Use these simple tips to boost your church’s online profile and reach more people with the Gospel.
The Power of Online Reviews
It’s a fact. Prospects consult online reviews to make decisions.
Forbes.com gives these statistics:
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. (2016)
- Online reviews have been shown to impact 67.7% of purchasing decisions. (2015)
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. (2016)
- 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. (2016)
ReviewTrackers.com offers these stats for our consideration:
- 94% say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business.
- 80% of customers don’t trust businesses with lower than 4-star ratings.
Many of us do the same thing. We check Google Maps, Yelp, or Trip Advisor for good restaurants when traveling. Who hasn’t looked up an item on Amazon only to scroll to the bottom and read the reviews before they learn the details about the product?
With most people using online reviews to make decisions, Churches can leverage this trend to reach more people for Christ. Before I show you these easy steps, let’s consider the good and bad of online reviews.
Pros & Cons of Online Reviews
- Online reviews are easy ways to share experiences and recommendations.
- They are free.
- They powerfully influence future prospects.
- When considered as honest opinions from fellow prospects, they are better than paid advertising.
- Even the most introverted church member can help bring people to Jesus by leaving a positive review.
- God can use online reviews to draw people to your church.
- Online reviews are easy ways for detractors or disgruntleds to smear your reputation.
- Negative reviews can hinder your influence in the community.
- Satan can use low reviews to dissuade prospects from attending.
This is our one negative Google review:
FYI: Curtis Corner Baptist Church is not a synagogue. Clearly, this person has never visited our church or wanted to leave a poor review to hurt the reputation of our Church. That will happen. If you are the right kind of church, some in your community won’t appreciate your strong stand on God’s Word. Spiritual conflict means that you are doing your job.
The answer to community negativity is not to hide from the public eye. That’s what cults do. The answer is to have a proven and powerful plan to tell the community who you are (promotion, branding & marketing) before someone else tries to convince them.
How do you handle negative reviews?
- Respond to them if possible. Some platforms allow replies while others don’t.
- Report it as offensive when appropriate. The platform may take it down if it is malicious or obviously untrue.
- Drown it in positive reviews. THIS IS YOUR BEST OPTION. Most churches have so few reviews that a negative one can really drop their rating. Make sure your church has enough positive reviews to eclipse someone who wants to leave a bad one as an attack on your ministry.
Let’s cover o
How To Get Reviews
All you have to do is ask! Ask people for reviews like you would ask them to subscribe to email updates or follow you on social media.
Here are a few ways to ask for reviews:
- Ask your friends and family for reviews. It’s ok if they don’t go to your church. The reviews still help.
- Use existing social media channels to ask for reviews.
- Teach your church members to leave a review. Explain to them why it’s important and ask them to leave one this week.
Now that we have covered the basics, here are the three easy ways I recommend to boost your online profile with free reviews.
1. Google Review
More than 6 in 10 consumers look to Google reviews before visiting a local business. That’s more than any other review site. (ReviewTrackers.com)
When someone looks at Google Maps for a church in their area, they see that each church has reviews attached to their profile. It looks like this on a desktop computer:
Teach your church members to leave a review at Google Maps. It is fast and easy.
We put a request in our Sunday Church bulletin. In one week we went from 8 reviews to 19.
Here is a picture of the inside of our bulletin from last week teaching the tips in this article. I spent about 5 minutes during announcements on a Sunday Morning teaching our church members the importance of these concepts and asking for their help.
Some of your members won’t even know how to turn on a computer. However, the ones that
2. Facebook Review or Recommendation.
Love it or hate it, Facebook is the king of social media.
Forbes.com says, “Facebook. On an entirely different level than any other social media company on the planet, Facebook’s competitors are not Twitter and Snapchat. They are Google and Apple.”
A church Facebook page is necessary in our world today. But don’t just have one – use it. How to best use your Facebook page will need to be covered in another article.
One of the easiest ways to leverage your church Facebook page’s power is through reviews and recommendations.
Facebook has stopped using a “star” review system in favor of a recommendation. People can recommend your page to others. The recommendations show up on your page for others to see.
Facebook recommendations are powerful social proof of what God is doing for people who attend your church. Use them!
3. Use a Member Ministry Review bulletin insert.
Every church website should include reviews in its design. You can collect them using a form I created called the “Member Ministry Review.” You can download this FREE 2-sided .pdf by clicking the image below then use the “save as” function.
Print these out and cut them into three forms. Put a form in each of your church bulletins on a Sunday and ask the people to fill them out. Then place some of the best reviews on the front page of your website.
It’s that simple.
Give These Tips A Whirl!
Try at least one of these strategies this week. Let me know how it goes.
May God bless you and yours as you strive to reach people with the Gospel!
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Here’s your Pro Tip:
Set up your Google Business account for greater access.
Your GB account allows:
- Get alerts when people leave a review.
- Reply to Reviews.
- Receive an email report of how your Google Business is being accessed.
Here’s what the report looks like:
As you can see, this report gives you a lot of information. It can be surprising to see how much exposure your church is getting. That’s why it’s so important to make a good impression.
Go to business.google.com to claim your business and set up your account. Do this from your church office. At your request, Google will call your Church’s main number with a verification number you must enter to verify that the organization is yours.
This account also allows you to respond to reviews, create targeted ads, and use other useful benefits.
Check out all the features of this service.
God bless you!
This works. I used it twice to choose a Baptist church before I moved to a new location. The first Sunday I was the new city, I visited the church I had found. In the city I now live in there were two that had a web page. I visited the one closest to me. That was 11 years ago. I still atend that church.