24 Church Marketing Strategies from the Pros

Cody Cromwell
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Engage New Members via Text Messaging

There’s an 89 percent response rate for text messages sent to church members, compared with 27 percent for phone calls. In addition, 94 percent of members indicate that they are likely to respond to text messages sent to them by the church.

When you send text messages to new members, include a link to your website or a video from your website. You want to make sure that members see your church in the warmest light. You need to sell them on having a great time at church. Be sure that you make it easy for them to click on a link in a text message to visit your church webpage. Make sure they will find no trouble with signing up at your church.

And when you ask members for their emails, provide a link that will send them a reminder that they need to respond and join your church.

Serotonin is a brain chemical that plays a major role in mood regulation. When it’s low, you feel depressed and lethargic. In a large percentage of Americans, serotonin is depleted, and what’s left is staggering. According to a variety of published reports, Americans are experiencing a significant depletion of serotonin.

In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont, women who reported being bothered by emotional issues often had depleted serotonin. This depletion was also evident in adults with depression or anxiety.

Make Sure Your Website Is Current

Take care of your web pages problem areas. Make sure you update your home page with recent news, events, and some social media contact information.

Have your member directory updated as frequently as possible, but don’t do this in a way that will harm the accuracy of the information.

Organize Your Library

Organize your library of music and sermons in a way that makes it easy for members’ children and grandchildren to find a particular piece of music or sermon.

Hold Meetings to Promote Your Church

Plan and hold periodic meetings at which you’ll discuss your church’s progress. Those who are less familiar with the church can gather ideas from those who are involved with it and help them improve and update their communication and organization skills.

Use Church Social Media Strategies

Just like changing your website, check out your church’s social media on a regular basis. Ensure that the information on the site (twitter, facebook, and blog) is current.

Find Ways to Get Involved in the Local Community

A lot of churches just have music on the weekends, but for those churches that are involved in the local community, their music ministry provided them with an opportunity to get involved in the community.

One of the pastors of Lifegate Church in Tampa, FL tells their story, "We test all of our marketing campaigns with the question, 'If you could have your church or your music ministry provide free or at a reduced cost to one of life’s most basic needs, what would you do?'"

By doing this, churches build relationships with the community and get to test out marketing with the community. In this way they have a direct relation with the community and no longer have to rely on what the print media provides.

Your church can also get involved with other local businesses to offer incentives for your visitors.

Connect with Your Members Outside Sunday Service

The term church marketing is a catchall phrase which basically means the church’s inside and outside communication with its members and prospects. Every church marketing strategy fits into one of these two categories. But your church marketing strategies don’t necessarily fit into just one category.

You can take your unique church and blend elements of these two different church marketing strategies in order to get the cocktail that works best for your church. Your church is unique in that it can be a combination of many different elements and elements that are new.

When a church marketing strategist is working with a church, it might sound like –your church marketing isn’t broken, exactly, but it could use some fixing”.

Here are five church marketing strategies that were identified as the most useful for churches, based on the information from The Church Marketing Project.

“Send Cards to Plan for a Marketing Campaign.”

This church marketing strategy involves sending out a thank you card to every member two weeks prior to most member outreach campaigns.

Not just sending out a thank you card to every member, but to every member who shows up for a scheduled outreach. While you’re at it, reach out to potential new members as well.

Make Sure Your Church Shows up in Local Search Results

The internet provides amazing marketing opportunities for churches to grow their ministries. These opportunities have given us information and connections that previous generations never could have imagined. Social media websites are a great way to connect with people around the world. Unfortunately, multiple websites do not equal multiple CPA accounts. In fact, multiple websites can often outweigh the over all quality of your church’s website. That’s why implementing a strong local SEO strategy is one of the most important factors for local search. Measures such as sitemaps, citations, and footers on other sites can improve your church’s local search position.

Catch the Attention of America’s Target Market

Change the Country where your church is listed has a profound impact on your church’s website’s display in search results.

United States” (which generally has a .us extension) is the most common and typically the most visible location when searching for churches on Google. However, if you ever need to change the location shown on your church’s website, each country must be set up as a separate Google property to ensure that it displays without the –us” extension.

Add Your Church in Business Listings

Engaging members of your congregation is an essential part of establishing and maintaining healthy and active churches. If you’re a youth minister or a church worker you will be taking time to meet and engage your church’s young people. If you’re a worship leader or a YOU channeler you will be talking with and engaging your congregation. There are two critical strategies to engagement, having a current church list and including your congregation in business listings.

Create a Digital Marketing Plan

The digital marketing age is upon us and your church will never be the same after it. With the abundance of information, tools, and resources at our disposal, it's easy to get overwhelmed with trying to put together a marketing plan. It's also easy to get frustrated when things just don't go right.

If you are in any of these shoes, then start today by creating Digital Marketing Plan. Simply pick a topic, write down some ideas, and lastly, challenge yourself to implement them one step at a time.

Here is a short list of ideas if you are struggling to get started:

Create a Social Media Marketing Plan

To set your plan on a solid foundation, your first step should be to create a social media marketing plan. Don't know where to start? Here are a few tips:

Don't rely heavily on influencers to create content for your brand.

Take note of the social media channels your church uses, especially if you have a digital strategy.

Look beyond just the channels you use today.

Using our church template as a foundation, add in your social media platforms to build a social media marketing plan that fits your needs.

Display Directional and Welcome Signages for Your Church

Church meeting rooms should always be welcoming and inviting for the church goers. Luckily, there are plenty of tips that you can use to display your directional signage for your church.

The key to making your signage look effective is to ensure it is easy to read and easy to understand where your facility is located. There are a few guidelines to follow when posting directional signage for your church.

The first thing that you want to do is ensure that yourself and your church goers understand which way they need to walk to enter the facility. Ensure that you place the directional signage wherever your church goers will need to enter the facility.

However, it’s recommended that you place your directional signage somewhere else first. This means you can move your signage after the building has been built. Before you do so, make sure you plan for the placement of the directional signage.

The next step is to ensure that the directional signage is placed so that it reaches the top of the doors. If there’s no door handle, then make sure you place the signage higher. If you place your signage too low, your church goers will have a hard time seeing it.

Always Transcribe Your Sermons

Always transcribe your sermon, whether you officially record it or not. You might want to transcribe it just to listen to it at a much later date.

To make your recordings more usable in the future, don’t get to another meeting, start your sermon off with some introductory music and then eject the tape when you’re done. Make an audio or video CD of your sermon before you do anything else. At the very least, get the picture of the recording on camera.

Photo processing is less expensive now than it was in the past. You can take the picture of the CD and upload it to a computer. You can also order some small cards from a printer with your sermon printed on it if you want more than just a picture.

Transcribing a sermon by hand can become a daunting task if you do it continuously over a long period of time. Transcription software was invented for the purpose of transcribing exactly what the minister says on a specific topic, not in the context of his or her sermon. The technology makes it much easier to get the recording of your sermon transcribed, making the book and CD much more valuable.

If you comply with these few tips, in the near future, you will have a great resource to use.

Create a Facebook Page for Your Church Organization

Create a Facebbok Page to support any and all your church marketing goals. Simply create a page, then add a few photos, add a prospectus on your website as discussed previously, and voila, you have a page similar to many others. Here is an example of a page which has no real website. Notice the integrated Facebook Like button.

Facebook isn’t just used for creating a page. Creating a Facebook app is a great way of audience building through your church’s Facebook page.

Here is a page building app from one church leader. The page building app is not only free to use, but highly customizable and allows you to predict if anyone will share based on past Facebook data. The app is only being used for small churches. For larger churches with thousands of members or if you know exactly who your audience is, incorporating a tool like this will be necessary.

Get the Approval of All Stakeholders Before Running a Marketing Campaign

Most people fail in running a successful marketing campaign because of three main reasons. The first one is that most companies don’t plan a great campaign. They basically throw in a marketing campaign without making a thorough analysis of what the people will respond to, and what they really want. The second reason is that their marketing campaigns are not aligned with the people’s actual needs. The last reason is that there is a lack of the right amount of resources to make these campaigns work.

There is only one solution to all these problems, and like the grasshopper and the ant, we must act differently to survive. Unlike the grasshopper and the ant, we must act smart, share jobs and wealth with each other to be smart.

A great place to share this information is online and in social networks. Don’t take anyone for granted anywhere, as you will see how people will be more liable to spread the message and act smart !

The first thing that needs to be done by a marketing company is to get the approval of those stakeholders. Share your idea with them before going to the next step. A result we’ll always get is that the people in the company are going to support us in running a successful campaign. But instead we need to go for the support of those who will be affected by the implementation of the campaign – customers and clients. Start there.

Encourage Your Members to Get Involved in Church Programs

No one likes to feel neglected. Show your members they’re important by letting them know what’s happening in the church. Use bulletins, newsletters, e-mails, and social media sites like Facebook to provide updates on church events, fund raising efforts, and family messages. Encourage members to get involved by sending out birth announcements, birthday announcements, and announcements for other special events.

This will help members feel like a part of the church community, as well as help you collect information for future marketing efforts. In turn, members will be more likely to respond to your invitations for involvement.

Emphasize Your Church’s Brand

People joining a church have marketed intentions, so church marketing strategies need to be evident with people progressing through the funnel.

A church that points out its brand explicitly in the marketing strategies surrounds its message. The church subtly emphasizes its brand in ways that are attention-grabbing; its brand truly envelopes the marketing.

A church can emphasize its brand by using the color blue. Attracting attention with the color blue is a good strategy, and it also brings a church closer to its community. It is like saying, ‘You are part of a community, and church here offers you a way to cherish that community’’yes, you don’t just belong, church believes that you are the most precious part of the family.

The main idea that the church is promoting can also be communicated by the color blue. For example, a church wanting to emphasize the Christian message may use blue.

In a way, it’s like a church marketing its marketing strategy. In this case, the strategy that the church uses to market its strategy is the best way for the church to market its main idea.

Strong churches spend a lot of time in their local communities. Churches that have been struggling understand the importance of this. It makes sense; strong churches provide a powerful connection between the church and its context, which is what attracts people.

Focus Your Marketing on Semi-Regular Members

Make sure your efforts don’t go to waste by focusing your marketing on semi-regular members, rather than all members. According to the 2014 Church Marketing Survey from the Church Marketing Council, 52.7% of church members attend every service, while 31.8% attend half of the services. That leaves 19.9% who attend less than half of the services. And while you would think that your efforts should be directed towards getting these more less-frequent attendees to attend more of your services, new research shows that doesn’t always work. Instead, your efforts should be focused on members who are semi-regular.

Church marketing campaigns should embrace both the needs and sensibilities of all your congregants. Your Sunday School program should be taught so that it can be used throughout the week. Your Easter and Christmas services should have a focus on meaningful messages that the whole congregation can use throughout the year. The prayers at the communion table should be so inclusive that anyone who attends the service can feel welcomed and even be a part of the worship. By implementing marketing campaigns that embrace a variety of worship styles and offer multiple opportunities for community involvement, your semiregular members will want to attend more of your services, and will feel like they are a part of your church family.

Organize Activities to Attract a Specific Audience in Your Local Community

Just like any other entreprenuer you need to know how to use Social media effectively in order to bring more clients to your business.

Create a group in your community, that both you and your consumers can participate in. Affiliating your group to a community church or sponsoring the group is a great way to promote and bring in more business.

You can also organize activities that are related to your business such as going to meetups and attending local community events your consumers will be attending.

One thing to remember is that not all churches are big or mainstream so while some churches may have many members in your community, you may not be able to find other churches that have a lot of members.

Partner with a Local Business to Organize an Activity

Sponsor a Community Program

Sponsor a community program can be a terrific way for a church to reach out to its community.

For instance, you could sponsor a healthcare walk, a food drive, or an annual leadership conference. Or consider offering your facilities, such as a gym, as a venue to celebrate events, such as graduation or a high school reunion.

Sponsor a community program offers your church the opportunity to become more involved in the workings and events of your local community, and it also aligns your church’s objectives and values with those of its community.

Lead Your Community in Supporting a Cause

Our partnership with The Church Marketing Group (CMG) has been amazing! We sponsor a Speaker’s Bureau providing speakers for church and non-church settings and we offer a Social Networking Conference annually. One of the things I found to be very common as we shared our marketing stories is the theme of community. Churches of all sizes and budgets want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves and the many causes they serve.

The CMG team is comprised of those who have served in positions of leadership at some of the largest and most well known church organizations in the country. The ones you…ve heard of.

They…ve earned many designations for their work in a number of churches including onsite website design, content writing, marketing strategy, church service unit design, church development, etc. They have run facilities, held staff positions and leadership positions in a variety of church organizations. They are those who love church and who have served as part of the vast church nation….these are players.

What they all have in common is the same vision: to serve the church and to build healthy and vibrant congregations.

Invest on Google Paid Search Ads

When you're running a church, your marketing budget may be small. However, you won't believe how many churches have used Google AdWords and have seen the difference it has made in their marketing results. If you upgrade your Google AdWords account, you can run ads that pay for themselves simply by showing ads to your church's potential donors.

Systematically test the ads and track conversion rates. Make sure you're spending enough to cover your costs and still make a profit. Check out Google's cost per click to get an idea of what you might be spending on ads. If you're already running AdWords, don't spend more than you can afford to lose.

Invest in Google Analytics. This is free software that can show you how your site is performing. Your church will need to spend a few dollars on this, but it's well worth it.

Advertise offline. Get in the local paper and pay for display ads across many different publications.

Campaign for seasonal resources. Learn what drives people to your church.

Add event registrations to your website to attract users during the events.

Use your website to provide other methods of contact.

Create a mailing list that you can create personalized offline newsletters for.

Add a blog to your website. Build a relationship with your visitors by commenting on blogs on other websites.

Make Sure That Your Website Is Optimized

There is no magic formula to guarantee that your site will appear at the top of the Google search results. But the obvious first step is to make sure that you’ve used effective website marketing strategies.

First, you can use the information on the Google search engine for your website and see whether or not it’s been included by the search engines as a part of your business website. You can click on the link directly or use the Google search engine to find your product or service in the search results.

Next, you should think about whether your website contains the information that people search for, and the majority of internet users use the search engines as they’re the easiest way to find what they want on the Internet. Knowing which keywords people are using will give you a sense of whether your website is optimized for those keywords.

If you’ve included a link to you website on your email campaign, you should also consider the placement of that link on the website itself. Adding Meta Tags to your emails can help you understand Web page titles, descriptions and other data that gives you an idea of what the search engines are seeing.

Create a Mobile App for Your Church Group

There are apps for everything these days, from making phone calls to taking photos, and now there’s one to give you instant access to your church group’s schedule.

A lot of today’s church group schedules are on paper, and most people, especially younger members of the church, have no idea where the schedule is. They can’t even find it on their phone.

An app can solve all these problems because it’s always with you and easy to use. It has all the information you need at a glance – what’s going on today, who’s leading the service, and how to find your church group’s schedule.

And best of all, you can take your church group’s mobile app with you and give your members instant access to the information they need.

Some churches have been using mobile apps for their children’s ministries to make it easier for parents to find out about their children’s activities and events. A church group’s mobile app can be the same, but for the entire church group membership.

Build an Engaging Social Media Presence

Phone Apps These are things that happened right before the holiday season:

Facebook is rolling out video.

Twitter now allows users to follow entire towns like Vinesbury, England.

The Windows Phone 7 launched.

New gadgets! While many people are invested in these trends, none of them have the same lasting effect on a church’s growth like a new worship format or worship team.

Start a Referral Networking Program

Let your church members refer a friend to your church and be rewarded! The church can send out an invitation to attend your service on a specific day. But instead of just signing up to attend, attendees are asked to bring a friend who’s not a member to your church. When an attendee refers a friend who comes to your church, the member gets a gift certificate or a discount. It’s a great way to ask for referrals, and it will strengthen your church’s membership base! Sometimes it’s better to give than to receive. And although money can’t buy happiness, it can buy lots of other useful things.

Two Product Marketing Strategy Ideas

Your church can sell more services such as tours of your church building and/or offering station to the guests you’re trying to recruit. Offer discount coupons to your members who bring guests to attend your service. For instance, if you’re offering a church tour for free, offer a coupon to the attendee/guest who brings a new member to your church. Keep in mind that not everyone who attends your service will come back. But by including those who bring guests to your church, you’re hoping to harvest a crop of new members every time.

Don’t Forget About Traditional Marketing Methods

For churches looking to strengthen their congregations, there’s no need to ditch traditional marketing options in favor of online ones. In fact, they could be a great complement to amplifying the church’s online marketing efforts.

However, it’s also important to incorporate online platforms as elements and not distractions. If users look at your website and think, ”That’s it?” then you’ve done something wrong.

You should utilize online platforms to supplement or strengthen your already strong traditional marketing efforts, but you should never view online platforms as just another marketing tool or a strategy.

For starters, the old saying ”A picture is worth a thousand words” holds true. A good picture can effectively communicate a lot more to users than just a headline.

If users have to click to preview a thumbnail of an article, do that while you’re at it. The more time it takes users to uncover your content, the less likely they are to get excited about it. Don’t limit yourself to only one picture, either.

Include several pictures in a row so users have time to digest each one and understand what they’re seeing.

Over to You

7 Successful Church Marketing Strategies for Churches on a Budget

As you ponder your church marketing goals for the new year, I’d like to share some of my simple ideas that have helped us boost our numbers at our church. I believe that determining the right marketing strategies for your church is both a science and an art and can be done pretty inexpensively. My hope is that this inspires you and your church team to join me to set goals, find ways to achieve them with resources you already have, and evaluate your progress. You can use this post as a reference on your journey to create a culture of marketing in your church.

Church Marketing: Get Those Feet Wobbly