Does Your E-mail Address and Website Really Matter?

The quick answer is Yes!  Having a website is expected today.  A LinkedIn profile gives you a presence on the web that helps people find you, learn more about you and your ministry, but that alone isn’t enough.  You need a website (a presence on the internet) because it adds professionalism, credibility, legitimacy, marketing, and an almost endless list of other benefits, including e-mail flexibility featured in today’s blog.  There are several important things to consider before choosing the domain name, and creating the website.

Having a website won’t immediately make your ministry successful, but Not having a website can harm your image, detract from your professionalism, reduce your legitimacy, and keep people from finding you or considering you as a possibility.  Many times it’s a website that gives someone a first impression that either draws them to you, or causes them to continue looking.  The website can portray an image of an exciting, growing, rewarding ministry, or one that is barely surviving.  The reality is irrelevant if they never get to know you and find out which you really are.

What’s in a Name?

How do you choose a domain name, or for that matter, a ministry name?  You probably want to choose a ministry or domain name that you can build your “brand” upon.  Your brand will be what people associate you with, get to know you by, and hopefully remember.  The best ministry and domain names will describe your focus, goals and vision.  You want your brand to be unique, descriptive, and easy to remember.  If it’s too generic, or doesn’t mean anything (ministry.com) it could hurt your marketing efforts or even your long-term success.  We choose “Anothen Life” for our healing ministry because Anothen (from John 3:3) means “born from above” and our goal is to help others move toward a life that is “born from above”.  Linked4Ministry seemed a natural for this blog because my goal is to help ministries use LinkedIn and other social media to extend their reach by connecting with others.

E-mail address options and advantages.

What e-mail address do you use?  What image does it portray?  If you use a generic (free) e-mail address from a Third Party Provider like AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail, you are limited to what name you choose (Bill@AOL or Bill@Yahoo is surely taken).  Using a generic e-mail address with some part of your name and a series of numbers (Bill856@gmail.com) is not only unprofessional, it might send a subconscious message that your ministry is be small, a startup, not as capable as others, etc.  If you must choose a generic e-mail address, consider adding something easy to remember, and that also builds upon your brand.  As an example, I use Bill.Bender.LinkedIn@gmail.com for my LinkedIn and Linked4Ministry addresses to separate my social media ministry from my healing ministry.  Using an e-mail address with my domain name (Bill@AnothenLife.org) not only is more professional, it gives me the option of using my preferred name, it’s easy to remember, adds to my credibility, and builds upon my personal or ministry brand.  Using e-mail addresses with your domain name also gives you additional options like a generic “info” address (Info@AnothenLife.org) that can be directed to several people, and used for those wanting to get more information.

Website Advantages & Considerations.

Only several years ago, having a website was expensive and meant going to a professional to set up and make every change.  Things have certainly changed today with website hosting and editors that are only a little more complicated than a word processing program and sometimes less costly.  That said, a quick website, hastily put together probably doesn’t portray the image that God has called you to.

Many website hosting packages have already prepared templates that you can choose from, and even stock photographs that you can use for free.  Your choice of Photos is important.  A website without photos isn’t very appealing, and isn’t as friendly as one with photos that visitors can associate with.  Adding resources like information that can be downloaded can not only appeal to people looking for additional knowledge, it can also be used to reduce time answering questions.  If you have common questions, consider a Q&A page, or separate documents with more detailed information about common questions, you can then direct callers to your Q&A section, leaving you more time for ministry opportunities.

Even though I’ve put several websites together, and I have no formal website training, putting a website together isn’t a quick or one time task.  It’s a time-consuming project to get the look and words that present a quality site, and keeping it up to date is critical.  If you don’t keep it up to date, not only will it look outdated, the search engines like Google that bring you visitors will place you further down the list that those that are constantly adding new material.  Most internet searches don’t go past page one or two to find the results they are looking for, and if other competent ministries are listed first, they will likely get the traffic you could receive.  SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is a science by itself, and too complex for this posting, but you must have a strategy.  Your SEO strategy should include choosing words that might be commonly searched for, and you want to be found with.  For Anothen Life, my choices might be healing, inner healing, or deliverance, for Linked4Ministry, I’d probably choose words like ministry, ministry growth, social media, and LinkedIn.  The list of words you want to be found by should be in your website’s home page “titles” and in the first few paragraphs.  The more often you repeat them, the higher it moves you in the search results.  You also need to spend time listing your ministry in online directories that are centered on ministries with your focus.  Also, see my “Backlinks” blog posted March 11, 2010 for additional tips to build your SEO ratings.

The bottom line is. a website is expected in today’s culture to make your ministry legitimate.  If you choose the name, set it up wisely, and take advantage of all the benefits, you’ll be well on your way to building a brand that will grow your ministry and bring glory to God.

I sincerely thank you for reading this blog and hope you are finding these posts as useful and interesting as much as I’m enjoying researching and preparing them.  Please consider sharing them with others that might also benefit, and together we’ll help other Christian Ministries extend their reach into God’s kingdom, and prepare for our Lord’s return!

Blessings,
Bill

http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/billbender

Bill.Bender.LinkedIn@gmail.com

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