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ResultsKatalyst Newsletter - ResultsKatalyst August 2007

Don CranfordWeb Success For Your Ministry: Express Yourself

Maximizing Your Website: August 2007
by Don Cranford

In July, we explored the importance of determining your goals and understanding your audience . Once you’re there, you are ready to begin writing content for your website. While your brochures are a good place to start, you shouldn’t simply copy that content straight to your website. Think through what you need to say on the web and how to say it to your target audience.

Express Who You Really Are

Keep in mind, your web presence helps form a perception of who you are. In many cases, it may be the only thing that your visitor knows about you. You need a high-quality, professional web site. It doesn't have to be really fancy or have lots of bells and whistles but simply needs to show that you pursue excellence in all you do. Thankfully, professional quality doesn’t mean that it has to cost tens of thousands of dollars. What church or ministry has THAT kind of money? And yet, it's vitally important in today's internet savvy society.

Use Consistent Branding

Ideally, your site will have a consistent branding with your printed materials: mailers, t-shirts, advertisements, business cards, and any other printed material. You should use a consistent logo, colors, fonts, images and your tag line.

Target Your Message

Sites need substance. In pursuit of persuasive content, consider the driving message you want to communicate through the website. Your content should be driven by your target audience. What is important to them? What do they need to know?

“Be a problem-solver for your audience,” says Mary Kay Claus of Blue Shamrock Communications. She continues, "You should first be sure that your content is audience-focused, not something just your peers would appreciate." In fact, Mary Kay recommends using actual testimonials. What better way to show your prospective members who you are?

Stay Focused and Relevant

Show your visitors that your church is relevant to them and why. Speak to your audience in a way that they can understand. Avoid 'churchy' language. If your visitors are unchurched, they may not be able to relate.

Search engines love content. But be sure to balance the depth of content with the attention span of your readers.

Keep your content short, to the point, and focused on your audience’s needs. Web attention spans are short. Say exactly what you mean. For most pages, 200-300 words is appropriate. In other words, the simpler the better.

For example, if you goal is to draw people to your church, then ask why would someone choose to come to your church? What do you have to offer that would encourage them to visit your church?

  • Is your emphasis is a friendly, warm caring church? Then highlight that in your content. Tell them about your pastor and other staff. Have a message from your pastor on the site that conveys that warmth. Have “testimonials” from your members of how they felt when they first visited your church. Tell them up front that they are welcome.
  • Is your emphasis strong, biblical teaching? Then post your pastor’s sermon notes on the web site and consider offering an audio and/or video versions or samplings of his sermons.
  • Are you targeting families with small children? Then, highlighting your children’s ministry is critical. They need to know that you care about their children, that their children are safe at your church, and that you offer a place where their children can learn and grow.
  • Do you have a strong singles ministry? Show them how they can connect to others in your church. Tell them about activities specifically designed to meet their needs.

Remember, the point is to focus your content on meeting your audience’s needs and to help them make informed decisions. Effective copy is generally emotionally driven. Know your audience. Connect with them. Draw them in. Call them to action. (link this to article on call to action)

Next month we’ll explore the use of design to increase traffic to your website. In the mean time, if we can help you implement or upgrade your own web presence challenges, please contact Katalyst Solutions, LLC.


Donald Cranford has been in Marketing, Product Development and Product Management in the technology industry for 14 years. He founded Katalyst Solutions in 2004 to assist churches, non-profits and small businesses in succeeding online.

 

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