Tomorrow I have the privilege of meeting up with some of the good folks over at www.thehighcalling.org in a Google+ Hangout.

If you are around, please consider joining the conversation as we talk about faith, tech and our work. Or follow the conversation with #THCLive

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G+ hangout: www.thehighcalling.org/onair at 3pm EST on February 27

social media revolution

 

I’ve previously blogged about Erik Qualman’s Socialnomics book and work on “socialnomics” — here’s the latest version of his Social Media Revolution video for 2013:

What statistics stand out as you view the video? Drop a comment and your reflections here. I’d love to hear them.

Do you use your cell phone in church?

Is it encouraged or shunned in your church?

Churches that discourage cell phone use during church worship service

Westminster Presbyterian Church is part of the Presbytery of San Fernando in Burbank, CA. Prior to the service they actually showed this video of how they handle cell phones in church.

This is such a great topic because you’re probably firmly rooted one side or the other.  .  .

Either cell phones are a menace, to the preacher, to the people around you, and a distraction from the activity of worship itself OR it can be an amazing tool that augments the worship experience as well as empowering the congregation to be evangelistic *during* the actual service itself.  

What is interesting is that ministries like YouVersion have even explicitly built services to encourage smart phone usage in church.

Which side are you on?  Are smart phone cell phones something that should be allows in church? Share your comments below.

I’m excited to share with you that I’ll be speaking once again at the Redeemer Ei Forum conference April 5 & 6 in New York.  If you don’t know about the Center for Faith & Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, you really should.  It is an amazing ministry.

Within Redeemer’s CFW is the Entrepreneurship Initiative — which hosts an annual conference on Gospel Entrepreneurship.  They also run an annual business plan competition, where ventures run by christian entrepreneurs have a shot at awards up to $25,000 for their non-profit, for-profit or arts start-ups.  This year’s theme for the Ei Forum conference is RISK: Faith or Folly.  I’m looking forward to hearing Tim Keller’s reflections on how thoughtful christian entrepreneurs can consider risk in a faith and work integration framework.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church conference - Ei Forum April 2013

 

Here’s the blurb for my talk:

Risk and Rewards of PR & Social Media:

Do you feel the pressure to have a social media presence, but don’t know exactly how it will further your venture’s objectives? Are you a bit fuzzy about when your media campaigns are actually helping or hurting your cause? Strategic communications advisor Kenny Jahng will share concrete content marketing tactics at this year’s Ei Forum.  Kenny’s insights will help you reap the rewards while avoiding the risks involved with publicity campaigns for your venture.

 

Ei Forum conference details

 

Whether you can make it or not, what questions do you have about social media, PR and how you approach communications with the various audiences related to your organization?

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?

New Media Project

Digital Church Theology and New Media

Today, I had the chance to spend time in NYC with other folks interested in today’s church and new media usage by church leaders and their communities. The New Media Project was the host of todays conference on the Digital Church: Theology & New Media.

For some reason, this conference on the digital future didn’t have any form of content streaming. One of the speakers who runs a large print magazine outfit even commented how he envisioned this conference with live interaction elements with Twitter, etc. He said he thought there would be some monitor with ongoing tweets or some other live connection to new media. He was right, there were a bunch of missed opportunities (i.e. the org’s new website is “under construction” a major no-no in today’s web reality, without the most critical piece, an email capture form that could be building an audience well before they are ready to roll).

Eugene Cho Digital Church Conference
So I did what any self-repecting digitally native participant would do: I lit up a Google+ Handout and invited people to join. (Eugene Cho dropped in while were were chatting away during a break).

It is important to keep investing in your trade, or as Seth Godin calls it, your art. What are you doing to keep yourself moving forward, growing in your own art? Continue Reading…

Today, I asked Steven Records, a fellow church communications practioner, and founder of ChurchGrowth.info about email messaging.  He says you don’t need to pay for any snazzy services.  You can get started with good ‘ol Microsoft Office if you want.  Let’s take a look.


Why Marketers love email lists

A recent survey by Econsultancy showed that 72% of marketing companies rate email as a good or excellent form of advertising. The reason for this is because it has such a great Return On Investment. In other words, the amount of time, infrastructure and resource it takes to do email marketing is well worth the return received through emailing.

When I was overseeing the communications for one of Hillsong’s national events, I had a conversion on my email marketing of 7-10%. That is a great return,especially for something that took only a few hours to write, format, and pull data from an existing email list.

Churches can leverage bulk emailing to promote events, blog content, changes in normal church schedules, gather surveys, request public reviews, perform follow ups, announce major news, and stay connected with a wide audience of people. Building an email list can be time consuming on the front end, but it is a lasting point of contact that requires little to no financial investment. In fact, when I first started doing email marketing, I only used Microsoft Office.

Here is how:

Building An Email List Using Microsoft Outlook

You will also hear people call email lists a “database,” but I think for people starting off, saying “email list” sounds less threatening. Open Microsoft Excel and fill out whatever fields you want to log across row one like this.

Image 1

Normally I do First Name, Last Name, Email, List, Gender, Age, Engagement, Country, State, and City. The “List” field is what channel you received their details from. “Engagement” is what information they would like to receive. You can add other demographics or remove irrelevant ones; it really depends on what events and content you have as an organization. Consider adding a column for area of interest and church involvement.

Adding Data and Getting Emails Addresses

Start adding any contacts you may have and manually filling out the demographics you know about the person within the correct columns. It is okay to have blank fields. Really all you need is an email address to send and email,
everything else personalizes your emails to a relevant audience, that, and consent, is what separates you from spammers.

You can gather contact information by simply asking people you know for it, creating a subscription form on your website, pulling contacts from Facebook using Yahoo’s export Facebook contacts function, mass texts asking for email addresses, and having a printed forum at church for people to fill out. The truth is data entry takes time, but it is worth the small investment.

Turn your data into a table You can organize your email list by turning it into a table. Select all of your entered data at once and then click on “Insert/Table”. This will turn your raw information into a table that you can organize and filter by clicking on the down pointing arrows at the top of each column. Now you have a workable email list that is ready for sending.

Image 2

Set Default Email In Outlook

Now open Microsoft Outlook. You need to set the email account you want to send your emails through as the default account. Microsoft Word automatically sends through your default email address on Outlook, so don’t forget to do this. Just go to “Preferences/Accounts” and then set the account you want as your
default.

Writing and Formatting

Write your email in Microsoft Word then format with a web safe font type. Your styling will be applied to your email. To add links, highlight your text to become a link and go to “Insert/Hyperlink” to add the URL.

Sending the Email

The next thing to do is what we call a Mail Merge. This is the process of sending out mass emails. Go to “Tools/Mail Merge Manager.” You will want to set “Document Type” to “Form Letters” by clicking “Create New”.

For “Recipients List,” under “Get List” click “Open Data Source” and select the Excel email list you created.

For “Insert Placeholders” you can drag a field name into your document to personalize your emails. For example, addressing the recipients by the “First

Name” in the email. Here is what an email could look like:

Image 3

For “Preview Results,” you can just make sure everything is displaying properly before you send the emails.

Finally send your email by clicking on the envelope icon under “Complete Merge”. Then set “To:” as “Email,” fill out the subject line, then set “Send As” to HTML and send it.
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Test Before Mass Sending

I recommend testing each email campaign before sending by using a list with only your personal email accounts before sending to everyone. This allows you to see exactly how the email will look on different accounts.

Hopefully this has been a helpful walk through. This method has personally helped me better manage relationships and grow events for churches. If you would like to follow more of my thoughts on church communications check
out Steven’s Church Marketing Website.

 

About Steven Records: Founder of ChurchGrowth.Info. Over the years Steven Records has had the privilege to do communications for some of the largest and most influential Christian events and organizations in the world. To connect with Steven follow him on Twitter and Google Plus.

Building your email list should be one of your top strategic priorities for most projects or campaigns that you are running.  One the web, you want to create landing pages with squeeze page elements which basically force the user to either submit their info to continue one, or back out of the page.  And in order to entice the visitor and squeeze their contact info out of them, it is good practice to communicate the value of the trade.  Many times, this means offering something valuable on the other side of the form.

But how do you build you list offline when you are running an event or better yet, remote somewhere else where you may or may not have access to the internet?

Check out this cool iPad app that MailChimp offers so that you can set-up a kiosk-like setting or even pass around an iPad to get people signed-up for a email list.

 

Imagine how you can use this app — that doesn’t rely upon an internet connection — to collect contact info in a large group / event setting.

The app is easy to configure and use.  Clean design, just like the main email marketing service at www.mailchimp.com

Mail Chimp iPad App

Imagine if you had an iPad available for first time visitors and offered them a chance to sign-up for your newsletter that comes with an autoresponder email series walking through some of your key staff, background/beliefs, snapshots of community life, links to videos of the top 3 sermon messages from the past year, etc.  Or a 30-day devotional written by your pastor or ministry leaders. Or  . . . .

Check out Chimadeedoo 2 for iPad

It’s been a month since you’ve settled on your New Year’s resolutions.  How’s that working out for you?

Here’s one worthy change in your routine that might have missed your list — but it is easy to learn, easy to implement, amazing in what it will do for your life at work.  Address head on, the dread that you have for going into work.

First you have to acknowledge that your workplace has become a place where you can’t get any work done:

 

Only after this realization, can you take up the Modern Meeting Manifesto and take aim at the crippling reasons for death by meeting that we all experience working with others in the work environment of today.  This past year, I was fortunate enough to read the short but powerful book by Al Pitampalli — Modern day warrior against the machine.

Al Pitampali - Modern Meeting Standard

Like Jason Fried, Al has taken the risk of prescribing some radical things that our current workplace environments don’t accept too easily.  But if you can embrace just a couple of the prescriptions that Al provides in his book, The Modern Meeting Standard, your 2013 will be dramatically different in nature.

So go ahead, take a quick read and then dare to make a difference in order to get off of the hamster wheel you are stuck in.  If you’re smart you’ll follow the 7 principles of the Modern Meeting Manifesto:

  1. Meet only to support a decision that has already been made.  Meetings aren’t for making decisions by committee.
  2. Move fast. End on schedule. Force yourself to hold brief meetings.  Once you do this, you’ll force yourself to *not* waste time and get to the point.
  3. Limit the number of attendees. To many meetings are simply informational for various participants.  Quit it.  Only gather people who can refute, confirm or change the decision being presented.
  4. Reject the unprepared.  Send out agendas prior to the meeting period.  No agenda, cancel the meeting.
  5. Produce committed action plans.  Hold people accountable.  Don’t just say the group will do things.
  6. Refuse to be informational. Read the memo, it’s mandatory.  Meeting leaders must do their work before the meeting.  Participants must do their work before the meeting.
  7. Work with brainstorms, not against them.  Brainstorms are one reason to bring several people into the same room together.  Embrace it.

One of the big items all of this points to is that meetings are expensive.  They interrupt a lot of co-workers from doing uninterrupted productive work.  And the combined cost to bring all those people into a single room is crazy expensive.  Meetings can be short.  Meetings can have less people.  Meetings can produce more results and momentum.  Only if you convene meetings only when necessary.

What is stopping you from just canceling the next recurring meeting that you lead?  What consequences would there be if you really did NOT hold it this week?

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!