A new year is a great motivator to do something better. For many of you, church communications is on that list. Looking ahead, here are five areas where you might want to focus your attention in 2014.
Get serious about mobile. A website that doesn’t work on a mobile phone is just as bad as if the sign fell off your church building. A site that functions on phones is fine. One that’s optimized is better. Nearly 60% of Americans and Canadians have a smartphone, and that’s only going to grow. If you’re doing a website redesign, consider using responsive technology. This takes your site, organizes it in chunks of information, and rearranges it based on the screen size of the devise a visitor is using. It’s the best way to future-proof your website while making sure it works great on any device.
You might be thinking, “Well that’s all fine and good, Church Juice, but your site isn’t uber mobile friendly.” You’re right. While this site has been mostly functional on smartphones, we’re launching a new responsive design the first half of 2014.
Don’t obsess over Facebook. Facebook, or any other tool, isn’t going to magically solve your communications problems. Be realistic about what Facebook can provide you. Thanks to the ever-changing Facebook algorithm, your posts will rarely reach the majority of your users. So budget your time accordingly. It’s not worth spending an exorbitant amount of time on a tool that’s not having a huge impact. Yes, I’m souring on Facebook—especially for the average church. It’s still worth having a presence, but have realistic expectations of what can be accomplished.
Revisit your email strategy. Believe it or not, but email is still one of the best ways to stay connected with your congregation, so don’t ruin the relationship. Think about the content and frequency. Limit the number of announcements you share, so the information actually sticks. No one wants to read through an endlessly long email. Also, don’t spam people. Respect their time by limiting the emails you send. That might mean you have to reel in who has access to your list, as well as setting expectations for how email communication is used by your church staff.
Looking for more? Seth Godin created this short list of eight common email failures.
Email strategy is on our 2014 to-do list here at Church Juice, too. You’ll notice we don’t have any email lists. When we started out four years ago, we flew past email, thinking social media would be more effective. Now, we realize that wasn’t the best decision. Like many of you, we’re a little stuck in getting our email lists going because of some higher level decisions being made, but hopefully we’ll have something useful for you soon.
Ditch your dated design. For many churches the biggest issue with old design is it doesn’t actually reflect who they are as a church today. Many are more up to date and relevant than their design shows. Commit to understanding basic design trends. Simpler is better. White space is okay. Papyrus is not. Clip art has to go too. This isn’t only a logo issue, but also how you design all your pieces of communication, including your bulletin, email, website and more.
Here are three articles from our archive that might give you some inspiration for updating the look of your communications pieces:
Spend time with your brand. Entrepreneur has a great article summing up what it means to embrace your brand. It’s realizing your brand goes well beyond a logo. It’s about having strong guiding principles that are clearly and consistently communicated across all platforms. And if you have multiple projects, create a hierarchy of importance. Go ahead. Snuggle in with your brand in 2014. Give it the much-needed hug and attention it needs.