Over the last couple of years, we have seen a tremendous upsurge of churches going online. Even though thousands of churches were unprepared for the drop off in attendance due to a pandemic, many realized they had to begin implementing a plan to help bounce back. I believe that by creating an effective digital marketing strategy your church can restore the numbers you have lost and even help your church grow! Here’s how:
Start by adjusting your definition of attendance away from physical presence and begin to include on line viewers in your count as attenders – if you haven’t already. For that to happen you will have to make a decision to ramp up your social media presence.
For any church to successfully grow and stay relevant in a digital environment, it’s imperative to have a solid social media presence. The internet is a place where most people will first hear about and learn what your church is up to. In fact, many studies have shown that nearly 90% of all first-time visitors checked out your website and/or your social media presence before they decided to spontaneously drop in. Your church’s social media accounts should be widespread and regularly updated to reach out to those who are not currently in your congregation. You should prominently highlight seeker friendly community events and give people a reason to interact with you on social media.
In the digital age we now live in, marketing is heavily dominated by social media. Most of the population does not just show up somewhere in person, whether at a restaurant, hotel, or movie theater, without checking the place out online first. The same is true for church shoppers. Using search engines like Google has increasingly become the norm for people of all ages to fully vet any kind of place prior to a visit including your church.
Churches are especially vulnerable to this type of searching since most people are not comfortable walking into a place of worship without knowing anything about it. When an unchurched person searches for a new church, they almost certainly are going to be using keywords that will return a local pack, for example “churches near me”, “local church”, or “churches in (location).” Thus, the first three churches the searcher is likely to see will be those that are chosen for the local pack. Being one of those churches for searches in your community is of great importance, so familiarizing yourself with vernacular like SEO, Search Engine Optimization is important on the digital landscape.
Today churches Also need to optimize their website to help reach unchurched people in your community! These days people are searching for all kinds of answers online. When they are looking for answers, Google is often where they turn to. When people search for answers to questions about marriage, divorce, parenting, finance, mental health, and many other felt-need topics. You want your church to be in the mix of places listed who will help people find answers to these questions and make a good impression on them.
To ramp up your social media marketing plan it would be most helpful to find someone in your congregation who is fluent in Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, with a basic understanding of Meta-church, Tik-Tok, Twitch, Discord and Clubhouse.
For a deeper look at this issue, I have written a chapter in my latest book, entitled ‘Jump Start Your Church Marketing Plan.’
You will find “Church Turnaround A to Z” on Amazon books.