Maximizing the time visitors spend on your website is critical in engaging prospective members. The longer a prospect stays on your website, the more opportunities she has to learn about your community and explore different ways to get involved. To prevent folks from hitting the back button right after landing on your site, we’ve compiled a list of tips that are designed to keep your visitors active and engaged.
(1) Connect with your audience. Begin by identifying several core groups that your membership outreach committee is focused on reaching. After considering what matters most to these groups in conjunction with what your community already offers, use your website to showcase this information and demonstrate that you already have what folks are looking for. Try to seamlessly embed supporting images and content that appeals to these identified groups throughout your website. Are you trying to reach families with young children? Begin by prominently featuring early childhood programming on your homepage and add images to your homepage slideshow that feature young kids and their parents. Then, on your main worship page, provide a link to your Tot Shabbat programming. Within your education section, devote space to highlighting educational events and programs that will appeal to members of this group. The key is to naturally embed content and images that are of interest to your target audiences. As a prospect explores different parts of your website, relevant content is always available.
(2) Be Selective. Content is always king (or queen). Website content needs to inform your readers, but should not overwhelm them with too much detail. If you want to give prospects a sense of your Rabbi’s sermons, including a link to one or two on your website is a great idea. But, providing a PDF of every sermon given over the past five years? Now that’s probably overkill, as it is unlikely a reader will take the time to read every one and prevents you from steering your reader to one or two of his or her best and most powerful lectures.
(3) Centralize Contact Information. Visitors should easily be able to identify where your location, hours of operation, phone number, and details on how to contact members of the clergy and other staff. One of the strongest and most comprehensive contact us pages that we’ve come across belongs to Central Synagogue.
(4) Create a Smooth Navigation Map. Your website represents a shared space for current and prospective members. And within those two groups, you have religious school families, empty nesters, early childhood families, and more who are all accessing the same virtual real estate. Anticipating and considering the needs of these groups from a current and prospective member perspective can be exhausting and overwhelming, but necessary. As a result, the creation of a broad, yet descriptive navigation structure as seen on Temple Sinai is critical in ensuring that your website provides for a user-friendly experience for all visitors.
(5) Update Your Content Regularly. Not only is regularly updating your content good for SEO, but it firmly establishes your website as a valuable resource that is worthy of regular visits. Make sure your calendar is up to date and that you're showcasing upcoming events on your homepage and not ones that have passed. If you don’t tell your community when and where to show up, they won’t be there. Make sure all calendar events include short, inviting descriptions and specify the event location, time, and give a contact name/number.
(6) Mobile: Finally, ensuring that your website is optimized for mobile and tablet visitors is no longer an option. Based on the Google Analytic data we’ve seen for our synagogues, upwards of 30% to 40% of visitors are using a mobile or a tablet to view your website. If the mobile display is too difficult for visitors to navigate or read, you’ve potentially lost them before they’ve even read a word.
Your website is your community’s portal to everything Jewish. It is the gateway that brings your community together and into your building. The layout, the content, and the images used on your website are all necessary pieces in creating a welcoming space for prospective members.