Four Things A Church Can Do To Have A Great First Digital Impression

In Christian Culture today staff members time is valuable and in high demand. I know this because I worked at a church for seven years and totally understand the pressure leaders are under, along with their ever expanding job descriptions.

My job entailed handling all digital communication and media items, at times — like many people experience in their job, there wasn’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all that was needed. When leaders are experiencing a multitude of heavy responsibilities, digital communications almost always get tossed by the waste side, and understandably so. 

So, I can’t imagine a church that wants to love God, love others and reach those around them WITHOUT a full-time Communications or Media Director on staff whose responsibility it is to handle all digital items and ensure digital first impressions are up to snuff. But that is often the scenario for many churches!

Shameless Plug

If I am describing your circumstances, we have a couple of options for you. We want to make sure your digital presence is stellar. First, our shameless plug — let SevenVerbs handle your digital communications, no matter your budget we can help. If your digital presence is non-non-existent then we will establish and safe guard it, with monthly reporting to ensure you are getting the traffic you desire. 

This Blog

Second, this blog. Use it as a monthly resource to review and treat as a checklist so that you can rest knowing you are doing what you should be to secure your digital presence.

The Numbers

Before we get into the four things that can help your digital first impression, consider these statistics.

  • 46% of church attendees said that a church’s website was important in picking a church to visit (Hubspot)
  • 97% of people search for local organizations online (Forbes)
  • By 2019, video will account for 80% of global internet traffic, and 85% in the US (TubularInsights)
  • 46% of people say a website’s design is their number one criterion for determining the credibility of an organization (CRCNA)
  • 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching video (Worldstream)
  • The average internet user spends nearly two hours browsing social media networks daily (SocialMediaToday)

Fact is, most people have already formed an opinion about you well in advance of walking through your doors. You have roughly 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) before a person will make a judgement about your website, then ultimately your organization. Not only that, 75% of users admit to making a judgement about an organizations CREDIBILITY based on their websites design. Pretty crazy, right? Let’s get into it…

1. Website Review

One of the most basic things you should do on a monthly basis (at a minimum) is to scan each page for outdated information. Do you have outdated events, previous staff members or even gathering times that aren’t relevant? For potential attenders, something that could be cleaned up really easy is double checking all of these items and making sure your content is as updated as it can be. 

Now that you have your content up to date, don’t overlook location and time information. As a staff member it might be hard to get in the mindset of someone who doesn’t know where the church is, where to park, or even what to expect when they walk through the door. The goal here is to remove any hesitation that a potential guest may be feeling. 

Consider building an “I’m new” page dedicated to the new or prospective attender. Something that shows them right up front where you are located, exactly where to park and where their kids should go. Relevant kids information on where they should be dropped off and safety information for their children is something I learned REAL QUICK that should be easy information for parents to find. 

Mobile Review

Something that is often overlooked after you update your website for desktop users is the experience of the site in mobile conditions. Most people aren’t viewing your website from a desktop, they are viewing your website on their mobile phone.  This makes your mobile review just as important as your desktop website review.

I know we’ve thrown a lot of statistics at you already, but check this one was important to include as it says a lot:

52% of people say they’re less likely to re-engage with a brand following a bad mobile experience.

52 percent! That is a lot, it certainly is high enough that you must address it! If you aren’t a web developer, think about what you would want to see as a new user coming to your website on a mobile devices. My guess is it doesn’t fall too far from the desktop experience. They want to know your location, where to park, what about my kids and what to expect. This can all be handled under an “I’m new” page or right on the front page under a one-column layout built for the new person. 

Monthly Website checklist:

  • Review your website for outdated information
  • Double check your location information
  • Check your design – Desktop and Mobile

2. Social Media

Depending on the generation, if they aren’t checking your website first, they are definitely checking out your social media. Think about it. What do you check when you possibly might buy something on Amazon? Reviews and what people are saying about the product. The church is no different, especially with a younger generation. Trust me, they might not see your website right away, but they will see how much weight you put into your social media game. 

A few things to look at with your social media profile. 

Content

We aren’t going to start with how important it is that you are on social media, because that is a whole separate blog post. Let’s just say it is important, and data supports that notion. Let’s assume you are posting, and skip to your content. Are people seeing your love for Christ or just a list of events you are promoting? Consider focusing on people and relationships rather than events and sermons quotes. Promoting your events are important, but you want to use your social media to give attenders (or possible attenders) a look at what is going on Monday-Saturday. The relationships that are being built, the young people that are being poured into and the dedication of your staff shows in order to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Review

Does your “about” section reflect what is on your website? Have you thanked the people that have possible left reviews or messages already? Being responsive to those who take the time to reach out to you and possibly want answers is a great way to build your digital relationship with those who haven’t walked through your door yet. What if they are reaching out to multiple churches on social media and you were the first to respond? Remember, from my experience with being on staff at a church, some people are just looking for an excuse not to come and a bad social media experience is just another reason why they shouldn’t go. 

Again, double check our about section and description, but also don’t forget your header graphic and profile picture. A great tip is to keep your profile picture consistent. Using a variant of your church logo design and leaving it as your profile picture is a good rule to follow. That way no matter what, people can always associate your logo with that page. Where you can get really creative is your social profile header. You are already using your logo on the profile area, why not use the header area to highlight more of what your church is about. Of course you can use photos, but now you can use short videos to highlight this as well. Try it out and see what you like!

Monthly Social Media Checklist:

  • Double check your informational sections on each platform
  • Review your content and posting schedule
  • Remind yourself to be laid back and creative with your posts
  • Change your social media headers

3. Google

Now that you have you have completed a review of your website and social media, you need to think about your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Most likely people don’t have your exact web address memorized, or are searching general phrases. Which is the reason you need to think about your digital presence on google. Do you have control of your businesses likeness on Google itself? Are there updated addresses, logos, pictures, hours? Does your Google listing connect to your updated website and social links? You may not be aware, but Google has the ability, based on search results, to auto-generate a business or organization listing from website and social data. 

Knowing this and taking control of your organization is key to managing your likeness on Google as well as managing reviews that people are leaving on google. To check on this, search for your church or organization on Google if you haven’t already and see if there is a generated listing. If so, navigate to that page and click on the button that says, “Claim your business listing” and follow the instructions to take over your Google listing.

Google Checklist:

  • Do you have control of your organizations likeness 
  • Have you responded to reviews
  • If someone googles churches in the area, does yours show up

4. Video

You should be using video on your website and social media on a daily basis. Here is another important and relevant statistic:

  • By 2019, video will account for 80% of global internet traffic, and 85% in the US (TubularInsights)

So, if you aren’t using video to connect with potential new attenders you are missing out and it is probably effecting your digital presence. Video allows you the opportunity to connect with people and show them a smiling face without them even walking through the doors. What if you had a video showing people exactly where to park, where their kids go AND used the same person as a greeter when new people arrive? You can use this video and others like it on your website and include it in your social media plan as well.

Video is king for social media. Due to their various algorithms, if you are just posting status updates via text and photos, you may not be reaching the amount of people you could be with video. Facebook decides whose newsfeed you get into, and using video is one way you can boost how many newsfeeds you show up in. Consider going live on Monday or sometime during the week answering questions from your congregation. What if your congregation and follows on social media were able to connect and communicate with their pastor more than just a couple hours on Sunday? 

The video checklist is pretty short. Take more video, and use it!

Hopefully, we didn’t take you too deep into the weeds, there are so many ideas and paths we could travel down relating to your digital presence! When you are passionate about something the ideas and possibilities really excite you, and for us at SevenVerbs digital media is a passion. We know these are a lot of tasks and a heavy responsibility, if this is too much for you or your staff, feel free to reach out to an experienced digital media aficionado! Email us even with a  simple comment of question about the blog!

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