Tips to Using Your Parish App Well

September 16, 2021  •   LPi

person looking at app on cell phone

There are so many things you can do with a parish app. From push notifications and group messaging, to links to daily readings and your weekly bulletin, a wealth of information is at the ready for your parishioners. However, just because you can do it all, doesn’t mean you necessarily should.

The Makings of a Good App & a Not-So-Good One

You know a good app when you see one. It’s one that is beautifully designed, and goes hand-in-hand with your website. It’s easy to navigate and useful, with necessary information like Mass times and parish contacts. You open it up multiple times during the week to look up information. At the same time, most of us can also spot a bad app when we come across one. Perhaps the design is too busy, the color scheme is different than your website, or it doesn’t include the parish logo. There are too many icons on the screen, and push notifications are coming across multiple times a day for things that really don’t pertain to most of your members. And worst of all, the app crashes all too often.

The average smartphone owner spends 2 hours and 15 minutes a day using apps — the equivalent of one month a year. The average person has 60-90 apps installed on their phone at any given time. What does all this mean for your parish? That you’ve got competition. In order to create an app that is worthy of staying on your parishioner’s home screen, you need to understand what your members consider valuable.

Choose Your Links Sparingly

We’re one app out of 90 that a person may scroll through on any given day. One message out of literally hundreds that will be sent, depending on who you are and what you consider valuable. With this information in mind, we need to be strategic with what we choose to make available for those we’re trying to reach.

When asked, most parish administrators give the same reasons why most people visit your website: church location, Mass and Confession times, and access to online giving. Everything else, while nice to include, can easily be found elsewhere with a simple Google search. That is why keeping everything on your app “hyper-local” is key to making sure it’s one of the only places they can access it.

If your pastor writes a weekly reflection, definitely add it to the app, but if it’s consistently published the same time each week, you can skip the push notification if you see that people are reading it without being prompted. Or you can choose to send a push notification once per week but combine notices to keep the promoting low, such as:

It’s Friday! Check out Fr. Bill’s latest Gospel reflection, our weekly bulletin, and sign up for online giving. See you at Mass!

Keep in mind that push notifications are there for a reason! Be sparing on how you use them, but definitely use them for instances where people need to be informed at the last minute:

Due to last night’s winter storm, the 11 a.m. Mass has been postponed to 12 p.m. Stay safe!

Fr. Dan’s homily reminded us that sharing just one percent more of what we have can make a huge difference. Our food pantry can use a restock — visit our Amazon Wish List and order some much needed non-perishables!

Parishioner Engagement at the Ready

A parish app is a great way you can pass on information to your parishioners for an instant engagement boost. And with WeConnect, just a few clicks allow you to publish to your website and instantly have it added to your app at the same time. When your office staff is already stretched thin, you need to learn to conserve energy and automate how you communicate.

If you are an LPi bulletin customer, you already have access to thousands of Catholic prayers, reflections, trivia, and more with WeCreate. Don’t recreate the wheel by scouring the internet for low-res images and copyright content you’re hoping you won’t get caught using. Our Catholic art and media platform allows you access to thousands of digital assets you can use for your parish app — free!

Need more reasons to get a parish app? Check out “Why You Need to Share Parish News Through Print & Digital Avenues” for even more reasons why you need to focus on a digital platform, too.

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