Visitors come and visitors go, but successful churches create systems that make it easy for them to stay. Visitors come to church for different reasons. They may like the worship, want to hear the pastor, or think your kids’ ministry is great, but visitors stick around for one reason—relationships. Churches must create a culture and systems that build relationships which transform visitors into members. Visitor follow-up is essential to building those relationships. Visitor Nurturing is powerful system that takes a long term view of building relationships through intentional and personal communication using technology.
Below we would like to show you how our automated visitors follow-up and integration process works. We try to simulate a real life case study of a first time visitor, Mary Higgins, who visits Shooters Hill Community Church. The case study will show all the key players in the follow-up and integration process including the automated messaging system in DiscipleSoft.
Sunday Service Visit
Mary has recently moved into the Shooters Hill neighboughood and she has seen the church’s billboard on the road to her workplace. Today she excited to come and evaluate whether Shooters Hill is a good church for her family. She is married and has 2 children. On this particular Sunday she brings her 2 kids to church.
Visitor Welcome Team
Hannah is part of the Church Greeters Team. The church recognises the importance of greeters in building a great first impression to visitors. All greeters go through extensive training. From the full greeters teams a few are selected to focus on visitors, this is the team that Hannah belongs to. On this particular Sunday she notices that Mary is a first time visitor so she took on the responsibility to take her through into the auditorium. After exchanging warm greetings with Mary she helps her take the kids to Children’s Church. She use this chance to find out more about Mary and build some rapport. From the Children’s Church, Hannah take Mary to the main auditorium. She instructs Mark, one of the ushers to help Mary get seated before she goes back to join her greeters team.
Visitor Information Collection
The Ushering Team receives regular and extensive training to help them stay on top of their duties and responsibilities. Here is a list of some of their duties and responsibilities;
- Seat guests
- Collect the tithes and offering
- Distribute communion
- Keep order at the entrance of the sanctuary
- Distribute bulletins and service programs
- Provide security
- Administer emergency procedures
- Handle disturbances
Because the variety of duties that ushers are responsible for, the church has selected a few ushers who will focus on the visitors, this is the team Mark is part of. Throughout the service Mark is paying attention to 5 visitors including Mary. During the service the Pastor as per tradition welcome all visitors and instructs the ushers to distribute Visitor Cards. Mark ensure that all the 5 visitors including Mary have completed their cards.
Collect information from visitors.
Mary complete the Visitors Card, she is happy that the card is short, only basic contact information is asked for. She put’s her mobile number and email as the preferred method of communication. Mark collects all completed cards from the 5 visitors. Mary is excited to get to know more about the church when she goes to the guest lounge as announced by the pastor.
Get to know visitors more over coffee and cake.
The Visitor Lounge is a great opportunity for the church to interact with the visitors and begin building a relationship. The lounge is operationally run by the hospitality team who make sure that every morning the room is ready for the visitors including enough coffee, tea, juice, cakes etc. However, Visitor Follow-Up team members also use the lounge as an opportunity to make contact with the visitors and get to know them. Rebecca is on duty this particular Sunday.
Mary has a great time chatting with Rebecca who answered a few questions she had about service times and children’s church programs. Mary is impressed with the attention that this church gives to visitors without making you feel smothered.
Rebecca is a member of the Visitor Follow-Up Team whose task is to build relationships with visitors as they guide them towards choosing Shooters Hill as their church.
Visitors Follow App
Capture visitor information using a mobile application called Follow App
Another task that Mark has after collecting visitors information through the cards is to captured that information into a database. Mark will only have access to a computer when he get’s to work on Monday, however through the Follow App he is able to capture all the visitors cards on this particular Sunday even before he leaves church. At church he is able to connect to the WiFi. All the visitors he captures are added into a central database on DiscipleSoft. This database is the basis for all future follow-up processes with each visitor. When capturing a visitor on the system a follow-up person should be assigned to the visitors. This designated follow-up person is a member of the follow-up team that receives regular and extensive training, this the team that Rebecca belongs to. Mark assigns Rebecca as the follow-Up person for Mary.
Automated Message 1
Acknowledge and thank visitor for the visit.
This message is automatically sent to Mary when her details are captured into the system. By automating the process it means every visitor added received an acknowledgement and thank you message.
Good day Ms Huggins, we would like to thank you for visiting Shooters Hill Community Church, it was a great pleasure having you worship with us. Mrs Rebecca Stevens has been especially assigned to help you with any questions about our church. She will be in touch with you soon.
Automated Message 2
Message to Designated Follow-Up Person
This message is automatically sent to Rebecca as soon as the visitors information is captured and she is selected as the designated follow-up person. The message is sent to both her mobile phone and email. By automating the sending of this message, situations where visitors are not assigned a follow-up person are avoided.
Good day Mrs Stevens, Mary Huggins visited us on Sunday 23 June 2019. You have been assigned to do follow-up. Get more information on her from DiscipleSoft and please remember to document all your interactions.
This message is part of our comprehensive Visitor Nurturing strategy which driven by our messaging and automation tools within DiscipleSoft. In the next section we will outline how Visitor Nurturing is a powerful method for visitor follow-up and conversion.
Visitor Nurturing Overview
When someone comes to your church as a visitor and they share enough information about themselves through the visitors’ card, it’s because they’re interested in your church. Visitor nurturing campaigns help the follow-up team build relationships with visitors, from their first interaction to the time they are ready to make a decision to join your church family. Because the nurturing campaigns are meant to communicate with each visitor or prospective member on an individual level, it’s essential for campaign content — emails, SMSs, direct mail, etc. — to be personalized.
Nurturing is rarely about immediate visitor conversions. Instead, it’s about inspiring real heartfelt engagement and keeping your church at the forefront of your visitors’ minds. Some of the nurturing content will directly answers your audiences’ questions and relates to their needs in their physical and spiritual lives. When you help in solving their problems you are laying the groundwork for building long-term relationships.
With the right content mix, tailored to the right audience, sent at the right time, your church can gradually inform visitors about your church, its vision and benefits of belonging, and eventually inspire them to become a member. A church with a proper visitors’ nurturing mindset would never spam their audience with generic messages. That kind of communication doesn’t teach audiences anything, nor does it take them on any kind of journey. Visitor nurturing is about identifying specific needs, and then tailoring content to different audience segments (or even individual audience members, when needed).
Your visitor nurturing campaign content should be designed to inform and entertain your audience in personalized and relevant ways. They should be excited to open and engage with each new message, and you should be excited to see where your nurturing journey takes them.
Playing the Long Game
Good visitor nurturing is about playing the long game. You’re not rushing anyone into making a decision — you’re building an informed and interested audience mix of visitors engaging them in a dialogue that continues over time… perhaps indefinitely! If you build a trusted relationship with your audiences, there’s a strong chance that they’ll turn to your church when they are ready. If you bother them with overly self-interest messaging from the very beginning, they won’t want to build that relationship in the first place. Visitor nurturing is essential for your overall church growth and our automation and messaging tools are designed to help you.
Examples of Nurturing Messages
Welcome Message from Pastor | Once-Off
This is a once off message sent to the visitor where the Pastor introduces themselves and provides their contact information and some information about the church.
Hello Ms Huggins, my name is Pastor Tim from Shooters Hill Community Church. Thank you for visiting our church last Sunday. Below is my office numbers and email address, if you need any help myself and our leadership we are here for you. For more information about our church please follow the website link below. We also have a mobile app with awesome material for you spiritual growth, the download link is also below. Looking forward to seeing you again.
Sunday Service Reminder | Weekly on Saturday
This message is sent weekly on Saturday to remind all visitors about the Sunday Service the next day.
Hello Ms Huggins, we trust you have had a great week. We are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow for our worship and thanksgiving service. Sunday is such a special day, its the one day in the week when we meet as a family to thank and praise our Lord. I will be continuing my message on The Love of God. Our service starts at 10 am. For any help please contact our church office on 0843 1882 2729. Pastor Tim, Shooters Hill Community Church
Beginning of the Month Declaration | Monthly on 1st Day
This is a short message that can be send every beginning of the month with an inspirational message. The idea is to keep it short and simple, avoid religious tone in your messaging as this may put off visitors. Address everyday issues that people face in your messaging.
Hello Ms Huggins, please join us as we make this declaration for the new month of July. “I declare that the month of July will be a fruitful month for me and my family. The sprit of the Lord will lead us in all our steps. We declare that we will protected and provided for. I declare all this in Jesus Name.”
Tracking Visitor Interactions
DiscipleSoft gives your Visitor Follow-Up and Integration team powerful tracking tools to ensure that the follow-up and integration is both thorough and methodical. Without the right systems, it is impossible to be effective in this endeavour especially if you have a large volume of visitors to your church. Below we will highlight some basic tracking features and functionality in DiscipleSoft.
Adding Visitors on the System