Lead Generation for Churches | Chris Martin

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In this weeks podcast returning guest Chris Martin discusses what lead generation means for your church and why it’s important.

Podcast Transcription


Bart Blair: [00:00:08] Hey, Chris Martin, thanks so much for joining Jason and me on the podcast today.

Chris Martin: [00:00:13] Of course, yeah, happy to be here.

Bart Blair: [00:00:15] Hey, so Chris, we were just discussing offline that you are a repeat guest on our podcast. In fact, only the second repeat guest we’ve ever had. You are now in the company of the likes of Katie Allred, who is one of our superstar friends. And so I don’t know if that elevates you to the same status as Katie, but why not? Why not for today anyway?

Chris Martin: [00:00:35] You can try, she is far smarter than me, she’s she truly is an all-star, I walk in her shadow.

Jason Hamrock: [00:00:42] Yeah, we all do.

Bart Blair: [00:00:43] Yeah, Katie is pretty awesome. Hey, so for any of our listeners or YouTube watchers who aren’t familiar with who you are, maybe they didn’t get a chance to tune in to the previous episode that you were on our podcast. Why don’t you give us the Reader’s Digest condensed version of the Chris Martin story?

Chris Martin: [00:01:04] Yeah, so I spent seven years running digital strategy of various kinds at Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville, which is what brought me to Nashville and where I still live. I Did a number of different roles there, ultimately spent the last couple of years in my time at Lifeway leading social media strategy, so I was creating the content for the @Lifeway social media handles, and I was in charge of overseeing the roughly 60 social media managers they had at the time. Those folks were doing other things, but they were also running social media, and we had 250 plus social media accounts. And so my job was to kind of try to corral those, and get us all running in the same direction, and frankly shut a lot of those down.

Chris Martin: [00:01:47] So I did that for a while and it was great, and then now for my day job, I’m at Moody Publishers as of September of ’20. I moved to Moody publishers based out of Chicago, I’m still in Nashville, but at Moody, I serve as a Content Marketing Editor, which really means I have one foot in the editorial department where they’re deciding what we publish and going through the book publishing process, and I have one foot in the marketing department. So because I have a significant amount of experience both on the publishing side and the marketing side, they were looking for somebody to kind of bridge that gap and who could think in both spaces. And so around the time I was looking to find something new, they were looking to fill that role, and so it was really a great match. And I’ve enjoyed the last year or so that I spent there, and I get to do some really cool stuff, edit books, help with online content strategy, things like that.

Chris Martin: [00:02:39] On top of all that, personally, I write a twice-weekly newsletter called Terms of Service. Which really gets beyond strategy and some of the practical things we talk about, like on this podcast, and gets down to like, what’s our relationship with social media doing to us, and kind of examining that more closely? And really, I don’t encourage people to shut down their accounts, I don’t encourage people to totally log-off, though that may be healthy for some folks. I just encourage us to kind of pause, step back, and examine our relationship with social media and the social internet broadly, and ask questions of what’s this doing to me, is that good, where’s the healthy, where’s the unhealthy? Because so many of these things, we just do without even thinking about, and we just engage and we never ask, is this good or is this bad, we just kind of go with the flow? And so my hope in my personal writing is to just get us to stop and think, is this good for me, is this bad for me, how should I proceed accordingly? And I have a book coming out in February, actually, called Terms of Service on those same points.

Bart Blair: [00:03:44] Oh, very interesting, I am a subscriber to the Terms of Service podcast myself. And you can check my open rate, I do actually open them and read them, most of the time, it just depends on, you know, how many other emails are in my inbox.

Chris Martin: [00:04:00] Look, I don’t expect every email to be of interest to every single person, so it’s understandable.

Bart Blair: [00:04:07] Yeah, but I’ve got to at least open it to figure out what you’ve written and whether or not it’s worth my time, so that’s the question there. So, you know, this is a little bit of a different episode for our podcast, a little bit different than what we typically do. Jason pitched an idea to me a few weeks ago about a topic for a podcast, and I thought, well, Jason and I can get on a podcast and we can probably talk about this topic, and we may have some insightful things to share, I think that we do. But I thought it would be fun to bring you in to be a part of this conversation, primarily because of the fact that you are experienced with email, you use email, and I think email is going to be a little bit more foundational for the conversation that we’re going to have today than maybe churches would think about using email. But also in book publishing and in promoting books, one of the things that you’re trying to do is you’re trying to get people’s attention on a particular author or their content. And you’re trying to get them, the potential reader, to make a decision about whether or not they want to part with their cold, hard cash, whether it’s for an e-book or an actual hard copy of a book, and it comes through some nurture and some relationship building that has to happen between an author and his audience. And so, to whatever degree you can kind of bring some of your insight and experience to this conversation, well, we will see, we will see how this goes.

Bart Blair: [00:05:35] But the topic that we’re going to talk about today, the question that we’re going to try to answer, is how do we as the church, the local church, better engage new visitors on our websites? How do we initiate new relationships with new visitors on our website? I don’t know that most churches are thinking about it that way, they love to have people come and check out their website, a lot of churches work with us and we look at metrics and we look at numbers and we look at new visitors to a website every month. But the question that I always have when I’m looking at a church website and looking at their Google Analytics is OK, it’s great, you had ten thousand new visitors to your website last month, you’ve had twenty-five thousand new visitors to your website over the course of the last three months, what did you do with those new visitors? And so let me pitch things here over to Jason, Jason, I’ll throw you the softball so that you can kind of share some of your thoughts and maybe where you want to go with this conversation today.

Jason Hamrock: [00:06:31] Yeah, I will. Yeah, thanks, Bart. So, here’s a buzzword that churches never use, lead generator. Yet in the marketplace, in a secular world, a lead generator is all that, it’s exactly what companies are wanting, they’re wanting to generate a lead. What is the lead turn into? A sale. I mean that’s just reality, and so, churches never think about that, although, we do that all the time in the church world. We’re trying to get people to come to our church. We’re trying to generate leads, generate people, to come to church. So whenever I talk to a church and I throw that word around, they are like deer in the headlights. What are you talking about?

Jason Hamrock: [00:07:14] Well, that turns into a deeper conversation that I often have with the church, will say, well, let’s take a look at your website. And I’ll go to their website and I’ll say, do you know what this is? This is just a brochure about your church, about your ministries, it’s not actually ministry. You know, it’s built for your people, it’s never built for people outside the church. And so I don’t know about you, but I’m always trying to educate churches around the idea of when somebody is struggling with a felt need, they don’t go to your church, but they find something online, maybe it’s an ad or an organic search result, they land on a page, how are you helping them? How are you disciplining them? Right? Are you answering the problem that they’re searching for, my marriage is hanging by a thread, what do I do, right, it gets all kinds of topics. What are we doing to try and cultivate a lead, and that’s what you got to Bart, why not have what we call gated content on that page? So that somebody who lands on that page, they absorb some of the content, maybe some of the videos you’re sharing, and they’re going, wow, this is really good stuff, and I never even knew about this church, that’s great because you’re building and establishing some relationship through brand, right? They’ve never met anybody there, but they’re starting to get some answers. Why not create some kind of gated content, like the ultimate guide to how to fix your marriage tonight, enter your name and email address? And so I’m always talking to churches about this, because I feel like the more they can get focused on this area, the better they’re going to grow their church because they’re going to be able to generate emails, leads, that they can go back and reach out and connect with and try to grow. So, my question to you, Chris, is like, when you hear me say that, in your experience in the church world, are we on track with saying something like that, is it something that makes sense? Or is that like, no, churches will never do that?

Chris Martin: [00:09:22] You know, I think it’s a good idea, I’d never really thought about this before you guys emailed me about this podcast topic. First of all, I do a good bit of consulting, and sort of like consulting work, outside of my day job. And though most of the time I’m consulting with authors or individuals or kind of organizations, I do a little bit of church consulting, but not as much as other things. So I’d never really thought about this before because obviously, given my experience at Lifeway doing a lot of online content marketing there, and then given my role at Moody, doing much of the same, lead generation is one of the most important things we do. And it’s the way you cultivate a long-term relationship with an audience that can really be valuable for a long time, and it’s so much more valuable than social media. I mean, look, I ran social media, social media is my world, more than even email marketing, but social media is woefully less valuable than email marketing is, and for a whole host of reasons, some of which we may get into. But the primary reason is, you own an email list, you don’t own Facebook, you don’t own any of the people who like your church’s Facebook page, you don’t own any of that. You’re entirely at the mercy of the platform and their rules and how they do things, but that’s not so with an email list.

Chris Martin: [00:10:42] Obviously, you’re usually using a service like MailChimp or other such services to manage your email list, but you own that email list, you could take it and go from MailChimp or email service A and take it to email service B tomorrow with little to no problem, and so, I think the church building an email list is incredibly valuable, I think it is really important, I could totally see a church in a consulting situation like this, working with you guys, working with anyone, kind of thinking through, you know, I understand why a publisher or a business would, you know, some business that’s selling widgets would try to build an email list because we’re trying to sell something? But I could see a church asking a question, for what reason is lead generation valuable to me? Why is lead generation, like what am I generating leads for? I’m not trying to sell insurance, I’m not trying to sell something else, or get them to attend some like conference that I have per se, though that obviously could be a church’s goal, something to that effect. But I could see a church asking a question, to what end am I trying to generate leads?

Chris Martin: [00:11:50] I could also see a church asking a question, a guide to fixing your marriage, or how to have a more effective prayer life, you know, some workbook on that, or a 12 step guide to having hard conversations with your kids, or with your teenagers, or something like that. I could see a church asking the question, why would I put that behind a wall, why wouldn’t I just make that available for anyone to download, whether or not they give me their email address? And I would hear that sort of response and say, totally, I understand that. And I think charging for something versus asking for an email are two different things. Because I would say a chuch, I would have questions if a church wanted to charge five bucks for something they could easily give away for free. However, asking for an email is not quite the same, that barrier to entry is not quite the same. And so I think like just on the face of it and kind of the philosophy behind it, I think it would be really cool for a church to use gated content if it’s done effectively.

[00:12:53] Now on that point, because I’ve seen far too many churches, and no offense to you guys if you’ve advised churches in this regard, but I’ve seen far too many churches do digital marketing poorly. Where like there’s a church in Portland, Oregon, and I’m seeing content from a church in Portland, Oregon, on my Facebook feed. And I’m thinking to myself, all right, one of two things is happening here. One, the church isn’t doing Facebook boosting and ads effectively, they just don’t know what they’re doing and they’re boosting it. And like, I’m seeing it in Tennessee and they just don’t intend that, or this dude’s trying to become famous rather than reach his community. Like, those are really the two options that I have in mind when I’m thinking, there’s this dude in Portland, Oregon who’s whose sermon clip who’s like, man, that’s a fire little quip you got for that two-minute clip from your sermon, you either unintentionally ran that ad against me in Tennessee because I’m not going to attend your church, or you’re just like trying to really build a name for yourself. Like, you’re not serving your immediate community by running that, you’re wasting money if you’re trying to serve your community by running that ad against me in Tennessee, and so I’ve seen some weird practices in that regard.

Chris Martin: [00:14:08] And so I would say if a church like creates a Facebook ad, as an example, and runs it locally. Like says, hey, we’re going to run this ad against Facebook users within one hundred miles of our church. And then that Facebook ad is promoting that, 12 hard questions, 12 hard conversations to have with your teenager, and then they drive through that Facebook ad to that landing page, then you know that you’re theoretically attracting the emails and names of people within 100 miles of your church. Now, is it possible that you’ve reached somebody across the country, even across the world? Yeah, of course. But more than likely if you’ve created the front end of that ad on Facebook or wherever else with location in mind, you’re reaching people that you could effectively minister to.

Chris Martin: [00:14:56] Because like, I’m again, this might be a philosophical difference, like, I don’t think a wholly digital church experience is or should be the future. So like, I’m not convinced that some dude in Oregon should be trying to reach me in Tennessee, like, I think people should be trying to be in an embodied church experience. I think going digital has been super helpful for COVID and like during this time, and it’s been great for churches to like, grow and experiment in that way, but I think ultimately the local church is meant to be embodied and like rubbing physical shoulders with each other.

Chris Martin: [00:15:27] So my hope would be that a church would use a strategy like this as a means of providing a helpful piece of content for people in their community. With the eventual hope of, you know, if it’s a 12-page workbook on how to have hard conversations with your teenager, maybe then eventually you take those 300 emails you gathered and you’re actually going to have like a parenting seminar weekend on a Saturday from eight to noon, and have donuts, and you want to invite as many parents in the hundred-mile radius as you can handle. Well, there you have three hundred on that list, who you know are going to be interested in parenting teenagers, that you could just run that event content against that email list. And that makes you most effective in your ministry, rather than just scatter-shotting a postcard to your community, not knowing if you’re reaching a sixty-five-year-old down the street, or a parent of a teenager. So I think it can be really effective, but I don’t think just gated, I think it’s a whole strategy that really has to be intentionally thought through.

Jason Hamrock: [00:16:26] Yeah, and I think you could have all those different topics. You create some kind of a system to have a Facebook ad group, and it could be marriage, or parenting, or addictions, or grief, or forgiveness, or whatever search you’re looking for, right, and you drive people to that landing page. So if the question is, if the church says, why would you do this? Because it’s the great commission, ultimately, we’re trying to introduce them to Jesus, like, that’s what we’re wanting to go. But you sometimes can’t go from there to there in one step, sometimes you need to build a relationship. And that’s my answer to them going, you’re creating this content all the time on Sunday, in fact, I’d go so far as to say that lead pastor who’s preaching, they’re probably one of the best salespeople you have. Oh, we’re not selling the gospel, you’re convincing people, you’re educating people about the gospel, about what Jesus did for them. It’s kind of a sales tactic in a sense, you know, I don’t want to go down that path. But you’re really good at this church, why not reach them where they are in their felt need issue where they are and engage them, and then creating these systems to email them. And, Chris, I kind of think it’s a both/and, sometimes if that guy wants to build a name, you know, it was effective because you remember that. You know, and maybe that is a strategy, but I think it is more local, I think the local church is still the hope.

Bart Blair: [00:17:56] It got your attention because of where it was, probably not because of what it was. You know, I see those.

Chris Martin: [00:18:02] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Bart Blair: [00:18:03] Because we’re sensitive to those things, I’m like why am I getting this ad?

Chris Martin: [00:18:09] Hey, look, let me say as a caveat to that, if that dude wants to spend his own money to promote that, I’m all for it. But if he’s using the church’s money to, like, get himself out there, then I start to have questions.

Bart Blair: [00:18:22] Yeah, let me back up into something, and I think this will help maybe elaborate on what you were just talking about there a little bit, Jason. Then I’m going to pitch something back to you, Jason, to kind of expound on a little bit. So if you’re a church communications director and you’re listening to this podcast or watching this podcast and you have never checked out the training on HubSpot, you are missing out on some of the best marketing and communications training available, and it’s free. So I’ve gone through both the content marketing certification and the email marketing certification on HubSpot, I have learned so much. They are brilliant at what they do, and so much of it is translatable to stuff that we do in the context of the local church, so we are not paid or sponsored in any way by HubSpot. it’s just a really, really great, free set of resources that you should check out.

Bart Blair: [00:19:18] So that being said, I’m going to bring a little bit of HubSpot in here, and then I’m going to pitch something back to you, Jason. So HubSpot uses a definition for lead generation, and I’ve kind of reworked this for the local church, and that is the process of collecting information on prospects for your church in exchange for information, content, or something that will help them solve the problem. Ok, so the idea is that we’re going to collect information from someone who’s visiting our church website in exchange for content or something that will help them solve a problem. And so when we’re talking about these PDFs or gated content, what we’re basically saying is we have something on our website that’s going to help you solve a problem, and in exchange for that, you’re going to give us an email so that we can initiate a relationship. Now, lead generation is directly linked to the buyer’s journey, and I’ll use the word buyer, and I know a lot of people who are really uncomfortable with bringing business principles into the local church but let’s call it the seeker’s journey, someone who’s looking for help, or hope, or purpose in their life. And when that person is in, there’s basically three stages to their process of trying to solve their problem. They’ve got some kind of problem, some sort of issue, that they’re trying to deal with. The first stage is the awareness stage, in the awareness stage, they’re experiencing a problem or symptoms of some sort of problem, and they begin to do research to figure out what this problem is. Can I actually name it? Can I actually pinpoint what I’m wrestling with and what the problem is that I need to solve? So the awareness phase is the first phase. The second phase is called the consideration phase, or the consideration stage, and at this point, the person has clearly defined their problem, they know what it is, they can give it a name, and now they’re researching how to actually solve the problem. Ok? The third stage is the decision stage. At this point, they’ve done enough research to have gathered information to figure out where they can go to get the help they need, or who it is that they can help them, and they’re trying to decide how they’re going to engage and with whom they’re going to engage to actually solve the problem. Ok?

Bart Blair: [00:21:25] So let’s put this in terms of the local church. We’ve got people in our community, and if you’re a Missional Marketing friend, you know our ring three audience is people who don’t know you, and they’re not looking for a church, but they’re looking to DIY some problem on the internet. So it could be a marital issue, it could be a relational issue, it could be a parenting issue, a financial issue, it could be spiritual, but they’re not coming to the local church to look for that. And so you as a church, you’re prepared through the ministries that you offer in your church, through maybe the preaching, the teaching, small groups, what have you, you have a solution to that problem. And so you are then going to run some ads that intersect with people who are in the awareness or the consideration stage, to try to help them understand that you are there in their community and you can help them solve that problem. Now here’s the question that I’m going to ask you, Jason, you and Chris have both used the term landing page several times. Can you define for our audience what a landing page is?

Jason Hamrock: [00:22:30] So a landing page is a page on your website, it may or may not be in your nav bar or on your footer, we would call that a hidden page. It’s visible, but you’d have to know the URL. And so a landing page is something that you create that when that user finds their way to that landing page through ads or however you want to promote it, that becomes the first page they’re looking at on your website. They didn’t go to the home page first, they went to that landing page and you can have hundreds of them. And so from that landing page, that’s where the journey begins. I’d even go so far as to say the discipleship process might have even started earlier at the ad, but it definitely is starting right there on that landing page, and you want to be poised and positioned to be that guide. Right? We’re talking about Story Brand all of a sudden, where you’ve got somebody who’s got a problem and they’re looking for solutions, they’re not looking for a hero, they want to be the hero, but they’re looking for a guide to help them. You have the opportunity on that landing page to address the situation of whatever it was they’re looking for, marital problems, there you go, you’ve got all kinds of content that you can put on that page, with call to actions to take the next step. Sometimes people want to be told what the next step is, download this gated content, right? That’s the landing page experience, I don’t know, Chris, do you have anything else to add to that?

Bart Blair: [00:24:04] Or let me ask you a question, a little more specific than just that, Chris. When you are working with your clients, literary people, authors, and you’re designing or discussing the landing pages that you’re going to bring people to, what are the things that you always make sure are part of the landing page? Do you have a specific structure, or things that you’re looking to accomplish with the landing page? See if you can be a little more technical about that for us.

Chris Martin: [00:24:29] Great question. It’s been a while since, I used to build landing pages a good bit for a particular job I did, and it’s been a while since I’ve built them. And let me say before I say some general things off the top of my head, that this is a great topic that you would find content about at HubSpot, not a sponsor, but a really great spot. Honestly, if you just search like landing page best practices and Google, HubSpot and plenty of other places will come up with great advice. And you know what they’ll do, is they’ll have this pop-up for gated content that will lead you to a landing page, I promise you, so you can even experience it firsthand and see what it’s like.

Chris Martin: [00:25:04] But so, if you want more detail on this, certainly Google it and find your own answers. But I think a really important part of a landing page, a principle that I’ve always had guide me when I was building more of them years ago, is simplicity. Like do not clutter a landing page, don’t make it any more complicated or wordy than it needs to be, a landing page is a place where somebody is coming there to make a decision. If it were a purchasing situation, this would be the checkout aisle or the counter at the car dealer, when you’re actually signing the papers. Like you don’t want to make this any more complicated, or burdensome, or confusing than it needs to be.

Chris Martin: [00:25:44] So a landing page should be like, you know, if it’s like a PDF, like we’re talking about sort of like little e-book kind of things here as an example, like 12 ways to have hard conversations with your teenager. You would hopefully have created a sort of like cover, if you will, that would serve as like a sort of faux e-book cover, or like the actual cover of the PDF that they’re going to download. And have that like front and center of like, here’s what you’re getting with the title nice and pretty, and if you have like authors or contributors, have them listed. And then like right below that, or right on the side of it, however, you want to set up this page, without having any amount of scroll. The way we talk about this in the internet world, I used to do a lot of like, I did journalism a lot in high school and in college even, you want it to be above the fold, everything important should be above the fold. So if you’ve listened to these guys talk, I’m sure they’ve talked about it on a website above the fold just means you want the most important stuff that you want people to see to not require them to scroll. So don’t get a huge image of your cover that’s just like plastered on your landing page because then people are going to have to scroll down past the landing page to get whatever it is they’re interested in. So, you know, ideally, you would have just like a landing page, it’s got like maybe the book cover and like some information on one side, and a little form for people to submit their name and email address on another side, just like right there without much scrolling, without any complications. That’s what I would say is, you know, a cover image of what you’re giving them, or if it’s like a video, maybe even like a little 30-second preview of what the video series is that you’re providing, that’s a little bit more work, obviously, and then just a place for them to submit their information.

Chris Martin: [00:27:24] Now, this is going to vary, and we may even have different opinions on this person to person. But I always, when I was creating a landing page like this, I never needed any more information than the user’s first name and email address, right? And I would say most churches probably don’t need any more than just a first name and email address. You can get a last name later, you can get a phone number later, you can get an address later, people rightfully so, praise the Lord, are still really hesitant to be just inputting their personal information everywhere on the internet.

Chris Martin: [00:27:59] Now, they may talk about, you know, a troubling thing the doctor told them at their last appointment on Facebook, which that’s a whole other conversation that we need to have. But they’re still not going to just like input their phone number into a random website, or Church’s website, especially if they’re kind of hesitant about the church, which is very possible depending on what you’re promoting to them. And so I would say for a situation like this, collect as little information as you need, but as much as you need. So that’s probably just a first name, so that if you do call them up or if you email them personally, you know how to address them, ask them for a first name, and obviously ask them for an email, because people are very willing to give out their email address much more than that other information anyway. And so I would say, just like ask for a first name and an email, make it clear what you’re providing for them. And then, you know, if you wanted to provide an excerpt from the little booklet, or if it has graphs in it, and you want to provide some idea of what those graphs look like. Do that below the fold, do that lower down where people can scroll down and find more detail, but have a general summary of what you’re providing and the opportunity to sign up right up there at the top without any need to scroll.

Jason Hamrock: [00:29:08] Yeah, no, that’s really good advice and spot-on. You know you don’t want, there’s kind of two sides to this sometimes, it depends on what it is you’re trying to…If it’s like Christmas advertising, you know, it’s like that’s more general, I would say have additional call to actions about that, learn about our childrens, or meet our pastor, or something like that. But when it’s a felt need like my marriage is crumbling, don’t give me like ten other things to do, you really want me to do one thing, download this e-book or whatever it is. And a name and an email, a first name email is perfect because you don’t have that name and you respond to the email, you’re going to be like, hi person who visit our website. No, you’re going to say like, hey, Bart. And then, you know, but you don’t need to say, hey, Bart Blair, because that’s awkward, and so you kind of need their first name of their email. But I love that, I love that advice of don’t make me think, keep it simple stupid, above the fold and just right there.

Jason Hamrock: [00:30:10] I also think it’s kind of important, I mean, because you look at that PDF, you’re like, wow, I’m going to download that because it looks like I could use that, especially if it’s really engaging. You might want to have some content on their right to kind of let them know, share some stuff with them right up front so they know you’re not just trying to fish an email, like actually minister to them a little bit as well, especially below the fold.

Bart Blair: [00:30:33] All right, I’m going to keep things moving here. This is going to be kind of, this is going to test your creativity. Ok, I want to take just a few minutes. This is going to be like a popcorn, I don’t know what you’d call this, a rapid-fire round, OK, and we’re going to come up with some ideas about gated content. Now, Chris has used the same one like three times, how to have hard conversations with your teenage kids, right? Jason, you keep coming up on your marriage is crumbling, your marriage is falling apart, your marriage…Ok, so just for the sake of like entertaining our audience here, and maybe getting some creative juices flowing, what are some other, just real quick, you don’t need to get into the details of, what are some other creative ideas that you think that churches could use for gated content on their website that would connect with people in their community?

Jason Hamrock: [00:31:17] Well, I think whenever I see the ultimate guide, it catches my attention. The ultimate guide, to anything, understanding who Jesus is, right? The ultimate guide to overcoming anxiety during the holidays. I mean, you know, things like that, I mean, it’s not hard, you have to be a little creative and thinking about that. And I also think it’s important, here’s another thing I know I’m going to jump this real quick. When you’re doing some advertising on Facebook, don’t ask a question, make a statement. Make a statement, something like, my marriage is crumbling… Right? You know what I’m talking about, Bart?

Bart Blair: [00:32:01] I knew you were going to say that, I just knew that you were going to talk bout crumbling marriages.

Jason Hamrock: [00:32:05] I can’t overcome this addiction…It’s a statement, and if somebody is dealing with that, they’re going to be like, they’re going to have a second thought, like, how do they know that was me? Click. Now, I’m on a page, the ultimate guide to overcoming that addiction that you can’t conquer, five steps, I think, I don’t know the steps.

Bart Blair: [00:32:27] Excuse me, it’s usually 12 steps, actually, but that’s a different conversation.

Jason Hamrock: [00:32:31] Well, yeah, I don’t know. That to me, it’s like the ultimate guide, and you get creative on like speaking to them and their felt need. And churches, you’ve got these ministries, you’re already…Most of them have grief share, divorce care, celebrate recovery, you’ve got these built-in things? FPU, Financial Peace University, you should be running that year-long every month, right, people are dealing with finances. My finances are mess. Yeah, that’s me, click, right?

Bart Blair: [00:33:03] Ok, Chris, any creative ideas on gated content besides how to have tough conversations and your kids?

Chris Martin: [00:33:10] Yeah, yeah. Bible reading. I mean, I would say as a brief caveat, if you’re listening to this and you’re a pastor or you have some idea of like how the sermons land in your congregation, your best ideas are going to revolve around the things you get the most emails about, or the stuff that people come up to you about afterward because the needs of your community likely are reflected by the things that really hit home in the church. So if you find a particular topic is like, really, really popular, or like really resounds with your church community, you could, I would say, create content around that because that’s going to vary context to context. Like we can throw out ideas all day and they may not apply to whoever is listening, so I would say your best bet is going to be what topics really seem to be popping in your church commuity and create content around that?

[00:33:53] Some ideas, Bible reading, man, like the ultimate guide to sticking with your Bible reading. Or like for New Year stuff, man, when I’ve created content online like ten Bible Reading plans for 2022, and just like creating content around that. And then like you provide, just you can find those other places you don’t have to make them all up yourself like, hey, here’s a great one that has been around for a hundred years that people like, and you just give people plenty of resources on that. Or, you know, things about prayer, way to be more consistent in your prayer life, or reasons why you may not be and how to overcome that. Parenting, I think, is a huge one. Anxiety and mental health issues, to the extent that your church is equipped to create content around those things, I think that’s all good. I mean, those are some of the, really the ones that are in the center. I think, you know, things around, do you have a healthy relationship with social media. Or I think like, really, you could take any sermon series you have, especially if it’s like a topical one and you could create a great gated piece of content, a PDF, a sort of mini e-book, just kind of excerpting pieces of the sermon. And and then if you’re running that along the same time that you have sermon content, gosh, that’s great, to use a very cringy business word, that’s great synergy. That’s really, you know, if you can coordinate those two things doesn’t seem so random that way.

Jason Hamrock: [00:35:13] Well, that’s where I tell churches to start. Cody, your past messages, there’s your library, get going, right? Is this hard? It can be, it’s worth it. And, you know, if you do it once and you kind of create the template, get volunteers involved. Come on, it’s not, it’s doesn’t have to be that hard.

Bart Blair: [00:35:33] Take a look at your videos from the last year on YouTube, and which of your sermons have gained the most organic reach since you posted them on YouTube, and that’s probably an area that you need to focus on. Some creative ideas that I’ve been brainstorming this with a few different churches just over the last few weeks, and some of the ideas that we’ve sort of, I don’t know, maybe I came up with them, or we came up with them together, were things like, you know, even putting together like a staff’s recommended date night activities. So here’s what our staff likes to do on a date night. Or 10 fun things that you can do with your kids in our city for free. One of the things that we know, Jason will attest to this, a lot of times a lot of the marketing that we’re doing with churches is related around trying to engage with new people in the city, new people in the community. I heard a thing about a church a number of years ago that actually put together kind of a newcomer’s guide to our city, if you’re new to the city, and they ran an ad campaign to a landing page on their church website, and they weren’t asking people to come to church, they were asking them to download a piece of gated content, which was, hey, here’s a profile of some great things about our city. Of course, they profiled their own church in that PDF, but it’s one of 10 or 12 different activities or events or things that that they profiled in it. I mean, the sky is the limit. One of the other ones somebody mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago was something like, you know, on a children’s ministry page, or a parenting page, you know, five devotionals that you can do with your kids at dinner this week, right? And just a five-page PDF with a Bible reading, a few questions to ask with your kids, and then a prayer that you can read with them. Just something really, really simple. I think one of the things that we have to be cautious of is overthinking what the piece of gated content really needs to be, it doesn’t have to be complex, it doesn’t have to be a book, it really can and should be something that’s simple that somebody can use today.

Chris Martin: [00:37:32] Yeah, I don’t even think, it doesn’t even have to be deep, like we’ve been talking about like prayer life, and fixing your marriage, and overcoming addiction. That’s all great and that’s all helpful, but some people may even be hesitant to even submit their name and email for some stuff like that, afraid of like, oh no, they’re going to think my marriage is falling apart. But like that idea you had about free stuff to do in your community is tremendous. I mean if you can provide something that’s broadly helpful, and isn’t about soul-deep things, that’s good too. Like it’s a service to your community that you’re providing, and you’re caring for them, that’s just as important as providing something that’s super deep and really, really hard. So I think that more, I hesitate to call it surface-level stuff, but that stuff that’s not quite as heavy is also really helpful.

Jason Hamrock: [00:38:20] Yeah, yeah. all right. Well, Bart turned me on to this podcast, and you know what I’m talking about. And this guy…

Bart Blair: [00:38:27] Yeah, Jeff, do you listen to Jeff? Chris, have you ever listened to him? Australian guy?

Chris Martin: [00:38:33] No, I haven’t.

Bart Blair: [00:38:34] Oh, oK, you’ve got a ch him out. We’ll link to his podcast, he has no idea we exist, but he’s a pretty awesome marketing guy.

Jason Hamrock: [00:38:41] He had this guy on, they were talking about this other guy’s strategy about how he generates leads for his business, right? So he came up with ten or twenty different statements, just general statements, build an ad in Facebook. And again, it was just like a kind of a, you know, some kind of like an orange backdrop with white text, a statement, and he ran, he came up with like ten of them. He spent like a hundred bucks, and he ran for like three hours and he blitzed it out, like, he got it all over the place. He wanted to see what his customers, what he thought was his customer audience, what one would they click on the most? Right, so 10 different statements about a product, but it was 10 different statements, he learned from that experiment what the top three were. If we did that in the church world, if we came up with 10 different statements, they could be heavy, they could be light, it doesn’t matter, and you ran that experiment and you were to figure out, hey, the community really responded to these three, making that up, it could be anything, that’s what you could go ahead and work on building content around. You don’t have to go and create all this content and hope that people want to respond to it, actually, just go test it. Spend a hundred bucks and test it, run like 20 different kinds of statements, and see which ones get the best response, that’s the content you create and there you go.

Bart Blair: [00:40:06] So, OK, that’s good, Jason, that is really good, I hadn’t even really thought about that. We’ve been talking about running ads like that, but that that’s a good point. Ok, we’re going to wrap this thing up with sort of the final step in the process. So we’ve run an ad or a series of ads, we’ve got people to come to our landing page, we’ve actually convinced them to give us their email address for a piece of gated content. Now we have this person’s first name and email, what do I do now? How do I nurture a relationship with them? What are the next steps? Chris, let me throw this question to you, what do you think I ought to do next once I get this email address?

Chris Martin: [00:40:48] Um, super important part of this process, if you don’t think about this, you’d be like the stereotypical dog who caught the mail truck and then didn’t know what to do once he caught the mail truck. So success, you’ve run your downloadable about things to do in your community for free or whatever it is, and you’ve got five hundred people who theoretically live in your general area and or maybe looking for a church. Now what? And I think, I guess I have like two pieces of advice, one kind of the don’t do, and one of a do this. First, don’t spam them with stuff that would be irrelevant to them. So don’t send them just like random church newsletter update stuff, or obviously like stuff that would be sensitive and only for church members, or don’t email them super frequently. I don’t know what the right frequency necessarily is, I would say you probably shouldn’t be emailing somebody weekly unless you know that the content you’re emailing them is interesting to them, right? So I would say, like, hold those email addresses, like if it were me, I would say, all right, so the first thing I would say don’t do, don’t just blast them, don’t put them in your general church email list. Don’t do that, because you’ll lose them, you’ll lose them as quickly as you got them, and you will have wasted your time and energy and money having gotten them.

Jason Hamrock: [00:42:04] And ticked them off.

Chris Martin: [00:42:04] Exactly. The thing you should do is stop for a second and think, all right, I now have these 500 people who downloaded this resource on topic A. They’re interested, they likely downloaded this resource because they’re interested in the topic of the resource they downloaded, not because they think my church is amazing. Because they may not even remember where they got this e-book, they just know that they got it, or this flyer of fun things to do in their city, or whatever, they just know they got it. So they probably didn’t download it because they think you’re awesome, sorry to burst your bubble, they downloaded it because they really liked that topic, they were really interested in it, it was scratching an itch that they had. So then I would say what you do as a church, as you think, what can I do around that topic that I could then promote to that email list of 500 people, and also my general church email list of 2000 people? So if it’s a marriage thing, you have a marriage seminar for couples from it’s a date night, it’s going to be fun, it’s not going to be super serious all the time and it’s like, we’re going to have dinner, and it’s going to be fancy, you could dress up. You know you create an event, then you market that event, you create content around that event, an email campaign, that you send to that email list, as well as your general church email list. Or if it’s four things in the community, you could create more emails around things to do in the community. Or maybe your church is going to do a big outreach event, and that would be a fun, free thing to do in the community, you send it to that email list because they’re interested, obviously, in fun, free things to do in the community. So I would say don’t spam them with everything you ever email, and then figure out a way to create an event, or a program, or an initiative, that would be of particular interest to that group based on the resource that they downloaded.

Jason Hamrock: [00:43:52] Ok, that’s good advice. So if it’s a felt need kind of topic, here’s my recommendation. Well, first of all, do not spam them, you’re going to tick them off, so be intentional about that drip email campaign. I think that drip email campaign shouldn’t go longer than three months, and I think the very first email should be maybe the next day going, hey, thank you for downloading this and whatever topic it is, just let you know we’ve got a team that prays for people and you’re on our prayer list, we’re praying for you specifically. You haven’t invited them to church, you haven’t thrown anything out and you just let them know we’re praying for you. Then probably a week later or two weeks later, you might want to follow up going, hey, just checking in with you, I hope everything’s going well. If you ever need anything, we’re here for you, prayer, or counseling, or whatever you offer as a church, and you still haven’t even really invited them to church, you just let them know we care about you. And then maybe two weeks later, hey, hope everything’s going really well, we’d love to invite you to church if you haven’t found a church home. Or if you’re maybe asking questions, if God even exists, we’ll just let you know we’re here to help you out. You gradually move them into some type of a campaign where you’re inviting them to church, or if it’s a marriage thing and you actually have an ongoing marriage thing, or a grief an ongoing grief share, eventually, you can invite them to that community. But I think it’s important to stay in touch and build brand awareness, without bombarding them, and without ticking them off, and without baiting and switching them, do not do that, right? And after about three months, stop emailing them, right? You’ve planted the seed, so here’s the cool thing about what we do that the secular world doesn’t get to do, we plant seeds God’s one who makes this happen. The secular world doesn’t have that, they have to finish it. We don’t, we have to connect with people, let them know we’re here to help them, want to serve them, we have a God who cares about them, plant seeds, leave it alone. That’s my advice.

Bart Blair: [00:45:59] Hey, yeah, I think that’s really good, Jason. I think that it’s important that when you’re creating everything from the beginning ads, to the piece of content that you’re going to share, that you’ve thoroughly thought out what the email follow up, the nurture campaign, or the drip campaign is going to look like. I’m a big fan of a nurture campaign or a drip campaign that provides additional pieces of content that they can continue to consume while they’re trying to decide if you’re a good fit for them. So you may provide them with a downloadable PDF, you may actually have a sermon on your website or on your YouTube channel that talks about the same topic. Or maybe you’ve created a unique video that can go along with that, that sort of supplements or supports that piece of content that they’ve downloaded, and you can email that to them in a week or two, or maybe that can be part of your series. But I think that you’ve got to think through how you’re going to nurture the relationship once you’ve initiated the relationship, and you have to be thinking through that process from the very beginning of the brainstorming of what it is that you’re trying to accomplish with that ad.

Jason Hamrock: [00:47:07] And it’s something that never has to stop, every day you could get new people subscribing to that, they just fall into the drip email campaign. It never has to, it could be this ongoing, like a waterfall of people coming to your church that never turns off unless you stop feeding it,

Bart Blair: [00:47:26] Yeah, it is evergreen outreach is what it is. I wrote and I sent you guys when I put together this…Oh sorry, Chris, do you have something I want to say?

Chris Martin: [00:47:33] Yeah, I just have one final thought, sort of like admonishment, caution, like things to be thinking about as you do this. The other thing Jason did a really good job of like talking about the differences of like the church versus the like the business world doing this kind of tactic. I think what we have to remember is we are still ministries doing this, first of all, this is a ministry, like you’re doing ministry here. Like if you’ve provided somebody with a PDF to help with their marriage, or just to help them acclimate to their new community, that’s a service, you’ve loved them as Christ would love them and praise God for that. So like, this is not just a tactic, a strategy, it is that, but it’s also ministry, and I think we should embark on it with that mind. That even if they never actually darken the door of the church, or even if they unsubscribe after two of the drip email campaign emails afterward, we still provided them in ministry, we still ministered to them and loved them in that initial resource we provided. And a sort of piggyback point on that, after all of this, after all of your work, your time, everything you did to do that if that person ends up at a church across town, we all need to be OK with that. Because, I think when you start doing this, a sort of like temptation, a way that it’s easy to slide is like they were my person and they ended up at, you know, First Baptist, whatever over there, but they got my stuff, they came here for our event, or they whatever. And I think going back to the ministry mindset of this, you may have just been that first sort of seed to get them interested in actually attending a church. Maybe they came from a town, their previous town, they had some church hurt and they left the church, and they were like, man, when we moved to this new city, I don’t know if we’re going to get involved with the church or not. I just don’t really know. And when they got that resource from you, they were like, well, you know, that church is nice. but then ultimately the church on their side of town had a service time that was easier for them, or it was just closer to their house, or they had a youth ministry that was better for their kids or whatever else. There are a hundred reasons someone may end up choosing a different church other than yours, even after engaging with this content. So I would just encourage you as you go through this don’t become bitter, or sort of territorial, if this doesn’t work exactly how maybe you imagined it would, you’re still doing ministry.

Bart Blair: [00:49:57] Yeah, that’s really good. Thanks for sharing that, Chris, that’s good insight. I actually, in the sheet that I gave you guys, I gave six bullet points on what to do after you have a person’s email address, and I’m just going to read through the six points. I think we’ve actually covered all of them, but just in case we didn’t, and this is how we’ll wrap things up. This has been a really great conversation, and hopefully, our listeners and our YouTube watchers have gained some insight here.

Bart Blair: [00:50:21] What do you do once you have a person’s email address? Number one, you do send them additional emails with content relevant to the content that they’ve already expressed interest in. I think we hit on that. If they’ve expressed interest in children’s ministry content, or marriage content, or something about the community, follow up with emails on the same topic, don’t put them on your general church-wide newsletter. Chris, I think you hit that one, don’t put them on your general newsletter. Do send them a series of emails over a period of time, ok, so we call that a nurture campaign or a drip campaign, don’t email them infinitely. Jason suggested three months or something of that nature, you decide how many emails and how much time it’s going to take, but it shouldn’t be infinite. Do give them calls to action in those additional emails. you want to provide them with something that’s useful and helpful for them in these additional emails, but you also want to make sure that every one of those emails has an opportunity for them to raise their hand and say, I’m ready for you to know me, OK? In all of these emails and all the content that they’re consuming, they’re getting to know you better as a church or as a church leader, but always give them the opportunity to respond and reciprocate and say, OK, I’m ready for you to know me. And finally, don’t be disappointed or surprised if they unsubscribe from your email before they get through the whole campaign, it’s probably going to happen, it’s probably going to happen most of the time. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so freely giving out my email address so often for gated content, because I know that as soon as I get the first email that they’re going to send me, I can just unsubscribe from it and I don’t worry about it anymore.

Bart Blair: [00:51:59] So, Chris, this has been a lot of fun. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today, and I hope it’s been as fun for you as it has been for us. Jason, any parting shots here before we wrap it up?

Jason Hamrock: [00:52:11] No, I love this kind of topic and this conversation. Thanks, Chris, for your insights, because a lot of the stuff that you have your experience, what you’ve done in the, it’s not really the secular world because you’ve been working for churches…

Chris Martin: [00:52:25] In the Christian business world.

Jason Hamrock: [00:52:27] Christian business world. Yeah, those things can carry over.

Bart Blair: [00:52:32] Yeah, the marketplace. Anyway, this has been great.

Chris Martin: [00:52:35] Thanks for having me, you guys are great.

Bart Blair: [00:52:36] Yeah, our pleasure. Thanks, Chris.

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