Is Your Church Ready for the I-Want-To-Go Moments?
Google research shows that searches including the phrase “near me” have increased 34X since 2011—with the total almost doubling in the last year alone. In the final quarter of 2014, 80% of those searches were conducted via mobile device.
“Near me” searches increase on the weekend. Google showed that 30% of the “near me” searches on a random Sunday morning in March 2015 were church-related.
If the importance of these “I-Want-To-Go” moments still hasn’t hit home, Google has one more line of stats that may interest you: 50% of people who conduct local searches of any kind visit places they find within one day, 50% of people searching for a restaurant are doing so within an hour of going, and this last-minute search trend increases when you look specifically at Millennials.
Google considers these a type of “micro-moment,” where people turn to their mobile device with a specific need or desire. Think of all the ways you have tried to get word out about your church. How many fliers, door hangars, or postcards get tossed in the recycle bin? How many conversations are politely and patiently endured? How many free giveaways are consumed, discarded, and forgotten? And it is all because the person wasn’t looking for a church in the moment of contact.
So, how do you make sure your church is ready for these “I-Want-To-Go” moments? How do you make it possible to be ready and available when people most want to know about your church?
Get Listed On Google and Bing Maps
Open up your smart phone now and search “churches near me.” The first thing that will pop for both Google and Bing is a map with little red dots. Be sure your church is one of the little red dots by completing your business listing through Google and Bing.
Visitor Friendly Mobile Site
The search for a church doesn’t stop with a map listing—especially with Millennials. Some people are going to click through to your website to see if the place looks right for them. It is critical that when your site loads on a mobile device, it looks good, it is easy to navigate, and it immediately and clearly provides the information (or a link to the information) that a first time visitor would want. This would include address, parking, worship, childcare, and similar types of information.
Sunday Morning Social Media Activity
Get your church and/or your staff/volunteers/congregation members active on social media on Sunday mornings. You can use a service like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule posts ahead of time inviting folks to worship (including time and link to your site/address). Run slides during your pre-worship time encouraging folks to post. To get even more targeted, you can use Hootsuite to search for Tweets sent within a specified radius of your church. Imagine if you were able to connect with someone you know is awake and nearby!
Obviously, you can also spend money on ads and/or promoted posts through search engines and social networks to reach target audiences. For example, you can design a Google ad that specifically speaks to someone looking for a church and run it on Sunday mornings within an hour or two of your service time(s).
The key through all of this is to think like someone looking for a church on a Sunday morning. Or better yet, find a couple non-church-goers from various demographics (especially age) in your community that can tell you how they would go about looking for a church on a Sunday morning.
What do they want to know? How would they go about finding the answer? How can we show up where they’re looking? How can we tailor our website and social media channels to answer those questions as painlessly as possible?