Why Aren’t My Online Services Growing? What To Measure & How To Fix It

The 4 most important metrics you need to be measuring, and what to do if your online church numbers have stagnated. Knowing that your effort is actually making a difference for your online attendees is perhaps one of the most important (and elusive) challenges to online ministry.

Stephanie Antonucci Leathe

July 7, 2022

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Knowing that your effort is actually making a difference for your online attendees is perhaps one of the most important (and elusive) challenges to online ministry.

We can feel when a community is alive and energetic, but what are the measurable numbers that tell you it’s working (or not working)?

Here are the 4 most important metrics you need to be able to measure:

  • Retention: how many people are coming back each week?
  • New Visitors & Members: how many people are joining for the first time & when do they decide to actually make themselves known?
  • Quality of Engagement: How long did they stay at the event or meeting? Which sermons, Bible studies, or mid-week prayer meetings were people most engaged in? 
  • Churn: who is leaving and why?

Altar Live just released one of our biggest features yet - an Analytics Dashboard that beautifully measures all of these numbers for you, giving you more data bout your church service than ever before. Instead of trying to calculate these numbers across your Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom accounts, you can use this easy all-in-one solution.

These metrics measure two essential mechanisms of a successful online community:

  1. Engagement (quality of interaction, length of time on event, overall attendance)
  2. Retention (number of visitors and members who come back)

If you’re ready to learn how to increase those numbers, keep reading!

How to Increase Engagement

“We want more people to engage.”

“We don’t just want our services to be about the livestream.”

“The same people post in chat, but we can’t get anyone else to talk.”

These are all things churches have told us. On Altar Live, we measure engagement as:

  • Using live chat
  • Responding to polls
  • Clicking on announcements
  • Taking a seat in a row, table, or Room
  • Creating an account

Here’s the thing: engagement does not just happen. 

People only start to engage with your online churches when they:

  • Have a relationship with someone else
  • Know that their presence matters
  • Get something valuable and meaningful from attending

The good news is that you can do all these things with the tools in Altar Live, and you don’t need to involve more than 1 or 2 online Hosts.

There are 4 ingredients to an engaging online service:

  1. Tell them why this is worth their time and what they will get out of it
  2. Build in opportunities for response
  3. Make people’s presence matter
  4. Continue the conversation after the service

The more you can help people make a genuine connection with at least one other person, the higher the likelihood they not only will participate but start to invite others as well.

How to Increase Retention

The number one reason why most online services don’t see steady growth in numbers is that most online visitors come a few times and then don’t come back.

Most people check out a church online before they visit in person. This can lead to a “revolving door” effect. You might see steady numbers of new, unique attendees, but the overall attendance over time stays the same.

Increasing engagement is a great way to keep regular attendees coming back.

Creating a personable, memorable, and impactful first experience to attract visitors to come again. It also means they’ll refer others, bringing even more people to your church experience.

A memorable first experience answers the silent question in every first-time visitor's mind: “Is this community for me? Is it relevant to my life?”. 

People are evaluating your online service for:

  • Language that resonates with them
  • Causes that they care about
  • Topics they want to learn
  • Values they strive for
  • People they can identify with

In other words, they are assessing what your church stands for. Why should they continue to come back each week? What is it that we do together? What does coming together live on the same event each week allow them to experience that they don’t get just by listening to a podcast?

Set up your service to answer that question. From the opening announcements to the closing song, help people become a part of the bigger mission of your church.

Engagement and retention are the two most important mechanisms for a successful online community, and measuring them just became easier with Altar Live’s Analytics Dashboard. Near real-time visitor tracking for web and mobile.

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