If you’ve caught wind of any of the latest church digital trends within the last couple of years, you’ve no doubt heard of the Plan a Visit strategy for your church website. 

You may wonder if any of these trends and strategies actually work — perhaps they even seem gimmicky — and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with you.

The reason these tactics seem gimmicky is that so many churches employ these tactics, trends and strategies as, well, gimmicks. And by gimmick, I mean a quick and surface fix that doesn’t seek to understand the principle and the purpose behind the tactic that makes the tactic useful, to begin with.

What the Plan a Visit Strategy is Not

Plan a Visit is not a magic phrase that when placed on a website button or link, suddenly becomes irresistible to website visitors and must be clicked on. Nope, it’s definitely not that!

I’ve seen church websites where the website builder has stuck a Plan a Visit button on their homepage, which links to a Plan a Visit page, where all they show is the location of the church and the service times.

While service location and time information is a necessary part of a person’s visit to your church, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Plan a Visit website strategy.

What the Plan a Visit Strategy Really Is

Simply put the Plan a Visit Strategy serves as a way for website visitors to connect with you (the church) before they even step foot inside the building. 

The reason this strategy has seen success for churches that have employed it properly is that it begins the relationship with new visitors before they’ve made the leap to actually come to your church.

Key Components to Plan a Visit

If Plan a Visit is a strategy that you are looking at, make sure that you consider the following key components.

  1. Your homepage should have a clear Call to Action that invites website visitors to Plan a Visit
  2. When a website visitor clicks on Plan a Visit, it should open a form which allows website visitors to enter their information and let you know they’re coming
  3. Set up automated text messages and email messages that respond to Plan a Visit submissions. Provide details about the service, location, parking, etc., and also send text reminders the day before and the morning of the service. Make sure you are checking for replies and have a way to reply if they send a message!
  4. Make sure you’re ready for them on Sunday morning! Give your Welcome Center volunteers a list of all individuals who have planned a visit and make sure they feel welcome and expected. 
  5. Follow up with those who didn’t show up. And move those that did to a 1st Time Visitor follow up flow.

Now I’ve only briefly touched on each step here. But if you are interested in employing this strategy, we recommend a service called Text In Church which provides a great platform for steps 2 and 4 of this list. 

The main thing to remember when setting up this strategy is that your number one goal is to CONNECT with website visitors before they even step in your church. If you succeed on this core principle, you’ll be on the right track.

With all that being said, if you have any questions about how to set up your website with Plan a Visit or you’d like help doing so — we’d love to help. Schedule a Free Church Web Strategy Call and we look forward to talking with you.