A strong call to action is the foundation of every great marketing effort. For those who might be unfamiliar with the term, a call to action is where the marketer asks the person who is being engaged to respond with a desired action. It tells the person what they do next if they want the benefits that are being described in the piece. In web development, a good call to action is the difference between a site that works and one that doesn’t.
Successful businesses understand the importance of having a strong call to action on every page of their website. They are there to direct the site visitor to take the next desired step in the process of becoming a customer. They usually look like buttons or forms that say “Buy Now”, “Join Our Mailing List”, or “Download Our Free E-Book”. Every good website has to have a goal that you want visitors to complete, and for best results you need to ask visitors to complete that goal with a call to action.
Knowing this, it is amazing to see how many churches do not have any kind of call to action on their website. Often churches take a much more hands off approach. We figure we can just tell people some things about our church, how great we are and how great Jesus is and trust that our visitors will figure out what to do from there.
It’s not that we don’t understand the principle of calls to action. I am pretty sure that the first lesson I learned in my Preaching Practicum class was that every sermon needs to have a strong point of application. A sermon without a response is a bad sermon.
For some reason, this truth has not translated onto most church websites. They often dump information on visitors, but they don’t ask them to respond.
If you want to build a website that doesn’t just look good, but effectively turns more website visitors into Sunday morning visitors you need to have strong calls to action. I have seen churches make this one little change on their website and double the number of visitors they see on Sundays. If the primary goal of your church website is to attract more visitors (if we take the Gospel seriously it probably should be) then you need to take the time to create calls to action.
If you are scratching your head on where to start, here are the four calls to action that we have seen get the best results for churches.
Church Website Call To Action #1 – Visit A Service
This one is obvious and should go without saying, but I can’t tell you how often I see churches leave this out. Make a point on every page of your website to tell people to visit your church for a service. On your staff page, tell people that you want to meet them and to come out to a service. On your missions page, tell people how they can learn more at the info table after service and invite them to come by.
Be creative but you need to find a way to do this on every page.
Church Website Call To Action #2 – Like Us On Social
I find that people are more careful than ever with their email address. They don’t like to give it out unless they have to. In most cases they are much more liberal with their social media accounts. We have found that people are three times more likely to follow you on Facebook than they are to subscribe to a church newsletter.
And that is good news. For most churches, a social follow is much more valuable than an email address. A social follow allows you to connect with your community multiple times per week. Try sending multiple emails per week and you will quickly find your messages in the spam folder.
If you can get website visitors to follow you on social, you will have hundreds of future opportunities to connect with them. A huge win.
Church Website Call To Action #3 – Submit A Prayer
Generally churches have a hard time finding good reasons for people to fill out a form on their websites. Most events take some kind of personal touch before people are going to get signed up.
The one exception I have seen is in prayer requests. People are often very happy to fill out a prayer request form in order to receive prayer. I have seen churches where this became the front door to the church. Someone in need of prayer would stop by the websites and fill out a prayer request form, and from there they church would begin a follow up process designed to get that person connect to the church and in a relationship with Jesus.
One thing I should mention about this call to action… You actually have to pray for those people. Build a team around it, and you may find that it will energize your prayer warriors.
Most children’s ministries on Sunday Mornings have some paperwork that first time visitors have to fill out. I visited a church not too long ago where it took almost 15 minutes to get my three kids signed in and settled in children’s church for the first time. We showed up on time and had missed most of worship by the time we got into the service.
This final call to action is one that I am just starting to see some very forward thinking churches use. Rather than bog people down with an extensive sign in process for their kids on Sunday morning, they call people to action on their website to get their kids signed up before they show up.
This is great because it saves everyone sometime, but it also sets up an informal commitment. By filling out that form they are essentially saying they will be there, and it allows you to prepare to receive them, and make sure your follow up process is tuned up.
These are the four calls to action that we have seen get the best results. Do you have a call to action on your website that works well? Did I miss any you can think of? Let us know in the comments below!
P.S. – In case you missed, that was my call to action 🙂