Establishing and Measuring Web Conversion Goals for a Church

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What type of conversions should we be measuring on our church website? What are “events” in Google Analytics, and how can they be used to power conversion goals? In today’s episode, Katie and Kenny discuss conversions, how to measure them, and best practices.
For more information, visit Missional Marketing’s page, and be sure to download the pdf “The Top 5 Conversion Goals Your Church Website Should Be Tracking”.
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Katie Allred:                           Welcome to the Church Communications podcast. I’m Katie Allred.

Kenny Jahng:                         And I’m Kenny Jahng.

Katie Allred:                           We want to help you become a better church communicator.

Kenny Jahng:                         And this is the place we’re going to talk about strategies and best practices for your church.

Katie Allred:                           Let’s get started.

Kenny Jahng:                         Hey friends, it’s that time again. We are back together again. Katie J. Allred in the chair with me. I’m Kenny Jahng, cohost of this Church Communications podcast. We are on this journey this season just nerding out about church websites. I’m excited about today’s episode. Katie, first of all, how you doing? How have you been since we’ve checked in last?

Katie Allred:                           I am doing just fine. More blessed than I deserve. How about you?

Kenny Jahng:                         I just, I heard that there’s a tropical depression in your area or something. Some crazy weather action goes, some meteorologic action going on.

Katie Allred:                           We’re wilding down here in the South, but I think we’ll be fine. How are you doing?

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, we’ve heard about hurricanes up here, but we’ve never really experienced them. I was talking to a friend recently and he was complaining about hurricane weather up here in Jersey. I’m like, you haven’t ever seen a real hurricane.

Katie Allred:                           No. I mean you all did have that big one that one time.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yes.

Katie Allred:                           Was it Hurricane Sandy?

Kenny Jahng:                         Yes. Hurricane Sandy. That was a big one.

Katie Allred:                           Yeah, it was a big one for you all. You’ve seen something so that’s…

Kenny Jahng:                         Something, not things. Not recurring.

Katie Allred:                           Right. We get them all the time. For us it’s like a normal part of life where, because I’m out and about. There’s like a tropical storm, I’m like it’s fine, we’ll be fine. Yeah.

Kenny Jahng:                         Well I hope you are okay over there hunkering down. But in the meantime, today we’re going to be talking about something I think is going to be metaphorically powerful as a hurricane. If we are able to really convey what a conversion goal is. We promised everyone last time that we are meeting here, that we’d talk about, establishing these conversion goals, define them, what they are? How do you create these goals in Google Analytics? What are events? How do you track events in Google Analytics? Why the importance? This is the little bit, I think scary stuff for a lot of people, but if you really walk through it once, it actually isn’t.

Kenny Jahng:                         And then I think on the other side, the power that you get by actually installing some of these things using Google Analytics is phenomenal. Phenomenal. If you are apprehensive, I’m glad that you’re listening in today. Katie, why don’t you set the stage for us for today’s conversation.

Katie Allred:                           Basically conversion goals are things that record the completion of a very specific action on your website. And so we can use conversion goals so that we can easily maintain a higher level view of how our church website is establishing our primary objectives. When you use conversion goals and you combine it with use of events, we can…

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, events is a little thing that the analytics calls. It’s an actually function.

Katie Allred:                           Right, right. And you can use it in combination with events that are actually going on at your church if you want to see how those are converting. If you want to see if people, so you’re advertising a large event that’s going on at your church, maybe it’s homecoming. I have no idea, we’re just making up stuff. Let’s say you’ve got church homecoming coming up, but you want people to register for homecoming or whatever and so, or you want people to sign up for it, whatever. You can essentially use Google Tag Manager with events and set up this way that you can essentially track people who are coming to your website, looking at the event and then whether or not they sign up.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, I think that events are important. An event just to be clear, is basically you can create an event by adding just this really small snippet of code, custom Java script code that you get from Google and you add it to your site. And that’s triggered by these specific, these actions that we’re defining that you’re talking about. And actually people can use, again, my favorite tool right now is Google Tag Manager to share with church communicators, because you don’t need to know code, you don’t need to do anything. You basically log into Tag Manager, you copy and paste any code in there, and then it does the work for you on your website. It isn’t like the yesteryears, a decade ago where we had to actually go in and know HTML and find the place to put in, et cetera. It’s really interesting now that you can just create it, inject the code on your behalf and you’re done. You don’t need to be a nerd coder there.

Katie Allred:                           Yeah. You know, I personally haven’t used Google Tag Manager a ton, honestly, and I’m really intrigued. I’m excited about just finding out even more information about it as well.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, it’s kind of like those WordPress plugins. That well, we’ll put things into the header.

Katie Allred:                           Make it easier.

Kenny Jahng:                         Or the footer or the body for you. And one thing that’s great is that you don’t need to go in and manually change every single page. You just put it once in Tag Manager and Tag Manager takes care of it all.

Katie Allred:                           Oh that’s awesome.

Kenny Jahng:                         Once you have it installed, then that’s when the magic happens. And so today we’re going to talk about just five specific conversion goals that you probably want to think about. And right Katie? I think if you’re talking about most church websites, they’re created with similar goals in mind. It’s no surprise that when you, if you want effective conversion goal tracking, one church’s website to another, these top five things are probably what the majority of people listening here need to be thinking about.

Katie Allred:                           And most of the time this is exactly what you want people doing. Now we’re just figuring out how do we track what they’re doing. The goal, the first goal is just homepage above the fold calls to action. Are they being completed or not? Can we tell? If we’re on our homepage, you should automatically in your head or in the very beginning before somebody scrolls, we talked about this on the first episode, you should have a direct call to action above the fold on your homepage. Where can you have that honestly? And so you got to think about what is that call to action? It might be to plan a visit. If it’s to plan a visit, then we need to figure out if people are actually clicking that or not. And so you can create a custom event in a Google Tag Manager and you can track if people are actually clicking the plan a visit button.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah. If not Tag Manager, in Google Analytics. And so basically we’re thinking above the fold, the first portion of the website that people see. That’s the most expensive real estate on your entire church website. Ability to gauge that performance is critical. And so that’s why we want to install these custom event triggers for each conversion that we’re measuring. And then we’re going to go back to Google Analytics and map it there. Yeah, that plan your visit I think is a great, great thing. Again, if visitors are rarely ever engaging with that call to action, then that gives you information, not data. You have information then as you said, Katie, to do something about it. That’s great. What about, what’s another interesting goal that you think people should be setting conversion wise?

Katie Allred:                           The next goal is for users that are reaching the plan a visit page. Once you have that plan a visit page as the direct call to action on your homepage, are people actually going to it? And are they actually planning a visit? Are they completing the form on your plan a visit page?

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, that something is I think one of the most indicative things that you’ll understand. Is your website actually doing something to get people to your church? The purpose of your site for new visitors, potential visitors is to get them to visit your church. And so I think, yeah, it’s something that, I don’t know. I’ve met people where they’re asking us to, if we’re already tracking users who click on plan your visit, do we need to track the goal too? If we’re tracking the clicking of it, do we need to track the actual conversion of it? The actual completion of it? And the answer’s yes. There’s a difference. Anyway, that’s a great thing. Reaching your plan your visit page. What’s another goal that people should be tracking, Katie?

Katie Allred:                           If users are actually going to the sermons and messages page, so when a new visitor to your church website reaches your sermon archive and watches a video, it can be considered an immediate indication of a high level engagement. What does that even mean?

Kenny Jahng:                         If you’re looking at your potential visitors to a church, they will watch your sermon as a preview. It’s no longer word of mouth advertisements in the local paper.

Katie Allred:                           They can see it.

Kenny Jahng:                         They’re coming to your website first to investigate you. And so the visitors to your website, they want to know what they’re going to get once they get there. They’re going to watch a sermon as a preview of what the church is like before they’re visiting in person. Therefore the more you can get your new visitors to your site to reach this type of level of engagement, the better. It’s kind of like the other goal of the plan your visit, this is a simple, basically what we call in the Google Analytics world a simple destination type of goal. It doesn’t need the customer event or anything like that. You’re just checking out have people visited this actual page? This something you should be tracking.

Katie Allred:                           And if they’re a new visitor and they’re doing this, they’re going to the messages page, that means that they’re really intrigued about what you’re doing. They’re definitely a kind of visitor to do that you want to take more serious. If you find out that that same visitor has went to your plan a visit, has planned a visit, has also seen a sermon, it’s definitely something that you can figure out like, hey, these people are really interested in what our church is doing and they’re probably going to end up joining your church. Really actually visiting your church in person.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yes, absolutely. Now, if that’s not happening, say your analytics is coming back and say, only a few new visitors are reading with sermon page. What do you do with that information, Katie?

Katie Allred:                           You really need to ask yourself a couple questions. Where is the sermons? Where are they positioned in your main menu? Is it clear? Is it under media? Is that not clear enough? Maybe your verbiage is just not clear. Media messages, sermon, where is it positioned? Is it in the top level? Is it hidden underneath something? Do you have some kind of watch a sermon type call to action on your website?

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, those little words.

Katie Allred:                           Right. Do you have watch a sermon so that people can watch a sermon? And is it above the fold? Yes, plan a visit is really important, but if you’re going to have a secondary call to action, I think having the call to action of watch a sermon is just as important.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, and that gets to what I like to track in analytics to measure is, how much time people are actually on your site. I guess this is goal conversion goal number four that you should be tracking. How many visitors are there really they get your site, get to your site? They don’t bounce. The bounce rate, there’s not a bounce, as we talked about the earlier episode. And are they there for say and general rule of thumb, we’re talking YouTube era. Are they there for two minutes or more?

Katie Allred:                           Yeah. If somebody is on your website for more than two minutes, they’re generally intrigued. They’re trying to find out something. What are they trying to figure it out? Because this is where not only Google Analytics but something like Hotjar is great for it because you can sit there and watch what people are doing and why they’re doing it and where are they going? Are they getting frustrated and leaving because they didn’t find the information that they were searching for? And so it’s so easy to figure out. This is a really simple goal to create in Google Analytics, is a duration type goal. You can enter a duration of greater than two minutes and find out this information and where they’re going and track them a little bit easier.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, absolutely. Hotjar is one Crazy Egg is another. There’s a bunch of cool ones out there.

Katie Allred:                           Yeah, we used Crazy Egg for a long time and it creates heat maps as well. And it can tell you where people are clicking.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah. What’s a heat map? Can you tell people what a heat map is? Is it just telling me that it’s 90 degrees in Florida today?

Katie Allred:                           Yeah. Well they’re telling you where it’s hot on your website. People are really clicking on giving, but they’re not, which is great. We want them to be clicking on giving, but they’re not clicking on sermons or whatever. Maybe it’s just because that word is confusing. We talked about that earlier. Where are people clicking? What are they doing when they’re on each different page of your website? I love Crazy Egg, Hotjar is I think free if you include an ad or something to them and it’s worth doing maybe if you’re just doing it for 30 days, just to figure out some basic data.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I love the heat map. Heat maps is basically it’s a screenshot. It looks like your webpage and then it’s this thermal scan and the more people are clicking on a specific link, the hotter that thing comes. If people are not using their cursor in different areas of the page, it looks cooler like in the blues and the greens.

Katie Allred:                           Yeah. It’s like a meteorology map for your website. It’ll tell you what things are red and hot and what things are green and yellow.

Kenny Jahng:                         And I think you’d be amazed at what people click on.

Katie Allred:                           And doing.

Kenny Jahng:                         And what they’re doing on your site.

Katie Allred:                           Yeah, for sure.

Kenny Jahng:                         I think that’s, the length of visitors, a simple goal to create. You just select the duration goal in analytics and then you enter the duration greater than two minutes or something like that. That’s really cool. Now, if again, if relatively few new visitors are there for longer than two minutes, it’s your website. That’s where there’s some problems. It’s very likely that there’s some user efficiency issues at play. What are some of the things that might be, you might be thinking about if you’re counting that Katie?

Katie Allred:                           Effective churches know what gets measured gets done. But have you ever thought about your church website is measuring? In the digital age, your church website plays an important role in measuring church growth.

Kenny Jahng:                         Right, and in order to help you understand how your church website plays an important role in your church growth strategy, our friends at Missional Marketing, they’ve put together a PDF with us explaining the top five conversion goals for your church website. The top five conversion goals that you should be tracking. They’re going to offer this resource today free to our listeners. Katie, how do they get the the PDF?

Katie Allred:                           You can download this free PDF today by going to missionalmarketing.com/goals. Again, that is missionalmarketing.com/goals.

Katie Allred:                           Okay, so perhaps your website didn’t have a clear path forward for these users. The messaging is completely off point or the appearance is not confidence inspiring. Regardless of that specific concern, whenever the vast majority of new user sessions aren’t breaking the two minute mark it’s clear that the better use can be made of the traffic received.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah. Again, it’s I think is the content something that the people want? Are they attracted to? That’s why Katie, you and I both got certified in StoryBrand because we wanted a better framework for the actual copy. The content. Getting people to the website is one thing, but getting them engaged and talking to them so that they get pulled in further, I think is so important.

Katie Allred:                           Yeah, you’ve really got to pull them into the story that you’re telling. It’s opening that story. What is it called? Opening a story loop?

Kenny Jahng:                         Yes.

Katie Allred:                           What is the story that you’re trying to tell with your church? And how can you lead them along that journey through your website? And I think that we just think of websites as a purely informational thing when really it can be a very interactive thing. What can we do to make our website almost a piece of not just a piece of art, but an engaging experience that people can come to? I think that we think about it and we make it so boring and I’m like, oh, there’s so much, so many fun websites. What if our church website was a fun website? There’s so many different things we can do. I know, what if we did it? I don’t know. It might be crazy. I don’t know. I have crazy dreams where I’m like, oh, it’d be cool if we did these things that we’re not doing. And I think that we just have to figure it out. Get inspired by going to other websites. pottermore.com I think does a great job of keeping people on the website and they, and people love Harry Potter, but people love Jesus.

Katie Allred:                           What can we do to continually engage people with the gospel throughout our website? There’s got to be a way. But yeah, I think using Google Analytics can help us figure out, where are people stopping? Why are they stopping? Because they’re just completely bored because they’re like, an event after an event, after an event on your church’s website and that’s it? And so, yeah, I just think there’s better ways that we can engage people in a Netflix type experience with our sermons even, or creating just different kind of content that we’re producing. Content marketing’s really important. We haven’t even really gotten into that. Hopefully we will. Maybe a future season of the podcast because I think content marketing can help people with felt needs in our community. But yeah.

Kenny Jahng:                         It’s really I think a journey trying to figure out what the content you’re going to provide that really is engaging. But taking a look at what you have already now I think is something that analytics.

Katie Allred:                           It’s really important.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah, really is helpful for. The last goal I think, and I guess it’s a little bit related is I like to look at users who scrolled through that plan your visit page that you put up earlier. We discussed this earlier in the podcast, your plan your visit should have, that patient have a lot of content. It should have content to help users basically gain confidence and like make that check in mind.

Katie Allred:                           And trust.

Kenny Jahng:                         That they’re going to come see you in person. This is the challenge You put the stuff up there, but how can you tell if you’re plan your visit page is actually engaging users to the point where they’re actually reading the content or not? There’s a little, I think this is like a secret weapon. There’s one dimension that analytics tracks and it’s is called scroll tracking. Have you heard about this Katie? Have you ever used this?

Katie Allred:                           I have not used scroll tracking, so tell me more.

Kenny Jahng:                         It’s really cool. Again, it’s like a snippet of code. You can take Tag Manager, put it into Tag Manager and Tag Manager will put it into your website already.

Katie Allred:                           Oh that’s awesome.

Kenny Jahng:                         Or you just take the JavaScript, if you have someone who knows how to code and just put it on every page. But basically you’re creating events using scroll tracking as the actual type of event. And then it triggers that event when someone scrolls more than say 50% of the page or 75% of the page and you’re going to apply it to that plan your visit page. Someone comes to your plan your visit page, and then when they scroll through 75% of the page, basically indicates that the majority of the content that you wanted to give them is consumed. They’re pretty much done with the page. And so that’s where I think that’s pretty cool that you can actually get a sense of have we presented enough information that they’re continuing scroll through the plan your visit? Or did they get there and just abandoned it at the top of the page and never bothered scrolling down? Big difference.

Katie Allred:                           There is a big difference. And too, I think a lot of people do this thing where they leave their complete above the fold with just a header text and an image and I hate it. Don’t do that because people, don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful, but I think you need to put, it needs to be halfsies. I think it’s okay to have a header image with the title and that kind of stuff with an image, but immediately after you need to have some content. Half of the above the fold should be content because otherwise people are like, okay, I got to scroll now and you’re just immediately lost that first few seconds on that page where someone could have been more engaged. You made them scroll in order to be engaged and that’s not fair.

Katie Allred:                           I just think we’ve got to rethink that. I think so many church websites are doing this today. I guess it’s maybe a little bit of a trend or something. And I’m like, no, this is not a good trend. Run away, it’s just like sliders on your website. Run away from the sliders. Actually I don’t hate sliders for certain things, but I do hate them for large overarching messages that you’re trying to give people. But anyway, that’s another fight for another day.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah. Good questions. Just a recap of the questions I think we were asking is basically, above the fold on your homepage, there should be some calls to action. Are people actually doing that? Are people actually getting into your plan your visit page? Are they getting and reaching your sermon or messages page? Are they staying on your site? And we use two minutes as a good general rule that they have some engagement if they stuck around that long. And the last one is, once they’ve gotten to your plan your visit, are they actually consuming the content that you’ve given them? Have they scrolled through that page? Those are I think really interesting conversion goals that you should, you can install with Google Analytics and search console to really actually start to get data so you can have this information to make decisions with.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah. We hope that this podcast episode in particular helps you gain a better understanding of your church website and identify some specific avenues of improvement because people come to me all the time, it’s like, can you review my site? Can you tell me how to improve? And I’m just a focus group of one. Let’s look at the analytics. Let’s look under the hood. These are the five goals that are designed to be, I would say pretty universal, Katie. Almost any and every single church out there, small or large, should be looking at these things.

Katie Allred:                           I would definitely start, if you haven’t started, just get started. Start looking into it. Use this PDF from Missional Marketing that we’re giving you completely for free. Just go through and just sit there and just try to figure it out. Grab somebody else on your staff. Be like, all right, we’re jumping into this today because I think it’s important enough that you put some time and effort and energy into it. Yeah, for sure.

Kenny Jahng:                         Katie, we pulled together this PDF with the guys at Missional Marketing. Can you share with us what it is, how to get it?

Katie Allred:                           Yeah, you can go to missionalmarketing.com/goals. Again, that’s missionalmarketing.com/goals. Of course you’re going to hear us talk about it on an ad. But again, that’s literally what we just talked through and we want it to be so it’s going to be so helpful for you and we don’t want you to miss it. If you’re like, I couldn’t take notes because I was driving, that’s fine because I promise you everything that we just talked about is in this PDF. We’ve made it so easy for you, so please. Missional Marketing have made it so easy for you to win online and they’re not even asking you to work with them. They’re literally giving you, the last five episodes, they have given you such tremendous value and completely for free for your church. And I’m just been blown away by these PDFs that they’ve been giving because I’m like, guys, this is money. These things, this SEO information that we have been given out, especially that episode three on page SEO is wild. That is stuff that people charge $600 a month for.

Kenny Jahng:                         I wish I had that when I first started working on church websites years ago.

Katie Allred:                           I know. This is stuff I teach in class at the university. I’m over here trying to get into kids’ heads, these basic concepts of H1 tags and all that kind of stuff. How do you build a website that works for search engine as well? And so I think I’m so excited about the rest of this podcast because there’s so much good stuff. I hope today has been helpful. What do we have coming up Kenny?

Kenny Jahng:                         I think the next episode we’ve talked and agreed that we’re going to focus in on, I’ve got this big talk Netflix Nation and the Church Today. And one of the things that we zero in on is felt needs. And so hopefully you’ll still agree that we should be talking about felt needs and to be very tactical, practical. I think we should talk about how you’re going to use felt needs on specific website pages, wet landing pages and then, how do you throw traffic at it? I’d love to talk about who grants because ad grants has just been a great program that we’ve managed for a lot of 5013C nonprofits. And so most churches do qualify for that.

Katie Allred:                           They do, yeah.

Kenny Jahng:                         It’s fun awarding a church, getting a church through that whole process and seeing their face light up when they get the notice that they have up to $10,000 of advertising next month. And guess what? The following month and the following month and following month, $10,000.

Katie Allred:                           It’s a $120,000 a year for advertising for your church. How wild is that? And the thing is people they might have it. They might, okay they’ve signed up for it, but then they’re not using it. They’re just using it to target the word church and I’m like there is more than just church that you should be targeting because you don’t want to target people who are looking for church. You do, that’s fine. But really you’re looking for people who are far from Christ who are looking for felt needs.

Kenny Jahng:                         Felt needs.

Katie Allred:                           Right.

Kenny Jahng:                         We’ll talk about that next time. I think this is something.

Katie Allred:                           Sorry, I’m getting so excited. I just want to go ahead and jump into it right now.

Kenny Jahng:                         Yeah. It’s something I think we’re both passionate about and we see not many churches utilizing the strategy. I think let’s blow this topic up and really dive in. We’ll check out here next time on the Church Communications podcast. Katie, thank you so much, always for nerding out and going deep in these topics with me. It’s been fun so far. I’m hoping that we continue to get the feedback. That’s the one big call to action here. That is, we want feedback, we want your comments, we want smash that like button as they say. Please reach out to us and let us know how we’re doing. Tell us what questions you have about websites and SEO and how you can do better on the digital front. In the meantime, don’t forget to tell your friends to subscribe to our Church Communications podcast on, where are we available, Katie? We’re available in so many different avenues now.

Katie Allred:                           We’re literally on every single place you want to get your podcasts so if you’re like, oh I listen on iHeart Radio, you can get it on iHeart Radio. Spotify, Overcast.

Kenny Jahng:                         If it’s a radio, tune in.

Katie Allred:                           Yeah, an actual radio. Just kidding. That would be great. We should work on that. 87.9. no. Yeah, iTunes, Google, we’re on Stitcher, whatever you want to get your podcasts through, we’re there. You can go to church comm. You can go to churchcommunications.com/podcast and just figure out where you want to get your podcast. You can listen there too on the website and see the show notes as well.

Kenny Jahng:                         And here’s the latest tip, Katie, if you’ve got an Alexa device, all you have to do is say, “Alexa, play the Church Communications podcast,” and it should play for you.

Katie Allred:                           Okay.

Kenny Jahng:                         That’s the latest fun tip. Let us know how that goes for you and we’ll check out here next time for felt needs with landing pages on your church website using Google Grant. That’s going to be an action packed episode. We’ll check out here next time here on the Church Communications podcasts. Take care.

Kenny Jahng:                         Hey, you know what gets measured gets done, and the at guys at Missional Marketing have created a powerful PDF that will help your church understand the top five conversion goals you should have for your church website. Now you can download this PDF by going to missionalmarketing.com/goals. That’s missionalmarketing.com/goals. Download it today and turn online visitors into real life church members soon.


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