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A Quick Guide: How to Set Up and Use Google Analytics for Your Church

Jill Van Nostran Analytics 1 Comment

Google Analytics is a measurement platform that helps organizations understand how people find and interact with websites, mobile apps and other connected devices (like kiosks).

Google Analytics helps you measure how your church or ministry is doing at digital communications—social media, email, search engine optimization (SEO), PR, digital media, advertising and more—and how people respond to it.

Knowing how people find and interact with your online properties can help you excel at getting found and accomplishing your mission.

In other words, by analyzing numbers, churches can better serve the names those numbers represent.

If you want to make the most of ministry dollars, it’s essential to use Google Analytics to evaluate your church’s investment in each area of communications.

Step-by-Step: A Quick Guide to Installing and Using Google Analytics for Your Church

Let’s look at a few important steps for installing and using Google Analytics for your church:

1. Determine what to measure
This comes from having a well-thought-out digital communications strategy that is designed to support your church’s larger goals.

If your church’s goal for this year is to multiply—to grow—then your digital communications strategy should be constructed in such a way that its priorities contribute to growth goals and is built on measurable objectives.

For example, if one church’s goal is to grow, then one of its digital communications goals might be to create awareness. A measurable objective of that goal might be to increase website traffic coming from Facebook. In other words, people might hear about the church on Facebook, then visit the website to learn more.

Specifically define what your goals are and what you want to and can measure.

It always depends on specific church goals, but I tend to measure:
What marketing or communications channels drive traffic to a website?

What pages do people view once they arrive at the website?

Do people convert—or take a measurable, online action—after viewing those pages?

Which marketing and/or communications channels are most effective for driving people to that website, engaging them and getting them to convert?

2. Create (or login to) your account at google.com/analytics
Click SIGN IN > Analytics.
If you don’t have an account, click More options > Create account.
If you do have an account, enter the email address and password associated with the account.

Get Found goes out twice a month and includes resources, tools and ideas for digital communications pros. You should sign up!

3. Set up a property in your Analytics account
A property represents your website or app, and is the collection point in Analytics for the data from your site or app.

Each Google Analytics account has at least one property. And each account can have multiple properties, so you can collect data from the different websites, mobile applications, or other digital assets associated with your church or ministry.

You will most likely have one property for your website. If you have a mobile app, you will have a separate property for that. If you collect kiosk data, you might have another property for that.

4. Enable Demographics & Interest Reporting (and other Features)
The “Demographics” reports provide information about the age and gender of your users. The “Interests” reports show your users’ preferences for certain types of web content like technology, music, travel, or TV. This information is useful in two ways: First, if you know your target audience, it can help verify that you’re reaching the right people. Second, it can help guide decisions about your marketing and content strategy.

Note that to see data in these reports, you must first enable advertising features in the “Demographics and Interests” reports for each property. Go into the “Admin” tab under “Property“ and select “Property Settings.” Under “Advertising Features,” set “Enable Demographics and Interest Reports” to on.

You’ll also want to enable In-Page Analytics, Search Console (you’ll need to first sign up for a Google Search Console account) and Users Metric in Reporting.

5. Properly install the tracking code
Install the standard snippet Javascript tracking code before the closing < /head > tag on each web page you want to track. (Hint: this can be tedious and difficult if you aren’t familiar with HTML or PHP; you can install a website plugin—like Monster Insights for WordPress—that will automatically append your tracking code to every web page on your site).

Don’t install the tracking code in the footer. If it is placed in the footer, a visitor might leave a web page before the page is able to fully load. In this case, the tracking code would not execute, and you will not have data for that pageview.

6. Set up goals
Goals are a simple way to track conversions (or online actions) from your website. A goal could be how many people signed up for an email newsletter or how many people registered for an event.

Without defined goals, it’s almost impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of your digital communications campaigns.

Goals fall into one of 5 types:
Destination – Use this goal if you are asking people to sign up for something—a newsletter, an event, to volunteer, or to donate. Enter the page URL in the Destination field.

Duration – Use this goal if you live stream on your site and you want to know how long people watch (hint: GA times out after 30 minutes. If your livestream is longer than that, you’ll need to adjust the time out in Property > Tracking Info > Session Settings > Session Timeout).

Event—Use this goal if you offer downloads on your site—like sermon studies—or if people play videos—like sermon videos—on your site.

1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
2. Click Admin, and navigate to the desired view.
3. In the VIEW column, click Goals.
4. Click + NEW GOAL or Import from Gallery to create a new goal, or click an existing goal to edit its configuration.

7. Pull reports that are relevant to your church’s goals
Analyzing data from Google Analytics works best if you know what data you need to analyze. This comes from having a plan—a digital marketing or digital communications strategy.

Know your website’s primary purpose. And then understand what you can and should measure, in accordance with your organization’s digital strategy plan.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and look at some report ideas:

How do new visitors find our website?
How to pull this report:
Acquisition Report > Overview

What pages do they visit most?
How to pull this report:
Behavior Report > Site Content > All Pages (or Landing Pages)

Which communications channels are most effective in a) getting people to the website and b) getting them to convert?
How to pull this report:
Acquisition Report > Overview > analyze how many visitors are being acquired to the site vs their bounce rate vs their conversion rate

In this example, the highest amount of traffic came from organic search. However this channel also had a low conversion rate.

Conversion means someone completed a desired online action–they completed one of the goals you set up in Step 6. Maybe they registered for an event. Or signed up for a newsletter.

Referral traffic (website visitors that came to this website from another website) didn’t drive much traffic, but this channel had the highest conversion rate and a lower bounce rate. This would be considered a highly effective digital communications channel–and one that you might want to invest more into.

Which pages have the highest bounce rate? Why?
How to pull this report:
Behavior > Site Content > All Pages > click the “bounce rate” column to sort highest to lowest

Who are the people who visit our website?
How to pull this report:
Audience > Demographics > Overview
Audience > Geo > Location
Audience > Mobile > Overview (and Devices)
Audience > Technology > Browser & OS

This isn’t a comprehensive list of reports–just a few ideas for your church to consider when measuring the effectiveness of your digital communications and marketing strategy.

Using the data from Google Analytics, your church can pull insights that will help you develop a stronger digital communications strategy. This can help you understand things like:

Is our current digital communications strategy working? In other words, is it effectively supporting larger church goals?

What doesn’t seem to be working well?

Should we optimize (or de-emphasize) any communications channels?

Are people taking the actions we want them to take on our website? If not, what do we need to change?

Are people finding the information they need to find—within 2 or 3 clicks—on our website?

The point is that Google Analytics can help make your church 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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  1. Pingback: How to Create A Church Digital Communications Strategy | MissionFound

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