average, people report spending 3.3 hours a day on smartphones.
  • For tablet computers owners, 69% use the tablet to check email while 70% use the device for online research
  • For smartphone owners, 91% use the device for email and 90% use it for text

What other activities do mobile owners engage in at least once per day?

  • Social Networking – Smartphone, 75%; Tablet, 69%
  • Watching Videos, Movies – Smartphone 30%; Tablet, 40%
  • Getting News Alerts – Smartphones, 62%; Tablet, 52%
  • Playing Games – Smartphone, 57%; Tablet, 56%
  • Reading – Smartphone, 43%; Tablet, 57%
  • Listening to Music – Smartphone, 46%; Tablet, 36%
  • Using Tablet while Using Smartphone – 41%!

Where to people “go” when they’re “mobile”? What are the top destinations?

  • Pinterest – 83%
  • Weather – 82%
  • Twitter – 76%
  • YouTube – 73%
  • Amazon – 69%
  • Facebook – 67%
  • CNN – 67%

Source: Exact Target: 2014 Mobile Behavior Report

Naturally, I was more concerned with understanding what our churches might want from mobile technology. So earlier this year, we conducted our own survey to find out what functions church leaders might want from a dedicated “church mobile app.”

Which features/functions would be most important to your church, if you had a dedicated mobile app?

  • Announcements (voice, text, email, updates from Facebook, Twitter) – 82%
  • Event Calendar (app-based calendar for seeing what’s going on in the church) – 82%
  • Prayer Wall (a place to request prayers and to share prayers for those in need) – 74%
  • About Us (church address, contact numbers, map, key staff, etc.) – 63%
  • E-Bible (availability of a digital bible) – 55%
  • Audio/Video (streaming and archived audio and video recordings) – 50%

Source: OCN Customer Surveys, 2013-2014

This was helpful information, because it showed that our clients – while relying heavily on our traditional voice, text, email and social media notification services – are also interested in other kinds of faith engagement. We realize that there is a tremendous opportunity to further serve these clients with tools that help meet the everyday spiritual needs of congregants through a method familiar and convenient to them.

It’s clear to see that mobile technology is growing on us all. Where it may play a role in your life may or may not match some of the statistics you’ve seen here. Where it may play a role in your church remains to be seen, but certainly, individuals and families are embracing this technology more and more, and that may have ramifications for how to reach and retain the interest of your congregants.  It’s something to think about.