By now, you probably feel the reality that your website is not only the front door to your ministry, but it’s, at times, the entire building! More of our ministries are happening online-first, so the need to have a strong, cohesive plan for your digital presence is greater now more than ever.
So today, we want to look at how we move from that abstract reality into the nuts-and-bolts of making progress in engaging people on your website. It all starts with setting goals. As it’s been said, “If you aim for nothing, you hit it every time.” We want to see better results!
Set SMART Goals for your Website
This is where you pull out your ministry planning documents — what are you hoping to accomplish this year, and how does it apply to people getting on your website. Often, your website serves as that first step in engaging people. So a good, specific goal might be: “We want to increase traffic to our live stream page.”
Google Analytics. If you’re not familiar with it, get familiar with it. You cannot measure any goals apart from analytics, and Google Analytics is the best option. So if your specific goal is that you want more traffic on your live stream page, then you can set a measurable amount to it by stating where you are and where you want to go: “From 50 visitors each Sunday to 150 visitors.”
If you’re a small church, set reasonable goals for yourself. Don’t set out to “reach the world” if your weekly live stream attendance is below 20. Instead, set out to get a higher saturation of viewers from within your own congregation. “We want a 75% attendance rate for the entire quarter.”
Make sure it connects with your larger “why” — there’s a lot of things you CAN measure, but how does it propel the church, school, or non-profit to greater core success? For the live stream example, church attendance is pretty core to your on-going ministry.
Mark out milestones for steps along the way. Graduate up as you go.
Measure your Progress
“Inspect what you expect.” Decide on regular times for checking in, and be consistent with your touchpoint. Remember, any additional data can help you better understand any variances (e.g., Our broadcast signal was weak that Sunday).
Which Strategic Goals?
What is the story your organization is trying to tell? What do you want users to know about you that will compel them to find themselves in your story? So often, it comes down to a sense of belonging and connection with the people already leading and serving with you. Are you telling that story with clarity?
So for the live stream example, we turn it into a strategic goal for your story like this: “We want to attract people who will resonate with our ministry and engage them in our Sunday service through live stream.”
The big idea here is USER JOURNEYS. Think through how you want to tangibly engage your audience members from the moment they hit your homepage all the way to them taking their next step toward involvement.
For example, if you target visitors, your goal might be: “We want visitors to find our live stream page quickly, then be able to fill out an online Visitor Connection Card before they leave that page.”
Having identified the first two components of your goal, the next important piece is to make sure you have the tools you need to accomplish this. With Ministry Brands, we offer a myriad of online solutions for our clients — whether it’s simply having a good live stream layout to having a live stream service provider to implementing a robust database to offering worship and kids media for a strong live stream package. Feel free to ask me for more info in the Q&A section if you’re interested.
From Strategy to Website
Ok, nuts-and-bolts time. If you’ve taken time to work through user journeys for your different types of audiences, you can then build a site structure or a site map that creates top-line navigation with easy on-ramps for your users. Avoid using church jargon or insider language that new people will have to decode. Not sure if it’s insider language? Ask a friend to look at it who is outside your organization and let them tell you honestly if they get it.
Maybe this seems a bit simplistic, but remember that the WAY information is displayed is crucial. If you have a wall of text, people visually tune you out. Instead, think through ways people can visually scan your page and find within seconds the content that is relevant to them. And while they scan, let’s make it fun to look at. This takes a good bit of creativity! If you can, consult your theme’s style guide.
Photos & VIDEOS!
Remember what I said about telling your story? Just think of Show and Tell. Without the Show, there’s too much to tell. We always want to show more than we tell, and this is done with photos and videos. From there, visitors can see how and if they would find a place in your community.
Be brief!! We can’t emphasize this enough. It takes time to make something concise, but if you can be INTERESTING and thoughtfully CONCISE, it will pay off. Your users will read and respond to the relevant content you include. Remember, Show more than you Tell.
Keep your WHY in View
“We want to use strategic site-building to convert digital engagement into spiritual engagement with your community. “
The big win for all of us is that moment when they register for an event, sign up for the school tour, volunteer for the fundraiser, show up in a small group, and so on. They start at our website, but should never end there. Always craft user journeys that lead people to a decision point for taking the next step with your community.
Need help defining your ministry goals and determining best practices towards creating an online strategy? Ekklessia360 will partner with you to develop a web content strategy that reflects your ministry’s mission with a Mission Online Assessment. Get started with a FREE Mission Online Assessment today.