In many articles I liken your church's digital strategy to that of an advertising firm. You are indeed showing the world why a relationship with God in Christ is great. Next you show them why your church may be a good fit for helping. But using trickery or marketing gimmicks to get people onto your website is just wrong. You want social media engagement, not just more clicks. Here are four things your teams should avoid using.
Do not use misleading article headlines to get people to click on a link. That is not to say you should create good headlines. Use compelling words that accurately portray the content you are showcasing. You simply cannot trick someone into reading your content. They will leave your site the moment they realize it is not what they wanted. Watch for big jump in bounce rates. This may be a sign that your headings have become too fanciful.
As you can gather from the previous point, clicks are not everything. Yes, you should track metrics on your website and social media accounts. People clicking on content is a good sign. Use it as a gauge that your headlines are working. Yet other numbers are more important. pastors may want to know if attendance is up. Just do not forget about podcast subscribers and newsletter sign-ups. These are also great indicators of your digital ministry's success.
Fact Check First
Everyone wants to be part of the latest viral craze. Your church may have produced a Harlem Shake video. Maybe your church band spoofed a current top 40 song. Your pastor may make jokes that reference funny commercials. Whatever the case is, your church wants to remain relevant in its congregation's eyes. One bandwagon you want to avoid is posting and sharing false news on social media. Carefully check your facts before you post or share any articles you did not write yourself.
I strongly recommend that you not use advertisements on your church website. It simply does not project a good image of what you are trying to do. The cost of running a website is not that high. One solid volunteer and $80 can keep a small basic site running for a year. The amount of money you will gain from ads will most likely be quite low. Your primary source of income should be from collecting tithes and offerings. Referral programs are the only thing I would recommend. For example, you could offer a link to a type of Bible your pastor endorses. Whenever someone buys a copy, you get a fraction of the sale. But these are just links on a "we recommend" page, not banner ads cluttering and cheapening the site.
Not every tip from a savvy online marketer is right for your church. Your digital ministries should hold themselves to a high standard. That's not to say these tactics are wrong or illegal. I just feel that they just do not belong on a church website. You may disagree with me on some of these. If you do, please email me or leave a comment. But if you see my reasoning, please keep them in mind when creating content for your digital ministries.
Photo courtesy of Adam Page