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.
Search 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.
You 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!