Home Outreach Leaders How to Follow Up With First-Time Guests Online

How to Follow Up With First-Time Guests Online

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Many churches follow a Sunday morning ritual of asking “Who is new?” and then handing out connect cards to visitors. The next step is where many churches go wrong. Either they fail to follow up completely, or they only make a one-time effort to reach out to first-time guests. 

Digital tools allow you to create a consistent and sustainable way to follow up with visitors. Connecting with new visitors with church technology (such as with a tool made for online giving, admin, and marketing) can help you automate effective follow-up. 

The goal? Don’t let anyone “fall through the cracks,” communicate that you care about every visitor, and provide the opportunity to take the next step with your church family. 

In the following article, we’ll take a look at how you can follow up with first-time visitors online…and increase the chances of growing your church family


3 Steps to Follow Up with First-Time Guests

Here are three simple steps to create an automated system of follow-up with people who check out your church during a weekend service. 

1. Hand Out Connect Cards. 

As mentioned above, a connect card can be a great way to collect information from first-time visitors. 

While a conventional connect card might provide a few lines for visitors to write down their name, email address, and phone number, a connect card with a QR code is even better. 

Visitors can scan the QR code and go directly to a contact form on your website. Then they can provide you with their information online–so that you don’t have to hand out pens, collect cards, and then manually input information into your church CRM

Remember that your connect card should be simple and well-designed. Give visitors one compelling reason to scan the code.“Learn More About Our Church Family” or “Get Connected With Us!” tell new visitors that you want to connect beyond one visit, and give them a clear course of action. 


2. Create an Automated Email Series. 

An automated email series requires minimal time and effort from church admin. 

When new visitors are input into your church database, that will trigger a series of 3-4 emails. Those emails can provide more information about your small groups and various ministries, or provide opportunities for visitors to take action.

Here are three templates you can use for a follow-up email series. 

Email 1

Subject line: Thanks for visiting!

Hi [first name]

Thank you for visiting our church home this weekend! We love having new visitors, and hope you enjoyed spending time in worship and the Word with us. 

Our church home has several opportunities to plug in deeper, if you’re interested. We have weekly Bible studies, a range of ministries for different life stages, and opportunities to give back to the community. Click here to learn more! [link to your website]

Have any questions for us? Feel free to reach out to [name of appropriate staff member], and we’d be happy to hop on a phone call with you. 

Have a blessed week!


Email 2

Subject line: Looking for a small group?

Hi [first name], 

Small groups and Bible studies are a great way to dive deeper into community, build new friendships, and learn more from God’s Word. 

At [church name], we’re big believers in the power of small groups. That’s why we have a range of studies so that you can find a group that fits your needs, schedule, and life stage. 

Click here to learn more about our small groups. 


Email 3

Subject line: Did you know we have an app?

Hi [first name],

You might have an app for managing your finances, editing your photos, and ordering food from your favorite restaurant. 

Why not use an app for church?

The [church name] app is a free, simple way to connect with us, learn about upcoming events, listen to sermons online, make donations, read the Bible, and even post prayer requests. 

Click here to download the app for free [link to app download]. 

Of course, these are just ideas. Regardless of what you include in your follow-up emails, make sure to give recipients an action to take–whether that’s to visit your website or to register for a specific event. 


3. Send a Text Message

Sending a text message may feel like an unconventional choice, but it might be the best way to connect immediately with first-time visitors. After all, text messages have an average 90-second response rate. Even older guests are likely to check their text messages. 

Just like your automated email series, you can also send automated text messages to new visitors. Once they input their phone number, that can trigger an automated text to follow up with them after the service. 

You can even include a link in your text message that directs new visitors to your website or church app. Or, you can ask for additional information that can help you understand what the new visitor’s needs are. 

Here are a few ideas for follow-up text messages. 

Hi [first name]! Thanks for joining us this weekend. We’d love to see you again–click here to learn more about our church family!

Hi [first name]! Hope you’re having an awesome week! Want to learn more about small groups? Click here. 

Hi [first name]! Looking for deeper connection? We’d love to connect with you. Click here. 

Again, you’ll want to customize your text message to your church’s style, voice, and messaging. But regardless of what you include in your message, make a plan to follow up with additional communication and touchpoints. The goal is to create multiple touchpoints with new visitors so that they have more than one opportunity to say “yes” to taking the next step with your church. 


Lay the Foundation for Online Follow-Up

To all of these suggestions about online follow-up, you may be thinking, Sounds great, but I don’t have a CRM, a church app, or an email tool.

It’s true that you do need a system in place for following up with guests online. 

But it doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. 

Tithe.ly is an all-in-one solution for churches to connect with their first-time guests and long-term members with tools for storing contact information, sending emails and text messages to your contacts, building an app and website, and much, much more. 

To learn more about how Tithe.ly can help you connect with others, click here