I read a blog from Steven Kryger where he did a survey 2 weeks before Christmas. He asked churches, via email, about their Christmas service times. His idea came from an earlier blog where he reviewed 100 church websites and found the majority missing their Christmas service hours. He decided to contact churches that did or didn’t have their hours listed for holiday service via email and inquire about their Christmas service times.
Below are some of the survey’s findings.
- 4% of the emails bounced – probably invalid email on the church’s website.
- 57% responses – a little over half.
- 39% failed to respond to his email.
- 31% failed twice – they failed to display the information on their website and to send a reply email.
- Churches that displayed the service times on their websites were more likely to respond to an email.
It’s interesting to note that Steven also had replies that were less than helpful. If you would like to read the full blog post, please visit the blog. After reading through the two replies listed, I don’t believe many of us would entertain the idea of attending the churches that left those responses.
Societal technological changes have demanded more than just an organizational website. It requires having a dedicated team to communicate to visitor’s questions via email. Today, people are more than likely to visit a website to contact them before coming to a church service. In one survey, 76% of the responses said the church’s website was how they found the church, which was 3 times more likely than the second highest response – ‘personally invited’ (multiple options were allowed in the survey). In other words about 3X the potential visitors found church via their website than word of mouth from friends or family.
How important is the communication to visitors that visit your website? Aren’t website visitors as important as the ones attending church on a Sunday? How many people didn’t attend church because their email went unanswered? Communicating electronically today with a wider audience is essential.
To illustrate, how many businesses lose revenue because they didn’t respond to an email inquiry? I know in my case it’s many. If I send an email to a business and they don’t respond – do you think I am going to purchase anything with my hard earned dollars? Probably Not. Although we don’t think of churches as businesses, it appears there’s a lack of responding to email in the church sector, which adversely affects church attendance.
What’s does the 4% bounce rate represent? More than likely, this would indicate that the email on the website is incorrect or no longer in use. Most people won’t call an organization for their hours as they should be visible on the website. When a website doesn’t include the hours, then email is typically the next best option. Why do people prefer email over a phone conversation? If you’re like me, I talk to a lot of people each day, therefore, I can’t recall each conversation’s detail like service times for Christmas that happens once a year. However, if it’s in my email, I can refer to it any time or send it to my calendar. In other words, I don’t have to rely on my memory.
Let’s look at church response rate of 57%. In school this would be a failure, but let’s approach it differently. If an email was sent to the churches, with the following statement ‘I would like to donate to your organization, please reply with how I can do that’, what would the results be? Do you believe the response rate would be lower, higher, or about the same as the responses from the Christmas service time survey? Why?
What does lack of communication with visitors cause? Some thoughts would be explaining the ministry’s work, people coming to church, small group participation, and so on. For the other survey results, I’ll let you come to your own conclusion. The last thought on this is that many churches pray to have more visitors come to their church. But, given the above results, a better question might be, ‘are you presently handling the inquiries that arrive in your inbox?’