CHURCH WEBSITE EFFECTIVENESS STUDY
We tested church websites for their marketing effectiveness with potential first-time visitors and were surprised by our findings. This test goes beyond quality web practices and addresses the key elements that website visitors [seeking churches] are looking for.
The criterion used in this test has been determined to be the minimum requirement for website engagement on church websites specifically. Furthermore, for quality purposes, this test is not to be used as a web standard test against any other industry besides evangelical Christian churches.
This page is broken into two sections—The Study and The Findings.
The purpose of the study was to determine if church websites are effectively serving their target audience. The criterion used in this test has been determined to be the minimum requirements for website engagement on church websites.
Website engagement improves the likelihood that potential church visitors will click through to the visitor page and in effect increase the likelihood of a visit to the on-campus worship service.
In order to maintain transparency, we clarify the use of jargon or industry-speak here.
- Bounce rate as it is defined by Google is when a user lands on a webpage and leaves without going to another page
- Engagement is the consumer's involvement in a brand choice which follows a common process of Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action—derived from AIDA marketing model.
- Incognito is the “private browsing” window used in the Google Chrome browser. Used to ensure that all sites load as if it were the first time even if we have visited the website before and unwittingly preserving cookies which would expedite website load times.
- SERPs Acronym for Search Engine Results Pages
The setup used to perform the tests.
- Use a laptop with a 15” or smaller screen.
- We used the latest version of Google Chrome on a 15” MacBook Pro with the latest version OS.
- To open the website we would right-click on the SERPs listing and select “Open Link in Incognito Window”.
- Take 4 steps back and look at the screen for 4 seconds.
- Now answer the "TEST" questions found below using this form.
How we randomly chose churches.
- Pick two randomly selected church websites from the capital of each state within the US
- Used the Google search engine to search—Christian church in [CITY] [STATE].
- We chose the last two organic church listings on page one of the Google SERPs.
- We used Google Chrome on a 15” MacBook Pro both running the latest versions.
- High-speed WIFI internet must test above 15mbs before the research session.
- We opened SERPs links in an incognito window
- Any clients—past or present—were discarded and replaced with the listing above.
- Sites were tested by 3 different volunteers with no web design/marketing background.
How we systematically tested church websites.
___ Did your website load in less than four seconds?
___ Can you see your church vision statement?
___ Do you see service times/locations? If you have multiple campuses, can your user get to the service times/locations with a single click?
___ Can you see a link to the welcome page or the page that describes your church to the unchurched visitor?
___ Are all of the above present on your mobile website version?