Churches often rush into a new technology before considering all of the financial and human resource implications, not to mention the impact on the church’s members and guests. Before you jump into a half-cocked web strategy and solution, DC wants you to step back and think about six critical focus areas to expanding your web impact.
Value Your Web Presence More Than Ever
The digital age has transformed how generations connect today. It’s common for people to have multiple devices that keep them connected to everything they want online. People are wired like never before. It’s time for organizations to have a stronger, more strategic web presence than ever before. Anything short of that will devalue your brand, limit your reach, and stymie effectively communicating your mission and impact. Be a fierce advocate for a stronger web presence birthed out of clear vision, solid strategy, greater investment, and creative risk taking. Dream boldly and you’ll be satisfied with your return on investment
Be Strong in the Right Areas
There are so many facets to creating relevant web sites today. Branding, content, media, blogs, delivered content, calendars. It should be your goal to be good in all of these areas. But what are you going to be great at with your online presence?
+ the strong leader who has the terrible blog platform,
+ the dynamic teacher who has an undervalued media section,
+ the church with an amazing mission, yet underdelivers in communicating that mission to the world, or
+ the church that prides itself on guest experiences, yet has an uninspired or unimaginative presentation to guests online.
Underscore the critical areas that your web site needs to excel in, and seek the platform and strategy that will help you be great instead of pretty good. What facet of your website are you going to prioritize so its more valuable and desirable than ever to your members, guests, and the community?
Integrate your Website and Social Networking
In most instances, organizations are still trying to figure out how social networking figures into their communication and online strategy. We see many organizations that treat social networking and their web presence as two different worlds. Facebook and Twitter should be viewed as light communication platforms that can lead to deeper connection points within your website. It’s critical that messaging in the Facebook and Twitter communities connect back to your website whenever possible. Your website should be positioned as a content aggregator comprised of all of your resource, media, blog posts, and content assets. It will always house valuable content, but make sure you utilize Facebook and Twitter to proactively leverage and broadcast content and conversation that leads to deeper, meaningful connection points at your site.
Web editing tools (CMS) are simply smarter than they were five years ago, frankly, even just one year ago. Web technology is changing fast and getting stronger without getting overly complex. Your next generation website should allow you to deliver content smarter and more efficiently than ever before. We know your time is valuable, you cannot continue to use dated web platforms and strategies that do not offer you measurable improvements in time management. Additionally, a smarter CMS should allow you to automatically deliver content and automatically populate content areas so you are doing more with content without expending extra time and energy.
We believe in excellence. Don’t settle for a mediocre web presence. The stakes are too high and your audiences are unforgiving when a website does not meet their expectations. We’ve seen many organizations opt for an easy approach to their website and take confidence in the fact that “it was easy.” Easy can also translate into shallow. Whatever happened to “nothing good ever comes easy?” Some organizations need an easy web solution, some organizations would be misrepresented with an easy web solution. You will not advance your web mission or connect with more people with a website that takes two hours to develop. Take a look at any organization that is leading the web charge and you will not see them taking the easy way out in creating their site. Don’t get me wrong, there should be aspects of your website that are made easy, but don’t compromise depth and impact in the name of easy. Too often, an easy website equates to “brochure ware to end users.” Don’t settle, invest for greater impact.
Commit to Sticky
You have to know what your audience wants and commit to providing it consistently and better than ever before. This means . . .
+ If you blog, how can make it more compelling and attention grabbing?
+ Easy functionality for end users like online giving, registration and event calendar are convenient elements to a website. How can you improve those offerings to repeatedly connect with more of your audience?
+ How can you make it easy for more people to connect to your sermon media and consequently utilize that ministry tool for greater impact and reach?
+ How are you using smart delivery tools like RSS feeds, email subscriptions, and social media to grab the attention of those you are trying to connect with?
An effective web strategy must prioritize the stickiness factor.
Remember, the first frontier in connecting with new people today will likely be online. Additionally, more people can be online advocates of your organization than ever before… so where can they point a friend or follower? What will happen when they follow the trail of your digital conversations and experiences?
We’ve seen many organizations miss the mark because of haste or simply not valuing the strategy and planning part of web development. Thoughtful, strategic planning on the front-end will boost your online ministry reach. Count on this, lack of planning will ensure greater disconnect with those with whom you are trying to build relationships. At DC, we can help you plan, strategize, and design a web presence that will be more effective, efficient, and impacting for your church.