You have probably heard me talk a lot this year already about “connecting” online as the ultimate goal for our digital strategy? Spoiler Alert: we are going to talk a lot more about it! But what does connecting really mean and how do we make connections online?
I call the places where we can start a conversation with someone online as connecting points. At these connecting points, persons have the opportunity to share information about themselves like contact info, thus giving us permission to communicate with them. We will maintain an open line of communication as long as we continue to provide the person with information relevant to their needs.
Ultimately they will progress to the point they will visit your church or they will disconnect or unsubscribe from your communication thread. Disconnecting is an acceptable consequence if you have addressed their information needs with relevant and timely content and they determine it is not what they are seeking. Unfortunately, the problem most churches experience is that people disconnect or unsubscribe because they are not getting the information they are looking for, timely or otherwise. We will talk about this problem in an upcoming blog post.
Back to connecting points; there are some easy ways to connect online using the tools we already have in our toolbox. One of the easiest ways to connect is to monitor the engagement (likes, shares, comments) on your social media posts, like Facebook, and identify new people. Then, simply thank them for sharing or liking your post by sending them a message or reply to their comment as if you were having a conversation with a new acquaintance. Ask questions and get to know them so you can begin to share information about your church and its ministries that would be relevant to their needs. But please be careful not to word vomit all about your church right after you say hello; that’s NOT what people are looking for in their life!
Another key tool that can help us connect online is our websites. First, we should have connecting points built into our pages like a contact us form to plan your first visit, a form to “ask us anything”, or forms to register for events or Bible studies. These forms give new people a means to engage more deeply with the information on your website by reserving a spot in a class or having the ability to ask a question, and get a quick response. New technology has given us the ability to chat live with visitors to our websites but can be designed so we don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to monitor the chat.
But one of the most effective tools we can implement on our websites to connect with people is called the landing page. Landing pages work like their name implies; they are special places on your website where people looking for more information can “land” and we can begin a conversation. Most of the time you won’t find these pages in the navigation menu, but you can reach them by clicking a link in a social media post or ad, a blog post, an email, or even a web address included in a traditional ad or billboard.
The keys to building an effective landing page start with a attractive offer that addresses the needs of a broad range of people or an invitation to a compelling event. Then when they arrive on the page, they need to see the information they are seeking and an offer to access more free information or instruction by simply sharing their email address so we can deliver it to them. It’s really a digital transaction; they are purchasing information they seek in exchange for a temporary connection via their email or mobile device.
The Church calendar has two important events, Christmas and Easter, that lend themselves to landing pages with connecting points that ultimately invite people to join the special worship events during these holidays. The attracting strategy can involve social media ads, direct mail, and/or traditional ads that include a link or URL to the holiday landing page. The landing page should have information that would not only compel the person to visit your services but plenty of information about what to expect, how to plan their visit, and even some pre-planning opportunities like online children’s check-in to make that process less cumbersome for the busiest services of the year.
LET’S REACH MORE PEOPLE THIS EASTER!
Since Easter is still a month away (just barely), you still have time to plan a campaign to attract and connect with new visitors and guests and ChurchCMO can help! Click here for more information about how your church can get your Easter and Holy Week services in front of tens of thousands of people in your area for less than $1,000!
The bottom line is that if you want to connect with more people online, then you have to create more connecting points in your digital media. Your job is to make it easy for people to connect with the church as they are seeking help or just looking for something different in their lives. The secret sauce is having a system and a process that allows you to manage these connecting points easily so your church can build real relationships with people that need to meet Jesus. Stay tuned for more information on these systems and processes or check out ChurchCMO.com for more information.