Communication today is so immediate. An email, a tweet, a Facebook post – write it, hit send or return and you have reached your target audience. Of course they have to open it and read it. And there are also the tricks of the trade that you do to have a catchy subject line in an email or heading on Facebook to encourage people to read it and click on the links.
Think about how synagogues inform congregants about someone’s passing. We send an email to the membership, create a post for Facebook and/or the website, maybe even send a group text. I can recall when we would receive pre-fabricated post cards where someone would handwrite (many times – their hand must have hurt!) the information about the grieving congregant, the person who died, and Shiva information.
Or there was a phone squad to be sure that everyone in the synagogue was reached. And this was before answering machines and voicemail.
Spoken communication may be a lost art.
Today, synagogue websites are really a powerful communications tool. Congregants look there for all kinds of information – upcoming events, dates and times, contact info for staff. When people new to a community have even a thought about synagogue membership will probably do a Google search of synagogues in a particular town or geographic area.
I read an interesting article today about websites for not-for-profit organizations which certainly is relevant for synagogues as well. I have visited numerous synagogue websites – including my own sometimes – where information is outdated. Newsletters and Facebook posts are also important, and should serve as a way to give people a snapshot of information. And then articles and Facebook posts should drive them to the website where they can find all of the details. And links to RSVP, purchase tickets when necessary, and other important information.
Websites also need to be smart phone friendly, or to speak in the vernacular “mobile compatible”. More and more people today are accessing websites on their smart phones. Especially Millennials. Websites that aren’t mobile compatible are at a disadvantage. If the viewer can’t easily maneuver throughout your synagogue’s website, they will loose interest and move on. And this experience will color their view of your synagogue, no matter how “warm and welcoming” and “special” your synagogue is for people who come through the door.
Does your website incorporate SEO – search engine optimization? Basically, there are things that you can do to insure that when someone does a google search using specific terms like “synagogue” and the name of a specific city your synagogue is high up on the list that appears on the screen. Central Synagogue in New York City is incorporating SEO as a part of its internet marketing strategy to insure that when someone does a google search for “synagogue” and “New York City”, its placement is very prominent on the listing of links that is generated.
To create and implement such an internet strategy incorporating SEO, it is best to seek advice from congregants involved in marketing. Especially Millennials.