When it comes to building a church website one of the first questions we ask every client is “Who are you trying to reach?” This is the question of church website targeting.
While we have heard every answer under the sun to that question, there is one that we seem to get more often that all the others. Churches consistently tell us “We want to reach everybody.”
Often they will accompany that answer with a very spiritual backing. “Jesus accepted everyone, so I think we should do the same.” Well, we agree with you that both Jesus and your website should accept everybody, but the question of targeting is a very different one.
Good websites always have a keen understanding of who they are aimed at and what that target is looking to get from your the website visit. When we target well we will be able to turn many more visitors to our website into visitors on Sunday Morning.
Here are some key questions to ask when trying to determine your target.
Lets start of with an easy one. Even the staunchest opponents to targeting will at least concede that they are trying to reach an audience in a specific location.
Every church knows that not everyone in the world is a good candidate to come and worship with them this Sunday. Studies say that in most regions people will not travel more than 20 minutes to come to church. While there will be some exceptions to this rule, we know that we need to target those closest to our places of gathering.
At my church, The Journey, we meet in an urban part of Madison, Wisconsin. While we do have several families who travel from the suburbs, we are unapologeticly focused on reaching the people of Madison. We use imagery of Madison that will appeal to someone in town more than some one from the surrounding communities.
We have realized that if we focus on those closest to our church, we will get better results even if that means that those a little further out will be less engaged.
Church Website Targeting Question #2 – How old is my ideal visitor?
If we take a second to be truly honest I think we can probably agree that our church services appeal to a certain age range more than other. From music choices to design aesthetics we are targeting a people of a certain age. The only question is whether or not we are intentional about this.
“But we have Betty who just celebrated her 85th birthday, so we really are here for everyone.” Again there will always be outliers. The point is that we need to recognize who we will most likely appeal to and target in that direction.
The answer to the question of who you will appeal to isn’t usually to hard to answer. Unless you are specifically targeting a new age demographic, you are probably appealing to the people that are worshiping with you on Sunday.
Are you an older church? Don’t mislead people with pictures of nothing but college students on your website. Are you a a church full of college students that doesn’t offer a children’s ministry? Make sure you communicate that so your audience knows.
Church Website Targeting Question #3 – What life phase is my ideal visitor in?
I have asked this question to churches for years and the answer I get most of the time is “young families”. That is great, but no matter what life place you are targeting, make sure you are communicating about what matters to them.
Good web design is always about answering your visitors questions, not telling them about yourself.
If you are targeting young families, make sure you answer that question of what you offer for kids and how long your service is. If you are targeting young professionals, make sure you highlight the ways church members can make a personal connection.
Once you understand the life place of your target, try to think like them and answer any questions they may have.
This goes along with the post I wrote about call to action. The right call to action to use on your website is dependent on who you are trying to reach.
If you are trying to reach a young population, a good call to action might be following your church on Twitter or Instagram. If you have a church full of families, Facebook might be a better place to connect. If you are in an urban setting with lots of people in need of help, maybe a prayer form is the right call to action.
Remember who your audience is and tailor your call to action to them.
If we keep our target in mind when we build a website we can do something that will lead more site visitors in to Sunday visitors. While I believe everyone needs to head the Gospel, God made each one of us with the ability to reach a specific kind of person better than anyone else. Our website ought to reflect that.