If you build it, they will come. Sure itís an over-used movie reference; unfortunately, itís also all too often the mindset of people when they build a website. Creating a successful website with significant online presence takes more than spending a few minutes or hours building a website. It takes innovative thinking, the ability to create value, and the ability to both let others know about that value and convince them to visit.
Do I Need to Read This?
Most businesses understand that they need to do something to get people to buy their products/services. That something is called marketing. According to Websterís Dictionary, marketing is ďthe process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.Ē Before you brush-off this article as something only for a businessman, ask yourself whether you are trying to sell of promote something on your website. If you arenít selling anything, chances are that you are at least trying to promote something. If you have a poetry website, you are trying to promote the poetry and share it with others. If you have a church website, then you are trying to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the ministry of Christ at your church. You created your website because you have something you want to share with the rest of the world. Whether that is a product, service, information, or pictures of your Grandma, if you want anyone else to see your site and get that product, service, or information, you need to market your website. You need website marketing strategies.
So, What Is Marketing?
As Webster said, anything you do to promote, sell, or distribute your website. There are basically two aspects to marketing.
- The first is informing people. This can be as simple as mentioning your website to a friend or making an announcement to your congregation at the end of Sunday worship. It can also be as grandiose as putting up billboards or creating television ads. Online it often involves Search Engine Optimization or SEO project management or pay-per-click campaigns. Anything you do that gets peoples attention and lets people know that your website exists is the first part of marketing.
- The second element in website marketing is conveying value. If I simply tell you that there is a website called OurChurch.Com, that may not mean much to you and you may never visit. But, if I tell you there is a website called OurChurch.Com that provides an online Christian community with devotions, forums for discussion, brilliant articles ;) and is your one-stop-shop for website hosting, design, marketing, Christian SEO management, and advertising, then Iíve conveyed some of the value of OurChurch.Com and given you reasons to visit. If you are telling your congregation about your church website, itís not enough to simply mention you have a website, tell them that they can get information about events and weekly Bible studies, see pictures from recent church events, and listen to audio recordings of sermons. So, itís not enough to just mention your site, you also want to tell people why they should visit your website, to convey the value of your website. Of course there is one catch to this. The site should actually have value.
Tips and Website Marketing Strategies
Often times when I talk to people about marketing their initial reaction is that they either donít know how to do it or they canít afford it. We tell them everyone can market something that they are interested in. Have you ever seen a great movie and then told your friends about it? Thatís marketing. Youíre making people aware of the movie and conveying the value of seeing the movie. In fact word of mouth and personal references are some of the most effect forms of marketingÖand their free. Here are some ideas to help you get started and help you form some website marketing strategies:
- Tell your friends and family about your site
- Tell your church members or clients about your website and remind them regularly
- Put your websiteís address on any and all printed materials, signs, and business cards
- Register with search engines
- Submit your website to online directories
- Optimize the pages of your website for the keywords you want to be listed for with Christian SEO project management. This can increase your websiteís search engine rankings.
Optimize your website for local search
- Engage in pay-per-click search marketing like Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing
- Upgrade to a hosting package that will give you a domain name for your site
- Create original content visitors will enjoy reading monthly or even weekly if possible. This can increase traffic keep visitors coming back, and get others to link to your website which would help your search rankings. This also creates value for your website
- Exchange links with other sites
- Contribute to discussion groups and message boards related to subjects your website deals with like OurChurch.Comís forums (and include a link back to your website when you do if they allow that). If you can show that you are knowledgeable in your field and you provide a link to your website, that will attract visitors
- Upgrade to a hosting package that includes message boards to build community on your website
Create a blog on your website and write articles and submit then to large sites to publish with a link back to your site and blog article sites like Blogs4God. When others read the articles and find them either very informative or entertaining, they will often place a link to the article on their site.
- Purchase online advertising
- Send out a monthly e-newsletter to your members
- Consider off-line marketing options such as flyers, billboards, tv/radio, and advertising in the phonebook
- Create profiles on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook and build up a list of friends who share your interests.
- Read blogs that are related to your website and comment on them.
- Offer to become a guest blogger on blogs related to your website.
Websites are a dime-a-dozen these days and with sites like OurChurch.Com anyone can make a website. We mentioned at the beginning of this article that a successful website requires innovative thinking. Innovation should be used in both the creating of content for your website as well as the website marketing strategies. The website marketing ideas above are just some of the ways to market your site. Take some time to brain storm and Iím sure you can come up with other creative marketing strategies your website.
Donít forget that innovation in presentation is important as well. Weíve all listened to some announcement where the person making the announcement just mumbles the info and doesnít display any enthusiasm. How did you respond? On the other hand, when someone announces something with excitement and passion and is creative in how they convey the message, we respond differently, same announcement different response because of how the announcement was done. Many churches today are using music, drama, art, testimonies, stories, movies and more as innovative ways of sharing the Gospel because how we deliver the message can effect how people receive the message. Be innovative in both the way you market your website and in the content you provide on your website. That can attract people to your website and separate your site from the millions of other sites out there as being unique and interesting causing people to return time and again.
Can You Afford Website Marketing?
The number one reason most websites fail within a year is that they do not market their site. Websites are created so people can visit them. If no one ever knows that your site even exists, no one will ever visit. If you have a business site, you may go out of business. If you have a church site, you have missed out on countless people who you could have connected with and ministered to. So, next time you ask yourself, ďCan I afford to market my website?Ē maybe the question should be, ďCan I afford to NOT market my website?Ē
The expert staff at OurChurch.Com would love to help you develop your website marketing strategies with our marketing and advertising services as well as the articles you can find in the Christian Web Trends blog, Christian SEO Guys blog, and the Church Marketing Online blog. If you are unsure how to market your website online using SEO or just donít have the time, please click the link below and complete the FREE consultation form for our online website Marketing services, including Christian SEO project management.
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