7 Reasons Why A Website Is Your Church’s Most Important Marketing Tool

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When I was a kid, for close to ten years my family attended a small white Baptist church on a country hillside. And for close to ten years my church paid for a weekly advertisement in the local newspaper.

Today, the world is very different. And it seems like there's an unending list of options for churches when it comes to marketing.

(And if the word “marketing” feels icky when used next to the word “church,” just substitute the word “outreach” – they're essentially synonymous).

Here is a short list of ways your church can gain exposure today:

  • Social media
  • Content marketing
  • Email
  • Text messaging
  • Direct mail
  • Radio
  • Mobile app
  • Television
  • Printed materials
  • And more…

And yet, despite the myriad of options available to the modern church, there is one channel that stands above them all…the church website.

Your church's website is your most important marketing tool. By far.

Keep reading to see the 7 reasons why this is true.

Free Cheat Sheet: Download free PDF listing 17 need-to-know church website statistics including 10 BONUS stats not listed in this article

1. Discovery happens online

Think about it…when we want a question answered or need recommendations for the best Chinese take-out in town, where do we go? We head online of course.

Not too long ago, I was in the market for a therapist. Where did I go? Online. I pulled out my phone, I searched for counselors in my local area, I read reviews, I visited websites, and I eventually booked an appointment online. I've been with that counselor ever since.

97% of consumers search for local organizations online

Most of us use local search for discovery purposes on a weekly basis – if not daily. But it's not just you and I – it's everybody:

  • 97% of consumers search for local organizations online1
  • 46% of all searches on Google are local2
  • 89% of surveyed participants admitted to searching for a local business on their smartphone once a week or more with 58% searching at least daily3

What makes your church's website your most important marketing tool?

Simply stated, if you want your church to be discovered by an individual in your local area, more often than not that discovery process is going to take place online.

7 reasons why a website is your church's most important marketing tool

7 reasons why a website is your church's most important marketing tool

2. 100% controlled by you

Facebook introduced a new algorithm in 2018 that throttles the organic reach of businesses, brands, and media pages – this includes churches.

Here's the thing: Facebook is still the most important social media platform for churches, but we have no control over the changes Facebook decides to make. Each of our churches is at the mercy of Mark Zuckerberg and company and any changes they decide to implement.

And it's not just Facebook. A recent demonetization update from YouTube has put millions of YouTube channels in a perilous situation – essentially turning off their ability to earn money through ads on their videos.

To make a point, every major social platform has made algorithmic updates or feature changes at one point or another without consulting you or I. Why? Because when you are in control of a platform, you get to make the decisions.

Every church needs an online platform where they are in complete control – and only a website can offer that assurance

With its recent changes, Facebook has forced every church, business, and brand to reassess how it publishes and promotes content on Facebook. YouTube has done the same with their platform. For many, this means starting all over again and building a new strategy from the ground up.

This is just another reason why a website is your church's most important marketing tool: your church's website is 100% owned and controlled by you.

Every church needs an online platform where they are in complete control, and only a website can offer that assurance.

Free Cheat Sheet: Download free PDF listing 17 need-to-know church website statistics including 10 BONUS stats not listed in this article

3. First impressions happen only once

Here's a scary thought…it only takes about 50 milliseconds (that's 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website – and thus, form an opinion about your church.4

Google conducted a similar study and according to their research, opinions can develop even faster – within 17 milliseconds.

How people perceive your church's website is how many will perceive your entire church as a whole

Knowing that the vast majority of people who discover your church will discover you online, it's important to recognize that first impressions of your church are being made every single day. And these first impressions are being made on your church's website.

That's not all: once a first impression is made, it usually sticks. And it requires considerable effort to undo a poor first impression.

Think about this way, your church's website is likely where the majority of first impressions are being made concerning your church.

How people perceive your church's website is how many will perceive your entire church as a whole! And this is just another reason why your church's website is your most important marketing tool.

Want to make a great first impression? According to Google, websites with low visual complexity were perceived as highly appealing.5

The key takeaway here is simple: make sure your website's design simple and straightforward. At Nucleus, we've engineered our church website builder with this exact principle and research in mind.

4. Cost-effective

Look:

Considering just how important a website is to your church, it is shocking how inexpensive it is to build a great website.

Just another reason why it's your church's most important marketing tool.

Here is just a small list of items that will cost most churches more each month than a church website built using a platform like Nucleus:

  • Utility bills (heating, water, electricity, etc.)
  • Staff dinners and lunches
  • Gas mileage reimbursements
  • Professional fees (accounting, lawyers, etc.)
  • Travel and meeting expenses
  • Maintenance, upkeep, and janitorial costs
  • Office/ministry administration costs
  • Rent/mortgage
  • Property taxes
  • Internet/cable/phone
  • Insurance
  • And more…

No doubt about it, a website is one of the highest return-on-investment properties your church can possess.

For an incredibly small monthly cost, your website will be your church's primary platform for being discovered and making first impressions.

On the other hand, if you look at your church's monthly expenses, you'll be able to easily identify dozens of recurring costs that – while perhaps necessary – don't contribute nearly as much to your church's overall growth, brand, and operations as a great website does.

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5. Quick & easy to change

In my experience, churches have a deep love for print marketing and outreach efforts.

Bulletins, newsletters, direct mail, postcards, etc.

Frankly, too many churches see print material as their most important marketing tool.

But printed materials have one fatal flaw to them: permanency.

Once something is printed, it's permanent. Sure, you can print it again. But that will cost twice as much and take twice as much time.

Printed material is permanent. Websites are quick & easy to change.

Of course, mistakes happen, and here are just a few that I have gathered over the years of working alongside churches:

  • A camp signup with the wrong year printed on the postcard (the first person to notice was the pastor…during service)
  • A bulletin with a promotion for the “Panty” ministry instead of the “Pantry” ministry
  • A booklet (more than 400 were printed) promoting small groups, wherein the women's Bible study was a place you could come and “meet single men
  • A newsletter with a front-page promo for the pastor's new, upcoming book entitled “The Last Profit” instead of “The Last Prophet
  • A direct mail promo (sent to thousands of homes) where the lead pastor's wife was introduced to the neighborhood as “Derbie” instead of “Debbie

To make a point, I could write an entire article simply documenting amusing print mistakes in church promotions (and yes, it would be funny).

But the takeaway is this, print materials are unforgiving. If you make a mistake, it's right there printed in black and white (or color). And the only way to fix it is to print it all over again.

Mistakes happen! They're unavoidable!

Fortunately, a website (like all digital entities) is entirely forgiving. When mistakes are made, they can be corrected in a matter of seconds – without any additional cost incurred.

Most changes on a website – whether it be a fix for an embarrassing mistake or simply a small update – are fast and easy.

6. Always accessible

The church office closes at five. The bulletin ended up in the trash. The announcement delivered from stage has long been forgotten.

But when a person in your congregation needs information, they can always find it on your website. At 11 PM from the comfort of their own bed. Or at 10 AM while sitting in the break room.

Sure, you and your staff cannot work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…but your website can.

Why is your church's website your most important marketing tool?

Well, for most churches, the website is the only entity that is always accessible.

A potential new visitor can always find the information they need concerning service times, locations, and directions. An existing member of the congregation can always listen to a message they missed, signup for an event/ministry, or give online.

As my pastor friend Alex likes to say, “With a website, your porch light is always on welcoming people in – you never have to turn anyone away.”

Changes to your church's website can be made in an instant

Changes to your church's website can be made in an instant

7. It's just easier this way

There's a reason that Google processes more than 50,000 searches every single second.

And there's a reason more than 50,000 GB of Internet traffic is served every single second.6

Finding answers by visiting websites online is simply the easiest and most convenient way to find information and get answers to questions that we have. There is no comparison. There is no competition.

Websites are the absolute most important marketing tool we have at our disposal.

Conclusion

Your church's website is the frontline for your entire ministry. It's where first impressions are formed. It's how you get discovered. It's wildly cost-effective. It's quick and easy to change. It's always accessible. It's where new visitors are introduced to you. And it's where existing members can find the information they need.

Your website can facilitate signups for events and ministries. It can accept donations and process giving. It's the hub for service times, building/campus locations, phone numbers, email addresses, maps & directions, and more!

Your church's website is the most important marketing and outreach tool you have at your disposal. Spend money on it. Update it. Prioritize it. It's one of the most important entities your church has.

Free Cheat Sheet: Download free PDF listing 17 need-to-know church website statistics including 10 BONUS stats not listed in this article