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When we asked the question on Twitter recently, "What's the biggest challenge you face when evaluating your church website analytics?", the results were telling.
Aside from a few folks responding with various levels of "um, what are analytics?", we noticed a few trends. Here are the most common objections church workers have towards digging into their website analytics.
I understand. Believe me, I understand. When you're sitting in front of an enterprise-level analytics solution like Google Analytics (GA), your eyes can cross at the sheer volume of data.
But fear not! There is a way forward. It hinges on the simple principle of simplicity. You will have no use for 95% of the data in GA. It's like the menu at the Cheesecake Factory: more options than should be allowed.
The good news about Google Analytics is you can leverage just a few stats for maximum effect. How?
First, sign up for our free webinar, "How To Improve Your Church Website Using Quarterly Web Analytics Reviews". Then check out this simple to-do list from Google. If you still need some assistance, check out this great Google Analytics how-to post from Sprout Social.
You'll be up and running in no time. Let the data flow!
Not looking at your church website analytics is kind of like not watering a beloved house plant. You won't notice the effects of your negligence immediately, but eventually everything's going to wither up and die. Plants need water. Your website needs analytics.
Over time, portions of your website become stale. You may not be aware of each page "freshness" date unless you're actively monitoring usage. Taking a dip in your analytics is a great way to prevent website stagnation.
Analytics will help you uncover any website "bottlenecks" as well. Like the 405 during rush hour, bottlenecks occur when portions of the website become so difficult to navigate users simply give up. People who could be served by your website end up becoming disengaged, unlikely to participate, donate, or volunteer for whatever brought them to the site in the first place.
You don't know where your website hang ups are by guessing. Real, objective data is needed. Tracking analytics provides that data for you. Feel the need and take advantage.
If you thought analytics were only for the folks in charge of the website, you'd be wrong. Oh so very wrong.
It's simple. Let's say you're in charge of the Underwater Basketweavers Ministry. You've done your due diligence in getting the word out about your events through bulletins, table tents, announcements—heck, you'd even try smoke signals if it would help.
The journey could end here. But, as a savvy ministry profession, you take a peek at the analytics. You observe quite a few people are finding their way to your nook of the church website. Only, that's where the journey ends for most of them.
There's no call-to-action on the webpage for your ministry; nothing that compels people to take action. They read the information you've given them about your ministry and then leave. No invite for the next step in the journey.
You fix the solution by adding a simple sign-up form where interested people can sign up. Participation in your events skyrockets. Lives are changed. The church grows. You're a hero. BROWNIE POINTS IN HEAVEN! Hooray!
Ok, I might have got a bit carried away, but you get the point. Simple observations like the one above apply to all areas of ministry, not just the "web people."
The website is the new front door to your organization. If a window was busted out in your home, you'd take swift action to repair it. Similarly, many ministry areas on a church website are "busted windows," waiting to be fixed.
Don't wait. Dig into your analytics. Take initiative and make the proactive fix yourself.
In 2012, 64% of church attenders said the website was somewhat to very important in facilitating participation in church community. Did you know that? It's telling for one reason: the majority of established church members use the website to connect with the rest of the community.
If someone who's already a part of the community is going to the website, chances are high they want to find a group event, class, or program to get involved in. If they can't find what they want, you've missed out on a opportunity to serve them.
Ensuring the information on your website is lined up properly is something we call "ministry process design." MPD is fueled by content strategy: taking a data-driven look at how people are using your site, determining what the most important areas are, and ordering them on your site accordingly.
You may think your website is effective at moving people from one area to another, but the data may tell a different story. And in a staring match between your "hunch" and objective data, data will win. Every time.
One of our internal studies found 46% of 2012 church attenders said the church website was somewhat to very important in their decision to attend the church, up 35% from 2009. In case you're not good with numbers (like me), that number is not insignificant (double negative! Breaking grammar rules #likeaboss!).
What does this mean? It means that more potential church attenders are using the website in their screening process. If they can't find it, or can't find what they need, they'll go elsewhere. Straight up.
Here's another little web nugget: 90% of search engine users never go past the first page of results. Do me a favor, will you? Hop on over to Google and type this formula in:
Your city name + "churches"
What do you see? Is your church on the first page? If so, congrats! If not, well, the news isn't so good. 90% of people searching online for a church in your area will never see your website.
Sure, you can vary the search formula up, but most folks are going to be using some variant of the formula I listed above. If you can't be Googled, you don't exist.
Bottom line: New people are increasingly finding their church home by searching for it on the web. Use your analytics to determine if the right people are finding you!
At this point, you get to choose: Action or excuse? It's completely up to you where you go from here. You can choose to hide behind the objections listed above. Or you can you choose to act on the data waiting to be acted on. Which way are you going to go?
Question: What are some other church website analytics objections you hear?