Your church has an awesome looking website and published great content... so where is the tidal wave of new members? Perhaps people are finding your site and are very interested, but they cannot connect with you. The primary conversion point on most service oriented websites is the "Contact Us" page. By optimizing that page with multiple options, you remove the barriers that hold some people back from reaching out to you.
What makes a good contact us page? It's simple... multiple methods of contact with a good system in place for you to follow up with them. How many contact methods should you provide? As many as possible!
The address of your church should be at the bottom of each page, as well as on your contact page. Include your office hours, a map, link to an online mapping service, and include some up-to-date driving directions. Include an outdoor photo of your church from the street, taken from multiple angles. If you have a multi-site church, you should list all of the site addresses and highlight your headquarters.
A working phone number for your church office is a must, for both existing and prospective members. Unless your phones are staffed 24/7, you will need an answering machine, along with a policy on how soon you will return a call. However, if your phone is staffed during certain business hours, post those hours as well as information about your secretary or administrative staff so they know who to expect on the other end.
An E-mail address out on the internet with a mailto: link may seem very risky for getting lots of spam. However I think you would want to deal with 100 spam messages so you could help one person to come to Christ. Also, carefully chose the address you post. Generic addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org may not seem very personable. If you need to protect personal information, post an address of "secretary" or "pastor". You are still protecting someone's personal information, and your users will at least think it is going to a real person.
Providing a web form is great because it offers another convenient way for people to send electronic messages to you. Users may not have an E-mail client available because they may be on their phone, or at a public computer. The only problem forms tend to present is that they seem far less personal. When you click "send", you have no idea where the message goes, who will receive it, if it was received at all, and when they will respond to you. Clearly state who the message will be sent to, and on the confirmation screen, indicate when they can expect to hear back from you.
Social media is not just a trend, but has cemented itself as how online reputations are forged. It is a two-way conversation that allows people to reach out in a public forum to engage you. So provide links to your social media pages (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.). Many businesses monitor these outlets to see what people are saying, and are communicating back. Although you may not have disgruntled customers, you can answer questions and offer help where appropriate.
Add a Photo
Several of these areas should include a photograph of the person the user is most likely to interact with. This is where your design not only lends to the aesthetics, but helps connect the user to what you are asking them to do. So read my previous article on photography and start engaging with people's emotions.
I will also strongly caution you to check all of the places you post contact information on your site (such as an address and phone number at the bottom of every page), as well as all of your off-line advertising (phone book, flyers, etc.). Ensure that you are consistent with what you are posting and double check for errors. Few things could be more frustrating than a potential member calling the wrong phone number, or worse, showing up to the wrong address.
Lastly and most importantly, have a system in place to follow up with these leads. This is a key part of the conversion process and failing to meet the user's expectations can lead to prospective members finding another church (or worse, none at all). I will write about this in greater detail in later articles, but you want to have good customer service for your prospective members.
Examine your contact information on your website. Can you easily locate the information, and does it make sense when you get there. Make sure you provide multiple ways for people to communicate with you, and that you respond back to them in a timely fashion. Finally, track these communications so you can show a return on investment for all of your hard effort!
Photo courtesy of Eduardo Arenas