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Google Grants and Online Church: Two opportunities for NEW church growth!Last Updated: September 2nd, 2020

COVID-19 instantly elevated your website from being your church’s “front door” to its “only door”

Many churches are presently taking stock of where they are financially and perhaps heading into cost reduction mode. This is especially true for churches who weren’t prepared with an online church in place prior to the pandemic and thus are scrambling to set it up. Figuring out streaming structures, setting up online giving, and communicating with attendees are all at the forefront of churches at this time.

On the face of it, looking to “advertise” to invite new people to your church might seem like an easily passed over “expense” that isn’t relevant at the current time. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, data is showing that there is an unbelievable opportunity to reach new people at the present time! In fact, this may just prove to be the solution that churches around the country were missing in trying to “grow young” in their congregations. Church online is no longer a “fad” or something reserved for mega-churches. At the present time it is the “only door” to every single church, no matter the size. It’s currently the great “equalizer” that’s leveling the playing field for churches of ALL sizes. Everyone now has the opportunity to make a strategic shift that will long outlast the end of COVID-19.

Once live streaming, Facebook Live or even pre-recorded sermons are in place, you’ve set the stage for adding a fantastic outreach tool for ALL generations (and especially younger ones). That tool is a well-managed Google Grant. It’s ability to drive NEW traffic to your church should not be overlooked.

Google Grant Campaigns for Church are Spiking

At the writing of this article, we currently manage around 100 Google Grant accounts. Here’s what we see:

  • Keyword searches spiking around 60%
    In the 3 months leading up to the temporary shutdown of physical churches these 100 Google Grant accounts were averaging 1,582,000 searches per day. On Sunday March 15, 2020 (the first day of the “shutdown”) we saw 2,545,000 searches (a 61% increase). The following Sunday (March 22, 2020) this level maintained at 2,500,000 searches (58% increase on “normal”)
  • Ad clicks spiking 100 to 140%
    All of this hyper search volume resulted in Google Grants showing a huge increase in ads delivered and resulted in a ballooning of ad clicks to church websites around the country. The 100 Google accounts we manage saw an increase from 9,150 clicks per day (average over the previous 3 months) to 18,400 on March 15 and 22,000 on March 22. This was an increase of 101% and 140% respectively.
  • Click through rates spiking by 68%
    Not only is there a burst of traffic occurring in these Google Grant campaigns, but people like what they are seeing. We know this because they are clicking on the ads at an incredible rate. For the 3 months leading up to the shutdown, our Google Grant accounts were averaging a very respectable 5.30% Click through rate (CTR). On the most recent Sunday (March 22) we saw a CTR of 8.90% (a 68% increase).

Searches for ‘Online Church’ & ‘Online Church Giving’

Google search traffic for ‘Online Church’ and ‘Online Church Giving’ has tripled (3x) since the shut-down. Not only are users searching more for church on Google, they are clicking through to church websites at record rates.

Here are trends for a couple of Keywords relevant to our market. These trends show a significant growth in Online Traffic in March 2020 over the prior months. Something really interesting is happening that we haven’t seen before, and the data shows the story:

Online Church

Google Trends Online Church

Online Church Giving

Google Trends Online Church Giving

Reaching Millennials

People are using Google to find an online church to provide them with “hope and guidance” in this turbulent time. We have a huge opportunity to reach more Unchurched and Churchless people and to help grow the church and the Kingdom. This is especially true for millennials, and the Google Grant puts church in front of them.

Over the years a consistent question we’ve been asked by churches is how we can help them “grow young” – to reach the younger populations who every year seem to grow further away from attending church. In 2019, we coordinated a significant study on reaching millennials in order to help churches find ways to connect with this huge (and generally absent from church) population. Notably, these results showed that young people (18 to 30) are actually highly interested in issues of identity, purpose, service, and mental health. These relevant topics are part of many churches around the country but the connection still wasn’t there. Perhaps this “forced” need for every church in America to set up an online presence will be the catalyst to connect with this group for not just a few weeks, but for years to come.

Expanding Geography (and Clothing Styles)

Perhaps more and more churches will realize the need to have at least two locations: a “physical campus” and an “online campus” so that ALL feel welcome and able to participate in ways they feel most comfortable (even in their pajamas.) Here’s the hidden gem in the “online campus” – there are NO geographic boundaries! While your physical church is limited to how far people are willing to drive, your online church knows no physical boundaries and can connect and invite people where they are and how they are! The Google Grant can put your online church in front of people yearning for answers and connections in a way you may not have considered before. We are seeing it happen all over the country.

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