Is your church looking to increase church website engagement? Even though your church might have a great-looking website, if it’s not leading to meaningful user actions and meeting your church’s online goals, then it’s not performing as well as it could be. There are quite a few reasons you should invest time and resources into optimizing your church’s engagement. For starters, Google rewards sites with high engagement by giving them a boost in search rankings. Additionally, the higher the engagement is on your church’s site, the more likely you’ll see an increase in new in-person visits to your church. To help churches increase their engagement online, Missional Marketing has recently rolled out a new service known as the Web Engagement Maximizer. In this blog, we’ll break down everything you need to know about engagement for your church’s site and how to improve it.
What is Web Engagement?
Many people assume that if you have a beautiful–looking website, your site will naturally perform well. Unfortunately, this is far from reality. Web engagement goes well beyond having a visually appealing website and looks at how users actually interact with your site. A good way to think about web engagement is by looking at your website as a whole. When a user arrives on your church’s website, you want them to take specific actions like spending time reading the content, watching a welcome video, or clicking a call to action button.
When church visitors are engaged with your site, they’ll take more actions that your church finds meaningful. In turn, this leads to an increase in online conversions. These conversions are usually predefined goals you’ve set for users to complete on your church’s website, like clicking “Plan A Visit” or “Get Directions.” Generally, when you have higher web engagement, you’ll also see an increase in in-person visits to your church.
Why is Having High Engagement Important?
It’s important to have high levels of engagement on your church’s website for several reasons. If you’re spending money driving high-quality traffic to your website with a Google Ad Campaign or SEO but aren’t seeing results, your site isn’t doing a good job keeping users active and interested. As a result, the quality traffic you’re investing in essentially goes to waste since users will exit your site without taking meaningful actions like planning a visit, requesting prayer, or asking for directions.
Web engagement also impacts search rankings. If your site has strong web engagement, Google will reward your site by giving it a slight boost in search results. In contrast, if your site does not have good web engagement, it will be less likely to perform well in organic search results. Google recently announced that they are rolling out a new algorithm update in 2021, making web engagement even more important by focusing on-page experience. You can read all about the latest algorithm update here.
How Do I Know If My Church’s Website Has Poor Engagement?
Several metrics will indicate that your website isn’t performing very well when it comes to engagement. One of the best tools to investigate your site’s engagement is Google Analytics.
A major indicator of poor engagement has a low average user session duration on your site. This means that a site visitor isn’t spending a lot of time on your website. On a similar note, if the average pages a user views per session is low, this could also be a sign that your site needs to improve its engagement. The biggest indicator of poor engagement is very low conversions on your site. This means that users aren’t taking the specific actions you want them to take on your website. For example, they might be spending time on your website but are mindlessly scrolling versus actually clicking around and interacting with your content, buttons, and forms.
What Contributes to Poor Church Website Engagement?
Rather than there being a single reason why a user may or may not engage well with your site, there are usually several individual factors that, when combined, impact a user’s engagement level. For example, if your church’s website isn’t the easiest to navigate, while frustrating. It probably won’t be the single dealbreaker that causes a user to exit your site without action. However, if your site also loads slowly and doesn’t have strong calls to action, all of these factors together would lead to a very negative user experience and low web engagement.
Some examples of factors contributing to poor web engagement include slow site speed, weak calls to action, placement of buttons, photos, or other content, not having a mobile-optimized site, low-quality content, and graphics, difficult navigation, etc.
A great way to look at how users are engaging with your website is through the behavior tracking software and heat mapping, where you can see what elements of your site are working versus what isn’t.
What are the Best Ways to Improve Church Website Engagement?
1. Determine how users will interact with your site.
– Develop a content strategy to engage and captivate your users.
Your website will serve as your 24-hour church representative. What you say and how you say it will be interpreted as a core indicator of the life of your church. A content strategy will help center your website content around the goals of your church.
Consider the most vibrant activities within your church culture and capture them on your website. List out the aspects of your church that you would like to share on your website. Consider how guests may interact both virtually and after planning a visit.
– Clarify your brand voice.
Your brand voice helps visitors know who you are as a church. It encompasses the characteristics of you as a church, whether your church is warm and inviting or whimsical and fun. Once your brand voice is defined, the graphic, text, photos, and more should align with that brand voice.
– Design your website for mobile.
50% of all online users are using their smartphones when they come to your site. Engage mobile users with a beautiful responsive design.
– Capture emails for long term engagement
Email opt-in forms are a great way to keep in touch with new visitors. This is a great way to welcome people into your community with a welcome email sequence or an email campaign targeting their needs. As you map out your website content plan, begin to outline the different calls to action that will persuade visitors to engage with your church. For example, you may offer parenting advice on your Children’s Ministry page. You may offer prayer on your Support page. Consider the various ways you can help lead new users engage with your church and compel them to take action on your website.
2. Determine the top Calls-To-Action for your church.
The right invitation to connect can make the difference between whether someone engages in a transformative relationship with your church or if they continue with their lives and never return. We’ve compiled a list of the top calls-to-action based on the top 100 largest churches in America.
– Contact a Pastor
Take the opportunity to connect with those who may desire a more personal connection to your church by offering conversations with your church leadership. You can take the opportunity to be specific, the way that is presented in the below screenshot. This Call to Action feels personal, intimate and broadens your accessibility to your congregation.
– Learn More About Ministries
Many visitors want to get a clear picture of what life will be like if they become members of our church community. They are interested in the opportunity they have as individuals to grow spiritually and to be in community. Invite visitors to learn more about the ministries you offer by creating a page that provides a glimpse into the structure and culture covering all ministries such as Men’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Small Groups, Children’s Ministries, and more.
– Attend Events
Your website is not only a great opportunity to connect with new visitors, but you can also keep church members and friends in the know with an Events page. Create an event page for each calendar event you hold with a description, photo, or event graphic and the specific details to help your members and guests get connected easily.
– Attend Classes
Many classes offered are a great opportunity to teach the culture of your church to new members and guests. You can also invite the community into your church by providing practical benefits such as financial empowerment, home buying information, or parenting classes.
Invite newcomers and guests to get involved by serving others. When your members engage through service, there is a direct benefit of fellowship, skills and talent development and relationship building. Through volunteer work, people begin to understand the impact of their service and how they can live a life of meaning and influence in connection with your church.
– Get Baptized
As individuals within your congregation get to know Jesus and grow in their walk with Jesus Christ, your church may want to offer baptism. Guiding people through this new process should be as efficient as possible while providing them with helpful information about the importance of baptism.
3. Get Emotional Support
Connect with guests and friends right where they are by offering Emotional Support. This connection opportunity will allow you to serve and help members of your community in the moments of their greatest need.
– Follow Jesus
What better way to make an invitation to Jesus than through your website? This unique and powerful CTA guides individuals to Christ 24-7-365 beyond scheduling limitations.
– Find Support
This great call to action covers many bases as you invite people to engage with your church wherever they are -whether they have lost a loved one or they are looking for pastoral counseling. You can use the landscape of the page to connect with each individual on a deeper level and share some of the ways you can support.
– Request a Prayer
Many people who may not ever enter a church may reach out for prayer. Set up this powerful CTA on your church website to allow opportunities for people to submit prayer requests and deepen their connection with your church.
– Next Steps
When someone visits your church and feels encouraged, invite them to take the next steps by sharing more about your faith, your church culture, and how they can move further in their journey. This is also a great opportunity to invite people to get connected to a small group, prayer counselor, or attend a live event.
Simplify the journey from website visitor to in-person guest with a “Plan Your Visit” page that maps out the “coming to church” experience. Give them clear directions of what they will see from the time they turn down your street to the children’s church check-in process. Provide an overview of your service with colorful details such as the dress code, the giving experience, and the expected timeline.
Build your online following and allow visitors to get a preview of your services by watching live. Explore different ways to mention and engage your online audience throughout your Sunday experience.
Feature diverse speakers on your online broadcast. Invite your congregation to send in video testimonials of their church experience, from the youth to your seniors. User-Generated content will engage your members who are watching online and those who are new to your church.
Giving is the highest form of engagement. When people feel that they’ve genuinely received value from your church and they think that your church will continue to provide more value to others, they will contribute, whether one-time visitors or long-time friends.
Design your Giving page to reflect all the causes and missions that your church supports. Paint a clear picture of how you are helping make a difference with every donation with photos, words, and even video.
How Can The Web Engagement Maximizer Help My Church?
The Web Engagement Maximizer is a powerful way to boost engagement by improving the overall effectiveness of a church’s website. By strategically optimizing your site for SEO and user engagement, as well as looking at web analytics, the Web Engagement Maximizer will help your church reach more new people and increase the likelihood of them making a conversion like planning a visit.
The Web Engagement Maximizer focuses on four key steps which include:
Research – We’ll conduct a thorough audit of your church’s website to get a good understanding of its current standing. During this phase, we’ll install Search Console, Google Analytics, and user behavior tracking software to your site so that we can track our efforts.
Planning – After auditing your site, we’ll move on to planning the specific changes we will make to your site. Our planning includes recommendations on improving your site’s content, ways to make your site better optimized for search engines, and outlining specific goals for your site.
Implementation – During implementation, we’ll put our plan into action on your site and make our recommended changes. This might include optimizing the site for SEO, adding SEO content, setting up goal tracking, and improving your Google Analytics account.
Optimization – Once we’ve implemented all of our strategies, we’ll continue to look at what works versus what doesn’t work on your website. We’ll refine your website over time by conducting A/B testing and looking at heatmaps of user activity on your site. You’ll also receive a monthly report of the results,
What Types of Plans Are Available?
Depending on the current state of your site and the engagement goals your church is looking to achieve, Missional Marketing offers three different plans for the Web Engagement Maximizer. For most churches, we recommend choosing the Standard plan to start. However, if you’re looking to see more aggressive church growth goals, we suggest investing in the Premium plan for maximum engagement. Regardless of your budget, there is a plan that will work for your church.
Start Boosting Your Web Engagement
Are you curious about the impact the Church Web Engagement Maximizer could make on your church’s website? Book an appointment below for a time that works for you or give us a call now at 480-420-2007 to speak with a member of our team. We’ll listen to your church’s needs and goals to help you choose the plan that’s right for your church. We’re excited to partner with you!
If you’re interested in maximizing your church’s engagement through your website, download our free 100-point Church Website Checklist. PDF is here: Download 100-Point Church Website Checklist