Analyzing website traffic is the main component of measuring the effectiveness of your church website. Thankfully, website traffic analysis tools have come a long way since the days of “hit counters.”
Scenario: You’ve just spent a lot of money putting up a website for a church plant. You paid a few thousand dollars to come up with a snazzy, colorful graphic design. You “go live” with the site and wait for the visitors to come. And then … nothing happens. No new visitors come. To say you’re a bit underwhelmed is the understatement of the decade.
You began your church website project with high hopes of harnessing the power of the Internet and the World Wide Web on behalf of your local church. You know that fewer and fewer people turn to the Yellow Pages when they’re looking for a church, and more and more are turning to the Internet. But now you’ve spent precious time and money on a website, and it doesn’t seem like it has made much of a difference. No new visitors. You’re disappointed, frustrated, and perhaps even a bit angry.
What should you do next? Well, probably a lot of things, most of which are beyond the scope of this article. But one of them should be to implement a plan for measuring the effectiveness of your church website.
A Matter of Stewardship
“Know well the condition of your flocks,” the Biblical proverb goes. “And give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever” (Prov 27:23-24a).
Measuring the effectiveness of your church website is essential if you want to be a good steward of your investment. Just as shepherds must be diligent to look after their flocks, so church leaders must be diligent to measure the effectiveness of their church websites.
Why? Because church websites don’t always produce the desired results right away, and because even effective church websites tend to become less effective over time when they are neglected.
Incidentally, most church leaders will probably find that it is best to delegate this task to a faithful steward. This will allow them to stay focused on the ministry of the word and their other pastoral responsibilities.
What Can Be Measured
Analyzing website traffic is the main component of measuring the effectiveness of your church website. Thankfully, website traffic analysis tools have come a long way since the days of “hit counters.” For example, free tools such as Google Analytics can provide answers to questions such as the following:
- How many visitors does your church website receive each day? Each week? Each month?
- Where are these visitors physically located? (i.e., what country, what state, what city)
- What are the sources of traffic to your church website?
- Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing?
- Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube?
- Denominational websites such as opc.org or pcanet.org?
- What keywords send visitors to your church website from search engines?
- The name of your church?
- The name of a church leader mentioned on your website?
- The name of your city?
- A theological distinctive? (e.g., Reformed, Presbyterian)
- What pages do visitors to your website view? Which pages are the most viewed?
- How long do visitors spend on each page?
- What percentage of visitors abandon your website after viewing just one page?
What to Do With This Information
First, commit to a process of ongoing improvement and maintenance of your church website. Website traffic data can be enormously helpful when it comes time to make decisions about your church website.
Taking the time to analyze the traffic of your church website does two things:
- It helps you test your assumptions for their validity
- It helps you to identify what is most important
Testing Your Assumptions – For example, if you have built your church website on the assumption that it will attract visitors located within your city, this assumption needs to be tested. Website traffic analysis enables you to test this assumption.
Identifying What is Most Important – Analyzing the visitors to your church website will help you to identify what content they view the most. This helps you understand what parts of your website are most important to improve and maintain.
Second, be intentional about asking visitors to your worship services what influenced them to visit your congregation. Ask them, “Was our church website an important factor in influencing you to visit our church?” When you combine website traffic analysis data with what you learn from your ongoing informal survey of visitors, you are sure to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of your church website.