Your church website is the most important asset for the online promotion of your ministry. Whether you are redesigning an existing website or building a new website, having the right set of marketing questions for your web developer can help.
Promotion vs Technology:
Web development tasks usually fall under the technology department of a ministry. Because of this, there is a high probability of the promotional or marketing aspects of a website being overlooked or ignored. No doubt that a good backend technology & framework is essential for a website, but the promotional aspects are also equally important.
Your church website should be much more than a nice looking, well-programmed application. It should produce results. A good website is one that is optimized to achieve objectives and ministry goals. That can happen only when it is built with insights on usability, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).
Your website is your ministry’s ‘online office’ space:
When you are building or redesigning your website, it helps to imagine that you are building a new office space for your ministry. This ‘online office’ is where your church will operate on the internet. Think of each website visitor as a member who walks into that ‘online office’ building. By clicking your website link, they choose to enter your ministry office and look around. And this could happen anytime, day or night, 24 X 7, with or without your knowledge & intervention. They will choose which room to go into, which cabin to inspect and what information to consume, all without your help. They have complete freedom to do what they want once they get in to your ‘online office’ building. And at the end of this visit, your aim should be to make the visitor walk out of your office fully satisfied and a high probability of coming back.
To achieve this, here is a list of essential questions that you should ask your web developer before building or redesigning your ministry website.
10 Questions To Ask Your Web Developer: Marketing Essentials For Your Church Website
1. Is the website mobile-optimized?
Recently Google announced that they are making changes to their algorithm and implementing the ‘mobile-first-indexing’ plan. This is to help people find mobile-friendly websites when they search for something on Google. It means that your church website being mobile-optimized (or not), would have a direct impact on how your church site shows up on search results. This is not a surprising announcement considering the fact that the mobile user-base is increasing globally at an exponential rate.
Many of your online ministry followers and church members will access your website using their mobile devices. So make sure that your website looks good to them on all mobile devices, tablets and phones. Here is an example of our website which is mobile optimised. You can see how it appears on various devices.
2. Is there a Blog facility in the website?
Blogging helps you reach your audience, increase traffic, share your message and build trust. Blogs are a good way to add value to your followers helping them learn more about your ministry, posting teaching videos and sharing useful resources from your ministry. The more you empower people by teaching them, the more they will choose to stay connected with you and eventually choose to support your ministry.
Make sure your web developer understands the importance of having a blog as an in-built & not a stand alone application. A stand-alone blog will not only split the traffic, but also reduce usability & your ability to connect with your audience.
3. Can users share the website content easily?
When you share useful information on your blog, people are likely to share it with their social media and other networks. Social media sharing tools and RSS feeds will help them do it. Your website should be built with these sharing options. One option is to have a floating share-bar on the website (see example below). But make sure that the sharing option is optimized for your mobile users too. For example, in our website, we have a couple of extra buttons for mobile users (ability to share the link on Whatsapp or SMS). These buttons do not appear in the desktop version of our website. Depending on the development platform, the developer should be able to implement these for you.
4. Is there an easy option for the user to subscribe to your email list (without annoying them)?
When a visitor subscribes to your email list, they are giving you permission to contact them. This is precious! As a ministry, it is important for you to collect and grow your email list. Your website must have this feature built in. As you can see in the examples below, there are many ways to do this.
- Place the form in the home page (I personally hate pop-ups, so I do not use or recommend them. Instead you could use unobtrusive slide-ins that appear in a corner of a page after you scroll down a bit.)
- Place the form in the side-bar of your blog posts, so that visitors can subscribe as they are reading your content
- You could also implement an advanced option like forms that appear just when a user is about to click the close (x) button of the browser. These are called ‘user-intent’ triggered pop-ups.
At every possible opportunity make sure you have the option to capture emails (of course, do it without annoying your visitors).
5. Does the website have a facility for lead-magnet-give-aways?
In the examples above, you can see that we have a given an eBook download option for anyone who signs up. This is a lead-magnet-give-away. The idea is to give something (of real value) that will benefit your visitor and in turn ask them to share their email id with you. This give-away is of mutual benefit and is a great way to build leads.
Ask your developer to have a provision in your website for such lead magnets. While implementing, just ensure that you are adding real value to the visitor.
It’s a good idea to listen to your customers, before deciding what to give away. We added this eBook download option on our site, because most of our followers wanted to learn more about video marketing for their ministry.
6. Is there a measurement and analytics tool setup?
Measurement is the key to success. Each website is different. In our experience as an agency, we have found what works for one website need not work for another. So you should have the option to measure what works and what does not work. This will help you fine tune your website for optimum performance. Google Analytics is the best, it’s free and is easy to install. I would highly recommend it. There are other analytics tools in the market like Clicky, Kissmetrics, etc. that you could check out.
7. Is there an option to build landing pages?
Landing pages are essential for promotional campaigns effectiveness. A landing page is a webpage on your website created for a specific audience with a specific purpose in mind. They are not the general website pages with general information. These pages helps you focus your message for a specific segment and hence add more value to the visitor who lands up on these pages. Every campaign you run for your ministry should ideally have a landing page associated with it. Your website should have the option to build as many landing pages as you need for your campaigns.
8. How about internal site search option?
Many people do not give importance to internal site search. But internal site search combined with your analytics can give you key insights on your website visitors’ behaviour.
In this post by Google, Avinash Kaushik lays out the 5 benefits of internal site search analysis:
- Tells you what your visitors are looking for in your site
- Tells you what they end up finding on your site
- Tells you if are they satisfied with what they find
- Tells you how different kinds of people interact with your site
- Tells you what outcomes arise out of these site activities.
Internal site search is valuable tool to have in your website. Ask your web developer to include this in the scope of work.
9 .Is there a facility to build call-to-action elements on all pages?
‘Ask and you shall receive’
Online audience have the tendency to do what you ‘ask’ them to do. In your website, as visitors go through your content, what actions are you going to ask them to take? If you do not ask them to take an action, they simply won’t. Plan your call-to-actions for each section of your website and ask your developer to give you provisions to build these elements into every possible page.
10. Is the website hosted on a scalable and stable hosting platform?
After building an awesome website, the last thing you want your visitors to see is an error message or a blank page when they type your URL, because of site unavailability or because it was hacked. You have spent time, effort and money to get that visitor to your website; now you need to make sure the site is available for them when they need it. This depends on your choice of the hosting server. Make sure you choose a scalable and proven hosting solution. Here is an analysis of hosting service providers. You could ask your web developers to recommend a hosting plan & provider based on their expertise. You could choose an internal, cloud-based, shared or dedicated hosting solution.
Hope this information helps you develop a good website with the essential elements build into it. Wishing you success!
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Stay Connected. Stay Blessed.