This is a guest post by Minister Dante Fortson.
Are you having a rough time getting people to hang out on your site once they get there? You’ve done everything right, but you just can’t seem to put your finger on why you’re having such a tough time duplicating the results of the popular crowd. It’s feels just like you’re in high school all over again, and it sucks. Thankfully, you don’t have to feel like that much longer because I’m going to give you the secrets to becoming one of the cool kids.
You’re probably wondering, “who is this guy to tell me about becoming one of the cool kids?” You’ve probably never heard of me, but I’ve been involved in Internet Marketing off and on since I was 18, and I’ve been involved in online ministry full time for the last 4.5 years. My website, Minister Fortson.com is currently ranked 35,514 in the United States, and that’s not even the impressive part.
The average time spent on even the most active Christian websites is less than 4 minutes. My website has an average visiting time of just over 26 minutes. That’s over 6x the ministry average. I recently published my State of The Ministry article, in which I compared the performance of 10 ministry websites. I looked at the following statistics:
- Bounce Rate – People that visit only 1 page on a website and then leave.
- Average Page Views – How many pages visitors look at before leaving.
- Average Time Spent – How long visitors stay on the site before leaving.
In each and every example, the strategies I’ve used on my website out performed major televangelists such as Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Chuck Missler, and Joyce Meyer. Chuck Missler led the pack for the highest average page views per visitor at 3.40, but my site averaged over 4x more at 14 pages viewed per visit.
Of those compared, Stan Deyo had the lowest bounce rate at 34.10%, which means that an impressive 65.90% of the people that visit his site view more than one page. My site on the other hand has a bounce rate of 23.60%, which means that 76.40% of the people that visit my site stick around to see more than one page.
I’m very proud of those numbers because I’ve worked hard to get them to that point. Now I’m going to show you 10 strategies that you can implement on your ministry website to keep visitors sticking around longer and coming back for more.
1. Be Interactive – I spend a lot of time on Facebook getting to know my readers. In fact, I’m on there almost every day, leaving comments, starting conversations, starting debates, and responding to messages. Become more than just a name on a website. Become a “real boy” Pinocchio.
- Respond to questions and comments on your blog.
- Share your articles on Facebook and join in the conversation.
- Comment on other people’s blogs and Facebook posts.
2. Be Controversial – To date, one of my top 5 articles is one that challenges the traditional teaching on fornication and shacking up in the Bible. Did you know that fornication is only mentioned four times in the Old Testament? Did you know that all four times it is used to describe the actions of the entire nation of Israel? The article resulted in 2 radio interviews and recently received a huge influx of traffic when Deitrick Haddon challenged Pastor Ron Gibson on the reality TV show Preachers of L.A. about shacking up not being mentioned in the Bible.
- Compare history to tradition and see if they match up.
- Compare the original Greek and Hebrew to English translations.
- Share your findings even if they contradict tradition.
3. Be Confrontational – There is a difference between opinion, misinterpretation, and false teaching. When I ran into a certain teacher with unfamiliar doctrine, I challenged him about it. When we finally got to the root of the problem, he admitted that he learned it from demons during an exorcism. Jesus didn’t tolerate false doctrine and we shouldn’t either. Don’t be afraid to challenge other leaders.
- Challenge someone to a live debate.
- Start a debate on Facebook.
- Publish a rebuttal to a post that’s popular on another blog.
4. Be Mind Blowing – One of my specialties is connecting things in the Bible with ancient history and modern science. When I released my second book, As The Days of Noah Were: The Sons of God and The Coming Apocalypse, it blew people’s minds. A few months later the Kindle version became an Amazon.com bestseller and still remains on the bestseller’s list.
- Research topics that everyone else ignores.
- Provide new information that may have been overlooked.
5. Be Yourself – Nobody can be you better than you. Sometimes we imitate the people we look up to, but it comes off as forced and unnatural. What works for them may not work for you, so be yourself and let people get to know the real you.
- Tell a personal story.
- Use humor.
- Talk to your audience, not at your audience.
6. Be Original – Sometimes looking at things from your unique perspective can be just what your site needs. Don’t be afraid to offer a different perspective on even the most sacred of cows.
- Explain why you see things differently.
- Find scripture that supports your point of view.
7. Be The Conversation – Don’t let people leave your site without an opinion. If you say what’s been said, exactly as it has been said before, nobody will care. If you say what’s been said in a way that invokes an emotional response, people will talk about you and what you have to say.
- Use exciting words.
- Use descriptive words.
- Be the first to say it.
8. Be Attentive – Listen to what your readers are telling you. If they ask a question, answer it with a blog post. If too many of them are telling you that your font is too small, make it bigger. If they are telling you that they hate your website colors, change them. It’s your blog, but the point is for people to read it, enjoy it, and share it.
- Use polls.
- Ask a question at the end of your posts.
9. Be Generous – Tell people thank you a lot. A simple thank you can turn a random visitor into a lifetime subscriber. Even if someone shares something with you that you already know, thank them for it.
- Offer an incentive to sign up for your mailing list.
- Give away an eBook for really good questions or comments.
- Mention readers by name in your blog posts.
10. Be Informed – I can’t stress this point enough. Know what is going on in your area of ministry. Know who the major players are, know their websites as well as you know your own, know who their readers are, know their doctrine, know their statistics, and know how to contact them.
- Subscribe to other ministry websites.
- Form relationships with important leaders.
- Interview important leaders and pick their brain.
In closing, I want to let you know that you don’t have to be everything all of the time. There is a time and place for each one and as you become more comfortable with yourself and your writing, it will become just as natural as breathing. Take a second look at the list and figure out what you can be right now, and get writing.
- Which of these strategies have you implemented on your blog?
- What were your results?