Two Ways to Increase New Visitor Traffic to Your Church Website | Bart Blair

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Bart is solo on this episode and he shares two ways to increase new visitor traffic to your church website.

Podcast Transcription


Bart Blair: Hey, welcome to the 151st episode of the Missional Marketing Podcast, that’s for those of you who are counting, and I am. My name is Bart Blair, and I have been a part of producing this podcast since the spring of 2020. We started this podcast to help churches grow by leveraging digital marketing and effective communications, and we have affectionately come up upon the fourth season and the 27th episode, which also happens to be the 151st. And I know that most of you don’t care about that, but I do, and I want to document it for posterity purposes.

Bart Blair: For those of you who aren’t new to the show, thanks so much for being a regular listener, a return visitor, and a frequent flier of the show. If you’re new, welcome, make sure that you subscribe wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. And if you haven’t checked out our YouTube channel, make sure that you do that. We’ve got almost four years’ worth of content in this podcast with interviews with some people who are in the trenches of church communications and church marketing and digital content creation, lots and lots of stuff in the archives that you can learn from, and certainly, over on our YouTube channel, we both have podcast episodes, as well as other content that you might find to be useful and beneficial for you in your church.

Bart Blair: Now, I usually share this stage with Jason Hamrock, the CEO of Missional Marketing, with whom I get to co-host the show, and we typically have an interview that we share with you, somebody that we’ve met, that we’ve learned from, and we want to share what we’re learning from that person with you. Today, I’m going to share something that I’ve actually had the opportunity to teach at a couple of conferences recently, the feedback that I’ve gotten has been, hey, that was pretty good, more people should hear that. So I thought, well, this is a platform that I have to share things where more people can hear it, so I’m going to share it with you. I’ve titled this week’s episode Two Ways to Increase New Visitor Traffic to Your Church website. Now I’m actually going to talk about four ways, but I’m only going to do a deep dive into two ways, and hopefully, this will be super helpful and very practical for you.

Bart Blair: Now the first question we might want to ask is, why is it important for us to get new visitor traffic to our church’s website? Now, if you’re in charge of your church comms, church marketing, and church social media stuff, this should be a no-brainer, you know you want new visitors to your church website because new visitors to your church website ultimately lead to new visitors in person on Sunday, and that’s the goal here. The goal is to get more people in the process of trying to make a decision about whether or not your church is the right fit for them, and the church website is a place where you’re going to help convince them of that, or they’re going to decide that you’re not. One way or another, they’re going to make a decision in that moment when they’re on your website about whether or not they want to take the next step with you, or they want to go look for someone or something else.

Bart Blair: I’m going to I’m going to talk about four different ways that you can increase new visitor traffic to your website, and do a deep dive into two of those. The first one I want to share with you is actually personal invitations. You’ve heard us on this podcast say over and over again, and you know this to be true, the best way to get new visitors to your church on a Sunday morning is through personal invitations of the people who are already connected to and passionate about your church. When they invite their friends, their family, their colleagues, their neighbors, their coworkers, their classmates, and what have you, there is a better chance that those people are going to show up? Because there’s already a high level of trust between those two people, which is naturally going to kind of translate to some level of trust with your church. But here’s the deal, most of those people, even when they’re given a personal invitation from someone in your church, they’re likely to check out your website before they show up in person, at the very least, just to get the location and the service times, right? But there’s a good chance that perhaps you’ve given people personal invitation cards, something they can use to invite people, maybe QR codes, or simply, they just get the URL and they’re going to go to the website. So one way of getting new visitors to your church website is by building a culture of invitation in your church, so that the people in your church are inviting people that they know, that you don’t yet know, to check you out online and ultimately in person.

Bart Blair: The second way that you can get new visitor traffic to your website is through referral traffic. Referral traffic is other places where you’re creating and posting content that leads people back to your church website. Now, I could do a whole podcast episode on that, but we’ll talk just for a minute about social media because that’s probably the primary place that we have the opportunity to do this most consistently and most effectively. Your Facebook page, your Instagram page, your YouTube channel, creating content that’s not necessarily just designed to engage people on those platforms, but ultimately designed to move them along a journey of getting to know us better. If you think about your social media channels, like the front porch of your house, you can only go so deep with people on the front porch. You really want to bring them into the living room, the living room is like the website, your church website, it’s a place where they start to get a better feel for who you are and what you’re all about. Ultimately, we’re trying to get them to the dining table, which is through our doors, incarnationally, on a Sunday morning. That’s when they’re really going to get to experience the culture and the ethos of our church and ultimately, hopefully, hear the Gospel message about Jesus, and get connected with other people who can help them along the way in their journey. So there, you know, are some strategies out there that are all built around engagement, engagement, engagement on social media, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I want to challenge you to make sure that you are regularly, consistently creating and posting content on your social channels and on your YouTube channel that is specifically designed to move people along the journey from the front porch into the living room. We’re trying to get them over to the website in a relevant and timely way, okay?

Bart Blair: There are two ways of getting new visitor traffic to your website personal invitations and referral traffic. Now let’s talk about the two that I really wanted this podcast episode to be about, and that is organic traffic and paid traffic. Every good holistic digital outreach strategy is going to include both of these.

Bart Blair: Let’s talk for a minute about organic, there are two different types of organic traffic. There’s organic traffic, which is content based on your website that is searchable, crawlable, and indexable by the search engines, so when someone searches specific keywords about churches, or about spiritual things, or about practical matters, you have content on your website that the search engines have indexed and have determined as authoritative on that topic and it returns your church website in those search results. The second is local SEO. Now we have lots of content on our YouTube channel about local SEO, in fact, one of our most popular videos is about understanding local SEO and how you can get higher rankings in Google. We will link to that in the show notes of this particular episode. But local SEO is designed to make sure that you’re showing up when people are searching for a brick-and-mortar location, church near me, churches near me, best church in my city, those types of searches. And then conversely to organic traffic, there is paid traffic, it’s traffic that you actually shell out money to get visitors to your website.

Bart Blair: Now, I want to kind of give you an illustration that I think, and I hope, will help you understand how these two things work. Imagine that you wanted to bake an apple pie. One of the primary ingredients that you need in an apple pie is apples. You can substitute a lot of things when you bake the apple pie, but you cannot substitute the apples, otherwise, it’s no longer an apple pie. You need apples for your apple pie, and you have two ways of acquiring apples for your apple pie. Way number one is to plant some apple seeds, grow some trees, cultivate an orchard, and then you’ll have apples out the wazoo. If you’ve ever been to an apple orchard, it’s amazing how many apples the professional producers of apples can create on trees because they know what makes for a healthy orchard, and they know what they need to do, what they need to put into the soil, how they need to trim the trees, how close the trees need to be to each other, how to irrigate them, they know all the technical aspects of growing these apple trees and growing an orchard so that they can get the most fruit possible. The other way that you can get apples for your apple pie is to just go down to the market, the grocery store, or the supermarket, and buy apples. You need this many apples for a pie, you need this kind of budget, and then you go and you buy your apples and you bring them home, and you can immediately start, baking your apple pie. Now, both are legitimate ways of getting apples. One of them is a long-term play, and one of them provides instant results.

Bart Blair: The same is true with acquiring new visitor traffic to your website, to your church website, using organic means, or using paid traffic.

Bart Blair: So organically, what we want to do is we want to make sure that we have a strategy, that we’re creating content on our website and that we’re optimizing it properly, and we’re doing all the things that we need to do so that the search engines can find it, crawl it, index it, and return it in search results when people are looking and or the local SEO aspect of it so that we’re showing up in the search results when people are actively looking for a church. But that’s a long-term play, it’s not something instantaneous. You don’t go and write an article for your church blog today and expect it to show up in the search engines tomorrow, it’s not going to work that way. You might start working on your local SEO to improve in your local search rankings, but it could take a year for you to actually move, notably, in those local search rankings, or it could take longer depending on what the deficit is that you start with. But you’ve got to start somewhere and you’ve got to invest in it, and if you do, and you do it the right way over the long haul, the end result is lots and lots of new visitor traffic to your website that you don’t have to pay for.

Bart Blair: Conversely, there are paid platforms that you can use to get traffic to your website instantaneously. You can use the Google platforms such as Google Search, Google Performance Max, Google Display Network, and YouTube ads, you start paying those platforms and you can start getting new traffic to your website immediately. Meta is another place that you can run ads and you’re getting paid traffic to your website.

Bart Blair: I believe that every church’s digital outreach strategy needs to incorporate both. If you invest early and consistently in your SEO strategy, the long-term payoff will be huge. Your paid traffic is certainly going to be impacted by the budget that you have allocated for that, so whether you’ve got $100 a month to spend on paid traffic or, you know, $10,000 a month to spend on your paid traffic, that’s going to directly impact the number of new visitors that you’re getting to your church website, but you need to do both. And we have churches that will come to us and ask us to help them with their SEO strategy, and the challenge sometimes is they’re expecting to see instantaneous results. And I just want to temper expectations and say it’s important, it’s really, really important, but it’s a long-term play, do it, do it right, and do it now. What’s the old adage, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago? The best time to plant a tree is today. If you didn’t do it 20 years ago, go ahead and get at it today because you got to start somewhere. In the meantime, allocate some budget to start running some paid ads on some of those paid ad platforms.

Bart Blair: If this is something that you’d like to dig into deeper with me or one of our other coaches at Missional Marketing, make sure that you reach out to us. We actually have a couple of free assessments that you can get of your church website for your SEO. We can do an SEO audit of your website to see how healthy it is and see how the search engines see it. We can also do a local SEO audit for your church website to see how you’re showing up currently in the local search rankings and see what kind of work that needs to be done to make sure that you’re showing up as high as you possibly can.

Bart Blair: Otherwise, we just love the fact that you have tuned into another episode of this show. Thanks for hanging out with me here for these 15 minutes or so, I hope that it has been fruitful and helpful for you. If you’re listening to this as it is coming out live, we are in the weeks right before Easter. I am praying that you would have an absolutely amazing Easter in your church, in your community, and make a great impact in His name and that lots and lots of people would come to know Jesus as a result of your efforts and your team’s efforts. God bless, and we’ll see you next time.

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