For those of you who follow our blog, you might remember a piece we published a few months back all around being obsessed with your church’s first time guests. The first place we see that happening is on your church’s website.
The website, many people say, is the front door of your church. If that’s the case, then the new Plan A Visit feature from Text In Church is the shiny door knob that lets everybody in.
Plan A Visit is a concept churches are using to connect with people before they ever walk through their doors. This feature for church websites is accomplished through Text In Church’s latest enhancement, SMART Connect Cards. It’s an idea born out of what we all already know to be true.
If you’re going to try a new restaurant, what do you do first?
Check out the website.
If you’re going to visit an amusement park or a new exhibit, what do you do first?
Check out the website.
If you’re wanting to stay at a hotel near the conference you’re attending, how will you decide?
Check out the websites.
So, if someone is considering, even having the tiniest thought about checking out your church, what are they going to do?
CHECK. OUT. YOUR. WEBSITE.
Like it or not, there are hardly any people anymore who will show up at your church without looking at your website first. So, if you know people are “visiting” your site, why not do everything you can to actually interact with them? That’s the real passion behind how this works with Text In Church.
There are a lot of platforms that allow you to have forms on your website. People can leave their information or a question and be followed up with. This is better than nothing, but we didn’t want to stop there. We knew websites needed to become more functional for what they are; an actual platform for your church. With SMART Connect Cards, you can now embed a card on your site that is interactive. The questions are asked one at a time, building on the last one to be more personalized. For example, the first question asks for the person’s name. Then, their name is used to ask the second question.
You can choose where and how on your website you want to "ask" for them to plan their visit. Once they click, they'll see something like this...
And then it will keep asking questions from there...
You can add some questions...
Want to see it all working together? Check it out here: https://demo.textinchurch.com
We know in addition to this being more personalized, it’s also proven to increase the likelihood that it gets filled out. Generic forms with all of the questions listed out are completed LESS OFTEN than cards like ours that prompt people for a response one question at a time.
When you add the SMART Connect Card on your website and someone fills out the form, all of that information automatically gets sent over to your Text In Church Plan A Visit group. This is where the magic happens!
You know the age old problem we’ve been working to avoid for… forever? You know, when an individual or family tries your church for the first time but doesn’t really connect with anyone, doesn’t fill out your connection card, and comes and goes, never to be seen again?
Well, what if you knew ahead of time that they were coming? What if you could be ready with a couple from your church who will invite them to sit with them? Or with a gift with their name on it? Or with a pastor ready to shake their hand and personally invite them to come back the next week?
Plan A Visit has the power to make these things happen. Let’s dive in to the 3 major ways your church can be using this feature to change the way first time guests experience your church.
1. Plan A Visit changes a first time guest’s perception of your church
There is a ton of training and resources on how to genuinely reflect the look and feel of your church on your website. However, this takes time and resources and sometimes our websites are just “the best we could do.” However, websites make a HUGE first impression on the people who look at them and will likely be the tipping point on whether someone decides to visit.
Plan A Visit allows you to control that first impression. You can take a more active approach to your website visitors, using language that mirrors your church, using text or video to tell them how excited you are for them to show up, and giving them information to help alleviate some of their nerves or answer their questions.
Plan A Visit allows you to interact with these people exactly how you’ve hoped you could. Gone are the days of websites sitting passively, hoping they are done well enough to draw people in. Now you have a tool that can do that for you!
2. Plan A Visit changes a first time guest’s experience at your church
The biggest way I see Plan A Visit changing a guest’s experience at your church is in how personalized it can become. You don’t have people standing in your atrium, with the deer in the headlights look on their faces because they can’t find the childcare. You don’t have people wandering around alone, hardly spoken to because no one knows who’s new and who’s visited before. You don’t have an individual come alone, sit alone, and leave alone.
Now, you know their name. You know if they’re bringing kids. You’re ready to greet them, to welcome them for the very first time, to find them someone to sit with. So much of those little details make such a huge impact on a person’s first experience at a church. And now you have a tool to give you all the information you need.
3. Plan A Visit changes a first time guest’s mindset going forward with your church
We wouldn’t be Text In Church if we didn’t talk follow-up. Maybe some of you are thinking, “okay, they’ll fill out the SMART card online, but what if they don’t show up.” That’s fine. They’ve given you their information. They’ve taken that first step to say, “I’m here, and I’m thinking about it.” So you can send them a text asking if they can come next Sunday. You can just thank them for filling out the form and make sure they have contact information if they ever need anything. You could email them a link to the sermon. We have lots of those messages done for you, loaded into an automated workflow in the Text In Church system. Connection. Before they visit, on your website, while they visit, at your church, after their visit, on their device.
You can start implementing this powerful tool today. A 14-day free trial of Text In Church comes fully loaded with a Plan A Visit automated workflow, among many others!
Utilize the technology at your fingertips to start making deeper connections with the people in your community. If you’ve struggled to see first time guests walk through your church’s doors, consider adding a Plan A Visit feature to your website. This will accomplish 3 things from a guest’s perspective…
1. Plan A Visit changes a first time guest’s perception of your church.
2. Plan A Visit changes a first time guest’s experience at your church.
3. Plan A Visit changes a first time guest’s mindset going forward with your church.