Hidden Power of the Church Website

Justin Wise is the Communications Director for Monk Development, builders of Ekklesia 360. His previous work experience was serving on staff at the nation’s fastest-growing Lutheran church as the digital director. Justin is a blogger and co-director of the Center for Church Communication.

A few problems with church websites:
  It’s a ghost town. No updated content.  No one owns it.
  It’s an eyesore. Design elements don’t match.  Branding is off. Lacks visual appeal.
  It’s a bottleneck. There’s no one in charge.  People are on their own.  That leads to  chaos. Good luck finding what you need.

  No time.
  Too busy.
  Disconnect between the mission/vision of the church and what’s happening on the   website.
  Misunderstanding of what the website should be used for.

Three main functions of church website:
  Awareness.  Hey we exist and here’s what we’re about.
  Connection to community.  Things to do in the church community like small groups.
  Engagement. Increase the interaction of people in church.

In 2012, 46% of people say the internet is the most important medium. Beats TV and radio.

The web is your church’s new front door.  If a church can’t be Googled, it doesn’t exist. Most users don’t go past first page of search results. 

Monk Development Research2009:
  34% of church attenders say the website was somewhat to very important in visiting a church.
  2012: 46%

How did you find out about the church website.
  Church bulletin2009: 42%
  2012: 26%
  Search engine2009: 12%
  2012: 23%
  64% of church goes say the church website is important in facilitating participation in church
  2012: 33% say the internet was the first place where they learned about their church

What features do people say they use most:
  Listen and download sermons
  Serving opportunities at the church
  Find service information
  Forward content to others
  Read visitors information

“Not changing your strategy merely because you’re used to the one you have now is a lousy strategy.” – Seth Godin

An early stage process for working on your church website:Identify who are the people in your congregation and how do you move them from one place to the next.  Examples: new visitors, regular attenders, committed attenders/members and leaders in the congregation.

In your church, how many people (percentage) are in each of these groups.

Then write out, how those groups tend to find you or move to the next stage (assimilation).

How do you ensure ministry is happening on your website.  How are you going to serve all of these people on your website?

Look at all your pages and assign the following:Knowledge score. What do people already know about you when they’re coming to a given page?

Find-ability. Can you get there?

Action-ability.  Do people know what to do on that page? What’s the call to action?

Click through rate on content with an identifiable call to action is 119% higher than business as usual messages.  If you ask somebody to do something, they will do it.  We assume people know our church or know what to do.

Key takeaways:The website is the new front door.  It can be people’s first interaction with you. Think of it like you take care of your facilities.

Strategy matters, even if it’s basic, that connects the church’s mission/vision of the website.

Content matters.  Be intentional about what you’re posting instead of just feeding the beast. What’s the call to action?  Who owns it?

Simple is difficult.  It’s easier to make a cluttered, difficult to navigate website.

Ministry can and does happen online.

Original post found here