Top-Secret Mormon Web Traffic Stats Revealed!!

COB DAMU Marriott Mission Field Mormons Public Relations Romney

Top Secret!

Check out the official December 2010 web analytics that LDS Inc. doesn’t want you to see:

How many people visit Church sites? The family of official Church sites (LDS.org, Mormon.org, FamilySearch.org, etc.), gets about seven million unique visitors per month.

What are the biggest Church sites? FamilySearch.org is our biggest site with about 3.5 million visitors a month. The LDS.org home page gets about 2.5 million visitors a month. The Gospel Library, which has current and past magazine articles, gets about 1 million visitors each month.

LDS Web Stats Fig. 1

How many websites does the Church operate? The Church operates over 100 different websites. We have about 65 international sites for countries around the world, plus more than 50 other official Church sites (and the number keeps growing).

What are the top international sites? Brazils site is our biggest international site with almost 40,000 visitors each month. It is followed by Argentina, Mexico, Japan, and Germany.

LDS Web Stats Fig. 2

Why does LDS HQ want to prevent these stats from seeing the light of day?

1) Unlike this ballyhooed LDS stat, these web stats are accurate.

2) Unlike this announcement, publishing these stats would not generate useful buzz.

3) The international numbers have got to be a huge disappointment.* They would seem to suggest that we’re already much bigger than the membership of the church outside the U.S. (“we” being the disaffected Mormon underground). Think about that and then think about how you’d explain such a frankly pathetic outcome to the folks paying tithing to build chapels and temples overseas.

View/download the source doc here.

* “Brazil boasts more than a million members, the worlds third-largest Mormon population, after the United States and Mexico. It has 27 missions, more than any country outside the U.S. About 10 percent of the faiths 52,000 missionaries are called to Brazil.”

32 thoughts on “Top-Secret Mormon Web Traffic Stats Revealed!!

  1. Many countries in which the Church has had a lot of growth are third world, like those in Central America and Africa. Church members there are less likely to have Internet access.

  2. Your observation sounds right, but it’s orthogonal to the point Figure 2 makes regarding the almost total failure of the international proselyting program to create demand for localized LDS offerings.

  3. Bear in mind, that the Church is now correlated. That means that it has lost the ability to adapt to national audiences. If you open the Church’s print publications, you will have the token minority, you know the same black singer of the MoTab twice a year and, may be, one international family.

    Other than that, it’s all America all the time. American people, American clothing, American furniture, American phones, American make up, and bonnets galore.

    While some of that makes sense because internationals want to join an American religion, you do need to adapt to the needs and interests of your audience.

  4. Speaking of audiences, according to Boyd Packer, Mormon editors should not think about their readers but about pleasing their superiors:

    Elder Lee had agreed to give me counsel and some direction. He didn’t say much, nothing really in detail, but what he told me has saved me time and time again. “You must decide now which way you face,” he said. “Either you represent the teachers and students and champion their causes or you represent the Brethren who appointed you. You need to decide now which way you face.” then he added, “some of your predecessors faced the wrong way.” It took some hard and painful lessons before I understood his counsel. In time, I did understand, and my resolve to face the right way became irreversible.

    If everybody does that then the quality of the Church’s product will decline. You can observe the consequences of that management model all over the Mormon Church.

  5. I think it’s hilarious that the peak of web traffic for LDS.org is Sunday morning. All those last minute talk writers looking for quotes make are making the site hoppin’.

  6. The problem with the “much ballyhooed LDS stat” is that membership rates in the Mormon church include children born “under the covenant” and children of existing adult members. Take into account the rate at which the average Mormon family produces offspring and this is a number entirely different from the number of bodies actually filling the pews on a weekly basis.

  7. The Deseret News link was priceless. It ends with Scott Trotter saying, “We are not interested in growth for the sake of numbers.” This in an article with the headline “14 million Mormons and counting.”

  8. Did you capture that stats before the take down? It appears that blog didn’t have permission to post all of the stats.

  9. Where hard facts about Mormonism are concerned, my rule of thumb is: download always, post when they go missing, and ask forgiveness later. Permission or not, the stats are golden. It’ll be interesting to revisit this topic a year or two from now. Or maybe not. I suspect that this could well be the last time we’ll ever see in-house stats re official LDS web traffic, in which case I’ll have to rely on third parties and the comparison will come with all kinds of caveats. In the meantime, enjoy the peek at an initial baseline.

  10. What a silly waste of time! Why not spend your time and energy doing good, working righteousness, doing acts of charity and kindness to your fellow man? What good are you doing by trying to embarrass the Church? Do the millions of people who have benefited from Church humanitarian assistance in the past ten years give a hoot about the Church’s web traffic?

    Certainly you could focus your energy on something more positive!

  11. #6 KJC said: The problem with the much ballyhooed LDS stat is that membership rates in the Mormon church include children born under the covenant and children of existing adult members.

    I was surprised to learn that the church counts babies who have been blessed and named into its total membership statistics. When I consented to having my daughter blessed and named in the LDS church (she was dedicated at my local Protestant congregation as well), no one told me beforehand that this meant she’d be officially counted as a full-fledged member until she was at least 18. I assumed the count doesn’t start until they get baptized at age 8. My husband wasn’t even aware of it, so I don’t blame him.

    I’m not completely sure what I’m going to do next time we have a kid. I dislike the idea of them being counted as members from the cradle, but it would break my husband’s heart if I said “no” on a blessing and naming ceremony.

  12. spamlds — what a silly waste of time, commenting on websites you find uninteresting! There must be thousands of them on the Internet! Don’t you have anything constructive or useful you could be doing instead?

    And, in general, if you don’t get the point of a website, it’s common courtesy to start by reading the FAQ before jumping in on a random thread with questions that have already been answered.

  13. In country’s where members speaks other than English language it is logical that number of lds.org and other such web page users will be small, since most of those web pages are in english or language they don’t understand. about half of Church membership lives outside US and I believe many don’t have or don’t use Internet for web surfing.

  14. Internet usage in Latvia doesn’t lag all that far behind the US, maybe 15% gap.

    Admittedly, instead of 75% for US or 60% for Latvia, the percentage for Brazil is only 40%. Even so, if LDS statistics are accurate, there should be over 400,000 Mormons online in that country.

    Either the Brazilian LDS membership statistics are inflated or less than 10% of Brazilian members (with Internet access) are using the Portuguese web pages available at LDS.org.

  15. Either the Brazilian LDS membership statistics are inflated or less than 10% of Brazilian members (with Internet access) are using the Portuguese web pages available at LDS.org.

    Or, the Church has proselytized the poor and uneducated in Brazil, and not attracted the Brazilian middle class. I have no idea what the case might be — just throwing out possibilities.

  16. Game on. I just left a message for a gal who was born in Brazil around the same time I showed up with my missionary tags. What do you think, Sabrina? Are Brazilian Mormons mostly poor and uneducated?

    P.S. Not a dig, Alan, I’m seriously curious if she’ll show up. She’s got good taste in Brazilian music but maybe y’all can talk to her about the religion thing.

    Or maybe this isn’t in good taste. Whatever. I’ve taken a liking to Forr universitrio.

    Or maybe it’s just because I sell accordions in real life.

    The start of Chinese New Year is just around the corner here in my corner of the world, so you’re gonna have to put up with this and one more video clip to mark the occasion.

    Perhaps the most selvagem of them all, Caetano Veloso.

    ETA: Nothing’s been redacted, so my rambling is still preserved for posterity, but at least it’s not spread across three comments with embedded videos.

  17. It seems like the US and Japanese websites both get in the neighborhood of one hit per active member per month. I’d guess that would be lower in emerging or developing nations.

  18. Alan,

    Brazil boasts the 5th largest internet traffic in the world. 54% (82 million) of its population access the internet on a regular basis, of which 87% access it weekly. (F/Nazca, Ibope Nielsen polls for 2010)

    Based on the 2000 national census, only around 26% of officially recorded Latter-day Saints identified themselves as Mormons. We’re are currently waiting publication of the 2010 census!

    Official LDS records for Brazil claim 1.1 million members. If we extrapolate Census projections, we’d get roughly 300,000 active members (who, at a minimum, would self-identify as Mormons). If we extrapolate from national polls, we’d expect some 150,000 internet users among active LDS, which would place the current Brazilian visits to official LDS websites at around 25% of the expected target audience.

    I don’t think this means there are actually only 40,000 active LDS here in Brazil, but it does give us some idea of *how* active Brazilian LDS are, i.e. how engaged and participant in the Mormon community, how interested in and devoted to the institution, etc.

    You have alluded to the “third-world” factor for which we must correct. Although it is true that conversion rates are significantly higher among the poorer segments of society, active membership in the LDS Church is a costly business. Tithing aside, there are many money-intensive aspects to being an active LDS, not the least of which are clothing (expensive for a tropical weather), transportation (especially since Sunday public transportation are notoriously less reliable), time consuming (which translates into less free time, of which poorer urban people already have less), and education intensive (which is needed to thrive in the Mormon culture, and is costly).

    Although you’re right the Church attracts a lot more the poor rather than the middle-class, it retains asymmetrically more middle-class than the poor. If anything, the Church in Brazil has a “wealthier” bias as a cross-section of the overall Brazilian social structure.

    Which makes the original post’s point even more poignant, at least here in Brazil!

  19. It seems that the LDS church could learn a lesson from the pragmatism Brigham Young when he sent aid to beleaguered handcart companies saying, “Prayer is good, but when baked potatoes and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place.” Religion may be good, but when potatoes and milk are needed, religion will not supply their place.

  20. It seems that several of you are basing LDS church membership numbers on the number of visits to Mormon websites; however, anyone can visit these websites, not just Mormons. And the most visited site, Family Search, is geared toward anyone interested in genealogy, again, not just to Mormons. I have several friends of different faiths that use the church’s genealogy websites. And I fail to understand why this is so “Top Secret” and NEEDED to be revealed. Its not like you were shedding light on some secret Mormon society.

    As for the Church keeping blessed babies on their official roles, I suggest you take a look at the Catholic church. You can’t tell me they don’t count every baby they bless and baptize as members of their church. Of course they do, and I venture to guess that most churches keep as many members on their roles as possible. But again, why is this a big deal? So a church says it has X # of members, so what? If thinking you “caught” the church skewing numbers for membership or Internet traffic is a reason to put down a religion, then you must put them all down.

    Besides, a person’s spirituality is his/her own, and the church (whichever one the person chooses to belong to) is there to provide a structured foundation for doctrinal knowledge, edification, and personal growth.

    And why is it that just because some entity (person or organization) doesn’t publish something about their activities mean they are trying to hide some nefarious agenda? If we use that logic, I can’t believe what you say here because I haven’t seen all the websites you visit, or where you went today, or who you talked to at lunchtime, and thus I must conclude you are hiding something and can’t be trusted.

    I will close with this thought: A certain man eats at the same diner once a week with a group of friends. They all eat the same breakfast every time; eggs, bacon, and orange juice, like millions of people do every day. Some of them grew up eating this for breakfast and continue to eat it. Some of them saw the other friends eating it, decided it looked good, and now they eat it all the time.
    Over a span of time, this certain man finds the taste of that breakfast has lost its savor, and he chooses to eat oatmeal, toast and milk instead, like millions of other people do every day. The man decides he likes this new breakfast and now eats it every morning.
    Does this man now have to tell everyone else that what they’re eating is horrible and they should leave it for his new breakfast? Or should he just accept the fact that he likes something different and move on with his life?

  21. 1. Probably most of the people online who identify as exmormons are atheists, and do in fact put all religions and forms of non-materialist spirituality down (to my chagrin since I’m exmormon and theist). Familiarity, however, breeds contempt, and they feel more personally victimized by Mormonism than Catholicism. If they were all altar boys who’d been raped, they’d probably feel differently.

    2. I personally agree that “a person’s spirituality is his/her own,” which is one reason I personally dislike Mormonism. It doesn’t let you have your own spirituality. It tells you that any Unverified Personal Gnosis (personal revelation) you get that’s contrary to its teachings comes from Satan instead of God. And it takes the good feelings some investigators get from praying about it, and uses them like a snare, telling the investigators they mean that the church is 100 percent true so you need to get baptized and pay tithing no matter what.

    3. The particular exmormons who published this info feel that it’s part of a pattern of deception, obfuscation, and telling partial truths on the part of the LDS church, about its membership and history. This is not the only thing that they’ve written about that pattern, and they would probably encourage you to read more.

    4. Your closing question is disingenious, because that’s exactly what 50,000 Mormon missionaries do every day. You don’t accept other belief systems as fully valid, you believe that everyone must enjoy your exact “breakfast” at some point in this life or the next, and you believe that the only reason anyone wouldn’t enjoy it is because they don’t like stuff that’s good for them. Not because of food allergies, or sensory issues, or anything else. To you, there is no valid reason not to eat and enjoy that one breakfast every day for the rest of your life.

    As long as your church is doing that, you don’t have the right to complain about others pointing out that it’s an abusive and manipulative organization which hurts its own members and others.

    Or is just plain secretive, like the author of this post pointed out.

  22. Of course, this begs the question: If Mormonism were a breakfast food, what kind would it be?

    My money’s on Total. It’s bland and flavorless, but they insist that it has everything you need. And from their Great and Spacious Cereal Packing Plants, they mock people who eat anything else for any reason.

  23. Fox,
    You completely missed the point of my closing statement. I was stating this: If you leave the church why do you feel the need to fight against it so strongly. Why can’t you just leave it behind when you find something new?

    I was an ex-mormon for more than 15 years. It was my choice to walk away and I did, but I felt no desire to fight against it. I didn’t even want to bother with it.

    I will admit I have seen some members do things, both inside and outside of church, that I felt went against the gospel teachings. There are obviously things in the history of the church that were questionable. I have been in wards that were pretty snobby, and in my opinion prideful, but I have always been able to separate the people from the church, and understand that humans are imperfect, and never will be. The church has never stated that any of its members are perfect, only that the Gospel that is tries to teach is.

    I have returned to the LDS church because I believe in its teachings, not because of a belief in its other members. Over the last year Its teaching have brought me peace and happiness in my life which I could not find during the 15 years where I thought I could find it myself.

    You know as well as I that we are completely free to choose how we want to live in this life. Now, obviously I think it would be great if you would change your minds, but I definitely support your decision to walk away. I’m sorry a lot of you had bad experiences at church and I wish you hadn’t, but it’s not the teachings of the church that’s at fault it’s a some members who are at fault. The bad conduct of some members doesn’t negate the entire belief system of the church.

    Please believe me, I have absolutely no ill will towards anyone who has left the church, and I’m not here to convince to rejoin. I guess I just don’t understand why there is such a need for you to fight so hard against it when you’ve left it.

  24. Hey, Ethan. As ex-Mormons, we get that question quite a lot, so much so that we devoted an entire post to answering it just so we point folks there when the question comes up.

    For myself, let me continue your breakfast analogy. If I had a reason to believe that the raisins in my friends’ oatmeal weren’t in fact raisins but someone had substituted rabbit droppings, would I be a good friend if I sat by and said nothing? Maybe they like rabbit droppings. We have been taught that “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.” (D&C 88:81) If a person believes that the LDS church is a negative influence in their friends’ lives, regardless of whether or not you agree with that assessment, do you think they would be good friends not to try at the least to share their concerns?

    Also, you seem to be suffering from a misapprehension. Most of the ex-Mormons that I’ve talked to didn’t leave because they had a bad experience in the church. Most of us had put up with a lot of things because who would really leave The Truth over personal conflicts? For those of us who didn’t just drift away because of disinterest, my impression is that a majority leave only after they discover reasons to think that not all of what Mormonism has claimed is true.

    So when LDS church leaders talk about people leaving because they feel offended, maybe it happens sometimes, but I’ve never talked with anyone who did. It seems that those leaders are barking up the wrong tree.

  25. So, Ethan has left ex-Mormonism, but he can’t leave ex-Mormonism alone.

    I venture to guess that most churches keep as many members on their roles as possible.

    You’ve guessed wrong. I don’t know the practices of the Roman Catholic church, but Protestant churches try their darndest to maintain accurate roles and clear ex-members from them periodically. Remember, Protestant churches report their finances to their congregations and ask for them to vote on how funds should be spent. We don’t like reporting inflated numbers because then the congregation might get a poor sense of how to allocate the funds. Besides, if the congregation thinks we have more numbers than we do, then they might get complacent and feel that evangelization is not an urgent task.

    Case in point, when I formally joined the Assemblies of God, I contacted the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.) and had them transfer my membership records so that I wouldn’t be double-counted. I did the same thing when I switched from the Assemblies of God to the Evangelical Covenant Church. I didn’t have to, as the old denominations would have cleared me from the roles after not seeing me for a decade or so, but I wanted to help them make their records accurate as soon as possible.

    Some ministries certainly do fudge the numbers in reporting how many people have answered an altar call and gotten “saved.” It’s a cheap tabulation that does not require much by way of maintenance or accountability, which makes it easier for a minister to exaggerate his (or her) success.

    But that’s not exactly the same as reporting 1/3 more members than you actually have.

  26. Thanks to the regulars for fielding this — especially Jonathan @30 for directing Ethan to our FAQ.

    If you leave the church why do you feel the need to fight against it so strongly.

    Ethan, this is a site for discussing LDS-interest issues. Some of the posts/comments are critical, some aren’t. Yours is a common misconception among Mormons (common enough that it’s our FAQ). Allow me to point out that simply being an former Mormon and continuing to have an interest in discussing LDS issues does not imply “fighting strongly.” Please note that you came to our site to criticize us, not the reverse.

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