After my last blog, which briefly mentioned the importance of marketing your online church online, the question from many was, “How do you do that?”
It’s a fair question as the importance of digital marketing has been suddenly thrust upon churches around the world, and many, if not most, had never attempted digital marketing before. This is one of the hidden blessings of the pandemic because churches needed to gravitate toward digital outreach anyway. We still do traditional marketing (for example, we still do mailers to new residents) at Mecklenburg Community Church, but we’ve mostly gone digital. As our Marketing Director puts it, we are meeting our consumers right where they are—which is online.
So how do we do that? We are using a mix of mediums that all work together to maximize impressions on a consumer.
This involves running a Paid Search campaign on not only Google, but all search engines so that when anyone, anywhere is searching for us directly, looking for a church or searching any of the keywords we are using, we will show up at the top of the search page.
We are running a Retargeting Display campaign so that for anyone who has searched for us or landed on our website will be strategically serving ads to people we know are interested.
With traditional radio in decline, we focus on Digital Radio ads with a mix on Pandora, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Sirius XM, that can be much more targeted than traditional radio ever was.
After doing our research and finding that our target demographic spends most of their time with Digital Video, specifically YouTube, we invest a good amount of marketing dollars into that medium. We also run a pre-roll campaign with a focus on YouTube to be sure we are in front of the people whose attention we are trying to capture.
We do an Email Marketing campaign a handful of times a year that is sent to everyone who has given us permission to contact them throughout the years, using our own database information. We do not purchase lists to send to, so we know that each person receiving the email communication has some sort of interest in or experience with Meck.
Finally, with the continual growth in users across social media sites, we run a Social Media campaign (which is different than simply boosting a post), primarily on Facebook and Instagram, where we have run tests to realize where we have been able to gain the most traction.
There is a synergy that works among each of these mediums and with cross-device technology, we are able to be in front of more people, more times, on more devices.
Now, before you say, “Good for you—we don’t have that kind of money!” I want to offer two thoughts on that: First, you’d be surprised at how cheap most of this is. So don’t write it off before you look into it.
Second, and more important, is to remember this is outreach. This is reaching people. If you’re going to spend money on something,
... this is what you want to spend it on.
James Emery White
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.