Whether they know it or not, churches in the United States are engaging in digital marketing. It is necessary in our society.
With this in mind, it is vital every church knows how to leverage digital marketing to properly engage their congregation as well as reach out into their communities.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is any form of digital communication a church can use to reach people inside and outside its congregation.
This may seem like excessive communication to some leaders, but the truth is, in this hyper busy time, every time you communicate you are helping to draw people back to God and into community with other believers.
To cut to the point, digital marketing for churches is all forms of communication useful for cutting through the noise of daily life and connecting people to God and each other.
Why Churches Need Digital Marketing
Churches have always been highly focused on where to place their physical location, and rightfully so. Where you place your building can determine how many people can find you and are willing to travel to your services.
With the digital age upon us, the digital real estate your church occupies is becoming a determining factor in whether new people will try your church out for the first time.
People are making decisions between entertainment, family time, work, business, and participating in church. This pulling in all directions makes it necessary to inform people early and often about all the groups, programs, and services the church makes available.
Churches today are not only struggling to reach out into the community but also with those who attend on a regular basis to help them understand how church participation needs to be a part of their life and can help them connect with God and each other.
The church who shows up in the first three map results and on the first page of Google, who also has active social media accounts, and consistently communicates with regular attenders is the church who will have the greatest impact on their community.
Components of a Church’s Digital Marketing Strategy
At this point, an attractive, well laid out website should be a no-brainer.
With platforms like WordPress, it is easy to create a professional looking website even if your church cannot afford a professional designer to give the site that extra pop.
The most important elements for your website include:
- Clear site navigation
- Mobile device friendly
- Contact information
- Directions to Church
- Hours of operation
Remember, most people will judge your church based on the quality of your website. A poor website reflects just as poorly as having a gutter hanging from the side of your building.
Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent toward social media, it is a part of how people interact with the real world.
Social media needs to be utilized to interact with regular attendees and attract new people to your church. This includes engaging content, regular announcements, and shareable communication.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the best opportunity to attract new people to try out your church.
The perception of SEO is it only involves ranking on Google but, for churches, it includes your business profile, reviews, and ranking inside of Google Maps.
Proper SEO for churches can be the difference between people seeing your church as a real option for a first time visit or being completely invisible.
Proper ad strategies can lead to much more exposure for your church, as well. Whether you are trying to generate interest to a special event or show up in searches for common queries like “church near me.”
Coupling ads with a proper SEO strategy can allow your church to take up a lot of real estate on the first page of Google.
Every church should be streaming their Sunday services live. It’s easier than ever and can be done for free if you are willing to put up with a watermark.
Keeping people connected when they cannot be there on a Sunday can help ensure they return to in-person services when they are able.
On top of Sundays services, video communication can be an effective way to reach people with news and updates.
Having your congregation sign up to receive text messages is the most direct way you can communicate. People also consider text messages to be a more intimate form of communication.
Providing quick, simple text messages can help you communicate urgent/emergency matters, special announcements, person specific reminders, and more.
A few of the top text messaging providers for churches are:
- EZ Texting
- Simple Texting
- Text in Church
Digital Marketing Tips for Churches
Too many times people receive communication which feels like they are being sold something. This should be avoided.
Pay close attention to the purpose of your communication. If something is strictly informational (church meeting time, youth event, etc.) then keep the tone of the communication in line.
Not every nugget needs to be dunked in Jesus sauce and communication meant to be inspirational should feel inspirational.
Keeping the tone and authenticity in mind will have people feeling more in tune with the church and make them feel like they’re a part of the church family.
Focus on Relationships
As much as it pains us, the majority of people coming to a church for the first time are going to be church consumers. They want to know what the church can do for them.
By focusing on relationships in our digital communications we can help people to feel connected to the body of believers and help them make the personal journey from church consumer to church participant.
Usually when we talk to a pastor about consistency, we get into a discussion about theology. However, what we are referring to here is being deliberate and consistent in your digital communications.
Create an intentional rhythm in your communication and your people will come to expect when different types of information are coming their way.
A simple example is a church newsletter.
If you are communicating everything that is going on in the church, the newsletter should come each week at the same time. Over time, the number of people opening and spending time with the newsletter will increase as it becomes a part of their weekly routine.
How to Handle Digital Marketing Efforts
As a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO, we are obviously partial in thinking you should outsource your SEO.
We believe this because hiring an SEO agency to handle the ins and out of SEO and digital ads is more cost effective than hiring a full-time, in-house specialist. It is also more effective than making SEO the second, third, or fourth responsibility for one of your existing “techy” team members.
But what about the other digital marketing tasks?
To get some answers on what you should handle in-house vs. outsourcing, we talked to Daniel Pandolph of Ministry Assistant Services, an agency who helps churches outsource everyday tasks to virtual assistants, to see what he recommends.
According to Daniel, churches under 1500 in weekly attendance will benefit greatly by outsourcing most of their digital marketing. These churches can get highly talented and already trained individuals with a heart for ministry, without the cost of full-time salaries and benefits.
Areas that he recommends churches consider outsourcing include:
- Social Media
- Google Ads
- Facebook Ads
- Website Development
- Emails and Scheduling
It’s clear there are a lot of tasks which can be handled by a virtual ministry assistant to help streamline your ministry operations. If this is something which could help, we highly recommend reaching out to him through their website.
The size of your church is going to be the main determining factor on whether you should handle some of your digital marketing in house.
Larger churches will want to handle certain tasks in-house which don’t need specific expertise. If your church has enough work for a part-time administrative assistant, you can fill up the role to a full-time position with basic digital communications tasks.
Why Choose Tavallo
Tavallo is a digital marketing agency focused on helping churches and businesses improve their digital presence.
Not only do we have a passion for the local church, we have had success in working with churches to help them rank on Google and utilize digital advertising to attract new visitors.
If you are looking for a partner to help you have an impact on your community then we want to be that partner.