Collecting and applying user statistics can help your organization grow its program or make hard choices in lean times. What statistics do you track? How has what you learned shaped your program?
Carver County Historical Society recently mentioned to me that its membership climbed 13 percent in the last year, and that without a concerted membership campaign. Membership is certainly one way to track how the public values an organization’s work.
We track several things – basic attendance via our guest book, which is not always signed by visitors; number of researchers who use our facility by visitation, email, mail, and phone via a research form filled out for each request; and our website visitation statistics, which can be sliced and diced every which way.
The interesting thing about web stats is that they tell us which of the hundreds of pages on our website are getting hit and how often. Certain topics are definitely more popular than others, and our blog, with its constant change, gets the most hits.
We have seen a steady increase in website use each year from 2004 through 2008. (We only have stats back to 2004, although we’ve been online since 2002.) We had 3,697 unique visitors in 2004 and 19,643 unique visitors in 2008.
We see website visitors contacting us for further research, and it’s a rare researcher nowadays who hasn’t already been to our website. While web use seems to be impacting research, we’re not sure how to translate that into membership or more long-term support.
Of course, one way all of us have (or should have, anyway) of statistics tracking is through our bookkeeping systems. Are we on budget? How are our donations and memberships looking for the year? How are we doing on expenses? Our board pores over financial reports every month. Using these figures, we make continual adjustments, whether times are good or bad.
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