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How Your Online Ministry Can Identify Church Growth Opportunities

Are people knocking on your virtual door ripe for the harvest? Do you have a potential for offering deeper discipleship to people who are eagerly awaiting something more than what you offer now? This may be the case with those who come to your website, watch your sermons online, or engage with your online campus.

Monitoring your analytics is key to knowing whether your online ministry is making a difference but it also allows you to identify some otherwise unrecognized ministry opportunities to make even bigger impacts in identifiable areas.

Two Types of Analytics

Gauging Success

Watch the statistics of your website to make sure you are accomplishing the goals you set out to accomplish.  Do not simply analyze statistics and numbers.  A huge part of determining whether you are making a difference is listening to the stories of changed lives.  Document these stories.  Where appropriate and if you have permission, tell these stories to others.  Some of the benefits of these stories are:

  • Provides inspiration and cause for great celebration.
  • It creates ideas for others.
  • It fosters an environment of service.
  • It builds community.

Prospecting Through Trend Watching

One of the biggest surprises for churches who begin focusing on being present online and being the church in our converged physical-digital world is just how impactful their ministry can be in areas near and far where they could not do ministry otherwise.

With the proper analytical tools on your website and digital spaces, you can tell an amazing amount of information about traffic patterns to and on your site.

Analyzing these trends may reveal you have a high concentration of people watching your worship service in a particular geographic location.  This could lead to developing an in person Bible study in that area or even starting a new physical campus there.  Imagine already having a large number of people hungry for more.  Depending upon your church’s vision and strategy this may be the best place to concentrate resources for expansion.

Analytic Tools

Analytic tools provide great details such as how many people visited your site in a given period of time, what pages they visited, what city and country they are from, what source brought them to your site, what browser they were using, what operating system their device has, whether they were using mobile or desktop, what social networks brought them to your site, what search key words they used, and much more.  You can set goals such as driving people to a certain page and know how many people reached that goal.  As mentioned above in the prospecting section, you can tell how many people are viewing your site at a given time from a geographical location.  This is provided through both a map view and list view of cities.

Adding analytics to your site is surprisingly easy.  Here are there of the more widely used analytic tools.

Google Analytics

This is arguably the most widely used web analytic tools available.  One reason is because it is free, but it also provides some very powerful analytics.  The tracking code can be placed on many of your digital venues such as your website or digital sanctuary.

One often overlooked feature is basic heat maps that tell where on each page people click.  Learn more by going to their website at www.google.com/analytics.

Clicky

There is a free version for up to 3,000 daily page views.  The free version is also limited in features.  Some of the paid features include:

  • Uptime monitoring to alert you if your site goes offline
  • Advanced  heat maps

For detailed list of features, be sure to visit www.clicky.com.

Streaming Platform

Many streaming platforms, or content distribution networks, provide analytics as well. 

Action Steps

  • At the very least, install Google Analytics on your website.  It is free.  Go through their tutorials and learn what you can glean from this great tool.
  • If you find Google Analytics does not offer the information you need, then look at Clicky and Church Analytics.
  • Over time your site will begin to reveal trends.  Use this data in identifying potential ministry opportunities for your church.

Question

How have analytics helped your ministry? What questions do you have about website analytics? Are there other analytic tools you use and recommend?

Feature photo courtesy © ​istockphoto.com

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