Digital Outreach Engagement Pathway For Churches | Bart & Jason

Bart Blair Leave a Comment

Bart & Jason share an Outreach Engagement Pathway that is key to engaging and challenging people into deeper connection with your church.

Podcast Transcription


[00:00:13] Well, this is season three, episode forty-two of the Missional Marketing Podcast Show. I’m Bart Blair. I’m joined by the CEO of Missional Marketing, Jason Hamrock. Jason, welcome to another episode of the podcast.

[00:00:28] Glad to be here, Bart. And I’m really pumped about what we’re going to talk about today, I’m pretty passionate about it.

[00:00:33] You have been, I would say you’ve been drinking some Kool-Aid, you’ve been pouring some Kool-Aid for the team at Missional Marketing to help us really get better at coaching the churches that we have an opportunity to serve day in, day out, week in, week out, helping churches reach more people. The purpose of this podcast is to help churches grow by leveraging digital marketing and effective communications. And under that digital marketing and effective communications, we use this the term digital outreach, how can we reach more people in our community via digital methods? And you’ve been putting some things down on paper, you’ve been sharing it with our team, you’ve been sharing it actually even with some of the churches that you’ve been meeting with recently. And I asked you if we could record a podcast on this because, well, it might not all be dry cement yet, but there’s a lot that we can build on and I think help churches today.

[00:01:28] So let me set this conversation up by simply saying that we often meet with churches and there is a general expectation that if the church will run some ads, that people will click on an ad, and next Sunday they’ll be at church. In fact, I see ads promoting this to churches that if you’ll just run some ads, people will click on your ads and next Sunday they’ll be at church. And while there may be a very, very small percentage of people who would actually do that, see a church ad, click on the ad, and the next Sunday show up at church. We know that by and large, that is not going to be the majority. And so you have kind of developed this pathway, this way of thinking about how we move people from that first click to an in-person experience on our campus, and that’s what we’re going to talk through today. So I’ve set the table for this conversation. I want to throw things over to you and let you just sort of begin teaching us how we can do this better.

[00:02:33] Thanks, Bart. Yeah, I’ve talked to a lot of churches about this, I’ve collected a lot of data on it, and I want you to think about a funnel. It’s a funnel, and we want to go from awareness to attendance. How do you get people to become aware of you to attending in person? And it’s a funnel. And so the team and I, we kind of hammered through that and we were figuring out the funnel levels, right, that leads it down. We would love to not have a funnel. We would love to have, you see an ad, and then 100% of the people show up, that would be amazing. That doesn’t happen. That doesn’t happen, Bart just said that doesn’t happen. We promote the church and we get maybe a few people that will show up, they might already be Christians, we don’t know where they are, but that doesn’t happen very often. Now over the course of a year, if you do it right and you nurture that relationship and you build some trust, I think those percentages go up, that people will attend over the course of time. That’s different, and I’m going to talk about that, that’s different from promoting, you know, a trunk or treat event, right? You promote a truck or trunk or treat event. You could get like 60, 70% of the people that saw that ad to show up because it’s an event, it’s free, and there’s like no strings attached, you can attend and leave, that great to have. What we’re talking about is, how do I build awareness about our church to a community that’s going to funnel them down. So here are the kind of the steps that I talk about, and each one of these levels, and there is a strategy behind it.

[00:04:16] So the first one is awareness. You want to build awareness, What do you mean by that? It’s actually running ads digitally, but it could also be traditional ways. Like it could be, you know, running billboards or you could do direct mail pieces or any of the traditional methods, but you’re creating awareness about who you are. And that can be done for just inviting people to church, or it could also be meeting people where they are with some type of a felt need issue, right? My marriage is in trouble. My parenting needs help. You know, I’m addicted to something. I’m going through some grief. Whatever that felt need is, you can be there, church, to help that user understand that you exist and you’re here to help them, that’s called awareness. So you really want to have a ton of awareness going on. And most churches, I talk to them, they’re like, yeah, our front door is wide open. Well, yes, but I’m talking before the front door, it’s just building awareness of who you are. Because that then if you get somebody to click on an ad, you move to the second ring of the funnel, and that’s called knowing. Now they know you, now people are going to…

[00:05:35] Can I back up? And I just want to ask you another couple of questions about awareness, generally speaking, before you get on to the next piece. Because I think, I talk to a lot of churches, as you do, and most of them, again, come with the preconceived idea that if people were just aware of who we are and where we are, they will actually attend our church.

[00:05:58] That’s too big of a leap.

[00:05:59] Yeah, I agree with you. So when you’re talking about awareness, what do you think some of the primary things are that a church ought to be communicating through those awareness campaigns?

[00:06:14] That’s a great question. I will often ask the church, what are your core values? I was with the church this week, and they said that their core value was everybody belongs. Awesome. So are you telling me if I show up to your church, I hear and see that everywhere, that I belong? Yes, you do, Jason. Okay, that’s what you want to start with with your ads, you belong. You know, you’re taking that core value and you’re expressing that all the way to an ad that shows you belong. Now, let’s talk about what does it mean to belong? You know, I would use those in words, I would use those in images who are who is your congregation. Don’t bait and switch me. Right?

[00:06:57] Oh. Gotta stop for a second. Shoot. Completely frozen up. One of us lost Internet.

[00:07:17] Okay. Oh.

[00:07:19] Uh.

[00:07:22] Was it me?

[00:07:23] You completely froze. Did I freeze on you? He froze on me again. Yeah, I’m wondering if you’re having an Internet issue. Mm. You’re back now?

[00:07:42] I’m back. Yeah.

[00:07:43] Your Internet? Yeah. Your Internet is really started getting really choppy, and then it completely froze. Oh, Where were we? That’s a good question. So I’m going to back up. I’m going to ask. I’m going to ask the question again. And I like where you’re going. I like where you’re going with it in terms of the core values thing. So let me ask let me ask that question again. And you can go right back into the core values thing. Okay. I’ll count it down in three, two.

[00:08:11] Okay. Jason, let me ask you a question about this awareness idea. I think a lot of churches kind of take the approach that if people were just aware that we are here, they know our name, they know our brand, whatever that is, that they’ll show up on Sunday. And you’ve already said that’s too big of a leap. Let me ask you, what are some of the things that I need to be certain to include in my awareness campaigns? Like what’s the messaging that I should be delivering?

[00:08:44] Yeah. Well, the last thing you want to do is bait and switch people. So I always ask the question of the church, What are your core values? What do those look like? What are those one-word statements? And I was with a church earlier this week and I asked that same question to the pastor and he said, Oh, everybody belongs here. What do you mean we? It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, that’s a phrase from my church, you belong. I said okay, there you go, on our ads, everything is going to be revolving around, you belong. Because you’re going to see that through that funnel, you’re going to see that on the website, you’re going to hear that in the pastor’s message, you’re going to see that on the campus. So we really want to articulate that core value and start that in the ads, you belong. And that says something to people, right? So I would choose images around that, I would choose words around that, and there might be more core values, but that’s how you can start to build that awareness that you belong. Now, maybe it’s more of a, you know, we care about our community. Awesome, maybe that’s another core value. Then show that in your ads, how you’re serving and loving the community around you. You got to build awareness, that’s critical.

[00:10:01] I want you to move on to the next phase of the funnel. But I want to actually say that I love the idea of using the core values as something that you’re promoting about who you are, but I would say you want a story, brand it so that you’re actually communicating those core values in a way that it expresses a need that the person on the other end is actually having. So that whole idea of, you know, belonging, the language, the copy that I would be using would be related to recognizing that the person who’s seeing the ad, the person who’s on the other end is maybe disconnected relationally, doesn’t have the kinds of relationships that they’re looking for, maybe has always felt like a bit of an outcast or a misfit wherever they are. And then we flip that around and identify that this is a place where you can belong, even if you’ve never felt like you’ve belonged anywhere else. So it’s less about who we are, and touting all about us, and more about acknowledging where the person on the other end is and meeting them where they are.

[00:11:03] And you know, you were talking about felt needs campaigns as you were kind of introducing this whole awareness idea, and that is, yeah, people are dealing with marriage issues, parenting issues, financial issues, addiction issues, and those sorts of things. And if you have ministries and the ability to connect people into those types of venues, environments where they can get help with those things, the most important thing is not making the ads all about me, us, and our but actually writing the ad copy and making it all about you and where you are. I think that’s a more attractive pull when it comes to those awareness campaigns.

[00:11:37] And I want to see those core value statements on your home page, not your mission statement. I love you guys, but nobody, especially if you’re unchurched or de-churched cares about your mission statement. Of course, you’re trying to save the world, but they don’t understand that. But they will relate to you belong, and we want to care for you and we care about the community, and, you know, those adjectives. That’s what you should be putting in the ads, putting it on the website experience, all the way through to when they sit down in a seat and they listen to the preacher talk.

[00:12:06] Okay. So where do we move from awareness? What’s our next sort of season in the funnel?

[00:12:14] So well, now they know you. Okay, so now that they know you, what’s going to happen, they’re going to start exploring your website, right, or your social media, but for the most part your website. And so here’s my little thing I’d like to talk about, most church websites, be honest, ask yourself this question, is our website basically just a brochure about our church, or does it actually help people? And what I mean by that is, yes, we can go to the messages page and watch 30-minute sermons, if don’t go to your church, I probably won’t do that. But I would watch snippets, I would navigate over to the children’s page to learn about kids, and if I saw other additional resources on there, maybe some articles about how-tos, how to help navigate my kids and social media, or how to pray with my children, or how to talk to them about who Jesus is. Like some resources, that would be amazing. What if there were also some testimonies from families in your congregation that are going through some issues but have come out the other side because of the ministry of your church? So when I land on a landing page, I don’t want to just see some content about, it’s a brochure, I want to see some engagement and I’m going to choose if I want to keep engaging. So now that I know you, I’m quickly moving to the next funnel piece. But that know part, it’s critical, you’re going on a first date, literally, and you got to be on your best behavior on that date. Right? And you got to say the right things, and you got to act the right way. It’s no different when you’re talking with somebody who’s now aware of you and they’re checking you out, those first impressions are critical to that deeper engagement, which takes us to the next ring.

[00:14:18] Let me share a thought with you. I don’t want to, I’m not throwing any of my church communications directors under the bus, but most of them would probably not attend the church that they serve in based on an exploration of their own website. You know, I was just sharing this with one of our team members earlier today, we were having a conversation about people trying to sell us stuff. And I said, you know, I get all kinds of, I think a lot of it is because of this podcast, I get a lot of connection requests on LinkedIn. And one of my biggest pet peeves is the connection request that I get on LinkedIn I accept it, and like not 30 seconds later I have a message from that person in LinkedIn trying to sell me something. And I can tell by the sales message that they have absolutely no idea who I am and what I actually do, they think they know, but they don’t really know. I think our church websites often come across that way.

[00:15:26] They come across as we don’t really know you, we don’t really know our community, we really don’t know who we’re trying to reach, all we know is who we are and what we’re all about, and our website is really about us and what we’re all about. And if you start thinking about how you can meet people where they are and use your website as a place for more personalized content and resources that actually meets the needs of the people that you’re trying to connect with, it does move them along in that funnel. You have this idea, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a church that has done it, but you had this idea a while back that on the staff page, rather than just having pictures of all the staff, could you have just like a little 60-second video clip of every staff member introducing themselves and making it like super personal and making it less of a brochure and more of, I don’t know, just more engaging, right? Give me some little videos to watch.

[00:16:21] Why are you in ministry, right? Not just, oh, this is my family, which is fine, but I’m here to serve you, I love helping people. And I think of Joe, I met with him, you know, you could tell stories on your staff page about how you’re doing ministry to help people. That way you make it about the user, not about you.

[00:16:41] Oh, yeah? Why do you love the community? Why do you love being where you are? Yeah, absolutely. In fact, have you seen a church do this yet?

[00:16:49] No, no.

[00:16:50] Okay, I’m going to throw this out here, the first church communications person or church person who emails me with a link to their staff page who has replaced all of the static images with videos, I’ll send you a Starbucks gift card. Okay. It’s That’s my email address, I’ll send you a Starbucks gift card if you can get little video clips of all of your staff on your staff page and just demonstrate this. Because I think it’s cool. Okay, all right, people are aware of you, people now know you, what’s next?

[00:17:26] Well, the next funnel is, I mean, some people are going to choose, ah, not my church. Okay, awesome, but some people are going to say, Ooh, I like this. I like it. I like what I’m seeing. And that’s the next rung of the funnel, right? They like you. Now in that, okay, there’s a little leap here, because some people will, I want to talk about the timeline of this thing, but some people will choose to like you for quite a bit longer than others, right? Some people will be like, hey, I’ve been watching you for like a month or two, and I kind of like what you what I see, I’m going to show up to church, some might take a year. But here’s the thing that we’re trying to achieve in this, is people that will like you if you do this right church on most pages of your website, you should have a call to action, multiple calls to action. But one of those calls to action should be, download this thing, right, and it’s called gated content. If you can have some gated content, gated means, hey, if you want this, there’s an exchange, give us your name and your email, maybe even your mobile, and go ahead and download this free resource on How To Have A New Kid by Friday, that’s a book, but you know what I’m saying, right? How to be a better parent, right? You just gave them a tool that they’re wanting, and they gave you their name and their email and maybe their mobile, they have chosen that they like you enough, they’re starting to trust you a little bit, and they’ll do that exchange. Boy, I’ll tell you, that’s gold. We’re talking marketplace, this is what Visa and Mastercard, and insurance companies, they crave to get that kind of a lead gen, right? I mean, this is, why at the church do we not do this? We have this expectation, oh, you just come to church to get your help. Why? It’s 2023, why can’t we go to them and help them where they are? Build relationships there, in their space, on their phone, in their home, and that way we have a connection with them, they will start to build some, which is the next rung, some trust.

[00:19:40] We’ll get into that, so that they show up and they attend, because it’s a, I’m telling you this, this is really, really critical. I’ve asked a lot of churches, and I’ve said to the churches before, this is a question I ask you, church, okay? When somebody shows up to your church and they come to like a starting point kiosk or something, like that, right, they literally show up and they want more information. You should ask them, you probably do, what brought you here today? Okay, and there’s a pie chart with that, right? Some people will say, oh, a friend invited me, or some may say I just drove by, or I came to an event, or I saw some kind of thing, or it’s digital, I found you online. Right, that’s what we’re talking about. You should ask the question, oh, is this your first experience with us? You’re going to get, no, it’s not, I’ve been watching you online for a season. What I’m learning is a lot of people, a majority of the people, are watching you online for a season before they actually attend in person. Right? Those are the days we’re living in right now. What I’ve been finding out is that season is anywhere from a minimum of like 3 or 4 months up to a year, that should blow your mind. Wait a minute. You’re telling me that people will watch for a season, 3 to 4 months, up to a year before they actually attend in person? The answer is yes. You should find out that data for yourself. Now, if we understand that, we should now be thinking about the next rung, and that is building trust.

[00:21:16] Right. So if you’re a regular listener or viewer of our podcast, this concept, this idea of gated content, lead generation, or connection generation content is nothing new. We have been talking about this for the last couple of years at nauseam. My dream is to see a church website that literally has some kind of lead generator or connection generator on every single page. And the reason for that is that I believe that we can actually start discipling people long before we ever actually know them personally. Your church, your pastor, your marriage ministry, your children’s ministry team, they’re creating content, they’re generating content that is designed in a way that you only get it if you show up on Sunday. What if you actually were able to take some of that content and put and package it in a way that you could distribute it through your website in a gated format so that you could actually start discipling people before they actually show up on Sunday? An example would be, hey, one of the things we’ve preached for years is your church should have a who is Jesus page. By the way, most of your churches don’t. If you don’t have that on your summer to-do list, put it on your summer to-do list, and build a page on your website about who Jesus is on that page. A piece of gated content, maybe it’s a seven-day devotional or a 30-day devotional on how to get to know Jesus and include a whole Bible reading plan and some questions and some, you know, and then someone from your church can actually follow up with the people that actually download that. Guess what, somebody was on your, who is Jesus page, they downloaded a devotional about how to get to know Jesus, or how to become a Jesus follower, or how to become a disciple of Jesus, or how to become a Christian. You now have a lead for a person who said, I’m interested in this and you can follow up with them. And you can do this on pretty much every page of your website, whether it’s your missions page, your giving page, your children’s ministry, student ministry, marriage ministry, singles ministry, divorce care, grief share, you name it. Every page can have a piece of content on it. And what does that content do? It does two things. It it obviously gives you the exchange of information which you gives you the opportunity to follow up with them, but you’re giving them something that will help them. And that’s what builds the trust, right? Which is our next which is our next rung on the ladder funnel, whatever you wanna call it, trust.

[00:23:51] This is so important. Church because. I we just missed this step. We just think, come to church, build trust while you’re here. No, that’s not. Yes, there’s like 5% or 10% of people who will just do that. We’re talking about the majority of people who are de-churched or unchurched. Last time I checked, that number was growing. So what we have to do is we have to spend time over the next 12 months to cultivate. And equip and start to build trust with these people. What do you mean by trust, Jason? That we care about you, that we know you. We love you. There’s a God who’s crazy about you, and we have answers for your problems. We’re building trust with them. So I think the best trust building content are stories of change, lives of people that are in your church. Helpful advice on topics and your pastor starting to build some awareness. So sermon snippets or clips about, you know, whatever it is that he’s talking about. In fact, I think what you should do is if you get that lead that comes in there, it’s critical over like first two weeks, right? That you want to build that engagement and you want them to know you care. But then after that, there’s probably a whole 12 month. Planar cycle where a couple of times a month you’re sending an email and it’s not coming to church. It is. Here’s Hey, we’ve been thinking about you. Here’s some here’s a resource on this topic that you’re dealing. Maybe it was marriage thing they landed on and that was the lead that came in. Their marriage was a wreck. They took a marriage assessment or something like that. Then you should have follow up emails around marriages, right? If you stop and think about that, you’ve got tons of content that shouldn’t be at all problem content.

[00:25:50] You want to be focusing on stories of change lives, because I want to see that somebody at your church was going through what we’re going through and you tell me there’s hope. There’s like, we can fix this. Yes, God can do anything. But I want to see that through a story. So there should be a plan of action for email drip campaigns that just happen that go out over the next 12 months. That trust factor is massive and we just gloss right? We don’t have time for that, Jason. This is a great time. It’s summertime right now, 2023, summertime. Start building it. If you’ve got questions, reach out to Barton. We’ll teach you how to do that. But that’s the critical thing that I think we totally miss, that if we start to build some trust, what we’re going to find is that people are going to go, Man, this church cares about me, Let’s go check them out. How about next Sunday? Honey, does that work for you? Yeah, let’s do next Sunday. We don’t know that time frame. It could be a couple of months to a full year or more. But we’ve got to keep building that that trust. But that’s the next that’s the next rung and it’s huge. And that’s on you. Church Because that’s your content that you want to be. If you’re a director, you should be already be collecting these stories because, by the way, the stuff that I’m talking about that are those emails can be used in social media, can be used on your website, could be used on the weekends, you know, pre-service countdowns or whatever. All that stuff can be multi used all over the place.

[00:27:15] Here’s the thing. I think a lot of churches get really intimidated about the prospect of it. But the reality is, is that a lot of it can be automated. You know, we had Colt Straub on the podcast earlier this year from Cornerstone in Oklahoma City area. And, you know, he’s been doing lead generation type of content for a while. Not exactly what we’re talking about in this context today, but a lot of it can be automated, a lot of it can be automated. So, you know, one start with one piece of content on one page. Um, you know, use a MailChimp or some sort of plug in on your WordPress website that links to your MailChimp account that you pre-build the email nurture campaign sequence. And so when someone goes to the website, they fill out the form, they get the piece of content, and now you’ve already pre-built this, this email and it runs in perpetuity and you can depend on either organic content, bringing people there, you know, people finding you by their Google searches, or you can run paid ads to get people there. Either way, there’s an opportunity to repurpose content that you already have in the hopper somewhere and take some time to build out these these these campaigns and these these, you know, funnels. And then the next thing you know, it starts to compound, right? Content compounds. So one email turns into two emails, turns into ten emails, turns into 50 email addresses. And now you’ve got, you know, you’ve got all this personal information for people who are in your community, who are interested in what you have to offer. And through these nurture campaigns, you are building trust with them because you’re demonstrating that you are trustworthy, that you care about them, and that you you want to move them from where they are, which is on the couch in their living room to a seat in your sanctuary. But it’s going to take time and it’s going to take an intentional effort on your part.

[00:29:03] That’s right. That’s so that that next rung is that people are going to attend. And there are some things that you can do, especially with your church management system, to sort of track that. I’m always thinking about the ROI of what kind of money are we investing at the top of the funnel that’s going to trickle down to getting cheeks in the seats, as I like to call it. I know we’re not in this for money, you know, we’re not in it to get more people so they can give more. It’s for their soul. But I’ll tell you, that’s a great way to look at it because the ROI is important for your executive pastor. You know, they want to see that you’re you’re being a good steward of those resources that that they’re given to you now the next rung because, hey, we care desperately about people that are following Jesus, right? So that next rung after they attend is how do you get them to stay and disciple and there’s other tools that we love to teach about in that space. I’m not going to go into them here, but just think our funnel isn’t just end with, okay, now they did attend and we’re done. No, no, no, no. You want to keep building and articulating so that your discipleship process is well in tune and they’re staying, right? And if you start with those core values at the very beginning of the funnel and you play those things out, I’ll tell you, that’s that’s massive.

[00:30:17] In fact, um, I was just on, I was listening to a call from one of our coaches who said this, this the guy, the guy the communication director was talking about, if we can get our people to do one thing as soon as they show up. Right. So they attended some weekend over the course of just a season, if they can if they volunteer one time, they are like 80% more likely to stay and engage. That’s huge in this big church. So he’s talking about how do we get people to take that next step? Okay, it’s a funnel. There’s otherwise you lose your back door’s wide open and people just walk away. That’s no good, right? What good is that? We want to close the back door. We want the front door wide open. And so this whole funnel thing just makes sense. We’re at the top of the funnel talking about, you know, engaging people and we’re just talking about that digital slice of of the way you grow, right? There’s still all kinds of ways you grow as a church. This is just one of them.

[00:31:15] Let me summarize this so that we can wrap this up. We set the table by saying most people would would hope and love that people are aware of who we are and that they’re naturally going to attend. And so we have those two pieces on the funnel knowledge and awareness. So they they are aware of who we are and, and they’re going to attend. But you’ve, you’ve placed three steps in between awareness and attend and that is know like and trust people will attend your church. When they know you, they like you and they trust you. And we’re way too dependent, I think, to build the trust. Once somebody has shown up on a Sunday and we need to do more to demonstrate that we’re trustworthy before they show up, because that’s, I think, what’s ultimately going to get them to cross the threshold of the building. Anything that you want to add before we wrap this up?

[00:32:09] Hey, if you’re going. Oh, I’d love to learn more about this. We got a lot more to teach. We just lack of time. So reach out to Bart or myself and and schedule some time. I would love 30 minutes. I could. I could explain this funnel. There’s a lot more to it. And I’ll help equip you with what you need in order to go to leadership and say, Hey, we should think about implementing this. You’re already doing most of it. It’s just you’re a few steps away from really implementing this type of a of activity which is going to pay off. So reach out to Bart and myself.

[00:32:41] Absolutely our contact information or at least a link where you can set up a meeting with one of us will be in the podcast show notes. Thanks again for tuning in to the podcast. If you’re new to the show and you haven’t ever subscribed wherever you’re listening or on our YouTube channel, make sure that you do that. On every episode that we post to the YouTube channel, we actually pin a question to the top of the comments section to try to just engage with you. So make sure if you’re watching on YouTube, you check out that question, answer that question. We’d love to engage with you there just to to see what you’re learning or see what we might be able to learn from you. And again, if you have any marketing or digital outreach needs, we’d love to be able to serve your church. So again, you can schedule an appointment to meet with Jason or me or one of our other capable team members. We’d love to be able to help you out. Thanks again, Jason. I’m out of here.

[00:33:30] All right. Thanks, Bart.

Free Church Growth Tools

Deliver More Google Search Traffic to Your Church Website

Lady pointing across her body
Use This First! arrow pointing to the first tool
Map rolled at the edges with a local pin
Local SEO Report
Grant certificate
Google Grant Eligibility Checker
Outreach to young people
Millennial Content Analyzer Tool
SEO magnifying glass
Keyword Analyzer Tool
Monitor with graph showing improvement
Homepage SEO Audit Report
Broken monitor
Website Downtime Alerts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *