Make ChurchInsight better – come and work for us
Come and keep our development team on the cutting edge. Photo: Wesley Fryer on Flickr.
Do you love your ChurchInsight website and would love the opportunity to make it even more effective? We are looking for people to do exactly that. Endis are advertising for software developers to come and join the team in Cambridge.
10 Crucial questions about church communication: 6-10
Photo by Johan Larsson on Flickr. "A recurring piece of feedback – ChurchInsight is easy to use".
Last week we put ChurchInsight to the test by seeing how the church website platform matches up to the excellent 10 Questions to Ask About Your Church’s Communications.
So far we have survived – but the grilling is not over yet. There are five more questions to be answered about how to keep your church staff up to speed with changing technology, how to budget for communication costs, and how to make sure that people don’t fall through the net when they encounter your church.
6. What are the technological competencies of our communications staff? Are we investing in that?
Many churches depend on a mix of trained staff and volunteers. Technology changes so fast that even the up-to-date teams need to be agile to keep up.
We designed (and keep developing) ChurchInsight to do the hard work for you. The central admin hub can be accessed by staff and volunteers from anywhere over the Internet – but only at the level that you want to give to each one. Once they are in there, they follow instructions and push the right buttons – and before you know it, you’ll have the most technologically timid individuals publishing content and sending out communications.
The last time we did a survey of our customers, one of the recurring pieces of feedback they gave us was “ChurchInsight is easy to use”. And for all of the main functions it is. We still offer training though. If you want to invest in your staff and volunteers to get them mastering even the more advanced aspects of ChurchInsight, our training courses are designed for exactly that.
With ChurchInsight you don’t need to invest in an IT department or manager. People will come and go in your church but your central system will remain the same.
7. Are we making knee-jerk and last-minute decisions related to communication that could lead to over-spending and poor spending?
This might happen in a church where communication is a low priority or the strategy is not clear. We have designed a system that can serve most communication strategies, however complex or simple. That’s because the many different features of ChurchInsight are included in your website. If you only want to use a few, it works just as well.
As for solid, predictable spending, the cost of ChurchInsight is a monthly subscription. This means you don’t have large up-front costs, that spending is level and easy to budget, and that you benefit from new releases as we continually develop and improve the system.
8. How much are we investing, through communication, to strengthen relationships with families?
This is something of a leading question (especially if you read the full version). But one thing we can say for ChurchInsight is that if you split your website costs down to per user or per family, it is only pennies each.
For those pennies, families can keep in touch with church activities and with each other through the social aspects of ChurchInsight. You can create areas of the site for different age groups and activities as necessary.
9. What inexpensive or no-cost ways are we exploring to communicate with people?
The joy of a ChurchInsight database is that members keep their own details up to date. That removes the time and (cost) consuming task from the staff of having to maintain contact details. It is easy to add and remove people, and for individuals to set their own preferences for communication.
The mailing feature itself is simple to master. There is a mailing wizard with a few, straightforward steps to help you to shape and deliver each mail campaign.
10. What systems are in place to quickly build one-to-one and one-to-few relationships with people at the front doors and ministry entrances to our church?
Firstly, we’ve already pointed out that people usually go to a church’s website first, way before they visit. ChurchInsight presents a customised views to new visitors, which can show them the information they need, and encourage attendance or sign up. Each church can create a new visitor area to provide whatever they think their curious users are looking for.
Secondly, the database behind the website is there for you to add peoples’ details to – not just when you’re in the office, but from anywhere. There is a conferencing mode to take bookings and track attendance if you want to step it up a gear.
Thirdly, we are currently developing a visitor tracking feature, that more explicitly allows you to capture visitor details and mark people for follow up. Keep an eye on the blog – we’ll be introducing it soon. It will be less likely than ever that any new person should fall through the net, and also be easier for new people to express what they want from your church and your website.
Phew! We made it to the end of the 10 gruelling questions. The ways that we communicate have changed beyond recognition as the social possibilities of the World Wide Web have taken off in the last few years. Churches may feel behind the curve, but we have designed ChurchInsight to help them make the most of the new communication landscape.
Thanks to Scott Vaughn for the sharp questions. Why not put ChurchInsight to the test yourself with a free demo?
Adam Johannes, 05/01/2012
10 Crucial questions about church communication: 1-5
Photo by Gail Jade Hamilton on Flickr. "The important thing is to send that information to people where they are".
10 Questions to Ask About Your Church’s Communications gives today’s churches plenty to think about.
The issues are vital for us all. Are we adapting as fast as the communication of the people we are trying to reach? Does our investment into communication really match up to how important it is? Does our website work for what we are trying to do?
These are exactly the issues that we created ChurchInsight to solve. To show you what we mean – and to see how we measure up – we have decided to answer the 10 crucial questions in that article ourselves.
The first five questions are answered below – the next five will follow.
1. How does our current communications methodology compare to what we were doing five years ago? Are we changing with the way people in our church are communicating?
Technology has dramatically changed the way that we communicate. Information has gone digital – shared across the Internet rather than in printed or vocal form.
For churches there are obvious implications. You might preach to 200 people on a Sunday morning. Now, by Sunday afternoon, the message can be on your website, ready to be downloaded by thousands of people over the coming months and years.
People go to the web to get information and resources from your church – but not necessarily by visiting your website on a PC. They might want information via email or text, or to find it through their social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. Some will be doing all this on their tablets and smartphones.
Your website is still the central place for information. But the important thing is to send that information to people where they are.
At ChurchInsight we know that a website is not just a brochure for your church any more. It is a means of having conversations, of being the hub for the church family online. It needs to have mailing and feed options, media capabilities and social elements.
2. Do we talk about a communications budget as an expense or an investment? Are we strategic in using our communication to advance our mission to make followers of Jesus?
ChurchInsight websites give you many options for communicating with your church and the people you are trying to reach. Setting up a ChurchInsight website for your church itself is an investment in communication.
Many of our customers discover that very quickly their website saves them time and effort. Fewer printing costs. Less time spent on admin. Some of the features of ChurchInsight are available as separate apps elsewhere. But the strength of ChurchInsight is having all the communication features joined up in one place: only one database and account to manage. And easily done, by whomever needs to do it in your church.
As for advancing the mission, our customers do it in all sorts of ways. Being able to upload media such as audio and video recordings is a key part. As is the ability to customise a view of the website for visitors when they check out your site to see what your church is like.
3. Are we talking with, and listening to, our members and attendees and making adjustments in how they want to “receive” information from us?
Our congregations will increasingly want to control how they access church information – and how much.
In ChurchInsight we developed mailing channels. You can create mailing lists from your database of people, each with its own settings for email or text messaging. Recipients of the messages can take matters into their own hands and unsubscribe from mailing channels if they want to.
This will update the database and give you an accurate picture of who wants what. Members of the site also update their own details so that the accuracy of mailing data is high. Fewer people get left out.
4. Is more than 50 percent of our communications budget needlessly paying printing costs?
There are those in church who still want a printed newsletter, even if they are now the minority. We have been amazed, though, that when churches switch to digital communication, people tend to get with it. The saving on printing costs is significant.
And the minority is not left out. People to set their own preferences. If they still prefer printed communication, the web office will generate printed copies.
It’s not just saving on printing. When the communications process is streamlined – with members keeping their details accurate and staff being able to access the system from anywhere via the Internet – you will notice reduced costs in administration more widely.
5. Who do we visualize as the primary user of our website? Is the website streamlined for that user?
You can build the site you want with ChurchInsight.
Our advice is to keep it simple. Focus on what the user wants. Put the primary tasks and information on the front page, to satisfy users immediately and show that your church is helpful and understands their needs.
These days almost everyone will check out your website first. Your site should represent your church. The beauty of ChurchInsight is that you can create customised views for different groups of users. New visitors can see one site and message; logged in members a different one.
With ChurchInsight the website can be what you want it to be – to represent your church community to new people and members in the best possible ways.
Next week we will publish the next five questions with our answers, covering staff training, budgeting for communication and increasing engagement from members and visitors.
Adam Johannes, 21/12/2011
This is the ChurchInsight blog. Stay calm.
Our customers are amazing. Churches and charities doing incredible work, yet still having time to tweak their Insight platform to produce some amazing and effective websites.
Church Insight has been powering church websites for over 12 years now, and it makes all our development and support efforts worth it to see what you do with it – from the media output and the social projects to the administrative magic and imaginative marketing … just wow.
So this blog is not to sell you anything or act as another avenue for support (there is plenty of that already on ShareInsight). It is simply to say a huge ‘thank you!’ to our customers, in appreciation of what you’re doing with Insight.
We’re going to let you know first about any offers, give you the inside track on Insight tips and tricks (cheats, as it were), and listen out for your suggestions on Twitter and Facebook. We also want to keep you up to speed with new developments and tell you when we find other tools and resources that you might find helpful.
If there is anything else you’d like to see on the blog, let us know on Twitter.
Otherwise, just keep up the great work.
Image: alborzshawn, on Flickr
Adam Johannes, 30/06/2011