How to use event follow-up in your outreach plans

by | Aug 8, 2019 | Strategy

Churches have a mission to reach more people with the gospel message. At the core of all of this is RELATIONSHIP. Outreach events offer an opportunity to begin those new relationships by making new connections. I’ll go over how good follow-up shows you care, what to say, and the best way to get those messages out.

Need fall event ideas? Here are a few to get you started!

Giving helpful information shows you care.

Putting on events takes time, money, energy from staff and volunteers alike. Whether it’s a community cookout or a formal conference, you have an opportunity to truly change someone’s life! 

You do this by thinking about what comes after the event: getting to know your church family better. Some communicators call these “micro-conversions” or “micro-commitments.” The idea here is to ask for the next, small step that will move them along the path of coming to visit you for a worship service. 

An excellent way to do this is by giving, not taking. Providing something of value that makes sense to who they are and where they are, using the event as a starting point for these new relationships.

What to say in your event follow-up

Think of your attendees. They are your audience, and you need to provide them with helpful information related to the event. Write out what you want to say to your guests both before and after they attend.

Before the event, this looks like: 

  • registration confirmation,
  • event day details,
  • event reminder,
  • giveaways or some other promotion (if this makes sense for your event and church). 

After the event, this includes: 

  • thank you for coming, 
  • event highlights,
  • link to helpful, related content your church has created previously (podcast, video, etc.);
  • link to custom follow-up content.

Get your messages out

You’ve written out valuable information, specific to the attendees. Now it’s time to switch over to the how. 

Social media is a great place to promote your event and attract people. However, I wouldn’t recommend relying on it for your pre- and post-event communication. With any social media, you’re working on off of someone else’s connection. You don’t own that access. Transitioning communication from social to space you completely own is where getting contact information is so helpful. Once you get their info, you have it! A direct line to speak directly to them!

Put in place a step-by-step communications process before the event. When you are ready, all you have to do is go! It’s way too easy to put it off and say you’ll do it later on. And then be tired and not do it at all. The more you can automate, the better.

Text messages for follow-up

People read text messages. With an open rate in the mid-to-high 90% range, you can’t ignore that it works. You’ll want to use a text messaging provider so you can manage the list and messages that go out. Many opportunities exist for using text as an overall communications tool. If you want to use this tool with other areas (ideas: new visitors, volunteers, etc.), it’s a great add-on.

Let’s go back to the before and after event messages discussed earlier. Text is a great way to send quick confirmations, reminders, and links to any extra content.

If you’re looking for a texting provider, I’ve been impressed with Text In Church as a partner. They offer excellent service and provide templates and other ideas to help you connect with people from potential guests to those already attending regularly. (Yup, we’re affiliates. We’re also picky about who we partner with and don’t endorse just any company.)

Email for follow-up

Email remains a longstanding, effective method of communication. Keep using it! Relative to text, email does have a lower open rate. To encourage people to open, let them know that you’ll be sending them reminders and other helpful information when you collect their contact info.

While emails tend to be read on mobile devices, people expect it to have more content than a text message. Email provides an excellent space for more in-depth, engaging content (videos, longer reads, etc.)

Note of caution: unless you have specifically included an OPT-IN option to include them on your regular email newsletters or text messages, do NOT add them. Legally, this goes against CAN-SPAM laws. As a person, it’s just annoying, and it can hurt that initial level of trust they established with you by giving their contact information. Don’t abuse it! Ok, off my soapbox.

Example follow-up plan for new mom’s event.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example that shows how a church may use email and text to engage someone before and after the event.

Contact information collected with registration:

  • The form includes fields for their email and phone number.
  • Checkbox with “yes, I would like to receive text messages about this event.”
  • Checkbox with “yes, I would like to receive emails about this event.”

Before the event:

  • Email: Confirmation that includes a message from one of the speakers welcoming them and encouraging them.
  • Text: Confirmation of their registration, and close with a landing page link to more event info and related content.
  • Text or Email: Reminder the day before. Include information about what they should bring. A testimonial message from a past attendee is a great way to get them excited about attending (and helps reduce no-shows!)

After the event:

  • Email: thank them for coming, send them a link to a 5-day devotional series for new moms.
  • Text: Wednesday before, invite them to experience your Sunday worship service. Be sure to mention the free coffee, child-friendly atmosphere, and free childcare should they need it.
All of those messages make sense as natural next steps. The messages come from you, from the church. However, they focus on meeting the needs of the recipient.

Good follow-up shows you care. That’s what we’re called to do as a part of the church. Email and text merely represent modern tools we can use to reach out, make connections, and start developing relationships.

What kind of follow-up does your church do? What’s working well? Is there something that needs some attention? Drop a comment below!

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