In February, research and advisory firm, Forrester Research released its “Mobile Trends for Marketers” and “Interactive Marketing Predictions” for 2013. These studies show more clearly than ever just how much Christian ministries must rapidly embrace technological change in order to reach their perpetually connected audiences.
Connected TV is Here
One area that this research highlighted is the massive growth in connected TV for video viewing. In its “2013 Mobile Trends for Marketers,” Forrester says there are one million apps available, and globally, 150 million tablets and one billion smartphones are in use.
Forrester’s three conclusions — and the effect on Christian ministries:
1. Connected TV devices are more than a gimmick. By 2017, more U.S. households will have a connected television than connected game console or connected Blu-ray player. There has never been an easier time than now for ministries to use film, storytelling and episodic content to spread the gospel via online streaming services, as people watch more online video content on their LED TV’s.
2. Time spent in cars and in front of a TV “still” a huge opportunity. Throughout history when ground-breaking technologies have been introduced, Christian entrepreneurs have recognized opportunity and seized it. The “next big thing” is the Internet of Things, a world of networked cars, TV’s, and devices. This means we need to think now about engaging audiences in ways that propel 21st-century gospel storytelling.
3. Online video is the “crown jewel” of future media ministry opportunity. As mobile grows, so does the use of video on smartphones and tablets (which Forrester looks at as distinct from a smartphone and more as a kind of hybrid PC).
Mobile devices and their connectivity are fundamentally shifting how people behave. To be effective in such an environment Christian networks must shift how they interact with their audiences.
Cross-Channel, Omni-Channel, and Multichannel
By the end of 2013, nearly half of online adults worldwide will be perpetually connected, fueled by the increased adoption and utility of tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices, says Forrester in its “2013 Interactive Marketing Predictions.” Four future trends noted by Forrester:
1. Interconnectedness. Ministry’s using media will need to seamlessly integrate the seeker’s experience across all channels of interaction, because the user will expect it. This includes websites, mobile and online video and audio platforms, social networks, direct mail, and online stores.
2. Personalization. Outreach will have to be designed around the needs and wants of the audience rather than around the marketing channels being used.
3. Responsiveness. Since people will be online more often, ministries must continually monitor these channels to respond to questions, interests, and concerns of the audience. Delays or snags in communicating with those interested in knowing God, getting prayer, or having their spiritual questions answered can mean they just might move on to other sources.
4. Ministry will be online and offline. More devices will have both online and offline capabilities. A reset is coming in what connecting with constituents looks like. For example, publishers will digitize Bibles and books, so that those giving these resources as gifts can add a personal video message.
Leaders must anticipate these ongoing mobile and marketing disruptions, and shift mobile strategies and digital media outreach accordingly.
Reaching new audiences
Here at Glorystone.tv we’ve been preparing the way to help ministry leaders transition to this brave new digital world of connected TV and online publishing. We’ve built a platform for the Christian marketplace that enables content management, publishing, syndication, ad sales, and donor development, as well as live one-to-one discipleship. The results are greater revenues, lower operating costs, and audiences that are more engaged.
Those of us who work in the ministry world are in the midst of unparalleled yet exciting technological upheaval. This rapid change is radically influencing the way the gospel is transmitted. It is exciting to envision how God is going to use new media technologies to further his kingdom.
To succeed in the future we must embrace change and adapt to new technologies. We must embrace new opportunities, innovate, and create better ways of fulfilling our mission. And most of all, in the midst of rapid change, we must hold true to an unchanging reliance on the wisdom of God.
Gordon Marcy is president of Capstone eMedia Group LLC, which developed and operates (Glorystone.tv). As a broadcast and digital media specialist, former radio station executive, online missionary, and blogger, he has a unique perspective on the rapidly changing world of new media and social networking. This post is an excerpt from the 2014 Winter edition of Outcomes Magazine.
This year at the 2014 CLA National Conference in Dallas, April 14-16, participate in workshops with the latest information about web-based technologies. See what’s offered and identify now the ones right for you and your ministry.
2014 CLA National Conference Internet and Technology Workshops:
- Internet & Technology: Best Practice Workshop
- Mobile Engagement: A Global Expert Panel
- How to Advance Your Ministry Online
- Big (Data) Kingdom Outcomes
- Getting Strategic About Digital Content
- Effective Instagram for Your Ministry
- The Mobile Ministry
- Secrets for Engaging Website Visitors
- Learning From Mobile Mistakes