Over the last few months The Hardy Group offered the Church Marketing Strength Assessment for pastors and church leaders. 2,014 churches responded giving us the most comprehensive analysis on that subject out there today.
In the Assessment we asked 20 questions with three-answer (Yes, No, Don’t Know) options to each question. I want to zero in on a very specific aspect of church marketing we found in the Assessment. Growing and rapidly growing churches are doing this one thing and it could be a game-changer for virtually all churches.
We review this one key element in the third of our three-part video series just released called Your Marketing Breakthrough.
This discovery from the Assessment was fascinating. We asked the question, “Does your church have at least five positive (four or five star) google reviews?” Get this – 45% of respondents were “not sure” if they had any reviews or how many they had; the largest “not sure” response of the entire assessment.
Getting reviews on multiple online fronts is critically important. Doing so on Google, Yelp, Facebook and others all mean something to people considering your church. For this writing I am going to be focusing specifically on Google reviews.
Here is what you want for your church on Google. You want to have at least five positive reviews to get the Google stars. Five Google stars puts you at the top of all businesses, organizations, church, everything in your community…
… and it can greatly help to put you on the first page of Google searches. And why do you want to be on the first page? Because 93% of people never go beyond the first page. That’s why!
The Google stars show up on a search when you type in the name of the church, city, state abbreviation. There you will see the church either with stars or without. You want those stars.
Here’s why having five Google reviews in the 5-star system is important…
When you have a star rating, you automatically have more traffic coming to your church’s website from Google, you will have more visibility from Google and Google sees you as more trusted. Looks like Google has a lot of influence, huh?
An ancillary issue to the Google review standing is maybe even bigger. It is what they call “Social Proof.” It tells others in your community that your church is worthy of consideration because the overwhelming number of other churches do not have any reviews at all. This sets you apart!
At my son’s church in Kansas City they have repeatedly had people visit the church and say this: “We looked churches up online and found you guys. After reading the reviews we decided you may be just the church for us.” That is HUGE!!
People want social proof. Whenever anyone is about to buy something over $50 what do they do? They look at the reviews online to see how others viewed the product or company. When it comes to your church, this can be a game-changer for you.
You might feel this sounds great but ask the question, “Where does a church start?”
Well, here is the first thing NOT to do! Do not go into the pulpit next Sunday and ask everyone to go give you a review. If you have had none up to this point and then all of the sudden pick up five, ten, twenty or fifty in just a few days … well, Google will be on to you and you will get dinged. So don’t do that!
Here is what you should do to increase your Google reviews:
1. Talk to five of your most loyal volunteers, your raving fans.
Ask these friends to one each week post a review on Google. So after five weeks you have five positive reviews.
2. Then go on to another five slowly and systematically.
The key in all of this is to do it slowly. This is a tortoise and hare comparison. With speed of collecting reviews you lose. Slow and steady will win the race.
3. Incorporate this into your assimilation system.
Ask guests in your email communication to them if they had a positive experience, to give you a Google review. Provide the link to do so directly in the email.
4. In any membership or partner classes you have, highlight this as something you want all new members/partners to do for the church.
Communicate that this helps spread the word of what God is doing at the church. Remember new members/partners are raving fans. They love the church!
5. Be prepared for what you will do when you get a negative review.
Believe me, sooner or later you will get one. I suggest sending a private message back to the person thanking them for giving you feedback, offer them something like a $5 Starbucks or Amazon gift card while expressing you are sorry they did not have a better experience. Do not defend yourself or the church. Just try to cheer them up.
We talk about this at length in Church Marketing University. We devote the entirety of one of the 17 modules to Reviews.
The beautiful thing about this entire endeavor is that it costs you nothing. Zero! Zilch! All you have to do is be diligent in your communication week in and week out, month in and month out.
Think of it this way…
Getting a positive Google review is like testimony time back in the day. So rather than someone standing up in a Sunday or Wednesday night service at church telling people what God did in their lives, they are standing up on Google and doing the same thing. Its ability to spread exponentially this way is amazing.
After you get done doing the Google reviews then start to bring in the same process with Yelp and Facebook. However, do not bite off more than you can chew. Google is king here. Get Google reviews done well first and then branch out.
Why did I write a post like this today? Because I believe in the church and the message of YOUR church. I believe you have people around you who will say good things about you online. They need to be encouraged to do so. This will influence others to come check you out. You cannot imagine their impact will have when they do so. So work hard to get good Google reviews.
We are happy to provide you the kind of help you may need along the way in Church Marketing University. I think it is worth you checking out to begin letting the world know all the good that He is doing in your midst. The page at this link will give you all the information you need, FAQs and more.
Happy Reviews! ☺
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