Should Our Church Use a Chatbot?

Church Facebook Messenger

Yes! 😀

Now that we have that out of our system, let’s look at why your church needed to start using chatbots yesterday!

Connecting The Dots

So in that pursuit, it’s our job as churchcoms to pay attention to the digital marketing landscape and find new, better ways of communicating the church’s message.

As professional churchcoms, we need to survey the digital landscape when answering the question, “Should Our Church Use a Chatbot?”

We need to look at things like, what are the people we want to communicate with doing digitally these days? Where online are they hanging out? What tools and apps are they using? What tools and apps did they stop using?

What are we as a church doing to go to the people rather than waiting for people to come to us? Is doing what we’ve always done still effective?

After all, the goals of a business and the goals of a church are really the same as far as marketing and communications is concerned… get people’s attention so they’ll listen to your message!

In addition, it never hurts to look at these exact same questions in the business world.

What’s working in business marketing? What tools are they using? How are businesses communicating to me every day?

Challenges Communicating Your Message

Back in the old days, your church was able to communicate its message in person and in print via the church bulletin.

But as church attendance continues to decline (especially for smaller churches) it’s harder and harder to communicate your message the old way.

People just aren’t attending consistently like they used to.

We get it, they’re busy.

Sundays are no longer reserved for going to church.

And, in case you didn’t hear, the currency of the 21st Century is Attention.

Getting people to give up their attention has become harder than getting Ebenezer Scrooge to give up a pence!

And we can’t blame them… consider for a moment, the average person sees between 6000-10000 ads every day!

Attention is the new currency.

To complicate things further, as you’ve seen during the pandemic, the government won’t hesitate to close your church. 🤬

But your mission as a church communicator is to be a megaphone for your church…

And it’s harder than ever to reach people with your church’s message.

Chatbots for Churches

I’m sure you’ve seen chabots in use on websites all over the Internet.

Perhaps you discovered ChurchPush through our chatbot.

That’s because businesses and marketers are turning to chatbots because they work!

Indeed, chatbots are the new “tip of the spear” for digital marketers.

It’s time for churches and churchcoms to take note of that and follow suit.

“Keeping in mind the increased usage of messaging apps, there’s growing precedence for your church to consider using Facebook Messenger Bots to connect with people online … .”
– Tithe.ly

So, why do chatbots work?

Simply put, its because chatbots support how people want to interact with you online.

Look at the numbers:

87% of smartphone users are active on messenger apps
The number of messenger app users will be at 3 billion by 2022
81% of consumers attempt to self-serve before reaching out to support for help
67% prefer to self-serve and not have to talk to anyone AT ALL

It’s a matter of giving the people what they want.

Why Facebook Messenger Chatbots?

As of 2019 the average person spends 2 hours 23 minutes on social media… up from 1 hour 30 minutes just 8 years ago.

As of 2019 the average person spends 2 hours 23 minutes on social media… up from 1 hour 30 minutes just 8 years ago.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/how-much-time-do-people-spend-on-social-media-in-2019-infographic/560270/

(Smartphones make it soooooo easy.)

It’s no surprise then, Facebook Messenger is the leading mobile messaging platform in the US.

Messenger receives more than 2 million monthly downloads
Messenger has 106.4 million unique users (as of September 2019.)
85% of mobile messaging app users in the world use a Facebook messaging product
20+ billion messages exchanged between business and users monthly on Messenger
There are 300,000+ active chatbots on Messenger

Although there 300,000+ active bots on Messenger, very few churches are using them.

Regardless of your personal opinions on social media, these social networks are where large groups of like minded people hang out, communicate, and search.

As churchcoms, we need to start looking at social media through the lens of professional digital marketers.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
– Mark:16-15

It’s a simple matter of taking your message to the people, rather than hoping people come to you…

Social Media is where they are and they’re waiting to hear from you!

So to answer the question posed by this post… “Yes, your church should be using chatbots.

Enter “Conversational Marketing”

Conversational Marketing isn’t the latest fad. It’s just a way of communicating online that’s based on real human behavior and preferences.

It’s not about you. It’s about people. It’s a new way of thinking because it’s focused on the people’s goals and your church’s goals.

It’s just the process of having one-to-one conversations in order to connect with people.

Chatbots Allow You To Automate the Conversations

A recent study 99 Firms detailed an interesting juxtaposition between people’s preference for live chat and the live experience itself. (99firms.com/blog/live-chat-statistics/)

Sometimes their experience is less than satisfying, thus supporting the argument for using automated chatbots rather than relying only on live chat.

The Good

79% of consumers prefer live chats because they offer instant responses
Live chat has the highest consumer satisfaction rate at 92%
For 41% of consumers, live chat is a preferred channel for contacting support teams
22% of consumers said they like live chat because they don’t like talking on the phone
63% of consumers who used live chat on a website are likely to return to that site
More than half of all chats come from mobile

The Bad

In 2018, the average first response time was 48 seconds
21% of live chat requests are left answered
47% of consumers haven’t had a positive live chat experience in the past month

The Power to Automate

With that data in hand, we now know people prefer self-service, they prefer chat, but relying only on live chat can leave holes in the entire experience.

Now you can begin to see the importance of using automation in your conversations, which is the true magic of chatbots.

Automation allows people to use chat to self-serve… which we now know is what people want.

Automating your chats also take the pressure off you to respond immediately while meeting the expectations of people interacting with your church online… 24/7/365… even when a human isn’t available.

Consumers expect to get a response from customer support within 10 minutes or less from the moment they’ve first reached out
60% of consumers want immediate response when contacting a support team
46% of consumers have the same expectations when getting in touch with the marketing team

“Even though Messenger Bots have been around for a while now, there are still some early adoption benefits to be had for churches.”
– Chad Hugghins, Marketing & Content Manager, CV Outreach

I know, I know… most of the data surrounds interactions between people and businesses, not churches.

But I think it’s safe to say the key takeaway here is consumer behavior.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about your church, the local pizza joint, or IBM… people are people and consumer behavior and preferences will remain consistent regardless of the organization they’re interacting with.

How Do I Build a Chatbot for My Church?

Fortunately, building chatbots isn’t difficult at all.

Companies like ManyChat have made it really easy to build your own Messenger chatbot using drag-n-drop interface and easy to understand visuals.

A simple chatbot flowThese tools allow us to build automated chatbots from the simple to the sophisticated.

All you need is an existing Facebook Page and administrator rights to manage it.

While you need a Facebook Page to get started, your chatbot is not restricted to just conversations originating on your Facebook page. Anywhere your customers can click a link – your Website, in an email, on a QR code, etc., you can launch your ManyChat bot and start a conversation.

ManyChat provides free accounts but at just $10/month for up to 500 subscribers, you’ll want the upgraded account to take advantage of the advanced features.

And it doesn’t stop at the bot building tools.

There’s also a ton of tools called Growth Tools providing many way to grow your chatbot audience.

Your chatbot can be accessed not only through your Facebook page, but on your website as well with the “Chat Overlay Widget.”

And yes, you can send messages to your audience through Messenger, but ManyChat also includes SMS (text messaging) and email broadcast services as well!

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