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    Church Website Analytics: I've Got Data, Now What?

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    MonApr22012 ByBryan YoungTaggedNo tags

    Analytics are an important tool to measure the effectiveness of your website. Measuring and evaluating your website visitors--how they behave, who they are, what they look at, and what they don't--allows you to know what your users want and how you can deliver it to them.

    But after you've signed up for Google Analytics (or another analytics tool), installed the code in your ministry website, and have begun to receive data, what is the next step? How do you sort through all the numbers and percentages and make them work for you? Here are a few steps to get you from just compiling data to using it to make your website better.


    Use distribution, not averages


    • Recency: do people come again and again?
    • Depth: time on site and visitor loyalty

    If your ratio leans more toward new visitors than returning, it's time to evaluate your content's freshness. Likewise, if your time-on-site numbers are low for key pages, change the content! In order for you to get people to come back again and again, and stay on your site for long periods, make sure your content is both relevant and updated regularly. Ideally, you want to engage both new and returning visitors.


    Context is everything


    • Diversity: Don’t look at one metric by itself.
    • Compare: To the past, to the overall, and to industry standards

    If you don't compare metrics to other metrics, you'll never know what is good or bad. The easiest way to do this is to compare to the past. Are you visits up from last month? Keep up what you're doing. Down? Figure out why and make a change.

    Also, comparing your metrics to the overall is a good way of seeing where content might be falling short. Is your Contact page consist of 1% of overall visits? Maybe you need to drive traffic there with home page ads or call-to-action links on other pages.


    Segment your data


    • Break it down … and down … and down.

    Avinash Kaushik, Google Analytics Evangelist and analytics guru, says, "Never report a metric ... without segmenting it to give deep insights into what that metric is really hiding behind it." Using filters of data helps you find out where your websites strengths and weaknesses lie.

    Example segment:
    Overall visits > Source: Facebook > Day of week > Wednesday
    If you post on Facebook every Wednesday and this segmentation yields unimpressive numbers, something is wrong. Try posting on a different day of the week or explore more interactive posts


    Bounce rate: the "sexy metric"


    • Entry/Landing Pages: Are they effective at keeping people on your site?

    Your most popular landing page is your home page. This is where the majority of people will enter your website. Bounce rate (defined by Kaushik as "I came, I puked, I left") occurs when a user enters your website and exits before visiting a second web page. So do they stay or do they go?

    Example segment:
    Content: Page > Home page > Source: Search engine > Bounce Rate > Compare to overall
    This combination of segmentation and comparison can tell you if your landing pages are up to snuff. If people searched a keyword that lead to your website but exited before going further, this says they didn't see what they liked--either your site didn't match their search keywords, they couldn't find what they wanted, or the design was bad.


    "Experiment or go home"


    • Reporting is not analysis. Analysis depends on making decisions.
    • A/B testing: Let your customers/visitors make design decisions.

    Just because you activate analytics, doesn't mean you are analyzing. You must use this valuable data to improve your website. Don't be afraid to try new things. If it doesn't work (which you'll know through analytics), try something else.

    One way to experiment is through A/B testing, where you set up two or more versions of an element (red button versus blue button) and randomly show these versions to your visitors. The element that gets more clicks or visits is the winner and should be implemented for everyone. Google Website Optimizer makes it easy for you to hold your own A/B tests and track it in real time.


    Learn More About Church Website Analytics


    Google Analytics Tips for Your Ministry Website - iMinistries Blogs
    Occam's Razor Web Analytics Blog - Avinash Kaushik
    Complete Beginner's Guide to Web Analytics and Measurement - UX Booth

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