Stop Wasting Your Church’s Money On Facebook & Instagram Ads

Bart Blair Leave a Comment

This week Bart shares three specific best practices, that we believe if you are not following, you are simply wasting your money running Facebook and Instagram ads.

Podcast Transcription


Bart Blair: [00:00:05] Hey, welcome to Season 3 Episode 33 of the Missional Marketing Podcast. My name is Bart Blair and it is my privilege to welcome you to another episode of our show. Our goal with this podcast is to help your church grow by leveraging digital marketing and effective communications. And we produce a podcast episode every week that will hopefully help you do just that. We want to equip you as a church leader, as a church volunteer, as a church, communications director, church communications manager, or whatever your role is in your church, if you have a responsibility of managing the communications and the marketing and the digital outreach in your church, we want to provide content for you that is really helpful.

Bart Blair: [00:00:40] And we’d love for you to subscribe wherever you’re listening. If you haven’t yet subscribed on your favorite podcast app or on our YouTube channel, we want to encourage you to do that. We have some outstanding guests coming up in the upcoming weeks after this podcast. In fact, three women that I would say are some of the top leaders in the church space. We’ve got Katie Allred, who is the founder of the Church Communications Group and also an employee at Meta. We have Jenny Catron and Holly Tate, who are also very well-known leaders in the local church. Some great conversations coming up that we don’t want you to miss, as well as some other content related specifically to church communications that Jason Hamrock and I will be sharing with you. So make sure that you subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes.

Bart Blair: [00:01:24] Now I’m just going to tell you straight up that today’s episode is one that is a little bit of a soapbox for me, maybe I’d even go so far as to say that it is a bit of a rant. I’m recording this podcast episode during the Easter season, just a couple of weeks leading up to Easter. Of course, you’re listening to this in real-time, it’s being released just a couple of weeks after Easter. Nonetheless, I think that this content is going to be hopefully very helpful for you. I’ve titled this week’s podcast episode, Stop Wasting Your Church’s Money on Facebook and Instagram Ads.

Bart Blair: [00:01:56] Now, if you’re a regular listener or viewer of our podcast, you know that Jason and I actually are really strong proponents of using Facebook and Instagram ads to reach more people in your community. We love interruptive advertising. Interruptive advertising is called interruptive because you’re interrupting people wherever they are doing their digital stuff. So Facebook and Instagram, they didn’t come there for ads, but you’re interrupting them with ads. Or Google Display Network, which pushes ads to websites or to apps, that’s interrupting people in whatever it is that they’re doing online, or YouTube maybe was wanting to watch a YouTube about how to smoke a brisket, but I’m going to watch an ad that comes up before the brisket smoking recipe video. Those are interruptive ads, and we really believe that there is a place for churches to use this type of advertising. The problem is, if you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re not following best practices, you are just simply wasting your church’s money.

Bart Blair: [00:02:52] And this was highlighted for me here during the Easter season because, I, although I don’t spend a ton of time on social media, I do scroll through my feed a couple of times each day for just a few minutes and I found myself seeing ads over and over again for churches promoting their Easter services, and the same thing happens at Christmas, and the same thing happens during fall harvest season, the same thing happens over and over again. I see churches running these Facebook and Instagram ads, and I click on the ads, and I’m going to explain to you a little bit more in just a few minutes why I do that. In the end, I find that this church, whoever was responsible for the ads, was missing a few key practices and ultimately really just wasting their money. And if you’re not going to run the ads properly, I would say don’t run the ads at all.

Bart Blair: [00:03:37] Now, we are very careful about making sure that our podcast doesn’t feel like just a commercial for the services that we provide, and that we offer to churches. We do run interruptive ad campaigns, Facebook and Instagram included, for churches all around the country all year long, and we do a ton at Christmas and Easter. And I’m just going to simply say this, if the things that I’m going to share with you today are things that you can’t invest the time and the energy into getting better at, but you still want to run the campaigns, you should hire someone like Missional marketing or someone else that knows how to do these things, you should pay for someone else to do it rather than doing it wrong and wasting your church’s money, that’s just something that none of us really want to do.

Bart Blair: [00:04:19] We’re reminded every single day that as a company, the money that churches pay to Missional Marketing to provide the services that we offer is money that’s donated by somebody in some church. The money that you are responsible for spending in your marketing and your digital outreach initiatives is money that came from someone’s hard-earned cash that they donated to your church. We want to make sure that you’re stewarding that money well. So if you can’t run Facebook and Instagram ads with the best practices and with the best plan, if you don’t really know what you’re doing and you can’t zero in on the best practices, then either don’t do it or hire someone who knows how to do it. But maybe, maybe the things that I’m going to share with you here today, maybe they’re things that you’re already doing, and if you’re already doing it, leave me a comment, leave me a note, let me know how it’s going for you. If you’re not doing these three things, either learn how to do it, or hire somebody who can do it for you. Okay, this is my soapbox, all right?

Bart Blair: [00:05:13] So I’m going to get right down to it, and I’m going to share with you three specific things today, that if you are not following the best practices in these areas, you are simply wasting your money running Facebook and Instagram ads.

Bart Blair: [00:05:24] The first one is this, number one, you’re wasting your church’s money if you don’t build the proper audience for your ads. One of the beautiful things about using Facebook and Instagram or any type of interruptive advertising platforms is that you can dial in who you want to actually see your ads, which means also excluding people that you don’t want to see your ads. Now, the reason this is such a hot topic for me, the reason it’s number one on this list is that I can tell you that over the course of the last couple of weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, I have clicked on probably about half a dozen or more church ads for churches that I’m never going to attend, and I’ll tell you why. I’m never going to attend them, because I live in the Dallas Fort Worth area, and these churches are anywhere from 400 to 1000 miles away from me. Now, why am I clicking on the ads? Well, I live in the Dallas Fort Worth area, I’m a church planter, and of course, I work with churches all the time, and I will see ads come up on my social media feed. And I’m like, I’ve never heard of this church before, I wonder if it’s somewhere near me, is it a new church in my area? Like, who is this church? And so I click on the ad just to figure out who the church is. And then I look at it and like, this church is in Washington state, or this church is in Atlanta, Georgia, or this church is in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the ad is inviting me to come to their worship services on Easter Sunday. Whoever built the ad campaign clearly did not geo-target a target area that they were trying to reach for their Easter services.

Bart Blair: [00:06:52] Now, it’s possible that maybe you want to target the entire United States, if you want to build a really big online audience for your worship services or your events or your activities, or whatever it is that you’re promoting on Facebook and Instagram. But in every single case, the ad that I clicked on, ended up taking me to an invitation to show up on Easter Sunday or the Saturday before Easter if they happen to be offering services on the Saturday before Resurrection Sunday. There’s no way, there’s no way that I’m going to drive 400 or 900 or 1200 miles to Raleigh, North Carolina, or, you know, Portland, Oregon, to go to a worship service on Easter Sunday. So why is that church advertising to me in the Dallas Fort Worth area? It’s because whoever built the ad campaign did not set proper geo-targeting.

Bart Blair: [00:07:41] Two things that you need to note when you’re building your audience on Facebook, or maybe there are three things. One thing is for sure, if your goal is to get people through the doors on Sunday morning, you need to determine in advance how far people in your community are willing to drive to actually attend church. Now, in the area where I live, Christian people, church people, oftentimes will be willing to drive anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to go and attend a church service, especially if the church has a well-known pastor. You know, here in the Dallas area, we have people like T.D. Jakes and Chuck Swindoll and other big-name pastors, and a lot of people will drive 30 minutes to an hour to go actually to a church service to hear those people preach live. But for the most part, that’s probably not your church, so you need to recognize that there is going to be a geographic limit to how far people are willing to drive.

Bart Blair: [00:08:30] But let’s take it a step further, are we really trying to reach church people and Christian people, or are we trying to reach unchurched, de-churched, and churchless people? If we’re trying to reach de-churched, unchurched, and churchless people, there’s probably even a shorter distance that they’d be willing to drive, 12 miles, 15 miles, 20 minutes, 15 minutes, I’d say that’s pushing it. If you’re more than 15 minutes, you’re probably too far away for a person to drive to church if they’re not a regular churchgoer or a regular church attender, the only thing that might change that would be if they get a personal invitation from a friend, someone that they already know, like and trust, who invites them to church. Maybe they’re outside of that zone and they’re willing to do that, but to respond to an ad, and it to be more than 15 or 17 minutes away from your location is probably too far. So when you’re building your ad campaigns, you need to decide what that geo-target is. In some cases, it might not even be a radius around your church building, it might be another part of your city, but perhaps it’s a zip code, perhaps it is your entire city, or perhaps it is a 12 to 15-mile radius around your campus, you need to decide that in advance.

Bart Blair: [00:09:29] A couple of other things that you need to consider are whether or not you want to exclude people or include certain demographics for seeing your ads. In some cases, we will run ads and we will exclude the people who actually follow the church’s social accounts. Why do we do that? Well, because we assume that they already have a relatively robust marketing plan to market to their ring one audience, ring one people are people who are already connected to the church. So they’re already following us on social so we can post organically. We have their email addresses, so we are email marketing to them invitations to Easter, we might even be mailing a letter invitation to those people whose addresses are in our database, and so we’ll exclude those people from our digital marketing. You might want to do that. For the most part, at Missional Marketing, we tend to not dial down the demographics too specifically, we tend to let people self-select. But one thing that we always do is we always set a geo-targeted area that we’re trying to market to because we really want to be marketing to people for which there is a realistic chance that they could actually walk through our doors on Sunday morning. so that’s the first point that I want to make. And if you don’t take anything else away from the rest of what I say here, take this one to heart. You’re wasting your church’s money if you don’t build the proper audience for your ads.

Bart Blair: [00:10:50] [00:10:50]In three, two. [00:10:52]

Bart Blair: [00:10:52] And this brings me to point number two. you’re wasting your church’s money if you don’t spend as much time working on your landing page as you do the ads themselves. Now, what’s a landing page? The landing page is the page on your website where when people click the ad, they are redirected to find more information that’s related to the ad. So let’s use an Easter ad again as an example. I see the Easter ad, I click the Easter ad, and it redirects me to a page on your website that has information about your Easter services. Now the typical default is we’ll put our Easter graphics or our Christmas graphics or our event graphics on that page and the time and the location, and that’s pretty much it. Now, let me ask you a question, what are the questions that the people in your community, especially the unchurched, the De-churched, and the church lists, are going to be asking when they come to that page? Well, they might be asking questions like, where do I park? What do you have for my kids? How should I dress? How long should I expect the service to be? Are you going to be asking me for money or a donation? Like, I don’t know, I don’t know what the people in your community who are not churched would be asking, but I would say that your landing page needs to address those questions. You need to do everything that you can to lower any prohibitors that would prevent people from actually showing up to your church service or to the event that you’re putting on. Make sure that you’re addressing all of those questions on that landing page.

Bart Blair: [00:12:19] Here’s another thing that you really ought to do, you hear us talk about this at Missional Marketing all the time, and that is you should probably have some kind of lead generator on that page. What’s a lead generator? A lead generator is some type of piece of content that is behind a gate that requires a name and an email address to access. Let me give you some examples. If you come into a Christmas page, I’ve clicked on your Christmas ad, I come to your Christmas page, I see when the service times are what the location is, maybe a few of my questions are answered with the content that you’ve created on that page, you’ve made it easy for me to figure out where I need to go and what I need to do when I get there, but what if you added another piece of content such as, hey, here’s a Christmas week devotional set that you can do with your family? Or here’s an eBook from a previous sermon that your pastor preached at Christmas a year ago. Or perhaps, hey, here’s an activity kit for your family with some crafts and some recipes and some things that you can do as a family at Christmas time. Create something that adds value, that gives that person an opportunity to exchange their name and their email address with you for something that you’re offering to them. Why would you do that? Well, you do it for the same reason that when new people show up to your church service on Sunday morning, you stand on the platform and you say, we would love for you to fill out our connection card, or stop by our information center, and we have a gift for you. You just have to click on this QR code and fill out our digital, I’m New card. Whatever it is, whatever you call it, you don’t want people to escape, escape, maybe that’s not the right word, you don’t want people to leave the experience that you’ve created for them without them giving you their contact information. Why? Because you want to nurture a relationship with them. You want to help them figure out what their next steps are in your community. Why wouldn’t you do the same thing on your church website? Especially if you’re spending money to get clicks from ads to that landing page, why wouldn’t you create an opportunity for people to raise their hand and say, this is who I am and you get the opportunity, albeit digitally, to start nurturing a relationship with them, to help them move along to their next steps.

Bart Blair: [00:14:23] Your landing page for your ads is as important, if not more important than the ads themselves, because by the time a person has clicked on that ad and they’ve come to that landing page, you need to be convincing them that you are a good fit for them, and you can do that by a variety of ways. Number one, answering the questions that you think that they might be asking, and number two, offering them something of value that will give them a reason to exchange their name and their email address so that you can begin nurturing a relationship with them online.

Bart Blair: [00:14:59] [00:14:59]In three, two. [00:15:01]

Bart Blair: [00:15:01] And this brings me to my third and my final point, you’re wasting your church’s money if you don’t consider your target audience when you choose your images and you write your ad copy. Now, more often than not, I see churches default to using photos from their worship experience in their ads, they show pictures of their worship band, they show pictures of people standing in the congregation under the cool lights with the fog machine and their eyes closed and their hands raised. They might even use photos or images of their pastor preaching. And for church people, all of those images make sense. For the people in your church, they make sense. For people who don’t attend your church, but maybe attend another church, they can contextualize those and it makes sense. But do those photos really make sense and resonate with the unchurched, de-churched, and churchless people in your community? Because ultimately that’s who you’re trying to reach, right? You’re not trying to reach people who attend other churches, you’re trying to reach people in your community who, for whatever reason, have not yet connected with a church, people who don’t know Jesus, you want those people to come through your front doors. And what resonates with those people? Well, those people want to know what the people in the church look like. They want to know what the community experience looks like. They want to know that they will fit in. They want to know that you care about them as a family, and you care about their kids, and you have age-appropriate1 things for everybody in their family. And so use images that really communicate the ethos and the culture of your church, not just the experience that you’re trying to invite them to.

Bart Blair: [00:16:26] Here’s another thing, when it comes to writing your ad copy, I told you I was going to get on a soapbox, and here’s, oh, I’m on this soapbox. Okay, are you ready? When you’re writing your ad copy, don’t invite people to worship with you. Why? Well, because Christian people worship, and you’re not inviting Christian people, right? Jewish people, Sikh people, people who follow Islam, they all worship, but they’re not likely to come and worship God with you on a Sunday. The unchurched, de-churched, churchless people, they’re not looking for a place to worship, they, again, are looking for a place to connect, a place to grow, a place to find purpose in their life, a place for their family. They’re not looking for a place to worship, so invite them to come to do what it is that they’re looking to find a place to do. They’re looking for a place to connect, to find family, to find community, to raise better kids, to have a stronger marriage, invite them to explore, invite them to celebrate, but don’t invite them to worship. That’s just church language, and you’re only going to attract church people if you use church language.

Bart Blair: [00:17:30] Okay, I’ve said enough on that. I actually had some other examples and some other things that I was going to share, but I’m going to stop there because I appreciate the fact that you’ve stuck through this podcast episode with me and hopefully you’re still my friend. Three things that you got to make sure that you are doing, otherwise you are wasting your church’s money running Facebook and Instagram ads. Number one, build an audience that you can actually reach, geo-targeted and demographically people who will actually be able to attend your church. Secondly, focus on building an awesome landing page, and use a lead generator whenever possible. And number three, select images and write copy that is going to connect with the people that you’re ultimately trying to reach. Don’t favor what you favor, favor what they favor so that you can get those clicks so that you can get them to your landing page so that you can start a relationship with them, nurture them to connect with your community so that ultimately we can connect them to their savior, Jesus Christ.

Bart Blair: [00:18:23] Thanks again for hanging out. Thanks for listening to our podcast. Again, it means the world to us that you would let us invade your AirPods or your car stereo or whatever it is, wherever it is that you listen means the world to us. And if there’s anything that Jason or I can do for you, personally, if you want to talk about any of these things or anything else related to marketing or communications, click over to our website, and you can schedule an appointment to meet with one of us or one of our capable teammates. Again, thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode. God bless.

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