Archives For Web

 

Pinterest Pinboards of Churches

 

One of the last social media platforms for churches to consider is Pinterest.  Several months ago, when I took a look at compiling a complete list of churches using Pinterest as a part of their social media communications toolset, there weren’t that many to list.  My twitter buddy @djchuang also took a swipe at listing churches on Pinterest recently you should be aware of.

But there’s plenty of reasons why Pinterest is something all churches should take a look at.  Here are some of them:

  • The average Pinterest user says on the site for 98 minutes per month. That’s more than 1.5 hours to capture their attention.
  • 20% of all US women are on Pinterest.  And 80% of Pinterest users are women. Guess who also typically makes the decision for which church to attend in a given family?
  • Pinterest users SHARE content – 80% of pins are shared content.
  • Unbelievable growth – From 9/2012 to 9/2013, there was a 60% growth in web traffic referrals.
  • 4.8% of Americans are using Pinterest at work.

Today, there’s a bunch more that have jumped on the bandwagon.  Take a look below at the 150+ churches with Pinterest accounts and active on the platform:

Complete Updated List of Churches on Pinterest

Continue Reading…

church technology blogs

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Did you know that 90% of users out there primary consume content.  While 9% curate it.  And only 1% create content.

If your nonprofit or church has a YouTube page, you are part of the rare breed of content creators.   But that’s not enough.  With 70 HOURS of video uploaded every single MINUTE, your audience needs your help.  The 90% — content consumers — are looking for content curators to help them sort through the millions of hours of video available today.

One way to do this on YouTube is via Playlists.

Instead of being presented with a random smattering of videos in your account (by upload date), your audience gets the chance to find sequences of videos that make sense and are related to each other.  The end result is better engagement with your content because they can go deeper, or discover new categories of video content that you offer.

Church YouTube Channel Playlist

 

YouTube’s playlist feature allows you to highlight sermon series, topical sets of videos, and more.  Here’s a glimpse at how to set a playlist up in YouTube according to their own help pages:

Set up a YouTube Playlist from the video watch page:

  1. Click the Add to button under the video you’re watching.
  2. From the drop down menu, type in the name of your new playlist and click the Create playlist button.
  3. You can choose if you want your playlist to be public (viewable by others) or private (only viewable by you).

From Video Manager:

  1. Sign into your account and click on your username in the upper right corner of your screen. Click on Video Manager in the expanded menu.
  2. Click on the Playlists tab on the left side of the screen.
  3. Click the +New Playlist button and enter in a Playlist title and description.
  4. Click Create Playlist.

Adding to an existing playlist:

  1. Click the arrow next to the Add to button under the video you’re watching.
  2. From the drop down menu, select the Playlist you want to add your video to.

Do you have playlists set-up on your YouTube channel?  Please feel free to list the link to your YouTube channel here so others can see some examples in action!

Most non-profits, churches and other organizations I work with that have a decent website know about the free Google Analytics service.  You drop a snippet of code into the HTML of every page (usually in the footer of the page code).  Then Google shows you graphs, data and other interesting tidbits about who’s visiting your site, how they got there, and what they’re doing while on your website.

But at the same time, a large part of the webmasters and communications directors for these organizations don’t know how to use the analytics data in a strategic manner.  What do I mean by that?  Are you looking at your stats in Google Analytics and just observing things about your site visitors….and then not do anything else different?  Or are you looking at your data and then making some decisions that change the way you communicate on the site or off the site?  Is the data helping you to refine the content produced and published on your site?  Are you able to reach out to new potential partners to explore how you can increase the impact and effectiveness in engaging your audience?  Most people are not in a position to say yes to most of these questions.

Here’s a great “tour” of Google Analytics that I recommend to people when they want to study up on all the goodness that Google offers through this free service for websites and communicators that use the web to reach and influence people.

Google Analytics instructions

 

The site has a decent list of topics listed so that you can either go through it all sequentially or jump around at your leisure.  Click through and check it all out:

Click here to check out the Google Analytics Tutorial

What is the latest thing you learned about Google Analytics or how to use data that it presents across various reports?

I’ve talked about testing testing testing before. Usability testing is so easy to do these days that there is no excuse not to do it.

A/B Testing for conversion rates is a great way to see if simple iterations of your current site can make a big impact on results.

Check out this infographic on testing contact forms that you typically put on squeeze pages and other offer / registration form pages.

testing to optimize website form conversion rates

 

There’s 3 Reasons To Optimize Your Contact Forms:

  1. You don’t use all of the data fields you collect.  Nope, think hard about why you need to know each and every field you ask for.  Because every additional field will limit your ability to get the maximum participation from site visitors.  You’re asking them to just walk away.
  2. Simple changes can drastically change how much effort you have to put into promoting and advertising your offers.  If you engage in paid promotional activities, conversion rates can radically change the ROI on your investment.  In fact, you might have enough traffic as it is.  You just need to change the user experience when they get to your site.
  3. Less data collected means less data to manage.  Make it easier on yourself and manipulate less uncecessary profile data.

 

One question that arises for anyone that pushes back or hesitates on testing for optimized response rates: Would you rather have more people in a permission-based relationship (so you can ask for more profile data as you go, as you need it) with your organization, or have drastically less (over 100% less in some cases!) people that you know about at all.

Is this infographic compelling enough to get you to reconsider just how much information you really need to ask for?  Say “Yes” in the comments if you see the benefits of testing this stuff!

I’ve written about usability testing a couple of times here because if you’re developing a digital footprint, it is important to test test test.  And it doesn’t take as much you think to do it properly.  As Wikipedia puts it:

Usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users…in contrast with usability inspection methods where experts use different methods to evaluate a user interface without involving users.

Usability testing focuses on measuring a human-made product’s capacity to meet its intended purpose…[it] involves watching people trying to use something for its intended purpose

Today, I interviewed Tony Albanese, product marketer over at ZURB.  They offer a suite of website development apps including SolidifyApp.com, VerifyApp.com and Notableapp.com.

I have been using VerifyApp.com recently on live site development projects I’m leading currently and it has been a great tool to validate what we’ve intended to build as well as identify some things from the users’ perspective that we never would have thought about without user testing input.

Useability testing allows you to address navigation, content presentation, and other items to improve the user experience which in turn increases the likelihood of the site to deliver on the original objectives for user engagement.

Here’s the interview video below.  Watch it and I’ll join you afterwards below:

Here’s an real-life example of what Verifyapp.com was able to uncover regarding a client’s website recently.  Although there were 3 different ways to sign-up for a newsletter or email list on the home page of a website, over 40% of the users didn’t know where to click when prompted to sign-up for free content, email lists or newsletters from the site.  That tells you that there is a communication issue going on.  Either the site is too busy and has distracting elements, or the calls to action are not clear, or placement of the sign-up forms are not visible enough given the current layout.  This is prompting a look at how to narrow the user experience so that sign-up for permission based email list relationships is one of the core pieces of the homepage offerings.  Of course, we’ll test out sample layouts along the way to ensure we’re improving the success rate.  That is what user testing can do for your website.

If you are a nonprofit, does your site clearly allow visitors to find and use the donation forms on your site?

If you are a church, does your site make it easy for prospective visitors to find the appropriate information they need in order to decide and plan on a visit?

If you are a cause-related organization, are the volunteer opportunities being promoted on your pages presented in a way so that the most urgent yet relevant positions can be seen?

Those are just some of the initial questions we can begin to address with user testing.

So what are you curious about with your own website?  What *assumed* function can you test to see if you really should be concerned enough to do something about it?

Today’s guest blog post covers some of the large buckets of activity a webmaster or owner of any given non-profit website needs to consider.  If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, check out www.Godvertiser.com/guestblogger

If you are working for a non-profit organization you need something that will help bring new visitors to your front door on the web. The “traffic generating wheel” is one way to help get new traffic to your website.
So are you ready? Let’s spin the wheel for your non-profit site. . .
church-marketing-wheel

Goals

To have a goal for your website might be the most import step on the wheel: Why do you have this website — very specficially?
For a non-profit website it is even more important. You don’t have a website because you think your group is cute or funny or interesting. What is your real goal? What is the most important goal?
Maybe to get more members for your organization? Sign up for a newsletter? Sign up for an event?  Volunteer recruiting? Donor development? Define which is your top priority and the rest will start to fall into place.

Analytics

A lot of organizations forget about this step. But you shouldn’t start to do anything before you have your analytics on your website.
You need to know where your viewers are coming from. What are they reading on your pages?
If 80 percent of all the readers consistently visit a specific page on your site – you might have to make that a first priority on your site.
If your goal is signups for a newsletter – you will need to know which traffic source brought the people to your site – so you can start speeding up this process.  Are they all coming from Facebook? Or Google+? Or Twitter? Why spend 10 hours a week doing marketing on Facebook if all your sign ups comes from Twitter, right?
You will also need analytics to find your keywords for your pages. Which keywords did your viewers type in Google to find your site?
Which keywords are relevant for your site? Sit down and brainstorm this – and then go and check if the competition comes up for these keywords. If the competition is high you might have difficulties to get into top 10 for these particular keyword phrases.
So instead of “donation” you should maybe optimize for the keyword phrase “good donation” or “cat donation”. Normally its easier to get into top 10 for a keyword phrase than just one word keyword — called a long tail search.
Well you get my point – never work on a website that has no analytics.

Content

Some people start to write before the analysis is done – but that is not a great idea. You will need to write your content to match your keywords being targeted.
So before writing a page on your website – you should write down what the main keyword phrase for each page should be.
You might ask me – “Henrik – how can my content drive traffic to my site today?” Well it will not bring you traffic today or tomorrow – but if you write focused content that the search engines can tell represents the right keywords phrases, you will usually get traffic within 3 or 6 months.
You also need content for your article marketing and for input to the social networks.  So start writing strategically and you are on your way.

Design

Ready for design?
The design can actually be very important for your traffic generating too. It might not bring traffic to your site, but it will lower your bounce rate (we SEO guys love this — the rate at which visitors arrive and then “bounce” away to someone else’s site) and if your site is awesome they will return to your
site.
So don’t confuse the viewer. Make sure your navigation is clear and clean. If people have to wonder where to find your content – they will just leave and find another page.  User testing is a great way to ensure you are getting it right.
And if you don’t believe me check out the duration – the time – people spend on your site. I will guess that between 25 – 40 percent of the people will leave your site again before 10 seconds.
Design is important for both non-profit and profit organizations.

Social

Now here most non-profit organizations have the potential to really rock.
Typically the organizations that do social media well have a lot of members. So now you will have to really use this marketing channel. A typical Facebook user has around 190 friends – so if one of your members starts to write about a subject, 190 people read about it.
This is the modern day form of word of mouth method.
Last time I checked Facebook they had 845 million accounts. In the world there are around 7,000 million people – so 12 percent of all people in the world have a Facebook account. Impressive I will say.
Social media is the step on the wheel where non-profit organizations really can make a difference.  Compelling content about your audience, staff, etc can really help leverage the word of mouth power available.

Links

Just some few years ago backlinks counted for around 50 percent of the ranking algorithm. But the algorithm is constantly changing and the social media are also more important these days. So maybe the backlinks now only count for around 40 percent, or 30 percent, or 25 percent.
But even 25 percent is a lot.
So you will have to make a plan for getting backlinks. Let me just give you some ideas here. But start writing down a plan.  Here are some tactics to consider including in your plan:
  • Blogs – start a blog
  • Free linking – use Google Groups, Yahoo Answers, Squidoo page, Wikipedia (write a page about your organization with a link back), social bookmarking
  • Freebies and giveaways – make a contest, make something interactive on your page or a whitepaper.
  • List lovers – we are all list lovers so write a “Top 10 …” or a “How to ….”, Build a 99 list, a list with 10 myths for your category, do an interview with a specialist or a guru in your line of business/organization
  • Local links – get a link from your local chamber of commerce (if its really want), relevant city and state governmental site, local library website…
  • Signature in emails – If you have many volunteers make sure you have the link in all the mails.
But remember to start writing down an action plan.  Plan the work and work the plan.

Conclusion

The traffic generating wheel is a helpful framework for all organizations. The idea is that if you just start trying to get backlinks to your site – but your design/navigation is so bad – people will just leave your site quickly again. And if you haven’t got a goal for your site – why do you really need backlinks at all? — Get the point?
So good luck with the traffic generation wheel. Ready? Now it’s your turn to take a spin.
All the best to you
Henrick Sandberg headshotHenrik Sandberg runs the website www.Seocustomer.com where you can find more content about SEO, PPC, Social Media Traffic
and Link Buidling.

Today’s guest post is written by David Cantor, who is involved with legal work involving sex crimes.  David’s post not only provides a couple of concrete tips for a safer internet at home, it hopefully helps you pause and consider what safeguards you can activate in order to provide a safe and positive environment for your entire family regarding the Internet.    If you would like to contribute a guest post, please check out the guidelines for more details.

 

Safer Internet Day

The summer months mean time away from school for your child. Unfortunately, with the busy working schedules of most parents, it is often difficult to monitor what your child is doing online during the summer when you are not available to supervise. The Internet, while a wonderful tool for shopping, education, and social media, can be a dangerous place for children and teens. There are, however, a few tips to keeping your child safe online. By following these four steps, you can help to keep your child safe when using the internet.

1) Limit Access

Your child may not think it is fair, but by limited his/her access to the computer to only a short amount of time while you are home during the day, you can make sure that your child has supervised online time. By locking up the computer in the master bedroom or adding a log in password that only you know, you child will not only be less susceptible to online predators and misbehavior, but they will also get to spend more time outside in the summer, which can lead to a happier and healthier life.

 

2) Parental Controls

If your child uses the Internet for summer projects or correspondence with friends from far away, totally restricting computer use may not be the best course of action. Many web browsers will allow parents to set up customizable parental controls in the browser that will eliminate the possibility of your child stumbling onto inappropriate websites.

 

3) No Mobile Data

Mobile data plans for cell phones are great for busy adults who may need to access email and other online business tools on the go. However, your child does not need mobile Internet on their cell phones. They can text their friends and call you with their mobiles phones, but leave the mobile online access to the adults.

 

4) Social Media with a Catch

If your child is complaining that all of their friends are on Social Media websites and they are not allowed, grant them access with one condition: They must provide you with their username and password. That way, even if your child is permitted to be on the Internet at home while you are at work during the summer months, you can remotely check their social media home pages to make sure that they are only involved in appropriate and child friendly activities.

The Internet can be a helpful tool that is educational and fun. However, online bullying and Internet predators make most parents nervous about the idea of their child or teen using the computer with limited supervision during the summer. By following these four simple rules, however, your child can enjoy the Internet while you work without worry.

 

David Cantor is an Arizona Sex Crimes Defense Attorney whose law firm, Law Offices of David Michael Cantor is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell. 

Are you one of the thousands of ministries that still don’t have a website or has a site that was designed and set-up back in the 90’s (or gasp, before that?!) and hasn’t been touched since?  Today, having a web presence with a basic level of aesthetics is a must-have for any ministry serious about attracting new visitors.  Most people today will look-up your website well before making the decision to walk through the threshold of your building.  

This week, I’ve asked Drew Key, of Calvary Baptist in AL, to provide a basic walkthrough of some options for a church that wants to get on the web on a budget.  If you are interested in writing a guest post, check out my guidelines.


You don’t have to pay big bucks to get a decent website. There are a many low-cost options that can provide your church with the tools to build an interactive web presence that can carry your church’s message to the masses.

One such option is WordPress. It was originally billed as a blogging platform and while it is still used by bloggers all over the world, it has become more developed to the point that it is used to power everything from e-commerce sites, news websites like CNN.com, and corporate websites like Construction Partners, Inc.

Setting up a WordPress website is easy if you don’t mind having a domain name like crosswaybaptist.wordpress.com. Just head over to www.wordpress.com and get started.

Wordpress.com for starter websites

But don’t think you have to be tied down to a wordpress.com domain name. If you would like to have a WordPress website that is set up with your own domain name, then you can do that too. However, it will require you purchasing a domain name at an online registrar like networksolutions.com and then a hosting account with a company like hostgator.com. (Read more about the difference between a domain name and a website host.)

 

An advantage of hosting your website with Hostgator is that they provide a “one-click” installer which automates the creation of the database and the installation of the software on the web server. After you have signed up for hostgator and have your domain name parked there, go to yourdomainname.com/cpanel and login.

cpanel login

 

After you have successfully logged in, scroll down and click on QuickInstall.
control panel
In QuickInstall, look for and select WordPress.
wordpress installation
Then press the Continue button that comes up next.
On the next screen, complete the form following the example below.  Most of the time you can leave the Application URL field alone and it will install the software where it needs to go. Be sure to use your real email address for Admin email. For Blog Title just enter the name of your church. Then enter your first and last name and click the “Install Now!” button. After WordPress finishes the installation process you will receive an email with instructions on how to log in to WordPress.
install wordpress

I’m not going to lie to you; WordPress is a very powerful website platform, but it does come with a learning curve. If you aren’t web-savvy, you may need to find someone at your church to give you a hand.

An easier solution is to go with Google’s Blogger platform. From a usability standpoint, it will be much easier to wrap your head around Blogger than it is WordPress. One of the best things about Blogger is that you can set it up to run on your own domain name (e.g. www.crosswaybaptist.com) by paying Google $10 per year. If you would be okay with a domain name like crosswaybaptist.blogger.com, then you can get things going for free.

To get started, just go over to www.blogger.com and click the Sign Up button at the top right to get started.

blogger website set-up

 

One option would be to rethink the idea of having a website entirely. Website platforms such as Blogger and WordPress are great for building websites, but why not go to where your congregation already is? Facebook allows for just about any organization to create what is known as a Fan Page. A Facebook Fan Page can be “Liked” by people in your congregation and in the community which allows them to see your Church’s status updates in their news feed. You can also use the Facebook platform to send out event notifications, post videos, photos, and more. Since you are probably already familiar with how to use Facebook, this should be an option to be considered if WordPress or Blogger are out of the question for the moment.

Don’t think that you have to promote your website as www.facebook.com/yourchurchname either. That can be too long for many people to remember. A better option is to buy a domain name that you will be happy with at NameCheap.com, and then redirect anyone who types in that domain name to your Facebook page. Check this article on how to set up domain name forwarding at NameCheap.

There are many alternatives to spending a great deal of money on a website. Don’t get me wrong, a professionally created website can pay for itself many times over if done correctly. But not all churches are going to have the money for a professional website. Hopefully these three options will give you something you can work with until the day comes when you can hire a professional and do it right.

 

Drew KeyDrew Key blogs for King Church Furniture, a manufacturer of church pews located in Dothan, Alabama. Drew also is a Technical Arts specialist at Calvary Baptist Church in Dothan, Alabama. He loves the web, graphic design, marketing and Apple computers and gadgets.

 

religion and the internet

According to a new study from Grey Matter Research (Phoenix, Arizona) that was published this month, 44% of online Americans use the Internet for religous purposes.

Do you realize what this means? It means that the Internet is used for religious purposes by 35% of all American adults.

Over a 1,000 responses of a statistically representative sample explored use of the internet for religious content, and there’s a bunch of interesting findings coming out of this study:

  • 19% of respondents, in the past six months, visited the website of a church or other place of worship they are currently attending
  • Another 17% have visited the website of a church or place of worship they were not attending during the same time frame.
  • 19% visited a website designed to provide religious instruction or learning during the last 6 months
  • 11% visited the website of a group or organization from a religious faith that is different from their own during the last six months
  • 17% read religion-oriented blogs once a month or more
  • 14% have a pastor or other religious leader as a friend on Facebook (or a similar social network site)
  • 1 in 10 of American adults online have “Liked” a church or other place of worship on Facebook or a similar social network site
  • 8% participate in religion-oriented discussions online (e.g. bulletin boards or forums) 1x or more every month

 

What is noteworthy is that the younger generation seeks out religious content even more: 57% percent of online adults under age 35 use the Internet for religion.  And it is 48% of those who are 35 to 49 years old.

And even more interesting for church marketers: 27% who don’t attend religious services still use the Web for religious purposes.

If your church doesn’t think it is worth pursing excellence in online communications, check this fact out: 69% of those who attend worship services once a month or more use the Internet for spiritual purposes.  If you don’t want to be missional online, at least recognize that the overwhelming majority of your own community are looking to the web for spiritual content to augment their faith.

Is your church’s current website and online communications strategy something that is intentional or does it ignore these facts about usage?