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Does Your Church’s Digital Identity Matter?

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Does your church's digital identity matter? That's what Kenny Jahng and DJ Chuang explore in today's episode of the Church Online Podcast. Kenny and DJ talk through questions such as What exactly is a church's digital identity? Why does your digital identity matter in terms of outreach? What is the impact of intentionally thoughtful design, logo, branding, and digital identity? Dig in to today's episode to learn more!

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ABOUT .CHURCH DOMAIN NAMES
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TRANSCRIPT:

The following is a machine-generated transcript of the audio. We've been testing the NueralText online transcription service. Now, as you know, Machines < Humans so these transcript notes won't be 100% accurate. Probably more like 80-95% accurate. Hopefully, this will help you scan the episode content to get the gist of the conversation. Enjoy!

[00:00:00.250] – Kenny Jahng

Hi friends. Kenny Jahng here with the Church online podcast. Welcome to today's episode. Today we're going to talk about what is digital identity, why your digital identity actually matters and how to reach people with thoughtful design, logos, branding and digital identity. Now, before we get started, let me just share with you. This episode is brought to us by Church. Church is a top level domain name used by tens of thousands of churches like Canvas Church and Lifestyle Church to connect and engage with visitors online as part of the Identity Digital portfolio. Church domains come with an added security and phishing protection. Get a church domain name at name church or your favorite register. Now, today's guest I have right by beside me on the screen is DJ Chuang, DJ's ambassador for the Church domain. Part of Identity Digital that powers most. Of the relevant domain names across the Internet. Now DJ's know there's a thought leader who helps churches and nonprofits learn how to use the latest digital technologies. DJ, welcome to the conversation today.

[00:01:13.670] – DJ Chuang

Hey, thank you for the warm welcome. Great to be here. Kenny.

[00:01:18.050] – Kenny Jahng

Let's get right for today's conversation. I love this topic in particular as a communicator, as somebody who's really trying to steward brands and identity for so many different organizations that we come across. I'll just pitch the first question. I'm actually curious what your take is. Basically, why do you think church leaders care? Why should church leaders care about their digital identity in today's world?

[00:01:46.010] – DJ Chuang

Well, before we talk about the why, let's talk about what it is. What is a digital identity? So, digital identity, a simple way to define is how you show up digitally, how you show up online when people see you, experience you or want to find you. And all of that is wrapped up into your domain name, your username, your handle and the ways that people can connect with you. Even if you want to include YouTube channel, but YouTube channels have a URL, have a username, and then in the virtual world, you might even call it avatar, but it's all of what represents you in that digital world on the Internet and social media. And so why churches must care is, well, we've just endured two years of the global pandemic and the lockdown and so we've been socially isolated, but digitally we've been able to connect. And we could connect with all kinds of things on the Internet, all kinds of shopping, all kinds of websites, all kinds of news disinformation, so on and so on. And then there are churches that we want to connect with. Yes, we want to connect with our members and those who are ten, who are already part of our community.

[00:03:08.690] – DJ Chuang

We also want to outreach to those who are not yet part of our community because we want to be a blessing and share the good news of a better life, higher quality of life that we can have in Christ. And so it's so important for churches and church leaders to care about their digital identity because it is the critical link to other people. Digital is not just a thing in the cloud. On the other side of that screen is a human person with a soul made in the image of God. Absolutely. Digital identity is how you make that connection. In fact, 70 million Americans will visit a church website even though they don't attend churches. Amazing. Here's a whole audience of people that if your church is not making itself present, easy to access, easy to identify, and easy to connect, that's a huge lost opportunity. And I think the AHA, moment that happened during the covet pandemic was realizing, hey, we have the potential. And many churches actually experienced this. We're reaching more people outside of our buildings capacity, seating capacity, than we ever had because we stream our services online. In fact, 96% of churches stream their worship services during the past two years.

[00:04:40.310] – DJ Chuang

That's a tremendous thing. I think God kind of pushed us out of the nest, the nest of the comfortable cues. Those churches have comfortable cues. Push this out of the nest so that we could reach more people with the good news of Jesus Christ.

[00:04:57.160] – Kenny Jahng

I just want to go back to the statues. 17 million Americans visit a church website this year that they don't attend. That's incredible. That's a big audience that I wonder how many church leaders actually have ever thought of that. But that is a huge segment to be able to catch in this channel.

[00:05:17.230] – DJ Chuang

In terms of AdWords, to target audiences with messages, hope and purpose and care and love, and meeting felt needs that people have, what they're searching for, that churches can provide. But churches tend to have that reputation, and there's perhaps some truth to that. They tend to be laggard and slower to adopt new technologies. And so it's in lost opportunities for churches how to do that. And the fact is, the seminaries that you and I have attended, we didn't have any training in terms of using internet tools and understanding its potential. And even myself, it wasn't until my recent research that I found out, well, there's 17 million people out there that are willing to visit church websites and never step foot in a church building. That's amazing. Opportunity to reach.

[00:06:13.130] – Kenny Jahng

Yeah, I think this is just one of those reasons why having that identity online, right? Because people visit, like you said, right? Like before they even go, they tap or click through to your digital front door. It's so important to get that identity right online first, that first touch. Because we're no longer in that day and age where people just go to places blindly, people look up stuff. And I think with voice, right, with voice, I've been learning that. I've been using my Apple Watch more for so many more voice searches. Just quick things that as voice becomes even more prevalent in our technology and our gadgets everyday usage, that stuff is going to matter even more. So anyway. Okay, let's go to Brass Tax then for that identity. The first cornerstone is literally like your address, right? What your address is, what is your domain name? Right? So what difference can an actual domain name make? Can you share with us your insights on that? Because I think that's something where one, when we create a church website, or we create a new website, we obsess over the identity, over the name of the domain.

[00:07:34.870] – Kenny Jahng

But that's just for vanity's purpose, but there's much more to it than just to have something that sounds nice or is that short? Right, let's talk about that mechanics and the user experience.

[00:07:46.830] – DJ Chuang

Yes, well, actually a lot of the conversation energy has been about the church website experience and the design and the first impression of the look. But there's a first impression before that first impression, and that's the digital front door, the domain name and what people see on the search results when they're searching for your church or when they're searching for churches near them. Over 800,000 searches a month of people searching for churches near me.

[00:08:17.790] – Kenny Jahng

Yes, absolutely.

[00:08:20.610] – DJ Chuang

I'm going to say that again because your Alexa told me to say it again. Over 800,000 people are searching monthly for churches near me, and Google has over 200 signals on identifying which churches near me should be ranking for that person based on the user's geolocation, based on what Google has figured out, based on your church's location. And one of the signals is your church domain name. And so for some churches, they can be strategic and use the city name church to connect with Google. And when people search for churches near me, they can find your church. Now, the domain name makes a big difference in search result because Microsoft did research and found that there's a 25% increase in click throughs when people can recognize the domain name as something meaningful instead of something just generic like cc.org. So here's a great little quiz that I can share with your viewers and listeners. So, CC. Comcc.org and CC church, would you venture a guess to what Cc.com might be? I don't know if you're a fan of television, Kenny closed caption, I don't know. CC? Cc.com stands for a commercial entity and over time it's just become a generic domain name and people just think of.com because it's a website, but you can communicate so much more through the website.

[00:10:07.450] – DJ Chuang

And then when you just use Cc.com, it's like, well, I don't know what it is other than it's a website. Tc.com happens to be Comedy Central. Okay, my little too edgy for some of our listeners, so they might not visit that website very often, but Comedy Central is Cc.com. And then when you see a web address like cc.org, what does that tell you? What do you think that might be no clue. Yes. So the only clue that.org gives you is some kind of a charity or nonprofit.

[00:10:41.730] – Speaker 2

Yes.

[00:10:43.150] – DJ Chuang

Even though it's a great super short domain name and short is a valuable thing to have if you can get a super short domain, but it doesn't have meaning. And so meaning really helps people to understand the brand, understand identity, and just gives that extra affinity and you want to use every touch point that you can. Well, cc.org is Christiancoalition, okay? One of those things that came back from the then CC Church. Well, I know what it is. It's a church. It's a church and then when you're searching for a church near me or you're searching for hope or faith, community belonging, and they see that in the search results. CP Church like, oh yeah, that's more of what I want. CC Church happens to be owned by championcentre. So CC Church is championcentre, but people immediately recognize as a church and then if they're looking for a church, they click right through. They're not going to read all the mumbajambo because people's attention spans are so short and people are reading headlines and then that domain name is in headline.

[00:11:59.780] – Kenny Jahng

In fact, I would argue that that is so much better. Even if you didn't know what even if you knew what it was like Comedy Central, I don't know if I would remember it's Cc.com necessarily or that Christian Coalition that worked. But if I knew CC Church, I was like, what's that church again? And then you can backtrack and say, oh, it's Championsoc. There's so much value. You're right. Literally, even before you get to the website, that domain name actually just has so much value. Now, here's the question though. Most churches, unless you're a church plant, unless you're launching a new church, most churches already have a website, right? They have a domain name. Are we supposed to just like trash our current domain that we've invested in and put on business cards and flyers and signs? What can they do to actually upgrade?

[00:13:01.390] – DJ Chuang

Well, it's a great conversation to explore at the right time in the right season. Just as logos for businesses and churches, it's something that is revisited every three to five years, roughly. Some might do it more often because the church is going through a lot of changes and you want the visual and the communication and the design and even the domain name to have that kind of alignment, to communicate visually, verbally what you want to say in terms of your vision and in terms of the people you're trying to reach and in terms of the feeling. So there's a whole emotional element when it comes to visual, design, all of that to align. And so domain names can get an upgrade to better match your domain. So if you're using a domain name like, I don't know, elevationchurch.org, let's go ahead and just mention one that's very well known church. Very popular church. Strong digital presence and all the same. But its domain name isn't quite upgraded to its maximum potential because a bit longer. It's got that.org. Yes, it's got Church in the keyword. But they also own Elevation Church. And what they're currently doing is Elevation Church redirects to elevationchurch.org. Now, if their strategic team happens to be listening to this podcast, I would encourage them to say, hey, you know what?

[00:14:31.180] – DJ Chuang

You've got a tremendous opportunity to begin adjusting and refinancing, even take it up to that next level and make Elevation Church your new website homepage. And it has elevationchurch.org redirect to the Church. So just flip it around. It's a couple of technical configurations and all your prints and matter in terms of elevationchurch.org. It's still valid. It still works.

[00:14:59.920] – Kenny Jahng

Yes, it works, but you can make.

[00:15:02.000] – DJ Chuang

That small technical change and start acclimating people to using Church. It adds that extra punctuation to your domain name, and then you can begin leveraging more and more of your communication into your next season of how you want to communicate visually and verbally. And then it becomes elevation. Church. Elevation Church. And one of the other churches that has been pioneered in digital engagement, when the first church is to move to church, it's Life Church. Yeah, you know what they're able to do with that is they're able to use Life Church as their social media handle. They're using it as their domain name, they're using it as their brand, and they're using on their physical signs on their buildings. And anytime they communicate, they can just put their logo and name and they'll have to add an extra URL. Yeah, very streamlined. So efficient. And it's just beautiful. Elegant. Beautiful.

[00:16:03.760] – Kenny Jahng

Elegant. Yes, absolutely. Well, thank you, DJ. I think when we're thinking about branding, identity and marketing and collateral systems, et cetera, many times we don't pause to actually break it down to the super duper fundamental pieces. And this is, I believe, just one of the first conversations and processes you need to think about if you want to be strategic, especially both short term and long term, with all of your messaging out there. So thank you for walking us through that stuff. Final thought.

[00:16:35.070] – DJ Chuang

One more thing. Yeah, one more thing. Just like Steve Jobs would say, and one more thing. Your audience is a technical audience. This is church. Today online church podcast. And so one of the things that church leaders and technical staff and communicators will be concerned about is, hey, what about SEO search engine optimization? If we switch a domain name, will that cause us to lose our SEO equity? No, Google accommodates domain changes. Google does stay relevant with changes, and people change domain names from time to time. So just follow the instructions on Google how to reset your 301 redirect on your server and then also notify Google, hey, we've changed domain names. Take all our SEO juice from the old site new site, and Google is happy to move it right along. You've got no loss, and then you've just added extra brand recognition and move yourself into that new season.

[00:17:38.550] – Kenny Jahng

Love it. Love it. And I think maybe one other conversation in the future, or maybe we need to have you on for like a webinar or a master classes is literally all those steps and processes that you started to talk about. Like, when you change the brand, what do you do? The redirects and all that kind of stuff. So I appreciate sharing your wisdom and your experience in this area. Thank you, DJ, for today's conversation, everybody. If you want us for your own church domain name, you can go to an easy place. Go to name church. You can even try it out. Name church www dot name church that's a registrar. You can look up and see availability or go to your favorite registrar. Most big registrars have church options available for you today. DJ, thank you so much for joining us. We'll be back next week for another episode of the Church online podcast. I'm Kenny Jahng. To make sure to be social, stay social.

CTT Staff
CTT Staffhttps://churchtechtoday.com
ChurchTechToday is the #1 church technology website for pastors, communicators, and leaders. With the goal to provide insight into a variety of topics including social media, websites, worship, media, mobile, and software, ChurchTechToday aims to shed light on how church technology can empower and position churches for impact and growth.

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