Want more effective content? Review these 10 things.
We believe in the work you are doing and consider it a ministry! What you say, how you say it, and how it all works together can either attract or distract. As people seek answers online, that potentially puts your words on their screen. To help, here are our go-to tips on how to make more effective content for your church.
As someone in church comms, you’re writing. Constantly. You or someone on your team writes for your website, social media posts, printed materials… The list goes on and on.
Make the best use of your time and creative efforts by building in steps to make more effective content that meets your strategic communications goals.
More effective content starts with what you say to your audience!
We’re going to start off with some tough love here. Too often, we see content that leaves an audience confused or discouraged about what to do next. Or worse, not interested at all. Whether you’re writing a social media post or an email, review these things to ensure your message will resonate with your intended audience.
1) Who is your audience? Why should they care?
This phrase is one we say a lot because it refocuses the writer on connecting with people. Consider your content as a guide to point your audience to a step that will meet a need in their life.
While you’re looking at that computer screen, have in mind a specific audience member that you want to engage. What’s important to them? How will the message impact or improve their life? Answering those questions refocuses the message on what you want to how your church can help and serve.
2) A clear, repeated message to achieve your goal
Go back to the original reason why you sat down the write the piece. Does what you have to say move you towards achieving that goal? Remove words that distract or confuse. Be clear and use active voice as much as possible, especially when you ask your audience to respond, interact, or take the next step. Which brings us to the next point.
3) Clarify the next step
Communication is two-way. When you publish content, you know some may not interact or respond. You want something to happen, however.
What do you want your audience to do? Be specific, even if the next step seems obvious to you. Church leaders live and breathe events, meetings, services. Your audience is less familiar and more distracted. They might have heard mention of it or vaguely remember seeing something about it somewhere. All while wrangling kids and running to the next destination. Repeat essential information over and over, make details easy to get, and have your call to action be clear.
The all-important grammar and typo check
We all make errors. Thankfully, they can be caught before you publish!
4) Go digital with your proofing
Digital proofreading tools like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor help check for grammar, spelling errors, and punctuation. Both have free versions you can test out and see which one works best for you. Both also have a paid option, which differs in functionality. Grammarly’s paid version provides more in-depth suggestions, whereas Hemingway’s paid version offers offline editing.
5) Have someone else proofread
Tired eyes that have been working on the same piece of content for a while have a hard time catching mistakes. Having someone read it over can be a huge help!
Before giving your proofreader what you’ve written, it’s helpful to be specific about what kind of feedback you’re looking for from them. Do you want your proofreader to only look for typos and punctuation errors? Should they read for clarity and flow? Depending on what you need help with, you may even have different people with different skill sets proofread for you.
6) Give your eyes a break and use your ears
Even when you have digital help or someone else proofread, it’s still a good idea to review your content personally.
The best thing to do here is walk away from your screen for a while. Grab a cup of coffee, go for a walk, or chat with a friend. 10 minutes away can give your brain a chance to reset and see mistakes.
When you sit down again, leverage your senses. Use your ears as well as your eyes. Reading your content out loud uses both your eyes and your ears to find errors, clunky phrasing, or rambling that can confuse your message.
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More effective content also includes functionality
When you have a specific interaction in mind, make sure it works the way you intend and in a way that makes sense for your audience.
7) Confirm the link is correct
Test the links to make sure they go to the right page. All it takes is one wrong character to get an error message. If the link is long, you can use a tool like Rebrandly. A shorter, customized link will give you an easier to type/remember link in any printed materials. Plus it gives you a cleaner, more polished look in general. Yourchurch.com/signup is better than Yourchurch.com/adfsa908342.
8) Using their preferred form of contact for calls to action
Knowing your audience helps craft messages. It also helps you choose the best way to present your call to action. Pay attention to their behavior to see what they do. If you still aren’t sure, strike up a conversation when you see them at church to ask their preferences. For example, a busy parent is more likely to fill out a 24/7 digital sign-up form rather than call into the church during specific office hours.
Beware of broad generational statements. (Millennials like this, Baby Boomers prefer that, etc.) Too many factors can influence how people prefer to respond. It really is best to know your audience and your community.
Visuals to enhance your message
Not only do we live in a digital age, but we also live in a highly VISUAL age. Photos, graphics, and videos have all been proven to boost social media engagement, key to attracting potential visitors. Visuals also help your audience remember your message by tying in your branded, repeated graphics. Leverage these tactics to enhance your message and make your content more effective.
9) Reflect life with photos
What makes your church unique? So many things come to mind! What draws people in and keeps them coming back are the PEOPLE. Having a bank of photos to pull from with friendly, happy faces enjoying time together, in worship, etc., will all help strengthen connections to your church. Look through what you have and pair it with your message to boost your message’s effectiveness.
10) Mobile-friendly graphics
Reusing graphics across platforms can drive results for your broader campaign. It increases frequency, helps people recall your message, reminds them to take action.
When moving from slides or posters to more mobile-based channels like social media or email, make adjustments to how much the text you include and the font size. ALWAYS do a mobile preview to see how it will look on a smartphone to make sure your audience can read the text. Adjustments can be made to the weight of the font or the font size if needed.
Why optimize your graphics for mobile? That’s how most people view your messages! Recent research shows that people use mobile devices 4 out of 5 times when they visit social media pages. For email, 3 out of 5 email messages are opened on mobile.
Grow with the process
Putting new steps like these into place will save you TIME in the long run. By publishing more effective content, you’ll see improved results and engagement with your campaigns and messages. Found this helpful? Fill out the form below and we’ll send it to your inbox!
Ready to update your communications strategy but not sure how to make it happen? Give the Firm Foundations Marketing team a shout! Learn more.