"Designers are a dime a dozen, but good designers and developers are at their core, brand strategists."
When it comes to a church's digital presence, the worst thing the church can do outside of not having a digital presence, is having the wrong kind.
Specifically, I want to narrow the focus on churches that have a website for every ministry within their church. Today, I want to point out the top eight reasons why it is a perilously poor decision to implement this within your church and what it does to your digital presence.
What happens when a church has a website for every ministry?
- It shows you don’t have a clear strategy. The right traffic funnel allows your target audience to find their intended page within three minutes and under three clicks. If your funnel does not facilitate this, then it needs to reevaluated and a new strategy implemented.
- It shows your ministry leaders are prideful or shallow. Whoever has the best designer wins, right? Not even close. Some ministries just don't have the bandwidth to have a website built out for them. In fact, most ministries assume the overall church is helping fulfill their specific ministry's needs in-person and online.
- It steals your SEO value. 90% of traffic taken off-site never returns. And the traffic that does eventually return, does not return where the church wants them to go. Think about it for a second (because that is all it will take): if your church has an important ministry that has their own website, how much SEO value is that site taking away from the church website as a whole and potential clicks the main website and other supporting ministries may need? When you take clicks and time away from the main site, you promote SEO confusion as a strategy for Google.
- It takes away your main funnels and crowd drivers. Do you know how to take your online visitors to in-person guests? If you do, then you also know that ministries that have their own sites distract and deter from this process. Your main thing needs to remain the main the main thing online, so it can convert to real life and on the ground traffic.
- It creates mini kingdoms. I cannot tell you how many times ministry leaders try to convince me their ministry needs their own website, because the main site does not have the right look and feel for their ministry, nor the support staff needed to efficiently run it. This is such a false flag, as proper training and right website builders not only make this possible, but incredibly easy. Usually I chalk this up to arrogance or ignorance, or a combination of the two.
- It further fragments your ministries. The church is already seen as divided, from the budget numbers to the building spaces. Having one supporting website better or worse than the other only further divides the perception that the church is divided and is totally cool with it. Ministries cannot exist as their own silos, and neither can ministry website.
- It takes you off-brand and creates brand confusion that lacks consistency, the main thing a brand has (a consistent reputation). Your reputation is the only thing you can manage (everything else is just perception). When ministries take their sites online and put a new spin on things, they are in control of the thing that makes your church unique: culture. Create an incorrect culture within the ministry and watch it grow into its own digital beast with no respect to the whole.
- It showcases a small portion of who you really are. 92% of all website first-clicks are done through the site's main menu. When you have the proper menu order, you showcase your church as a whole and funnel people properly according to their affinity needs. If you can get them to visit the affinity of their desire in three pages or less, then you have accomplished everything you needed to: how to take their next right step in-person.
Quick Website Tip
On average, users will give you three minutes, three pages, and three clicks. If you can navigate your audience within that matrix, then you can steer them toward your desired end result.
Ask yourself these three questions:
- How hard would it be to bring this one ministry under the umbrella of the larger church?
- Can we use vanity URLs and custom redirects to help maintain site specific SEO and brand consistency?
- How much traffic jumps off and never comes back, and is it really worth it to divide our resources this way?
Having a website for all your church's ministries just isn't worth it.
If you can start now and avoid these conversations later, then you can have a website that serves the whole church and not a siloed kingdom that is unknowingly serving its own ministry to the detriment of others.