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Setting Goals with Your Church Website

One of the first things we do when working with a church to develop their online presence is discover their organizational big idea.

You can't do much else until you know why people in the organization are there. What do they believe in? What makes them tick? Why do they show up for work everyday? Why are they here?

We labor to discover the organizational big idea because it's the only way to create measurable goals.

Our resident content wizard, Beau, shared the importance of setting goals for your website. "Without measurable goals, any success online is luck (and we don't believe in luck)."

He continued, "we plan for and track the success of content that gets results. The type of results that align with your church's mission. We're able to do this by tracking the traffic and conversions on key pages or critical paths.


For instance, one church we worked with had the "big idea" of being empowered by God to reach others for Christ. The word, "empowered" was a unique part of their DNA. It captured who they were as a church.

We're working with them to develop a site which "empowers" the congregation to do the work of the church: easily shareable content, prominent positioning for new visitor information, easy ways to get connected to community groups, simple ways to volunteer.

Big idea = mission. We help churches do their mission online. When it's done properly, it's a beautiful thing.

A church doesn't get there by accident, however. You have to painstakingly measure what's working and what's not. You must have goals for your website—goals which enhance and contribute to the mission of the church.

Take a look at Biltmore Baptist's visual analytics. Here's the home page for their Arden campus:

 I've highlighted the "NEW HERE" page, focusing on the New vs. Returning visitors. The page (which you can see by clicking here) is what you'd expect: information on where the church is located, upcoming events, how to join, meet the pastor, etc.

 As you can see, most of the people clicking on "NEW HERE" are, in fact, new. At least new to the site. (Some people clicking on "NEW HERE" aren't actually new to the church. They may have been attending for awhile but, for whatever reason, never visited the site. This portion, most likely, is very small.)

60.8% of people clicking on the "NEW HERE" are new to the site. 39.2% are returning visitors. It's literally a 60/40 split.

The statistic I want to draw your attention to is the 309 clicks, or 3.3% of total traffic. Here's the stat again for your reference:

A good goal for Biltmore Baptist would be to increase the amount of total traffic going to the "NEW HERE" page.

Why? The more people visit the page, the more new site visitors the church will get. The more new site visitors, the higher the likelihood some of them will show up for services on Sunday morning.

In short, Biltmore's site must be more visible so the "NEW HERE" section can receive more clicks.

The transition from website visitor to in-person attender is a tricky one, but it can be measured. In fact, our studies show 33% of 2012 church attenders said the website was the first place they learned about their current church prior to attending. This may not seem like much, but consider the 74% increase from 2009.

Increasingly, people are making their decision to attend (or not attend) a church based on the experience they have with the church's website. New visitors typically look for the same types of information:

  • Directions/location
  • Service times
  • Limited staff info
  • How to participate in community activities

If they cannot find the information they need—say after moving into town, relocating, etc.—they won't visit and instead, find a church that does.

An appropriate goal for Biltmore would be to increase the total traffic to the "NEW HERE" section by 15%. The time frame should be long enough to make it achievable and short enough to make it unforgettable. It would break down like this:

(10,000 monthly visitors) x 3.3% = 330 "NEW HERE" visitors

330 * 15% = 49.5 additional monthly "NEW HERE" visitors

49.5 * 33% = 16 new monthly visits to Biltmore Baptist Church!

Fascinating, isn't it? It may not seem like much, but it mounts up. What gets measured gets managed.

If you set website traffic goals associated with your "big idea," you'll find ways to incorporate the website into your missional activity as a church. We've seen it happen dozens of time, to the point where a church's website becomes an indispensable ministry tool. The website literally moves people into a deeper relationship with Jesus and their community.

And here you thought all the website did was house PDFs of last week's bulletin. Tsk, tsk!

Question: What is your church using your website for? What goals is it helping you accomplish?

If you're not sure where to get started, let us help. We'd love to sit down with you for a no-obligation consultation. Click here to start the conversation.