People in your community are hungry for connection, truth, and belonging. But without having a Christian friend, or a thriving church in their neighborhood, there’s really only one way to find a community in Christ—the Internet.
In the 21st century, people use Google, social media, or even apps to find just about anything—a car mechanic, a local ice cream shop, and yes, church. If your church doesn’t have an online presence that’s easy to find, people won’t learn about your community. And they won’t have an opportunity to visit, hear truth, and meet Christ-followers.
In the following article, we’ll take a look at how you can help people in your community find your church online.
6 Ways to Help People Find You Online
Before we dive into the strategies that can help people find your church online, let’s get one thing out of the way: “digital marketing” is not out of place at a church.
Digital marketing is simply a way to reach more people with your message of hope and salvation. When done well, marketing your church online can ultimately result in more salvations and greater expansion of the Kingdom.
Here are six digital marketing strategies to help people find your church online.
1. Build a beautiful, user-friendly website.
Your website is the centerpiece of all your digital marketing efforts. It’s where you’ll send visitors from your social media accounts, Yelp, and blog. It’s also one of the most powerful ways to make an impression on a new visitor.
But if your site doesn’t deliver immediate value to visitors–or present your church in a way that makes you proud–it’s time to build a new church website.
Here are a few questions that can help you assess how effective your site is.
- Does your site immediately deliver the core message of your church?
- Is it easy to find location and service times?
- Is it clean-looking and aesthetically pleasing? (Lots of text = outdated)
- Is it responsive (loads quickly)?
- Does it have everything you need to communicate what your church does and what it offers?
If you answered “no” to any (or all) of these questions, it may be time to rebuild your site.
A great church website doesn’t just clearly display your church’s core message. It’s also easy to navigate, gives lots of opportunities to respond (give, sign up, register, listen, learn), and presents your church family in a way that’s true to who you are.
2. Write a blog.
An SEO (search engine optimized) blog can help your church show up in search results on Google. It’s also a chance to help visitors learn more about what you teach, offer, and believe.
Consider creating blog posts that are tailored specifically to your community, highlighting events and news that are relevant to locals. You can also write guest blog posts for local news sites, post your blog on your social media accounts, and link out to your posts in your email newsletter.
Plus, you can bring on guest writers from your staff to write for your blog. Your children’s pastor, women’s ministry director, or communications director may all have valuable insights to contribute to your church blog.
3. Publish your sermons as podcasts.
Creating a podcast is easier than it’s ever been, and publishing your own podcast can reach people on podcast platforms like Spotify or the Apple store.
The best part about creating a church podcast is that you don’t necessarily have to create fresh content. If you’ve got good audio content, then you’ve got a podcast.
4. Use social media strategically.
Social media certainly has its downsides. But the reality is that most people are on at least one social media platform. When your church participates in this space with creativity and strategy, you have a powerful opportunity to reach people who would otherwise never hear about your church (and maybe hear the gospel).
Here are a few tips for reaching people with social media:
- Be authentic and friendly. The message of Jesus doesn’t have to be couched in overly religious language. Use friendly, conversational words to talk about your church.
- Give people a chance to respond. Social media is certainly not sales, but you should give people a chance to respond. For example, you can tell them about an event, and then link to your event registration page.
- Create a look and feel for your church. Resist the urge to post random graphics, and land on a single look and feel for your church–maybe that’s vibrant and bold, or maybe understated and minimalistic.
- Be consistent. Don’t post once in a while and expect a response. Post a few times a week (at least), and stick to a plan.
Finally, make sure all your social media accounts link back to your church website. That way, people who find you on platforms like Instagram or Facebook can learn more about your ministries, messages, and weekend services.
5. Pay attention to Yelp.
Your Yelp account is one of the primary ways that community members will find and “vet” you online–so it’s important to make sure your account is strong.
Here are a few ways you can create a Yelp account that will draw new visitors to your church:
- Ask for positive reviews. You likely have numerous happy, consistent church members. Ask your loyal members to write a review explaining why they love your church community.
- Post photos. Ask a volunteer photographer to take photos of your church family at a weekend service. Quality photos of happy, smiling, and engaged church members go a long way online.
- Check your contact info. Make sure your church phone number, address, and website URL are all accurate.
If the worst does happen–someone posts a bad review–post a thoughtful, kind response. Sometimes that’s all it takes to remediate the “poor press.”
6. Get on YouTube.
YouTube is still the most watched video platform in the world, with more than 122 million active users every single day. In other words, this platform provides your church with an opportunity to reach a large audience with sound, Biblical teaching and encouragement.
Just as with podcasts, your church may already have a lot of content that can be used as online video content. That includes messages from your weekend services, or even conferences and special events. Just make sure you’re properly set up to film and produce high-resolution videos with great audio (gone are the days of grainy video and poor audio quality).
Your YouTube channel can also show up in Google search results, making it even simpler to find your church online.
A Plan for the Long Haul
You might have read this far and think, Sounds great, but I don’t have the resources to build a website or create social media.
Or, This sounds complicated.
Helping people to find your church online doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, however.
With the right tools, you can create a consistent plan for creating and maintaining your online presence for the long haul.
Tithe.ly All Access is a suite of software products that can help you create a custom website, generate beautiful (free) content for your social media accounts and sermon series, build a custom app, and even send emails to your church members and visitors online.
The best part? Tithe.ly All Access is cost-effective, so that small- and mid-sized churches can afford to build an amazing online presence without draining their resources.
Remember that building your online presence is ultimately about using your available resources to advance the Kingdom of God. When your content glorifies Jesus, you’re winning.