The Ultimate Online Technology Strategy For Smaller Churches

Smaller churches are sometimes reluctant to embrace technology and take their churches online. However, having an online technology strategy helps boost member engagement and new church visitors.

Odds are, at least part of your church family uses social media and mobile devices often. This means that part of your potential visitors are online too.

Connect on a wider scale by getting your church online. It’s easier than you might think and the rewards are well worth the effort.

Keep Consistent Branding

One thing to always remember throughout your online technology strategy is to keep consistent branding. From having the same logo to maintaining the same personality, a church’s brand is what people connect with. If you’re always serious on Facebook but humorous on Twitter, people might not be able to get a good sense about your church.

Start With A Websitecustom church website button

Your church’s online strategy has to begin with one key ingredient – a website. Think of it as your virtual home online that happens to have its doors open 24/7. A few elements to include on your site are:

  • Images/videos of your church
  • Short description and mission statement
  • Service hours
  • Contact information
  • Blog
  • Calendar of events
  • Forum for members to interact
  • Social media channels

Obviously, your site can as big or small as you want. Some churches upload their services online, while others only upload a video now and then. The key is to have a place for visitors to learn more about your church.

Plan A Website Content Strategy

With a website comes the need for a content strategy. A church website helps people find your church through search engines, but to rank higher online, you need to keep your site current. This is where a blog comes in handy. To keep visitors coming back, create a content schedule to ensure you’re posting regularly. Even if it’s only one blog per week, it’s enough to stay current in search engines.

Also, plan what types of content you’ll upload. Will you use text, video, images or a mix (which works best)? Will you talk more about church activities, tackle current issues or answer questions from members and site visitors? Having a content strategy in place will make maintaining your blog much easier.

Choose At Least Two Social Networks

It might seem like there is a new social network every week, but your church doesn’t have to maintain a presence on every network. However, your online technology strategy should include at least two social networks. Facebook and Twitter are often the most popular choices because of their large user bases, but you could also choose from sites like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. You could even get creative and use Medium since it’s part blogging platform and part social network. No matter which two you use, stay active to help build your church.

Get Members Involved Online

grow your church buttonIf you want your online technology strategy to actually be successful, you’re going to need some help. Get your members as involved as possible. For instance, ask them to connect with the church on social media and share their favorite posts. At one small church, the pastor encourages members to use tag the church on Twitter when mentioning events to drive more people to the church’s social media profile. This same church even encourages members to use Bible apps on their phones if they want.

The lesson is to embrace technology, even in a small church. It’s an easy way to better engage members and bring in new members.

Offer E-Giving On Your Site

If tithing is down at your church, make e-giving a part of your online strategy. Online giving providers serve as a modern way for members and even non-members to tithe. Incorporate a giving form on your site or as a mobile app. In an age where many people only have credit cards on them, it’s easier to set up payments online versus remembering to get cash before church.

Utilize Volunteers

While getting a professional service to design your website is a good idea, you’re still left with maintaining it, uploading content and managing social media. Ask for volunteers to help manage it all. Meet with them weekly to discuss strategy and review what they’ve been doing. After all, it’s overwhelming for just one person to do everything.

Follow The Lead Of Other Churches

Not sure where to start? Search for other churches online and see what they’re currently doing. You can even learn from large churches. Don’t be afraid to send a message to any church you admire to ask questions or see how well their strategy is working for them.

Are you ready to get started on your own online technology strategy? See how our church web design services get you off to the right start.

How The Internet Has Revolutionized The Way Churches Communicate

It’s undeniable that the Internet has changed the way churches communicate. Gone are the days of a few conversations after church, only to see members again during service hours or special appointments.

Now, it’s easier than ever to send an inspirational message in a few clicks or ask for prayers from hundreds of miles away. The possibilities are seemingly endless. While it’s true that some believe the Internet has hurt churches, the digital world has actually opened up more lines of faith-based communication than ever before.

Reach Members Any Time

Your members come to church to worship together, but they encounter issues throughout the week that may test their faith. With social media, a blog or even an email, church leaders can reach out to provide scripture related to current events or remind a member that’s struggling with their own personal demons that you’re there for them.

Of course, it’s not just church leaders who connect. Thanks to social media or even forums on your church website, members can provide support and encouragement to each other. Instead of being too busy to get together, they can socialize online and keep that feel of community even when they’re not at church.

Engage With Non-Members Easilycustom church website button

Pope Francis is the perfect example of engaging with non-members thanks to the Internet. His Twitter account currently has 10.5 million followers at the time of writing. While many of those followers are likely members of a church, there are plenty that likely aren’t. They still find encouragement and motivation from his tweets, though.

In the past, it was difficult to engage with non-members or the unchurched. Thanks to the Internet, they can come to you in their own time. This makes them feel more comfortable and may even lead to them becoming members.

Communicate In Numerous Ways

According to this infographic from Nonprofit Marketing Guide, 80% of non-profits consider their website to be the most effective communication tool. Churches communicate in a variety of different ways now. Phone, physical mail, paper bulletins, and word-of-mouth used to be the only options. Now, you have a variety of social media channels, email, websites, texting and more.

It’s easy to find the new world of options overwhelming but listen to your members. They’ll be happy to let you know which channels they prefer. When it comes to social media, pick a few networks to be active on. The main thing is to keep communication going on a daily basis and not just one or two days a week.

Discuss Questions Throughout The Week

Before the Internet, it was difficult for members to talk to church leaders about any questions that might have regarding sermons or events. Potential members might have felt hesitant to come to church to ask questions before joining.

Now, with email, contact forms on websites and social networks, anyone can contact the church at any time to ask questions. Members can talk to each other easily to further discuss the messages in sermons. This keeps the conversations going long after church is over for the week.

grow your church buttonReach Those Who May Never Join

One of the most important ways that the Internet has revolutionized the way churches communicate is by helping churches reach those who many never officially join a physical church. Many people have odd schedules or can’t find the right church for them. Instead, they seek guidance online. They visit church websites, follow church leaders on social media and even watch sermons regularly online.

Some churches are even taking online communication a step further and creating digital churches. For instance, Higher Dimension has both a physical and digital church. People can attend live streaming services from anywhere. They can also playback services if they couldn’t stream live. This new option gives people a chance to worship on any schedule and from any place around the world.

The Internet is something to embrace. Use it as another way to better connect and engage your members and reach non-members. It’s a valuable tool for communication and church growth.

Ready to revolutionize how your church communicates? Start with a professionally designed website from people who understand church websites.

5 Point Checklist To Get Results Online This Year

Get Results Online For Your Church

2017 is in full swing. Before we know it, 2018 will be upon us unless of course, the Lord comes back(smile). If you are already committed to utilizing the internet as a church, you no doubt want to get results online this year from your efforts. Are you are seeing good results online so far this year? Good for you and this post may help you continue to get results online!

We are now approaching the first quarter of the year. As a church, I am sure you hope that by now you have some good strategy, processes, and goals set in place.

It is easy to think of goals in a general sense at the beginning of each year, isn’t it? Committing to a specific strategy or process to actually carry your goals out, is a whole different story. If you are like me when you start to set goals, you first think of all the big picture and general stuff. Then, you start to bullet point specifics within each of those goals. I find, there is a lot that can get lost when doing it this way.

May I dare say as a believer, the devil is in the details?

Let’s spend some time recapping a lot of the “specific” things for your online strategy. We want to help you get results online the rest of this year as much as possible.

This five-point checklist below will assume you are already online to a certain degree with a church website and using social media also.

1. Start a Blog

We recently put out what we felt was a very helpful post on this very point. A blog will help you with growth and outreach probably more than you may think. A church blog increases your search engine visibility plus some.

custom church website buttonSearch Engines are looking for good, relevant, and current content online. If you blog consistently, people searching online will be directed back to your church website more and more.

First things first. Remember, you need to commit to blogging first. Find a team or a few folks in your church that will help. Who else likes to write at your church? Who is active in the ministry there? These people will be good candidates to recruit.

If you are a pastor, it will help if you blog too. A pastor is more than likely the person thinking more about, writing, and already producing church specific content.

A blog will also promote healthy church discussion and more church involvement throughout a given week. A blog can challenge your members to start thinking more about spiritual topics. You will generate discussion throughout a week when folks are not always engaged in church life.

It will help members to think more about reaching and inviting people throughout the week. If you are coming up with good content, people will want to share that content on social media with others.

People can comment and interact on blogs. Do you want people talking about your church throughout the week?

2. Get Results Online: Use Instagram

Almost every church uses facebook now. A lot of Pastors use twitter. Instagram is slowly but surely catching on now within the church as a whole. There are some good reasons for this.

A Recent study shows that many Millennials are fleeing Facebook to go over to Instagram. Why?

The main reason is because they are preferring visuals over text. Millennials also value authenticity compared to an ad based or stock approach.

Is your church authentic? I hope so. One of the best ways to show your authenticity to get results online is through the use of photography.

Church websites that get results online use real, candid, and compelling photos of people within their church.

Do you have a photographer in your church? Are you taking pictures of church activities? If not, can you find some people passionate within your church to do so? Consider hiring a photographer to take photos too if you really want to do it right.

Once you start doing this, add Instagram to your repertoire which is a picture-based social media platform. Millenials and others will appreciate this and your members that use Instagram already will too.

Members will start sharing more of your photography and imagery with their unchurched friends too.

If you need more tips on how to come up with compelling photography, check this past post of our’s out.

3. Get the Google Grant

A lot of churches are becoming more aware of this grant now, but many still are not aware of it. Google makes most of its money by selling advertising. The only way to ensure that you will come up on a google search is to pay for a spot at the top, bottom or right-hand column of a search. And these ads can be very expensive.

But for churches and all other non-profits, google offers a grant that gives $10,000 (not a typo) each month (also not a typo) to be spent on advertising on its search engines. There is an application process but almost every church qualifies if they go through it. You should be doing this if you want to better results online!

If you are looking for a way to reach people and not taking advantage of this program, you need to do so today to get results online.

The average church will pay just under $2 per click on a paid ad in a google search. That means over 5000 visitors to your church website each month. If you can convert just 1% of them into visitors to your church…. that would mean 50 visitors this month.

Would 600 new visitors to your church this year make an impact on your ministry? Let us know if you need some help getting going on this too! We have a service for this.

4. Make sure your church website is Mobile Responsive

Again, this is another area churches are catching onto, but slowly. Over half of all browsing is taking place now from mobile devices. This number is going to rise rapidly this year.

grow your church buttonYou need to have a mobile oriented approach to get results online this year for sure. Specifically, your website needs to be “mobile responsive” though. What does “mobile responsive” mean? It means not only should your website be able to be visible on a mobile device, but it should also “respond” to any device. Whether that is from an android phone, iPhone, or tablet.

Think of it this way, your church website should “transform” from a desktop version and resize itself on one of these devices. Don’t fall for some of the knock-off versions through cheaper templates out there. Some of these provide somewhat of a “mobile version” of a site, but not true responsive design.

Google is now giving precedence to mobile responsive websites. They are flagging unresponsive sites hence moving them lower in the searches. You want to do all you can to come up as one of the first churches when someone is doing a search for one.

If you want to dive into the need for this deeper and some more date, check out more here.

5. Use Online Giving

I almost felt like I should leave this point out. You would think it should be a given by now for churches to be using online giving to get results online.

Yet, we still see a lot of churches not taking advantage of this or serving their membership well with this tool. Why?

The two things I hear the most when consulting with churches are:

“Some people within the church or leadership feel online giving will take away from a member’s worship needs.” Our members need to give in person during a service.

Having pastored myself for several years and being a committed tither, I can appreciate this concern that many churches have. Tithing and giving are acts of worship and obedience for a believer indeed.

I give online and I will tell you that online giving is a part of my personal worship for sure.

It may sound funny, but I pray before I click the give button on my church’s website. I thank the Lord for His provision and have a time of worship when I do this each time.

I prefer to give online as a Gen-Exer who does their banking online also. Online giving allows me to give my first fruits right when I get paid before doing anything else. I bet you may have some people like me at your church or that may consider your church.

The second obstacle I hear is when a church is not wanting to pay the transaction fee of an online merchant. They lose that money as a church when someone gives online.

Yes, there are transaction fees with every online merchant out there ranging from 2-3% on average. We get that concern.

I would submit to you that there will be the people who still prefer to give at offering time with a personal check. You will have people who will continue to give that way. But then there will be people like me who prefer to give online and can stay more disciplined if they do it that way.

An active church serving their local community well with a pure vision may attract online donors that will not be there at a physical service.

With online giving, you are also opening a door for people to give on different days of the week and not just on Sunday. Someone may feel led or be better able to make the financial commitment on a different day other than Sunday.

In my opinion, these pros out weight the cons. Most churches see an increase in their annual giving revenue when they add online giving too.

If you need help finding a good online giving provider check out a resource we provided for that here.

These are practical things you can implement to start getting better results online this year. Do you still have some questions or concerns about any of these points I have made? Do you need help knowing where to start? Let us know and we will be sure and give you some good direction and help!

Growing Your Church – How To Make Your Website Irresistible to Visitors

how to make your website irresistible to visitors

Growing your church might seem like an impossible task, but it could become a little easier with the right website. The key is to make that website completely irresistible to visitors.

Your website has the power to inform, engage and turn visitors into life long members. However, if your website turns visitors away, they’ll never even try your church. All it takes is a little effort to turn any church site into something engaging and irresistible.

Avoid Driving Visitors Away

Obviously, the first step is to avoid driving visitors away to begin with. We covered church website mistakes back in October and it’s vital to look over your website and make sure it’s not making any of those errors. Your website is capable of helping boost your church attendance and membership, but only if it’s not turning visitors away at the digital doors.

Show The Real Church Experience

Grow Your ChurchYou want to show visitors how much fun your church is, but it’s easy for visitors to tell real from fake. The entire reason someone is checking out your website is to get an idea of what your church’s community and atmosphere is actually like. If the website shows one thing, but your service is something else entirely, visitors won’t come back.

Start by including real photos, instead of stock photos, of your church community, pastor, and staff members. When a visitor does attend a service, they’ll instantly recognize the people they saw online. Think of your church like a business. Clients want to know who they’re working with, just like visitors want to see the actual church in action.

If your church is more fun loving, showcase that in images, blog posts and other site content. If it’s more serious, showcase that. When someone’s trying to find the right church, it’s vital that your site shows them what to expect.

Guide Visitors To What They Need

Simple and intuitive navigation is crucial for any website, not just church websites. It should be easy for visitors to get from point A to point B on your site with ease. However, you can take navigation a bit further and make your site so easy to use that it’s irresistible.

When growing your church, think about the type of members you want to target. Do you want to target younger members, families, singles and/or seniors? Include areas on your site for different types of members. For instance, include a menu for parents or families that includes details on child-specific services, classes, and events.

Answer All The Basic Questions

Any church website that doesn’t answer all the basic questions that a potential church member might want to know is instantly going to drive that visitor away. Growing your church means thinking ahead to what a visitors wants and needs to know. For instance, you’d need to include service times, which door(s) to enter by, type of dress (include images of members), how long services last, what type of community service the church might be involved in, number of current members and what denomination or if you’re a non-denominational church.

Keep The Message Welcoming To All

custom church websitesIf your church’s site only caters to members, you’re going to have a difficult time growing your church with your website. For instance, if your blog posts only focus on upcoming events and provide short text, such as “We still need volunteers for Saturday’s bake sale. Please contact Sarah to sign up.”, visitors might feel like your church’s community isn’t welcoming to new visitors.

When posting content on your site, ensure it’s engaging to both members and visitors. Show visitors that you’re eager to welcome them.

Offer Free Podcasts

While some churches may argue against podcasts, the truth is, visitors still want to know what a typical service is like. The podcast isn’t going away anytime soon, mainly because it’s too convenient. The one thing that podcasts don’t offer is the community aspect, which is what most church members love most.

Offer the convenience to worship on the go, but go a step further. Include conversations with members at the end. Let listeners hear how involved members are and the type of community they could be a member of themselves. Add an online donation feature so online listeners can help support the church too.

Growing Your Church Digitally

One of the easiest ways to find new members is by taking your church online. Let your website be your starting point. Turn it into a true representation of your church and make it easy and welcoming for anyone to use.

Ready to make your church’s site irresistible? Start with our free website strategy review to receive custom feedback on how to perform better.

8 Church SEO Best Practices to Get Your Church Found in Search

8 church SEO best practices to get your church found in search

You already have a church website, but the only visitors are your church members. Your website just isn’t attracting the traffic you expected.

It’s a common problem, but one that is usually fixed through better church SEO practices. The idea is to make sure your church comes up on the first page of search results when someone looks for churches in a specific area.

With just a little work, you can draw in visitors to your church’s website naturally. This leads to your ultimate goal – more visitors to your church.

1. Add Location Details

When someone is looking for a church, they’ll enter three things in a search engine – city/state, denomination, and the word “church.” If your website only lists the city once, it probably won’t rank high in search results. Include the city and denomination, if applicable, to your footer and/or header so it shows up on every page. Including your location in your schema is ideal. Think of your location as one of the main keywords to optimize on your site.

2. Place Your Keyword In Key Places

Use keywords naturally on your church website. Use keywords and phrases that people would use to search for your site. For optimal results, add keywords to specific areas, such as:

  • Subheads
  • Page titles
  • Within text (up to 2.5%) – Google does recognize synonyms, so high keyword density isn’t vital
  • On page description
  • Within meta description
  • In image name/description

3. Manage Local Listings

Grow Your ChurchYour website isn’t the only place where people might find your church. Online business listings provide your location, hours and even reviews. If you’re not actively managing these, people may find false information. These sites are also a great place to list your website, so visitors find out more about your church.

While you don’t need to use every site, updating details on some of the top local business listing sites helps with your church SEO.

4. Name Your Images

A picture is worth a thousand words, except that Google can’t “read” images. If you want images to help with SEO, you need to give them a name outside of IMG82937.jpg. Use a relevant keyword to name the image. For instance, this post might call it’s image “church SEO best practices.” Google then has words to tie to the image and better rank it.

5. Opt For Responsive Design

Google changed its algorithm to place more emphasis on mobile-friendly websites. Many potential visitors are coming from mobile devices and if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it might not even show up in search results on smartphones and tablets.

An easy way to boost your church SEO is by upgrading your site to a responsive design. You can check if your site meets Google’s standards by using the free Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

6. Blog Regularly

The more pages you have indexed on Google, the more chances you have to show up in search results. On average, a blog can add 434% more indexed pages than a website alone. Plus, adding new content on a regular basis keeps visitors coming back, which is key to turning them into members of your church.

7. Include Service Details

custom church websitesYou now know the importance of adding location details for better church SEO, but that’s not the only information that helps your website. Outside of your city, people also want to know details about your services. In addition to your location, Google may also pick up on your worship hours. If several churches in the area list their hours, but you don’t, people are more likely to pick one of the other churches.

For best results, add all relevant hours to your header or footer. Not only is it easier for visitors to your site to find, but it makes it easier for search engines to find too.

8. Add Testimonials

People want to know how others feel about a church before attending. This is where reviews and testimonials come into play. While these sound more like something that applies to business’s only, it works for churches too. Ask members to provide testimonials about their own experiences. When someone searches for “city/denomination church reviews,” your church will show up. 

Church SEO Leads To More Members

Optimizing your church website is vital to making it work for your church. Even when you’re not actively updating the site, it’s still drawing in new traffic and potential members.

Looking for more ways to market your church’s website? See how search engine marketing can help boost your church’s membership.

How Your Website Can Turn Church Visitors Into Engaged Members

how your website can turn your church into engaged members

Your church website isn’t just a static page with a picture of your church and worship hours. It can be one of the most powerful tools you have in turning those first time and sporadic church visitors into highly engaged members.

It’s always difficult to know exactly what visitors are looking for in a church. One or two visits isn’t nearly enough for them to get to know the family and community they could be joining.

With so many people relying on the Internet to help them make important decisions, including where to worship, it’s time to let your website help your church bring in more regular, engaged members.

Showcase Activities, Events And Worship Hourscustom church website button

One of the top things that ruins how a new visitor sees your church is a bad website. Visitors want to visit your church’s site and get more details on worship hours, regular activities, charitable associations, and any upcoming events. If the site is poorly designed and doesn’t make this type of information available, visitors might think your church isn’t that interested in retaining members. A better site with all relevant information easily accessible could make a major difference in church attendance.

Offer An Email Newsletter

Some churches ask new visitors to sign up for an email newsletter during their first visit. Odds are, you’re probably going to miss a few people or new visitors might be too shy to draw attention to themselves right away. After all, they’re still on the fence about whether to join or not.

The solution is to offer an email newsletter on your website. This could be a once or twice a week newsletter filled with inspiring content and a calendar of events. Ask visitors and even current members to please sign up on the website. It’s less pressure and allows you to stay in contact with anyone who signs up, leading to more engaged members.

Include A Welcome Forum On Your Site

It’s vital to start bringing in more millennials to your church. This is the generation that know show to spread the word on social media and connect with the digital generation. The sad thing is 44% of millennials see church as an exclusive club.

Keep them coming back by offering a welcome forum on your site. Ask members to check in to the forums throughout the week to talk with visitors online. Visitors can introduce themselves, ask members questions about the church and get a better idea of the community. The idea is to make everyone feel welcome.

Provide Regular Useful Content

Your church website needs to be updated frequently. When someone visits your church, they’re probably looking for a new place to worship. Either before or after their visit, they’ll likely look for your website to learn more. What will they find?

If you want to be seen as an active church family, your site needs to reflect that. Show visitors what your church has to offer with regular blog posts, inspiring messages, personal thoughts on current events and even fun activities outside the church that are family friendly. A church that connects with members online is a church that connects in person too. This is vital to having more engaged members.

grow your church buttonAdd In Personal Stories From Members

No matter what a pastor might say, the truth about a church comes out in what members have to say about it. Add a section to your site with personal stories from members. Encourage members to submit their own stories about what they like and even dislike. Honesty is vital as it’ll make your church seem like a true family and not a fake community.

Offer Interactive Resources

One of the best ways for your website to turn church visitors into engaged members is through interactive resources. When visitors were looking for a new church, 83% said sermon quality was most important, while 74% said worship style was important.

Show them what they need to know by offering podcasts, online sermons, live chats throughout the week, downloadable ebooks for study or motivation and other digital resources. These allow visitors to connect with the church on their own terms. Before you know it, those visitors are becoming new church members.

Engaged Members Are Just A Few Clicks Away

The distance between visitors and engaged members could be just a few clicks of a mouse or taps of a finger. Help visitors get to know your church and your church family by making your website a one-stop shop filled with information and resources.

Want to turn your site into a valuable resource for bringing in new members? See how our custom church web design services help give visitors exactly what they’re looking for.

7 Ways Your Church Website Can Better Connect You to Your Members

church website connect you to members

A church doesn’t have to limit how often it connects to its members, but it’s impossible for most churches to have someone available 24/7.

Connecting with members means being more available and we know that you want to be there for your church family. The solution to not only giving members more of what they need, but growing a church, is to have an active website.

Taking your church online might seem traditional, but the better you stay in contact with your members, even on days when there isn’t a service or event, the more your church will grow and thrive.

1. Provides Shareable Material For Memberscustom church website button

Your loyal members are always eager to spread the word, but invite cards cost money and you’re never sure how many people they actually reach. A church website gives you the opportunity to create shareable material, such as blog posts, sermons, event pages and more. Members simply have to visit the website and share anything they want to friends and family. This gives members the power to help boost church attendance and build a growing community.

2. Rely On More Than A Phone Chain For Updates

Phone chains are great, but they don’t work for everyone. Some people would much rather just visit a website to check times on an event or see if service is being delayed due to weather. Keep everyone in the loop by relying on a church website in addition to a phone chain.

3. Make It Easy To Ask Questions And Interact

What happens if a member has a question, but didn’t think of it until hours after the service? Odds are, they don’t want to feel like they’re bothering anyone by calling and asking. Your church website can offer an online community with a forum or a blog post for each service. Members then discuss questions together. Pastors are able to also further discuss questions and continue teaching and connecting with members via the website. You could even post questions in forums to spark discussion and further increase engagement.

4. Encourage Participation In Community Programs

Do you find that many members either forget about church events or just weren’t aware anything was happening? Members might have missed a service where a giving opportunity was discussed or about needing volunteers for an upcoming holiday play. Encourage a more active church family by posting about the event on your church website. Members can discuss events on the website and see how many members are already participating.

5. Meet Younger Members On Their Terms

If you want to connect with your church family, you need to meet them on their own terms – in this case, mobile devices. A shocking 93% of 18-34 year-olds use smartphones. Overall, 79% of people use smartphones. If you want to connect with your members, you need to be visible on the devices they use. Your church’s website ensures members are able to check-in no matter where they are.

6. Offer Previous Sermons For Missed Services

Hectic schedules keep many people from attending church regularly. Illnesses also keep members away. Stay in touch with members who aren’t able to attend church every Sunday by posting sermons on your website. Members will love that they can still worship, even if they’re not able to go to church directly. You could even include a digital tithe option for members to support the church, even when they’re not there.

grow your church button7. Provide Regular Devotionals During The Week

Sometimes members feel disconnected since church only happens a few times a week. What happens in the meantime? Help your church family hold strong to their faith and beliefs as they struggle through the week with daily devotionals. An email newsletter could be sent out directly to those who want it. You may even find that non-members subscribe or visit your site on a regular basis just for a daily dose of spiritual motivation.

Reach Church Members 24/7

The connection between a church and its members doesn’t end when a service ends. God is always with them. Make sure the church is too by providing a website that keeps you in contact with members and keeps members in contact with each other.

Ready to start better connecting with your members whenever and wherever they might be? See how our web design services are the perfect solution to your needs.

7 Church Website Mistakes That Scare Visitors Away

Church Website Mistakes

At this point, we all know that every church needs a website.  It is the first impression of nearly everyone who visits your church. If we really believe it’s a first impression for most visitors, we have to be careful not to fall into some of the most common church website mistakes.

Studies show that you have less than three seconds to make a first impression online.  Churches today must be careful to not drive visitors away by making some of the following mistakes.

Church Website Mistake #1 – Pastor Focused Homepage

This is the homepage where the main image is a picture of the pastor of the church. While this may help to build your personal brand, we have seen this to be off-putting to most website visitors.

While it is true that the main reason someone becomes a member of a church has to do with the connection they feel with the pastor, your first-time visitors don’t know you yet. Their first impression should be tied to the vision of your church, not the personalities of your church.

Church Website Mistake #2 – Building Focused Homepage

custom church website buttonLike the first mistake, this is when the imagery on the homepage is all tied to the building where people meet for 75 minutes each week. Unless you have an iconic building that everyone in a 30-mile radius will recognize, you need to use imagery of people instead.

Even worse is the empty sanctuary photo. People will always engage most with imagery of people. Look for candid shots of life happening in and around the church.

Church Website Mistake #3 – Mobile-Unfriendly Website

Mobile browsing has surpassed desktop based browsing. If you do not have a mobile responsive website, you are making a bad impression on the majority of your website visitors.

A mobile friendly website will give visitors a great experience on any device and will lead many more of them to make a decision to be a first time guest.

Church Website Mistake #4 – Flash Based Slide Show

Stop me if you have heard this one – Flash is bad.  There was a time when it was king.  It was created in a time before smartphones, and it should have no place in your website.

There are many ways to get the effect of motion without using flash.  Video backgrounds and zooming photography can make a great first impression, but whatever you do, don’t use flash.

Church Website Mistake #5 – Hidden Service Times

People can’t visit your services or events if they don’t know when and where to show up.  This info needs to be everywhere on your site.

Most sites allow for you to have this information in your header and footer. Even with that, you should have a page of your website dedicated to contact information and service times.  Make it hard to miss.

Church Website Mistake #6 – Auto Playing Worship Music

grow your church buttonWe have all experienced this when we have our speakers turned up loud from the last video we were watching only to be blown out by a sampling of the kind of music this church plays on Sunday.

There is no good reason for your site to have background music.  We did that back in 2004 and called it MySpace.  It is time to let that die because it is only annoying people.  Annoyed people don’t visit on Sunday.

Church Website Mistake #7 – Out-Of-Date Information

Is your Easter graphic still rotating on your homepage in July?  Your last sermon, is it one you preached 4 series ago? Is your latest blog post titled “Hello World?” If so you have an out of date website.

To visitors, this says something about your church.  More often than not an out of date website belongs to an out of date church.  The Gospel has no expiration date, but the events on your website do.  Make sure you keep that up to date.

What Have You Seen?

These are just some of the many church website mistakes I have encountered over the years.  I have seen each one of these more times than I care to remember.

Have you made/seen any of these mistakes?  Have you seen any that I missed?

Are You Making Any Church Website Mistakes?

Want to make sure your site is attracting new visitors and not scaring them away?  Check out our 100% free church website strategy review. It is full of practical advice to help you see more visitors each Sunday.

Last year my church put some of these changes into place and we saw an additional 367 visitors walk through our doors.  With a few tweaks, you can see a huge increase in visitors too!

 

 

How to Choose Compelling Church Website Photography

church website photography

Let’s talk about Church Website Photography. More specifically, Compelling Church Website Photography! So everyone has heard the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. This saying has been around forever and is definitely over-used. However I believe it holds true even more now than in years past. Why? A recent study shows that people on average across the Internet, TV, Newspapers, Magazines, and Radio are hit with 360 marketing messages daily! So this means you have to visually stand out big time to get people’s attention these days with whatever it is you want them to know about you.

People for various reasons have become even more visual these days too and specifically the millenial generation are even more visually oriented than past generations comparatively. Churches and business alike have realized how important it is to stand out in a noisy crowded world to get results with their online marketing efforts. The unchurched demographic out there can often have the preconception that most churches are all pretty much the same, or are lame, or just not that culturally relevant, and the list can go on.

custom church website buttonWell as pastors and ministry leaders we know this is not the case at all. Every church is unique and has something different to offer. In addition to knowing some of these preconceptions out there is that the culture in general (churched or secular) is responding more now to marketing that illustrates “authenticity”. People see through the fluff and phony promises that organizations make to sell a product or push their own agenda. People will also see through and not respond well to church marketing that is just focusing on a pastor or that touts their church as the one with the best events, speakers, etc..They want authentic community and something real!

Over the past couple of years churches have realized the need to have more attractive attention getting graphics or a great branded look with their marketing efforts. However, one other thing you will see on the rise more now specifically with church website design is the use of “compelling church website photography”. This is especially important for their online marketing efforts since 85-90% of the time statistically people will end up on a church website before they decide to attend. People will typically end up on a website for or anything else they are researching or interested in for that matter too.

Even though churches are starting to use compelling church website photography more this effort is not happening nearly enough. I personally think it is not happening enough due to “laziness” mostly. Yep,  plain ol laziness and or not making it a priority really. This is a shame because it can really get you some good results online when done properly. I have outlined some relatively easy ways below on how you can choose and implement compelling church website photography!

1. Find a photographer at your church that can help with Church Website Photography.

All you need to do is start asking around your church or you may already have someone you have used before at your church perhaps. Why not allow that person to serve and be fulfilled in using their God given abilities? More than likely this person will be glad to do so is my bet. However make sure this person is actually a PROFESSIONAL photographer! I have seen for your years now consulting churches in marketing and web design that a Pastor or church will often allow anyone who offers to volunteer to do graphics, photos, or content just to be nice or not hurt this volunteer’s feelings. I think we should all know good and well that just because someone says they know how to do something does not mean they are gifted in that area or will follow through.

You have to sometimes turn into Simon Cowell who was with American Idol and tell a bad singer bluntly that they are a bad singer. Just kidding, you will not want to do it the way he did it but the point us you just have to put your foot down and say no for the greater good of your outreach success. It also will be beneficial to that person to not believe they are great or gifted in that area if that is just not the case.

2. Hire a local photographer if you do not have one at your church.grow your church button

If you do not have a professional one in your local church then you should consider hiring one locally that really knows your city, community, local scenic sites, etc. The trick can be here that they may not know church life or church marketing so this is when consultation from a professional website design company or church marketing firm can really help. You will need to know how to lead this type of photographer to the types of compelling church website photography that needs to carried out. Yes, there is more cost associated with hiring someone professionally but it is well worth it to have compelling church website photography since the majority of people will end up on your site before they visit in person once again.

3. Make sure you have a great designer or website design company.

You need to make sure that whoever is designing your website understands what compelling church website photography really is. The company or person will also need to take the time needed to research good stock photography. Most professional companies will have an account with a professional photography company too. You need to make sure that if you are relying solely or mostly on the designer or web design company for coming up with photos; that they will not be picking stock photography photos that are not relevant to your church’s unique culture or community. You also do not want them to pick ones that people will see on the walls of target or when walking through the mall for example. This will make you seem generic.They need to take the time to ask questions about your church and local community to give you needed guidance and find the best church website photography.

Lastly, there are some great sites you can find stock photos yourself like big stock, shutter stock, and even some free church website photography can be found at creation swap. I know I have left some others out so feel free to share. The point is though, it is worth the time and an investment when “authenticity” is on the line with our marketing to people who need Jesus and what He is doing at our respective local churches! Any other thoughts on the need and benefits for compelling church website photography? What did I miss?

 

How To Make Sure Your Church Website Appears On Google

church website appears on google

Fact: People are using Google for every little decision they make in life.

We Google restaurants, transportation schedules, dry cleaners, and tree trimmers.  Just this week I entered this three word phrase into a google search box: Best Hair Comb. As embarrassing as that is, it illustrates the fact that people search for literally everything you can imagine.

Churches need to start taking this to heart.

For centuries churches have understood that visibility was important.  This is why churches were built with spires or crosses that rose above all the other buildings in town.  It made the church and it’s mission visible for everyone to see.

Today we live in a time that is easier than ever to gain visibility, but sadly many of our churches stick with what worked 20 years ago and are missing an enormous opportunity. That opportunity is through internet search.

While search providers keep the exact formulas a secret in order to prevent people from gaming the system, there are things we do know about how to improve your visibility on search search engines.  Here are 3 things you can do to start showing up online today.

Get a Google Grant

While there is no sure fire way to ensure you will come up on the first page of Google (anyone who says differently is lying to your face) this is the closest that you will get.  Google makes most of its money by selling advertising.  The only way to ensure that you will come up on a google search is to pay for a spot at the top, bottom or right hand column of a search.

And these ads can be very expensive.  Depending on the competitiveness of the market you can pay anywhere from a few cents to over $50 dollars for just a click onto your websites.

But for churches and all other non profits google offers a grant that gives $10,000 (not a typo) each month (also not a typo) to be spent on advertising on its search engines.  There is an application process but almost every church qualifies if they go through it.

If you are looking for a way to reach people and not taking advantage of this program, you need to do so today.

The average church will pay just under $2 per click on a paid ad in google search.  That means over 5000 visitors to your church website each month.  If you can convert just 1% of them into visitors to your church…. that would mean 50 visitors this month.

Would 600 new visitors to your church this year make an impact on your ministry… my guess is it would.

Create Great Contentcustom church website button

If you are looking for better organic (non-paid) search results the one tried and true method to make that happen is creating great content. Chances are you are doing this all ready.

When we talk about content most people think this means they have to start a blog and they need to add one more thing to their all ready busy schedule just for the chance of doing a little better on search engines.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

In the church we create content every single week.  Some us do this multiple times.  We call them sermons.

Each week Pastors spend anywhere from 2 to 20 hours praying, preparing and writing sermons. Instead of creating new content, a great start would be just taking the content you are all ready working hard to make and turning it into content for the web.

For some churches that means providing message transcripts of the message, for others its bullet points.  For others it is a few highlights and some community questions.

No matter what you have, you need to find a way to get your sermons online in both a media and text form, and not let that resource got to waste.

Use The Word “Church”

Over the past three decades there was a move away from using the word church in the names of our churches.  It was much more trendy to be known as a community, or a fellowship, or a family.

While we didn’t know it at the time, in an attempt to make ourselves more appealing we have made ourselves less visible online.

When people are looking for a church to be a part of, they don’t go online searching for “fellowships” in their city.  That is more likely to be someone looking for a Lord of the Rings LARPing group to join.

They go online and search for “Church in Atlanta” or “Des Moines Churches”.

grow your church buttonThe only way that search engines know that you are relevant to someone looking for churches online is if you use the word church in your content.  You need to be very intentional about this.

Let me be clear, there is no value to key word stuffing.  Don’t use the word church 45 times on every page.  Make sure that your content readable, and use your key word a few times.  As a general rule you want to use the word church between 1%-2% of yrou total word count.  So if you have 200 words of content, using the word church 3 times would be appropriate.

If you do this you will have a reasonable shot at appearing toward the top of the pile when people are looking for a church.

 

These are just 3 of the things you can do to help improve your online visibility.

Has your church done anything else to make yourselves visible online?  We would love to hear about it in the comments below.