In Tuesday’s post, Church Marketing and Communications Round Table Part 3, we found out what the real-world effects of are participants online marketing has been. Today we are going to wrap things up and get some church marketing and communications tips and advice from our experts.
Brandon Cox – Brandon is Lead Pastor and Church Planter at Grace Hills Church in northwest Arkansas. He also serves Rick Warren and Saddleback Church as Editor and Community Facilitator for Pastors.com.
10) Do you believe online marketing is important or even critical to the ministry of churches today?
Steve Fogg – Absolutely critical. Most people will check you out online before they show up. Your online presence will define their perception of you.
Brandon Cox – Ministry can be done without online marketing, but it’s tougher than ever. Online marketing is simple and affordable and taps into the way people think and communicate every day. It’s a no-brainer.
Josh Burns – I believe it is vastly critical to the church today. People are going to do a Google search for your church before they come through the doors. If your website doesn’t catch their eye or if it’s a pain to navigate then that will negatively affect their decision to visit your church. Whether this is right or wrong, it’s reality, so you must do a great job of making your church’s website something great to look at and navigate as well as explain what your church is all about. If people feel comfortable and welcome on your church website, then they’re more likely to come and visit.
This doesn’t mean that your church’s website needs to be a mask for what your church is really like. If your church is made up of mostly senior citizens, but your website is covered in a bunch of images of teens and 20 somethings that can be deceiving. Be true to who you are. Don’t try to be someone online that you’re not in real life, because people will see through that, and it will just end up reflecting poorly on your church.
11) What SEO advice or tips do you have for churches who want to reach their communities through the search engines?
Steve Fogg – N/A
Brandon Cox – Focus on building a dynamic website that changes frequently as opposed to a small, static site that stagnates. And then, focus on receiving links back from other sources, especially local sites, news sites, and community directories. Tell Google who you are by asking other websites to introduce you to the world.
Josh Burns – Implement certain keywords into your homepage. These usually are best to do for the context that you’re in. For example, you’re a church in Gary, IN so some keywords you would implement would be “church in Gary” or “Gary Indiana church”.
12) What advice related to online church marketing in general would give to the thousands of church leaders who are reading this round table?
Steve Fogg –
- Invest in mobile web. Mobile is set to overtake desktop as the primary way people interact with the web.
- Lower barriers to entry. Create great videos on your site to help give a snapshot of what your church is about.
- Ensure that what you say and how you look on the web is who you really are. When a visitor attends your church they’ll very quickly decide if you are really who you said you were on your website.
- Don’t over promise.
- Keep your website up to date. I don’t want to see events that were on 6 months ago. It makes you feel out of touch and out of date.
Brandon Cox – Learn Facebook. There are a dozen other things to learn, but start there. If I were starting from scratch with an online marketing strategy and only had time to do one thing, I would set up a Facebook page and pay attention to building an enthusiastic community around it.
Josh Burns – As the church we have a huge opportunity. People want to know what your church is about before they go through the time and effort of paying you a visit. Long gone are the days where people will physically visit 5 or 6 churches before settling on one that suits them. They can make the majority of that decision without ever leaving their couch.
- Make your vision and mission clear on your website.
- Be transparent. Don’t try to be someone that you’re not.
- Make resources available on your website for others to learn more about you.
I want to thank all of you who read and contributed to our church marketing and communications round table discussions. I especially want to thank Steve, Brandon, and Josh for sharing their time, knowledge and experiences with us. It has been very helpful. I hope all of our readers have enjoyed this series and been able to take something from this to help your church to better reach people for Christ.
Have you missed any part of the discussion? Go back and start from the beginning with the first part of the Church Marketing and Communications Round Table.
- Do you have any questions or comments about the responses here today?
- What about you and your church?
- Do you think online marketing is important/critical?
- What SEO advice or tips can you share with us?
- What online church marketing and communications advice do you have?