Creating content to attract your community is one of the most cost-effective marketing techniques for churches. Unfortunately, it is easy to create content that comes across as flat and uninteresting, which will not create the engagement you desire.
In order to raise engagement, it is helpful to think about your content as having goals in three dimensions: What do you want your audience to do, to know and to feel? Taking time to think through how your content will operate in these three dimensions will help you create vibrant, interesting pieces that will increase engagement and results.
Though this is the first dimension to consider in your planning, it is almost always the last element that will appear in your content. Ask yourself, “What do I want my audience to do?” If you can’t answer this in a single sentence, you don’t know your objectives well enough.
If you wait until the end of your planning process to decide what you want people to do, your content will feel like it wanders without purpose. So always begin with the end in mind. Before you come up with a great idea, mission or event, decide the actionable outcome and keep that in front of you throughout the rest of the process.
Once you finish all the heavy lifting, return this question and use your objective to create a succinct, passionate call to action that is immediately available.
Immediacy is important. Though your ultimate goal may be some point in the future (like attending a service), it is important for your audience to be able to take one step in that direction while they are interacting with the content. Here are a several examples:
- At the end of a welcoming article, insert a button with a mailto link that says, “Email me information about [your church].” Create a mail-to link that has the subject and body message already filled out. Now you can respond with a personal message. Learn how to generate mailto links.
- A landing page confirming event registration could have a button that says, “Get directions.” Learn how to embed a Google map or share a location.
- Confirmation emails could include an AddToCalendar link that says, “Send me a reminder to come to [your event].” Learn how to create an AddToCalendar link.
- An article about your upcoming outreach event that requires no pre-registration could focus on letting friends know you are going via social media (like Facebook). Use Share Link Generator to create the links automatically for you.
- An email, text or post pleading for volunteers for your next Vacation Bible School could end with a simple form that asks for their email address and says, “Send me more information.” Learn to use online forms to make life easier. Jot Forms can send you an email automatically with the information that people provide.
The beginning of the journey toward action begins with a great idea. What idea might cause people to act?
Let’s say the impetus for an idea comes from Barna Group research findings that The United Methodist Church’s position on science is in line with the culture’s perspective. The fact that the denomination supports science is distinctive and may be surprising to the 29 percent of young adults who feel that the church is out of step with the scientific world.
Armed with that idea, it’s time to begin to answer the question, “What do I want my audience to know?” Make sure you have a single-sentence answer to this question. It could be: “We want our audience to know that our church supports science.”
While ideas are important, they alone are generally poor at moving people to action. To do that, ideas must be coupled with the power of emotion. This dimension is the guiding principle in selecting stories or crafting how the call to action is structured. Ask, “What do I want my audience to feel?”
Using curiosity as the motivating emotion, you might give a host of unique attributes about the church that surprise readers. Then create a call to action that plays on curiosity by saying, “If you’d like to see what a church like this could be like in person, join us for worship on Sundays at 10.”
Excellent content will help you get people in the pews. Understanding all three of these dimensions will move your content from flat to fully formed content that will help drive engagement.
When Jeremy and his wife are not playing with their four children, he oversees youth and college ministries and leads the evening worship service at Christ UMC in Mobile, Ala. Jeremy is an author of several books and resources that you can find at JeremyWords.com or follow him on Twitter!