Should I focus on an app or mobile-first website for my church?

We get this question a ton, but it’s the wrong question. The answer may surprise you, because you actually need both. Let’s find out why.

Let’s start by first asking, does my church need an app? We recently wrote a post on this explains why we decided to finally create an app. You can read all about our reasonings here, but let us break it down for you succinctly here as well:

  • 92% of all phone activity takes place within an app.
  • Almost 100% of our clients have an internet-connected device.
  • Apps are easy to produce and are now cost-effective.
  • Our clients wanted an app from us.

For us, that last point was the most critical component. If our clients are clamoring for something from us, and it’s simple to develop, cost-effective, then why wouldn’t we do this for them?

This is where perspective comes in. Go back and read the above bullet points and ask, “Who wanted the app?” The answer is that our clients wanted the app. Not our marketing base. Not the people we hope to reach. Not those we are connected with on social media; our current clients.

This is the distinctive we need to focus in on.

Our clients wanted an app, so we gave it to them. Primarily, you will make the decision to develop and launch your own app because your audience is asking for an app. Your app will then become a tool from which you communicate with your internal crowd. It is not for marketing purposes, it is not something you broadcast over and over and social media; it is a tool that you use to communicate with the people that call you family.

So yes, you do need an app. But you also need a mobile-first website. 

While your app will exist primarily for your internal audience, your mobile-first website will exist primarily for your external audience. These are the people you hope to reach through your various marketing channels. It will allow you to pop on the first page (if you have your SEO settings set up properly). It will communicate to the masses that you are open and available for business and communicate it in such a way that it reaches the 96% of all users who have connected devices and the 72%+ of traffic generated by mobile requests.

Your mobile-first website is the digital front-door to your audience. Make it easy for them to walk through.

Here’s another way for you to look at it: 

  • An app is for your committed internal audience.
  • A mobile-first website is for your uncommitted external audience.

While the distinction is simple, it is one that is often muddied or confused. You will hear vendors and reviewers alike say that you need one or the other, that you need both but that they are the same thing, or that you need whatever new product or trend is popular this month. Don’t listen to them; they’re wrong. Your audience is always right, and they’re asking you for both. So don’t choose one over the other and certainly don’t go with a third option that either merges the two or creates one more method of communication (certainly not one your audience is not looking for).

You need an app and a mobile-first website. You need both. You need them to be unique. You need them catered to their respective audience.

You cannot afford to miss an opportunity to connect with your audience on their terms. If you do, they will pass you by and look for someone that will.


Stay tuned!

In just two weeks we will be releasing our brand new 2017 review of the top app platforms. We will break down the distinctives, tell you why we trust them (we will only put forward the ones we approve), and how you can take your next right step with each of them. As a reminder, we have no vested interest in any one platform over another. That way we can say to you who is the best for your unique context, and you can trust that we have your best interest in mind.