Building a Digital Strategy for Churches on a Budget
Marketing can sometimes be a dirty word in churches. Or, at least it can be a scary word. It doesn’t have to be. Applying some basic marketing strategies to your ministry approach is about finding effective ways to let people–new folks and existing members–know more about your mission and what’s going on in the life of your church. Building a digital strategy for churches is simply about using modern technology to help you fulfill the Great Commission.
Use these simple guidelines to build your church’s digital strategy without breaking the bank.
Know your digital strategy goals.
Is your goal with a digital strategy for your church simply to update your people on church announcements? Are you trying to attract new visitors? Shepherd folks from “interested” to “active?” Is your goal to be more visible? Trying to better engage current churchgoers? Or, all of the above?
Once you clearly define what your church aims to accomplish with a digital strategy, you will have a rubric against which you can measure all of your digital communications.
Know the right digital tools to use.
It may seem like there is an infinite number of ways to engage with church members and visitors in the modern era. And, in some ways, there are. However, if you narrow it down, there are really only a few different digital tools you will use. Maybe there are infinite ways to use them. But that’s a good thing. It means you have the power to customize your digital strategy to the needs and goals of your church.
Here are some things your church could have at its disposal: a website, email, social media, a mobile app, digital giving, and church management software. Beyond those, live streaming is another powerful point of connection you’ll want to utilize for your church’s digital strategy. Our advice – start small. What do you absolutely need to have access to in order to communicate with your audience?
For your website, email, and social media, there are several free options available that give you the power to create beautiful digital content. And, for a website, services like The Church Co, Wix, and Squarespace all make it incredibly simple to manage, even if you’re flying solo.
When it comes to the rest: mobile app, digital giving, and church management, you have a lot of options. However, there aren’t many options that combine all three solutions into one fully-integrated platform. The more you are able to simplify your church’s entire digital strategy, the easier it will be for you to manage it.
The last digital tool to think about is live streaming. Maybe yours is one of the many churches that didn’t expect to dive in with both feet into the world of live streaming. No matter what degree of success you’re having with live streaming, the fact that you’re offering it is what’s most important.
Live streaming can be a powerful part of your digital strategy. Here are some simple and creative ways you can maximize your church’s live streaming presence by taking advantage of our partnership with Stream Monkey, a powerful but simple streaming service for churches.
Know what’s next – create a calendar.
A great strategy has a rhythm to it. You don’t have to do everything at the same time. Sure, it’s perfectly fine to run updates concurrently on social media and email. (Though those communications shouldn’t be identical; they ought to be tailored to their respective channels.) What we mean is, just like with a lectionary, a sermon schedule, or your church calendar…your digital strategy can be planned out ahead of time. Digital communications can be scheduled.
Create a content calendar and plan out digital communications. Think about the current sermon series, activities, and areas of focus at your church. You might be surprised at how easy it is to come up with content.
Also, you can utilize tools like Hootsuite to plan social media posts. Take a day and plan out the whole month if you want! We also have some more tips on how your church can better use social media.
Know your voice – be consistent.
Whether it’s a social media post, a regular email update, or your church’s website, making consistency a top priority is crucial to an effective digital strategy.
Social Media: Have a consistent cadence and frequency with social media posts. It doesn’t have to be every day. But, a couple of social media posts per week will keep your church on the minds of your audience. Not to mention, putting out frequent and valuable content on social media will increase the likelihood of folks sharing it, which will put you in front of people you would have otherwise never encountered.
Email: Depending on how you use email at your church, consistency will take on different meanings. If you send out weekly updates or a regular newsletter/announcement email, it’s important to be consistent when those emails go out. Folks will be looking for it, expecting it. Also, being consistent with something simple like email signals to your people that you care, and you are consistent in other, more important, areas of the ministry.
Lastly, keep it short and sweet. You don’t have to tell your audience everything all at once. If you have several items to announce, prioritize them and maybe save some for next week. For the items you do discuss, keep your words few, meaningful, and conversational.
Website: Does your church’s website look and sound like your church? That is, when you interact with your website, put yourself in the shoes of a visitor who’s unfamiliar with your church. Would that first-time visitor be able to get an idea of what your church is like from looking at your website?
Not what you believe, or what you do, or what time your church meets. But would a stranger gain a sense of what your church community is like? Yes? Great. You’ve done some great work. If not, spend a little time updating the language to be more conversational. Also, consider adding more photos and images that capture the essence of your church’s fellowship.
Also, perhaps most importantly about your church’s website, is that it’s easy to navigate and you’re providing the information people are really looking for.
Pushpay and Church Community Builder exist to help churches better engage with their members, become more efficient at making disciples, and ultimately more effective at fulfilling the Great Commission. We do that best by combining church management software, a digital giving platform, and a church app together for a seamless and connected experience. We call it ChurchStaq. Schedule a chat with one of our software experts to see how ChurchStaq can help your church.