How churches can use google analytics effectively

How Churches can use Google Analytics effectively

When you start implementing your social media campaigns, measuring what works and what does not, can save you time, effort, money and resources. Every social media channel has its own measurement tool (like Insights for Facebook). But since there are so many channels and each has its own set of metrics, unless you know exactly what you are trying to measure, there is no end to the amount of time you can spend looking at all the number and tabs.

So where do you start? What should you measure on social media?

As a beginner, I recommend that you focus on a few key metrics that are most relevant to your organisation and ministry goals. 3 social media related metrics that are universally important to any organisation are:

  • How people find you using social media
  • How they interact with you after they find you
  • How (or whether) they perform the actions that you want them to perform after they interact with you

Let us look at how you can measure each of them using Google Analytics.

Why Google Analytics? There are many tools and resources available for social media measurement. And you can use any tool to measure these 3 factors. But the reason I recommend and talk about Google Analytics in this article is: one, it integrates closely with your website, which is the content hub for most organisation – the place where all your social media activities culminate and second, is free to start with! So understanding how a tool like Google Analytics works is a great place to kickstart your tracking and measurement journey.

How churches can use google analytics effectively

Signing up for Google Analytics:

  1.    Register for a free Google account (skip this if you have an existing Google account and use a Gmail id). Pro Tip: I recommend that you use a ministry Google account instead of a personal Google account to make things easier when you need to share the account details with other team members later.
  2.   Visit analytics.google.com and sign up for a free Google Analytics account. You will see many paid premium services listed, but just start with the free version, it has all the features you will need as a beginner (and you can always upgrade later).
  3.   Connect Google Analytics to your website. This is as simple as pasting a tracking code on the backend of the website on all pages, and your web developer should be able to do this for you. Or see this step-by-step tutorial from Google on how to do it.

Now you are all set. Let us see how Google Analytics can help you measure the 3 most important social media metrics for any church, nonprofit or ministry.,

Pro Tip: I suggest you wait a couple of weeks or even a month after setting up Google Analytics before you start checking the results so that you will have enough data to make meaningful inferences.

1. Measuring how your audience found you – the source and the medium

A few weeks after setup, when you open your Google Analytics dashboard and you start seeing some numbers in it, then you know that your potential customers are starting to visit and interact with your website.

Now you need to know how they found you. Which social media channels or search engines did they use as a source and medium to locate your ministry? Among the millions of sites that are out there, how did your audience land up on your website?

The data on the source of your traffic and the medium can tell you which social media activity is bringing you visitors and which is not. With this knowledge, you can make an informed, data-driven decision on your social media efforts. For example, if your Google Analytics report shows that more visitors are landing on your website from a particular social media channel, then you can make a data-driven decision to increase your efforts in that particular channel, create more content for that channel, place ads and/or invest in a new content marketing campaign.

In Google Analytics, you can measure various sources of website traffic by looking in two places:

  •       The ‘Audience’ tab: This tab gives you an overview of your ministry audience’s demographics, including age and gender. You can also see their location details like city and country along with type of device and browser that they used to find you.
  •       The ‘Acquisition’ tab: In this tab you get an overview of the channels through which the visitors came to your website, with a breakdown by channel and source/medium. You can also look at the social media channels and the campaigns that are driving traffic to your website.

Google Analytics Tab 1

2. Measuring how your audience interact with you – the interactions and the engagement

Driving traffic to your website is only the beginning. What do your visitors do after they land on the website? Do they take the actions that you want them to take? Are they engaging with your content? Do they like what they see? Do they stay for a long time or do they leave in a hurry? Are they sharing your content?

Without measuring the interaction and engagement metrics, as a ministry you will have no idea which content is working for you, what your visitors like and what they don’t. You should think of your website as your online church building, just the way you would think of your offline church building. Would you allow the church members to walk into your church and just hang around in the middle by themselves, without you or your staff or any volunteers helping them? Wouldn’t you talk to them and try to help them get what they want? Yet, many of us make this very mistake on our websites. We spend a lot of time and money getting traffic to the site using social media campaigns but then we ignore the visitor after they get there. We do not create engaging, user-friendly content that will eventually lead them to the product, service or information that they seek. When you measure key interaction and engagement metrics, this data will help you understand your audience’s behavior and help you serve them meaningfully.

In Google Analytics, you can look for various behavioral metrics in three places:

  •       The ‘Real Time’ tab: This tab is helpful if you have a time-specific event or activity. This tab shows you the ‘active users’ in real time, with their locations, the pages that they are visiting, the devices that they are using, and more.
  •       The ‘Audience’ tab: Under this tab, you can see the numbers for new vs. returning users, the frequency, the recency and the engagement in terms of session duration (the time spent by your audience) and page depth (the number of pages they visited).
  •       The ‘Behavior’ Tab: This tab has some of my favorite metrics and cool tools like ‘Behavior Flow’, a flow chart that shows you how your audience started and how they moved through your site with 1st, 2nd and 3rd interactions. This data can give you great insights into the behavior of your online audience. This tab also reveals which pages your audience visited, which page they were on when they left the site and much more. Make full use of this tab.

Google Analytics Tab 2

3. Measuring how your audience transact with you – the conversion and the cost

Finally, measure the most important metric for a ministry: conversion. This is obviously not conversion from a religious perspective but rather the measure of how all the efforts on social media and elsewhere online are converted into results by fulfilling our end goal objective.

For example, when you post a promotional image of a special event on Facebook, people clicking the ‘LIKE’ button on that post is an engagement activity. But after that, if they click the link inside the post and sign up for the event, then you have a conversion. When you measure this conversion, you should also measure what it cost you to get that conversion.

As a ministry, you should not lose sight of the end objective amidst all the activities and excitement of campaigns. The end objective for your ministry could be an event sign up, filling up a decision card, membership signup, subscription, donation, email sign up, a product purchase or an eBook download – it could be a micro or a macro conversion. A micro conversion is a small step that leads to macro conversion, a big step. For example, someone watching your video where you talk about donations for your church building is a micro conversion. When they watch the video and decide to click on the donate button and donate, that is a macro conversion.

Google Analytics has a main ‘Conversions’ tab that helps you look at the ‘Goals’ that you have set and what it cost you to achieve these goals. You can set up either an assumptive or an actual pricing parameter for this section.

Hope you found these tips useful. Now go ahead and try implementing them. Let me know if you need further clarification or help as you go along. Leave your questions, feedback, comments and thoughts in the comments section below. Thank you.

Stay connected. Stay blessed.