For years, you’ve been hearing about the phenomenal growth in the mobile app industry. Every year, people spend more and more time on their mobile devices. You may have wondered, “Will this trend ever come to an end?”
Now, it has.
Well, sort of.
In 2017, time spent on mobile apps only grew by 6 percent, according to a brand new report by Flurry. That’s down from 11 percent growth between 2015 to 2016. For the first time in the smartphone era, the rate of growth in time spent on mobile apps has declined from one year to the next.
That’s a big deal.
“The declining growth in session activity means users are reaching a point where they can’t give up much more time out of their day to using apps,” TechCrunch writes about the Flurry report. “Instead, they’re shifting activity from older apps to newer ones. They’re spending time across a diverse variety of apps, too.”
Now, don’t miss this. People still spent more time on mobile apps last year than the year before, but the gap is shrinking. It’s clear there will be a day—likely sooner rather than later—when growth in time spent on mobile devices will completely level off. We knew this day would come. It had to come. People can’t spend 24 hours a day on their smartphones.
We now know that day is really, really close.
If your church has a mobile app (or hopes to have a mobile app), this is big news. The stakes of mobile communication in your church’s community are tightening. You must be ready.
5 Key Takeaways for Your Church
The Flurry report wasn’t written for the church app market, but you’d have to bury your head into the sand to miss the clear implications for churches. Here are just a few of them.
1. You must still provide a custom app experience
Sometimes when we read about a market not growing as robustly as earlier, we translate that into a decline. That’s not what’s happening in app usage. Six percent growth in the amount of time people are spending in their mobile apps is nothing to dismiss. People still spent more time on their mobile phones in 2017 than 2016. It’s an average of five hours a day. That’s a huge chunk of time. Your church should still want a slice of that pie.
It’s also a reminder that a decade after the iPhone launched smartphones to the broader consumer audience, our smartphone habits have crystallized. These habits aren’t likely to change anytime soon. Produce a good app, and you have a captive audience to consume your church’s content.
2. This app experience must be good—really, really good
With the incredible growth in the app market over the past decade, it was often possible for mediocre and average apps to succeed. The amount of time people spent on their phones kept going up. Getting a piece of that time often just required you to be helpful and not awful. Clunky apps sometimes survived. You likely had a few on your phone. You may still have a few on your phone. But we’re seeing now that there’s a limit to how much time users will spend on their devices. That means there’s a narrowing tolerance for bad apps that don’t work and don’t help you do anything you care about. Between work, family obligations, recreation, and community/church service users are nearing a point where they have no additional time to devote to their phones.
More than ever, a bad or average church app isn’t good enough. Your church won’t engage users with a poor mobile presence. With a limited window of time to engage your church’s app users, you have to give them the best experience possible. The competition for the attention of your congregation is intense. The time is now to level up your app presence is now.
Not sure if the church app you’re considering is a great one or if your community will adopt it? Discover the strategy growing churches use to pick church apps and other ministry technologies. Download the free Church Technology Buyer’s Guide today!
3. Americans have no trouble using their smartphones to make financial transactions
This isn’t new. We’ve seen incredible growth in mobile commerce over the past four years. The amount of money spent on mobile phones has nearly doubled since 2014. The same is true of tablets.
The Flurry report shows that while session activity only grew six percent overall last year, the session activity of shopping apps grew by 54 percent (that’s faster growth than any other app type).
Your community doesn’t have an issue spending money on mobile devices. They do it every day on apps like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay. Your teenagers do it, your forty-somethings do it, and your grandparents do it.
Let this sink in: People spent $2 billion on mobile devices last Black Friday.
In case you’re tempted to say that’s great for shopping, but it doesn’t mean people will give to a local church on an app, stay tuned for a report Pushpay will soon release that’ll show mobile givers give more to their local churches than non-mobile givers. In fact, they give far more.
Mobile giving isn’t a fad. It’s how people make financial transactions in 2018 (and for the foreseeable future). If your mobile giving lags behind other giving at your church, it isn’t because your community won’t give via mobile. It’s because your mobile giving platform isn’t good enough (or some other quirky issue is going on).
4. People want to access your media on their phones
TechCrunch called media, music, and entertainment apps another “big winner” of 2017. Overall those apps saw a 43 percent jump in usage in the past year. People aren’t just using these apps for free entertainment, either. They’re spending money on them. Only game apps tend to bring in more bucks.
Your church is sitting on a load of media content. You have sermons. You have worship music. You have promotional videos and testimonials. You may distribute that content in other ways (via podcasts, your website, etc.), but your community wants to be able to access it all in one spot (that can be easily carried around in a pocket).
5. You need an innovative app partner
We’re at a critical point in the future of mobile church participation as the time people spend on apps begins to plateau. You may not like to think of it this way, but your app is competing against a lot of other apps in the marketplace. People spend roughly five hours every day on a mobile device. They may have a bunch of apps on their phones, but research shows they only use nine a day and 30 a month.
Your church can’t compete with the best apps out there on your own. You need an innovative partner to help you navigate these waters. For your mobile presence to compete for the attention of your community, it needs to be easy-to-use and backed by a great support system along with top-notch security and reliability.
Otherwise, your app is a dead duck. It won’t get used. You can expect problems with no relief in sight during the worst possible times (like Sunday mornings). It won’t drive your community to participate in the life of your church. You might as well not have it.
Your app experience is as important as ever. With the competition heating up for the attention of your users, now is the time to make the most of your mobile presence.
Ready to choose a church app but not sure which one will best serve your church. Discover the factors you should consider when picking church technology for your ministry. Download the free Church Technology Buyer’s Guide today!