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How to Measure Christian Ministry Website Traffic

Jill Van Nostran Analytics Leave a Comment

Still looking at pageviews as a way to measure your Christian ministry website traffic?

If you’re using Google Analytics, the default reporting page, Audience Overview, shows pageviews on your website for the last month (along with bounce rate, sessions (visits) and users). Pageviews is an indicator, but it won’t tell you anything significant.

The trouble with using pageviews (or the Audience Overview report) to measure website traffic is that it doesn’t give a picture of what visitors did on your website. Pageviews won’t let you infer what a visitor’s experience may have been like on your website. For example:

Sometimes people accidentally click on website. That counts as a pageview. Sometimes people spend 10 minutes on a page, but they’re doing everything else but actually engaging with the page. This also counts as a pageview. Sometimes people go to a web page then have an awful experience and leave. This is still a pageview. Then there’s referrer spam—a shady technique in which spammers send fake visits to Google Analytics, trying to get website owners to investigate by clicking on those websites. This doesn’t harm your website, but it does skew your Google Analytics reports by counting that traffic as pageviews also.

To get a more accurate measurement on website traffic, it’s important to dig deeper into the analytics. How can you really measure your Christian ministry’s website traffic?

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Let’s look at a few important steps:

1. Know your website’s primary purpose.
If your website’s primary purpose is to give people information, then know exactly which information you want them to get, and get visitors to it quickly.

If it’s to get people to watch videos online, then do they do that?

If it’s to get people to sign up for your email list, are they taking that action?

If it’s to get people to donate or partner with you, are they doing it?

Really think through what your website’s purpose is and what you expect people to do. Then, when you look at all the data presented in Google Analytics (there’s so much!), you can drill down to the specific data set that applies to your website and better understand the effectiveness of your website in achieving those goals.

If people aren’t taking the actions on your site that you want them to, you can investigate further in Google Analytics. If you are seeing lots of people dropping off at specific pages, you might infer that they’re having trouble watching the video or signing up or donating. You may need to tweak web pages if something is broken on your site, preventing people from doing what you’ve asked them to do.

2. Set those goals in Google Analytics.
By setting up your website goals in Google Analytics, you can better track whether or not visitors are taking the actions you’d like them to take on your site—or if they can’t because something isn’t working on your website or the experience is poor.

Here’s how to set up goals in Google Analytics:

1. Select the Admin tab in your Google Analytics menu.

2. Navigate to View > Goals.

3. Select New Goal

4. Next you’ll specify Goal Type. Google Analytics does have some pre-made Goal templates. But most of the time, I specify Custom.

5. Give your goal a name. Let’s say the goal you’re tracking is how many people sign up for your newsletter. You might call this “Newsletter Signups.”

6. Specify which type of goal this is. If you’re tracking newsletter signups, set the type as “Destination.” You’ll need to track the destination page a visitor is sent to following a signup (typically a “Thank You” page, where /thank-you/ is in the URL).

If you want to track how many times a video is played on your website, set the type to “Event.”

7. For the “Newsletter Signup” example, set the URL (i.e. /thank-you/) in “Destination.” This means that you’ll need a destination page with that specific URL where visitors are sent following the action, say, a newsletter signup thank you page.

If yours is an e-commerce organization, or you are fundraising through your website, you might want to track the monetary value of each newsletter subscriber. This gives you an idea of how well your website performs in driving revenue or raising funds.

For example, if 10% of the people who sign up for your newsletter donate to your ministry, and your average transaction is $500, you might assign $50 (i.e. 10% of $500) to your newsletter sign-up goal—a goal that users complete when they reach the final newsletter sign-up page. In contrast, if only 1% of signups result in a donation, you might only assign $5 to your newsletter sign-up goal.

Once you have goals set up, it will be easier for you to track how your website is performing.

3. Track metrics that matter.
Knowing what your website goals are, now you can look at metrics that matter. Those metrics all depend on the goals specific to your organization. In general you may want to measure things like:

Which digital channels are most effective for achieving your mission’s website goals?

One way to view this is by going to Acquisition > Channels. Make sure you have the proper dates specified for the time period you want to view.

In the example below, for the time period specified, you can see that Email was the most effective at achieving this website’s specified goals:

Knowing that more people today are viewing sites via mobile devices, what kind of experience do your website visitors have on mobile?

Go to Behavior > Behavior Flow. Then under the default Landing Page setting in the report, select the drop-down box and go to Users > Mobile (including Tablet).

Now you can see how your mobile users flow through your site in the time period specified. Are you seeing lots of people dropping off your website before reaching critical destination pages? Investigate pages with big drop offs and make tweaks to pages accordingly.

Know that people on mobile devices are looking for information quickly; they won’t do much scrolling or clicking around to get to what they want. Make pages and navigation simple and easy.

Is the bounce rate high for a particular page on your mission’s website?

A bounce rate indicates that a visitor visited one web page on your site and no more. If they viewed an information page and your goal for the website or that web page is to get them information, then you would expect a high bounce rate. The visitor got what he or she needed and left.

But if you want people to take some action on a particular page (say, sign up or register or play a video or donate), and that isn’t happening, and you have a high bounce rate, investigate why. Are there other calls to action on the page? Too many calls to action almost guarantees a visitor will choose one and ignore others. If it can’t be avoided, move your primary call to action high on the page.

What percentage of new visitors vs returning visitors donated to your ministry?

This gives you an indication of how many times you can expect someone to return to your website—and how many pages they typically view—before taking action on your site.

You can drill down further into each of these two dimensions to get even more insight. For example, you might want to know how frequently a returning visitor comes back to your website. You would click on “Returning Visitor” in this report, and then under the “Secondary Dimension” dropdown, select Users > “Days Since Last Session.”

If getting people to the information page is important, then a pageview metric would be OK here. You might also want to know how people landed on that page. Did they come from social media or via another channel? Or internal page?

Go to Behavior > Content Drilldown and find the specific page you want to track. Click on that page. Under “Secondary Dimension,” select Medium (you can select “Source/Medium” for even further detail).

Now you can see how people arrived at the specific page you’re trying to measure. This tells you which of your marketing channels is most effective in getting people to that page. You also can see how many pageviews that page had.

Analyzing your Christian ministry’s website traffic in deeper ways—beyond just pageviews—gives you a better understanding for what’s happening on your site so that you can give people a better experience. Is something frustrating for them? Is something broken? Is something confusing?

The point is to make your website as effective as it can be so your organization can get found and you can accomplish the mission to which you’ve been called. The point isn’t just numbers. It’s lives transformed.

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