Crafting a successful mobile strategy (and why you need to have one RIGHT NOW)

I just returned from the annual Christian Leadership Alliance conference, where I had the opportunity to give a talk I call Be Smarter Than Your Smartphone: Building a Successful Mobile Strategy. If the packed-out session room was any indication, it’s a topic of growing importance to ministries.

The mobile revolution is here today

I blogged about this in September 2012, and trends have only continued to prove the point. If you aren’t convinced you need to have a mobile strategy right now, consider these facts:

  • In 2011, more smartphones were sold than PCs.
  • In 2012, smartphones surpassed 50% of mobile market share.
  • In 2012, we reached the 1 billion smartphones mark globally.
  • Mobile Internet usage in the first few months of 2013 accounts for more than 15% of all internet usage in the United States.

Mobile as a percentage of total internet usage in the United States is growing quickly.

Not convinced yet? How about this – every ministry I’ve looked at in the last two years has had at least 10% of visits coming from mobile devices. For your ministry, that could translate to thousands (or tens of thousands) of people coming to your website every month from mobile devices.

Additionally, more often than not, the number one device our clients’ emails are opened on is an iPhone.


In this recent client email send, fully 46% of email opens were on mobile devices. Apple iPhone was the number one platform.

The reality is that the mobile revolution is upon you – your constituent base is already trying to interact with you via mobile devices. What’s their experience like? Have you tried to visit your website on your phone? Tried to read an email? Tried to give a gift?

Building a successful mobile strategy

If I can get you to do ONE thing, it would be to walk through this three-step process. The path forward is clear – it may not be easy, but it’s straightforward.


Step 1: Assess your situation.

National trends and global stats are helpful, but they are no substitute for knowing what YOUR current reality is. Every ministry is different.

The first thing I would want you to do would be to dive in and get as clear a picture of your current mobile audience as quickly as possible. If you have a team across the org, pull them together – get a senior leader/decision maker, a data/web technical person, a marketing person, a fundraising person, and a ministry/program person. Give the group a deadline – in 1-2 weeks, you want to know everything you can about your current mobile situation, including:

  • What are you doing for mobile right now, if anything?
  • What are your current mobile numbers – percentage of website traffic, number of visits, app usage (if you have an app).
  • Who is your audience? What types of constituents are interacting with you via mobile?
  • What is your audience’s mobile context? Why are they visiting from mobile? For example, are they driving down the road listening to your program?

Step 2: Define success.

You can’t hit a bulls-eye if it hasn’t been defined. What is success as it relates to mobile for your organization? That definition of success should point directly toward your overall definition of success as a ministry.


  • What do you want your mobile users to do? These actions should directly impact your definition of success.
  • What do your mobile users want to do? Back to context – why are they coming, and what do they want to do?

Step 3: Act, measure, repeat.

Now that you know what’s going on in your ministry and you have a very clear idea of what success is, decide on some tactics to execute, whether that is making your website mobile friendly, or improving your email communications for mobile, etc. (you can get some ideas from my post back in September).

But don’t forget to measure the performance of each of these tactics that you come up with. It’s very important to get a sense of what’s working and what’s not, so you can continually reevaluate, stop what isn’t working and reinvest in areas that are.

In conclusion – have that meeting!

This may seem daunting – any strategy is if you consider it all at once. That’s why I want you to take this one step at a time. Pull that meeting together in the next week if you can, and take that first step!

As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have – email me at Or you can always catch up with me on Twitter – @daveraley.