In his new book, Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church, author Rich Birch provides a steady stream of useful tips and practices for churches to enact to achieve maximum growth potential. In this post, we discuss actionable ways to support his 5 practical church growth systems with online church marketing.
1) Big Days
2) Series Rollouts
3) Content & Social
4) Community Engagement
5) Internal Communication
Like spokes on a wheel, all five systems must be active or your wheel will go flat.
Spoke 1: Big Days
Spoke 1 on the Church Growth Flywheel is Big Days – those three or four critical Sundays that occur every year (Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, “New Years” Sunday, etc). Online church marketing can be extremely useful in promoting these days. Birch discusses 10 “Big Day Channels” to help get your people to invite their friends, who are more likely to accept invitations on these days. One channel he discusses is Social Media Shareables. Churches need to generate content that their people want to share with friends and family on social media. A fantastic way to do this is with videos containing remarkable content, rather than overloading the viewer with information about your services.
Once the Big Day has passed, you will want to re-engage the seasonal visitors. A fantastic way to do this is to have retargeting code added to your website. This will tag visitors with retargeting cookies, allowing you to deliver your church’s ads to them at a later date. This greatly increases their likelihood of remembering your site and revisiting. It will also allow your church to gain more traction and recognition online. There are two types of church retargeting campaigns:
1) Website Retarget
2) Facebook Retarget
If it’s feasible within your budget, both should be utilized to increase traffic to your church’s site.
Spoke 2: Series Rollouts
Spoke 2 on the Church Growth Flywheel is Series Rollouts. For maximum effectiveness, churches should promote every series the same way, developing a strategic system for promoting each new series. Birch discusses 8 aspects of rollout promotion, and online church marketing is essential here. As on Big Days, churches need to create Social Media Shareables. In the week leading up to the new series, churches need to post shareable content throughout all of their social media channels. The idea is to stir the conversation online.
An excellent way to spread the word of your upcoming series rollout is via a press release, which can be posted on both your website and Facebook. Since church growth is achieved by reaching the unchurched (those who are not already members of your church), Facebook is essential here. Working with a marketing company to run your Facebook Ad Campaign will ensure that your posts and ads are being seen and your marketing goals are being met.
Spoke 3: Content & Social
Spoke 3 on the Church Growth Flywheel is Content & Social. Social media has changed the way we interact with each other, and in today’s world, online church marketing is essential for church growth. When marketing your church online, churches need to generate both helpful and remarkable content. Remarkable content is difficult to generate because it must contain the magic combination of creativity and timing. Churches must capture the moment, share it with others, and get people talking. Social media is invaluable for this, because people are already there, talking with friends. Birch shares four examples for generating practical content:
1) Share behind-the-scenes content
2) Repurpose the existing content you have
3) The Q&A Format (i.e. what 3 questions do you want answered via videos or blogs)
4) “What to expect” content (for those who have never been to your church)
If churches are to maintain their importance in society, they cannot shy away from social media and online marketing. They must engage with people and respond to every comment, as well as share other people’s content. With over two billion people using Facebook every day, it is the one social network that every church must take into consideration. Running a Facebook Ad Campaign is essential.
Because Google is the largest and most-used search engine in the world, any church wanting to improve their online presence and reputation would be best served by making this happen directly through Google. There are many different ways to utilize Google, and churches should do their research here.
Google AdWords is Google’s online advertising program. Through AdWords, churches can create online ads to reach people and the answers they are seeking. Churches should look into enlisting a Google AdWord Professional to ensure their ads are effective at achieving maximum SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO helps to ensure that a site is easily accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by a Google search. The ideal situation is having your church listed on the first page of results via a Google search, and having the right keywords and phrases on your site is a necessity to achieve this.
Additionally, the Google Search Network allows you to pay to have selected pages from your site appear at the top of Google search results, greatly increasing your SEO. The three steps to this are:
1) Select target keywords based on ministries and Felt Needs (i.e. marriage, parenting, dating, finances, depression, etc.)
2) Create your Google Ad Campaign via landing pages (these allow you to deliver optimized content to coincide with the Felt Need the Google user is searching for)
3) Optimize your campaign
Launching a Google Display Network Campaign, such as the retargeting campaign previously discussed, is also a fantastic way to build your online presence.
Spoke 4: Community Engagement
Spoke 4 on the Church Growth Flywheel is Community Engagement. To grow, churches must also do remarkable things. Partner with local organizations to participate in service opportunities. These are highly visible events, which look great when captured on video and used for social media and online marketing.
Ensure that these videos are posted online, on both your site and Facebook. It is also advisable to create a Vimeo or YouTube channel for your church to increase your online presence and SEO.
Spoke 5: Internal Communication
Spoke 5 on the Church Growth Flywheel is Internal Communication. Churches want to ensure that the right people get the right message at the right time. Birch lists 3 groups within the church:
1) Raving Returners (those who are at every function of the church).
2) Sneezers (those who may not always show up but will always share what’s happening at church).
3) Advocates (those who go out of their way to promote your church to the broader community because they support and love the church). These are the members who are concerned with how the church is utilizing social media, online marketing, and Facebook to promote the church.
All three groups comprise the “radical minority,” the 10% of your church population who will tell others about your church. Engage these members in marketing your church online. It is essential that these members are promoting your Social Media Shareables with their friends and family.
In today’s world, social media and online church marketing cannot be ignored if a church is to grow and maintain its importance within the community. Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church, is both a quick and valuable read for those looking for indispensable ideas to grow their church, as well as example formulas to follow.