In today’s digitally driven world, one of the major key success factors for churches is having a strong online presence. With COVID-19 causing many churches to transition fully to online, many pastors and church leaders are looking for answers on how to keep online church visitors engaged. It can be challenging for churches to navigate keeping online users active throughout the week and feeling connected to the church. If you’re looking for tips and strategies on keeping online visitors engaged, you’ve come to the right place!
Have A User-Friendly Website
Before moving on to other tactics, one of the first steps to keeping online church visitors engaged is by having a modern, user-friendly website. Churches struggling with engagement online may be a symptom of having a difficult to navigate website. A wide variety of factors work together to make a website user-friendly. Some of these elements include a clean design, organized site structure, fast load speed, enticing content, visually appealing graphics, motivating calls to action, and being fully optimized for all devices. Sites that are very user friendly generally have positive health site metrics like longer time-on-site and a higher number of pages per session. If you think your church’s website is old and outdated, now might be a great time to consider a redesign to boost engagement. Oftentimes, simple changes can make a big impact on UX!
Keep Content Fresh
When’s the last time your church posted new content on your church’s website? If your church hasn’t posted any new content in a while, this could be causing low engagement rates online. Both users and search engines like sites that frequently post fresh content. For example, one of Google’s ranking factors for sites is routinely posting new optimized content.
One of the best ways to consistently post new content is in the form of blogs. By writing blogs on trending topics and good quality keywords, you’re able to show users and search engines that your church is active online. If a user lands on a blog post from search results and finds the information relevant and interesting, they are likely to remain on the site and click on to a higher level core page of the site. Other ideas for content include releasing press releases on mission work or upcoming special events, daily devotionals with prayer journal questions, and Bible study outlines.
One of the best ways to keep online church visitors engaged is by having sermons that can easily be streamed from your website and on multiple platforms. Having your sermons online is great for people who might want to refer back to an old sermon, have busy schedules that don’t always allow them to attend on Sundays, or those who may be geographically outside of your local community. Additionally, with COVID-19 restrictions and increased social distancing, online sermons allow members to still watch church from home.
Live streaming sermons on channels like YouTube and Facebook allow users to also interact with each other in the chat and have real-time conversations to feel more connected. Once your church has recorded several sermons, adding a sermon video library to your church’s website makes watching as easy as binging on Netflix.
Another strategy for keeping online church visitors engaged is through retargeting campaigns on Google, YouTube, or Facebook. Through tracking pixels, your church’s ads can follow around a user on the internet to recapture their attention and draw them back in. Google’s Display Network has over 2 million sites and apps your church’s ads can show on. Facebook retargeting allows your ads on social networking platforms including Facebook and Instagram where users are spending a large portion of their free time. This is a great strategy to use on people who may have previously interacted with your church online to get them more active again. Some ideas for retargeting campaigns include ads reminding users to watch or attend a Sunday service, a special event, or holiday at your church.
Generosity through giving and donations is incredibly important for churches to be able to continue to prosper and serve the local community. However, many churches struggle with keeping church visitors consistently tithing if their site is not set up to be integrated with easy giving options or doesn’t offer online giving at all. Online giving engagement often sees a trending drop-off over time if the process is complicated. Most church visitors and active members are more likely to tithe if the process is very simple, especially younger members like millennials.
By having a fast and easy to use online giving integration with your church’s website, online engagement increases. There’s a variety of great platforms for making online giving as simple as possible including PushPay, PayPal, and Tithe.ly. Users can also choose to text to give or set a recurrent tithe. If your church is struggling with keeping members giving online, consider updating your online giving platform.
Stay Active on Social Media
A great way to keep online church visitors engaged throughout the week is through social media. Being active on social media allows your church to reach people directly where they’re spending a large portion of their free time. On average, people spend over 2 hours a day on social media platforms. Ideally, churches should post on each of their social accounts at least several times a week, in addition to interacting with users frequently in comments, direct messages, and tweets.
Depending on the social media channel, churches can post a mixture of high quality, custom content. For example, on a church’s Facebook page, you could post blogs or interesting articles on trending topics to spark insightful conversation amongst users. Other ideas include posting a daily scripture, journaling question, or follow-ups from the latest sermon. On channels like Instagram or YouTube where visual content is king, churches can post photos and videos from worship, happy members serving together, clips from sermons, or designed scripture verses. Instagram and Facebook Lives are a great way to directly connect with users throughout the week though Worship Lives or Prayer Lives. To easily plan out your social strategy, consider using a content calendar or bulk posting services like Buffer or Hootsuite.
Sermon Series Ad Campaigns
Running a sermon series ad campaign is another powerful strategy for boosting online engagement. If your church’s pastor is doing an ongoing sermon series, marketing it online through Google Ads or Facebook is a great way to remind people to continue to tune in and watch next week’s sermon on the website, YouTube, or Facebook. Sermon series campaigns are great for driving online engagement because they encourage users to keep watching weekly, rather than just streaming a single sermon and dropping off.
Start Growing Your Church’s Engagement Today
If you’ve found these ideas on how to keep online church visitors engaged and are ready to begin putting these strategies into practice, the team at Missional Marketing is here to walk you through every step. For more information on our digital marketing services and pricing, give us a call at 480-420-2007 today to speak with one of our experts.