Church web

The iChurch Method v.2 by Jason Caston

I've thought about what book I would be interested in writing next and I'm going to have to keep thinking as Jason Caston has written what I would consider the best next step after the Social Media Guide for Ministry.  Jason discusses Social Media in this book, but goes far beyond Social Media getting into websites, mobile applications, online church, and so much more.  Take a look at this video:

Jason's book is packed with step by step practical application and the system is applicable for churches of any size or budget.  I really can't recommend this book more.

Check it out on Amazon here.

Book Tour Questions - Website & Conversation Starters

Questions from Rebecca: How do I make the church's website more relevant...more likely to draw people in?

Do you have a good set of questions that have started good conversations?  Our church has a FaceBook page already.  We are in the process of transformation...

My Response:

Great questions Rebecca!

First, on the website I recommend 3 things: a good design, a simple structure, and clear communication.  You need your website to look good and make a great first impression.  The site needs to be easy to navigate and communicate clearly what you want the visitor to see/read.  The biggest mistake that I see churches making on websites is not having services times and location on the front page.  This is the primary thing that most visitors to a website are searching for.  Make this clear and easy to find (and appealing to attend).

On the conversation starters I recommend starting casual and then going deep.  Here are some good ones that we have found:

Casual: What's the best burger in town? or What football team are you cheering on this weekend?

Personal: What one person has impacted your life more than anyone else?  or What is your favorite childhood memory?

Spiritual: Type 1 word to describe God  or  How can we pray for you today?

I would lean on the Spiritual, but don't hesitate to start casual and then get personal.  I don't think you can ask too many questions on Facebook!


My Take on Formstack

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 8.32.13 AM
Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 8.32.13 AM

For the past few months I have worked diligently to find the best form/registration system out there and feel confident in saying that I found it in Formstack.  To this point it does everything that we had hoped it would do along with including many features that are beneficial that we didn't even realize we wanted.  Here are some of the primary reasons that we love Formstack:

  • Simplicity- it's easy for our staff to setup and manage date, but even easier for the end user!
  • Complexity- it can be simple, but can also manage very complex forms and data as well.
  • Integration- being able to export data seamlessly through Google Docs, Constant Contact, and others as well as the payment processing with PayPal is incredible (worth upgrading to PayPal Pro).
  • Innovation- in the few weeks we have been using Formstack we have already seen it improve and they make visible their future improvement plans

While I do really like the platform, there is one thing that I does disappoint me: no phone support (at least not that I can find).  Honestly, their forums are fantastic and answered all of our questions, but I like knowing that I can have someone on the phone within minutes if I need help with any issue.

I would love to know what you're using and what your experience has been!  If you're using Formstack I would love to hear how you're using it and any tips/tricks you might be able to share.

Google Analytics - Content Engagement

Screen Shot 2013-01-12 at 9.13.26 AM
Screen Shot 2013-01-12 at 9.13.26 AM

Have you ever wondered what people are engaging with on your site?  Through the Content feature on Google Analytics you can see what pages people are going to, how long they are saying, where they are leaving from, and so much more!  Let's take a look at some of the core features of Google Anaylytics Content feature.

When you first open the page you will see a graph that will look much like the Google Analytics Home screen, but the graph displays total page views rather than overall site views.  This means that if someone goes to 5 different pages on your site they will be counted 5 times on this page, but only once on the overall site views.

Below the graph you will see a bolded list of numbers.  These are the key statistics that you will want to monitor on this page.  Let's review this list and what each of these numbers mean:

Pageviews: this is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.

Unique Pageviews: this is the number of visits during which the specified page was viewed at least once. A unique pageview is counted for each page URL + page Title combination.

Avg. Time on Page: this is the average amount of time visitors spent viewing a specified page or set of pages.

Bounce Rate: this is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page).

% Exit: this is the percentage of site exits that occurred from a specified page or set of pages.

Generally when people visit your site you will want to engage them beyond the home page and these analytics help you to really understand how well you are doing this.  You can see how many and which pages they visit, how long they stay on these pages, and which ones they typically exit your site from.

Below the primary list of Analytics you will see the title "Page" with a list of your pages underneath.  This will list you site pages in order of popularity giving you the pageviews and % of site views.  You can actually click on each of these pages for another full page of analytics on each of these pages, but I won't get into that detail in this blog post.  Check it out though, I think you will also find this information to be interesting and valuable.

This information can tell you a great deal about the content on the site and potential adjustments that you might need to make.  One page might get more views just because of the location of the link on the home page or it could be the appeal of the graphic or the wording of the link.  I encourage you to take this information and experiment with various changes trying different locations, graphics, etc. to better understand the behavior of your audience to your site.

Whatever you do though, don't get comfortable!  Never stop trying new things!