Where Should We Start?
Figuring out how to approach online outreach can be a complicated and sometimes overwhelming task for a church. While there are a lot of important digital marketing channels and processes worth exploring, if you are a church that is near the beginning of your online outreach journey, you are probably asking the question: “what should we do first?”
We find that online church marketing efforts are easier to digest when they grouped into three categories of traffic generation: Organic Traffic, Paid Traffic, and Event Traffic. For most churches, it makes sense to pursue all three of these channels simultaneously. Below we’ll outline a progression track for each channel and explain the first handful of steps down each track that we think a typical church should take in their digital outreach journey.
Please select a track for more information:
The Organic Track
When we talk about the Organic Track, we are speaking of the different avenues with which to bring Organic Traffic to your church website. Organic Traffic can be defined as visitors who come across your church because they are searching for a church, or because they are searching for something your church offers.
The simplest example of this would be a person searching Google for a church in their area, and clicking on your church in their search results. However, there are also less obvious ways to generate organic traffic: being found by people with ‘Felt Needs’ that your Ministries can support is one example, or having your sermon series be found by those looking for answers that your messages provide is another. Below you can find the first three steps we recommend be taken to generate organic traffic to your church website.
We consider the highest priority item on the Organic Track for most churches to be Local SEO. Local SEO focuses on making sure that when someone located in your community searches for a church using a keyword like "church near me", or "local church", that your church is found in the Local Pack search results. This is extremely important, because such people are already actively seeking a church and very likely to end up paying your church an in-person visit.
On-Page SEO is the practice of structuring your website and its content in such a way that it is more likely to show up in search engine results. Having strong On-Page SEO will help towards the local searches described above, but also increase the chances of your church website appearing in all other searches across the board. This could include making your ministries more easily findable for those searching for help with a Felt Need, or having your blog be found by a young person searching for answers to an existential crisis.
Equally important to making sure the content on your church website can be found by those searching for it, is ensuring that you have a wealth of quality content on your church website in the first place. While quality content can exist in a variety of forms, we've found that one of the most efficient ways to produce a steady stream of quality content is with our Sermon Video Library. The Sermon Video Library allows you to leverage your sermon message content in a way that is SEO friendly, as well as both easy and enjoyable for users to consume. Video content is the future of the internet, and a Sermon Video Library can help make sure your church website is keeping up.
The Paid Track
The Paid Traffic Track consists of the different advertising methods that can bring Paid Traffic to your church website at any time of year. Working with Paid Traffic has an advantage over Organic Traffic in that it is possible to target specific demographics with precision, and can produce impressive results over a much shorter period of time compared to Organic Traffic. While this traffic comes at a financial cost, if you obtain a Google Ad Grant (see below), it could be Google paying for your advertising!
Below you can find the first three steps we’d recommend you take in pursuing Paid Advertising for your church website.
The first step we recommend any church takes when moving toward obtaining Paid Traffic is to consider applying for a Google Ad Grant if you do not already have one. The Google Ad Grant can provide eligible non-profits up to $10,000 per month in free advertising value. However, there are specific performance requirements that must be fulfilled to maintain your grant.
Missional Marketing provides both Google Grant Application Services to help your church receive the grant, as well as Google Grant Campaign Management Services to help you maximize the value of your grant and ensure you meet Google's performance requirements to continue receiving it.
If you aren't sure if your church is eligible for a Google Ad Grant, try out our free Eligibility Checker Tool to find out right now.
The most fundamental Paid campaign we refer to as the "Find My Church" campaign. A "Find My Church" campaign uses precise geographic and keyword based targeting to expose your church to people near you who are looking for a new church to call home.
Such campaigns almost always perform well, because they are targeting those who are already seeking a church - but allow you to be placed ahead of the other churches in your area.
Advertising campaigns promoting 'Felt Needs' outreach efforts can be effective at all times of year. Many churches invest a great deal of time and resources creating well equipped ministries, but often those in their community in need of help their ministries could provide are unaware that they exist.
By combining Google Search Network campaigns built around the right keywords with laser focused interruptive display advertising, you can bolster the outreach efforts of your ministries substantially, and reach a receptive audience who is seeking help that your ministries can provide.
The Event Track
The Event Track consists of paid advertising campaigns promoting a specific event at your church. Typically, these events are seasonal in nature, and often coincide with times of year during which people are most receptive to going to church.
Below we’ve identified some of the events that we are able to effectively promote via digital advertising.
Christmas is a time of year during which people are exceptionally receptive to church messages, and churches often invest a lot of time and effort into their church services and events. As such, it should be no surprise that Christmas is also a popular and effective time of year to run digital advertising campaigns centered around what your church has to offer during the holiday season.
For the reasons above, this makes Christmas a great time to move into interruptive advertising campaigns, to expose your church to people who aren't yet actively seeking a church, but because of the season are more likely to be engaged by your message.
Easter is a time of year when church moves to the forefront of many minds and people are on average much more receptive to church messages. Many churches take advantage of this by running digital advertising campaigns to promote their Easter services and events, with impressive results. Much like Christmas, this also makes Easter an ideal time to year to move into interruptive display advertising in addition to Google Search advertising.
Due to the precise demographic targeting that is possible by a well managed campaign, digital advertising can be an efficient and effective way to expose your VBS to young families in your community and increase attendance. Additionally, promoting other summer events with digital campaigns can help get the word out and help bring new families to your church.
Fall is a great time of year to invite unchurched families to make your church part of their new routine. Churches often put a lot of effort into organizing fall events such as back-to-school, fall festivals, sporting events and new sermon series. However, typically churches do very little to invite people who do not already know about their church to these events. Digital advertising campaigns can bring these unchurched families to your church events so that they can get to know your church.
If your church has a special event at any time of year that would appeal to the unchurched in your community, it presents an important opportunity to reach out with digital advertising campaigns. Depending on the nature of your event, we can target specific demographics by location, age, gender or various other properties to make sure your message reaches those who will be most receptive.