Growing a church in the digital age affords a number of opportunities that past generations could never have foreseen. Specifically, there are church growth marketing techniques that are solely Internet-based, and are able to reliably increase the number of people who come to your church over time.
Marketing is essential for any church looking to attract new worshippers. Here’s an interesting fact: in the United States alone, there are roughly 350,000 churches. Unfortunately, many of them are being forced to close their doors because they are not engaging in creative methods to grow their congregations, such as church marketing online.
Without a doubt, some of the following strategies may appeal more than others to specific denominations and faiths. Therefore, each must be carefully analyzed by your church’s leadership before putting it into practice.
Here are a few ideas you can utilize to grow your church with the power of the Internet.
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1. Start a Facebook page
Many churches have been hesitant to jump into social media marketing, but with more than one billion active users on Facebook, there seems to be little good reason to assume that there’s a better platform to get your message out.
The nice thing is that a Facebook page is essentially free. You can ask your members to join, and they can help spread the word of what your church is doing among their followers. You can also easily share the content you’re creating for your website there, increasing the likelihood of visitors making it to your website, even if they find your Facebook page first.
Facebook gives you an incredible way to showcase your missions trips, community outreach events, and religious celebrations. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with going where the people are—and the people are most certainly online.
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2. Offer sermons as podcasts or videos
When people can’t make it to church on Sundays, they may feel alienated from the rest of the flock. Help them stay in the loop by offering your sermons online in the form of a podcast.
Your podcasts do not have to be professionally edited or recorded. Just make sure that your sermons and services are clear, with as little audio feedback as possible. You can add them to your website, or even distribute them through a service like iTunes to further extend your reach.
If a podcast seems too technical, start a YouTube page and have a parishioner record your services with a video camera or even a steadily-held smartphone. You can then upload the service and encourage people to visit your YouTube channel to see it (or share the video on Facebook!).
3. Start an email-based newsletter
Part of your church growth marketing should involve email newsletters that are sent each week to all congregation members, as well as anyone else who may have signed up to receive them. This is a fantastic way to keep people engaged, and your church in the top of their mind.
In your newsletters, you have the chance to highlight many aspects of your church that you think others would like to know about. This may range from special services (e.g., Easter, Christmas, Ash Wednesday) to community events (e.g., bake sales, food drives), or it may include highlights of Biblical passages or copies of your recent sermon.
You will need to have someone on your team in charge of writing and arranging the newsletters, but this is worth the effort. Persons who opt-in to emailed newsletters are highly interested in hearing more about the organization behind the newsletter. Additionally, analytics features available on email marketing platforms allow you to see how many people are opening your newsletters each week, so you’ll always know how well you are doing.
4. Encourage parishioners to tweet and post during services
This is a controversial topic for many churches, but it’s still worth mentioning when talking about church marketing online. Thought it might sound counterintuitive to allow worshippers to have their smartphones in front of them during a service, if they are tweeting and posting positive comments about their experiences, their words could have a far-reaching effect.
At first, it may be difficult to see people in the pews tapping away at their cell phones, but if they are truly engaged and spreading the words of the pastor or leader, it could prove powerful. You can even suggest hashtags to be used that may be picked up by others looking for religious guidance online—for example, #BibleLessons or a custom hashtag for your church’s name.
If you still feel uncomfortable about enabling this kind of activity during the worship service, encourage the sharing of your message, but politely ask them to tweet or post after the service instead.
5. Start a blog
If you have a website (and your church should!), start a blog about the good things happening. Allow your younger parishioners, such as a teen-based youth group, to take the lead and write content for the blog. This will give them a practical role in the ministry, and allow them to express themselves.
A fantastic benefit of a blog is that the content you produce has a good chance of being included in search engine results. This can help more people in your area find your church when they are looking for information or guidance online, further increasing the size of your congregation.
One note: always have a leader in the church read the blog posts before making them public. This helps ensure that correct grammar and language is always used.
6. Ask missionaries to use crowdfunding to raise money
Mission trips can be costly, and most churches have to raise funds to send members to far-away countries. Crowdfunding sites can be an excellent way to raise monies, as well as make the public aware of what your church is doing.
Encourage all missionaries to create pages of their own and then publicize them on their personal social media accounts. If the people who provide donations are willing to give their personal information, make sure to get their names and email addresses to add to the church’s mailing list!
Grow your congregation with digital marketing
Churches everywhere need to grow to stay alive through the generations. By making use of the resources available online, they can market themselves in a way that attracts new parishioners and builds their base year after year.
There are plenty of other ways to attract new worshippers to your church. Take a look at our page on email marketing for churches to learn how to take advantage of this marketing method, or check out this blog post with case studies from churches who have used online marketing successfully.
We hope you learned a lot of new ideas for using online marketing to attract more people to your church. If you have any questions about the methods detailed in this article, or want to know how an Internet marketing company like WebFX can help you reach more people online, contact us or call us at 888-601-5359!