Connecting to your members online is a hot topic these days- and for a very good reason. Your online engagement program is an effective way to stay in touch with members, connect to prospective members, and drive revenue. Most synagogues and other Jewish organizations send information to their members on a regular basis. And, if your content is interesting, helpful, informative or entertaining, your members will share it with their friends, spreading your name and stamping your content with their endorsement. But, if your content does not provide relevant information, or is inconsistent with your synagogue’s brand, it's a missed opportunity to build value for your organization.
Consider these five key “must-haves” when creating engaging content:
Many synagogues send out weekly emails. This is what I would call a volume-based strategy. However, if the quality of those emails does not meet the needs of your reader, over time you will lose readership and reduce the value of what you could be providing your members – and thus the value of your synagogue. On the other hand, high-quality information that informs, entertains, and educates will get the attention of your members, prospective members, and your staff.
Segment and Target Your Audience:
First, start by identifying whom you want to reach. Then, concentrate on developing targeted content that speaks directly to them. Those weekly emails where you list all the activities going on in your synagogue are only engaging those in who are already regular “club” members.
Segment your mailing lists to zoom in on one key section of your community - like young families or religious school parents. Why is this effective? When you deliver high quality and relevant information to one part of your congregation, you are providing your readers with content that is meaningful to them. This personalized approach is directly tied to increased email open rates and engagement. It may initially seem like more work, but the potential payoff makes it totally worth it.
Walk in Your Member's Shoes
To really add value, shift from thinking about offering more details on what you provide and instead, focus on your congregant’s questions, concerns, and information gaps.
If you developed a content strategy focused on holidays, you would have a rich area to draw from since many of your members are looking to deepen their connection with holidays. Write a blog or e-newsletter that focuses on the art, the music, the history – not just your programming – draw them in with interesting information and then link them to deeper content and programming on your website.
Get Your Lay Leadership and Staff Sharing
Remember the “club” I mentioned earlier, the group that cares deeply about the synagogue, it's programming, its health, and well-being? This is the group that you should be using to spread your content message. This group should be formally asked, and not just once, to share the content you are creating. For example, let’s say you develop one value-based content message on Jewish parenting. Not only will parents share with other parents, but grandparents will share, your teaching staff will share – especially if you ask them to. Maybe your e-newsletter is featuring a synagogue green up day – get your “club” to share this information.
Shared content is the most effective way to enhance your value. It is an endorsement for your synagogue by your members.
When you think about content marketing, you may quickly think that this means a lot of writing. In reality, creativity and variety will help you stand out more with your members, prospective members, and influencers. Think about using a variety of media (pictures, videos, infographics, checklists, audio content, webinars), in addition to written content, like blog posts or your weekly email. Variety also extends to what kind of content you create. You can create thought leadership pieces, “behind the scenes” content, committee features, interviews, and many other types of content. Use your imagination! It will pay off in terms of retention, new members, and additional revenue.
Focus on building value for your community by creating rich, engaging, and meaningful content.
About the Author
Yoram Samets co-founded Jvillage Network based on his belief in the importance of strengthening Jewish communities. He is a partner at KSV, an independent, full-service advertising agency with offices in Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts.