Whether you’re planting a new church and trying to build recognition in the community or your church has been well established for years, some level of marketing is always important for continually bringing new faces through the door as well as retaining current membership.
The type of marketing that makes sense, however, depends on many factors. It’s important to consider the location of your church, the demographic you are trying to reach, and whether people in the community recognize your church or don’t even know you exist.
If you are struggling to market your church effectively and wondering where to start, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together this post with everything you need to know to develop an effective church marketing strategy. Here’s what’s included:
- Getting Started with Church Marketing
- Church Marketing Ideas
The first step to an effective church marketing strategy is understanding your audience. Not every church is the right fit for every person. No matter if your church is brand new or if it’s well established, you likely have some idea of who your church is for. But it always helps to write this information down before you start actually marketing your church.
Think about questions like:
- Where are our members at in life? Are they mostly young singles, married married with kids, empty nesters?
- Where do our members hang out? The young singles crowd probably isn’t hanging out at the local high school’s football games.
- What organizations do our members belong to? Are there trends in the community involvement of your congregation you can tap into?
- What are our members most passionate about? Understanding what your members care about can help ensure your messaging will resonate.
This is just a starting point, but hopefully it gets you thinking. As you develop a picture of your audience in your mind, document it. Share it with others and get buy-in from the team that this is who you want to reach.
Once you have a clear picture of who you want to bring through the doors of your church, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll reach them. Below we’ve outlined 24 church marketing ideas to consider and when they might make sense.
Traditional church marketing efforts include ways of marketing that have been around for awhile. These tactics are typically best for churches looking to target an older crowd, but there is still some crossover.
1. Print ads
Print ads can be a great church marketing effort for holidays or special events. You may decide to advertise in the local newspaper or a magazine that’s popular with your audience. Some keys to effective print ads for churches include having a clear call to action, such as service dates and times, as well as a website where readers can go to learn more.
2. Direct mailers
Unlike print ads, which compete for the eyes of the reader with other content on the page, direct mailers give you more freedom and flexibility to create something engaging and memorable. One downside to direct mailers, however, is the cost. Because you are paying to design, print, and ship each mailer, you can expect to pay more than you would with some other church marketing outlets.
If your church is located in an urban setting with a larger population, a billboard campaign could be a great way to get your name out to your audience. Consider running a campaign in line with a popular time of year, such as Christmas, Easter, or back to school. Remember to include a website where people can go to learn more.
4. Event sponsorships
From holiday parades to nonprofit fundraisers to the local little league team, there are likely events going on in your community where you can get in front of prospective church goers. Consider sponsoring an event or just attending one to get your name out there.
5. Digital signage
Historically, one of the most effective ways to get people to notice your church can be simply having great signage. In recent years, digital signage has made it much easier to get passersbys to to notice your church. Oftentimes, digital signage can be programmed to scroll through multiple messages, allowing churches to easily and affordably communicate to their communities about service times, upcoming events, and more.
6. Flyers and brochures
Not only do churches need to market themselves to prospective attendees, but it’s also important to help new people coming through your doors to easily find the information they are looking for. Having flyers and brochures inside your doors that will educate newcomers on what you believe in and how they can get involved will go along way toward ensuring they return.
In today’s day and age, it is not optional for churches to be online. At a minimum, churches wishing to increase attendance need to have an accessible, informative website. But there is much more to digital marketing for churches than that. These ideas should get you thinking about how you can improve online marketing for your church.
7. Effective website
The most obvious digital marketing platform for churches is your website. Not only should your website be great looking to attract new attendees, but it also needs to be easy to navigate and informational. Visitors should be able to easily access information like service times, children’s ministries, and upcoming events.
It’s not enough to just have a great looking, easy-to-use website. Your church website also needs to be accessible to prospective church goers who may be searching. SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to how well your website ranks in Google for terms that your target audience may be searching. For example, “churches in City” might be something a prospective church member would type into Google. Knowing how you stack up against other churches in your area for popular search terms can help you understand how much effort to put into this form of digital marketing.
Another great way to market your church online is via email. Allow current members as well as prospective members and attendees to subscribe to weekly emails that might include message topics, general announcements, or upcoming events. Email as a marketing channel can help increase attendance by allowing you to engage church goers who are not yet regular attenders.
Does your church have a blog? Often churches shy away from using a blog for marketing because they think it’s a lot of work and don’t have anyone who wants to manage it. If this sounds familiar, consider publishing transcripts of your messages online. Repurposing message content in this way will help boost your SEO and search engine rankings to drive more traffic to your website and build your brand. It can also give you additional content that you can share with your email list.
Don’t have a transcript of your messages handy? Upload your audio file and receive an automated transcription
A great way to leverage podcasts for your church is as an audio version of your service or message. Podcasts can allow you to reach a larger crowd than the geographic limits that churches typically face. With a bit of SEO work, such as a sermon transcript, anyone searching online can find your message podcasts, listen to them on their own time, and share them with the world.
Like blog posts and podcasts, an obvious way churches can leverage video is by recording and posting services or messages. But there are a lot of other ways that video marketing can make sense for churches. Record some clips touring your facility – this can help prospective church goers feel more comfortable walking through the doors. Shoot some videos of key leadership talking about common questions new attendees ask, both about your church specifically as well as more theological questions. No matter the video content you create, having a transcript of the video on your website will make the content more accessible and beneficial for SEO.
13. Social media
As you can see, digital marketing for churches involves creating a lot of content. Social media can allow you to get more for that content by magnifying its reach. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter typically make the most sense for churches. Start with a strong, visually appealing presence on these key platforms. Then think about running some fun promotions to leverage your existing attendees to drive new views to your social accounts. You could set up a photo booth in your church to encourage attendees to share pictures on Sunday morning. Think about using hashtags for your promotions or for your current series to generate buzz online.
14. Online reviews
Another essential component of digital marketing for your church is online reviews. When prospective attendees are researching your church prior to walking through the door, they will likely read reviews on sites like Google and Facebook. Making sure you have a process in place to collect reviews on these platforms form current members will ensure a positive impression on prospective attendees. You can solicit reviews by simply asking or by running a promotion or giveaway to incentivize submissions.
The digital marketing ideas outlined above are all ways churches can gain exposure and build their brands for free. There are also paid options for getting your church’s name out online. The most popular digital advertising options for churches are outlined below.
15. Google search ads
Depending on the size of your community, it may or may not be realistic to rank naturally in search results for common terms like “churches in City.” If there is too much competition, especially if your church and website are brand new, it may be worth considering paying for placement in Google. This will allow you to pay per click to drive traffic to your website for people searching specifically in your area. If you decide to go this route, you will likely want to limit the location in which your ads run, probably by a specific mile radius around your address.
16. Facebook ads
Another form of digital advertising that can make sense for churches is Facebook. Depending on your goal, these ads could look very different. If you’re trying to get new people through your doors, consider some targeted ads for big events like Christmas or Easter services. If your simply looking to do some branding and build your Facebook following, think about running a promotion and giving away some swag to people who like your page. Either way, Facebook has a wide range of targeting options to ensure you only pay to reach the audience you want to target.
17. Linkedin ads
LinkedIn is a professional social network, so it probably won’t help you get more people through your church’s door. However, it can be a great tool for attracting top talent if you’re hiring. You can publish job postings for free, or you can run ads to boost the postings and get more exposure. LinkedIn has excellent targeting options to make sure you are reaching the best people for the job.
18. Instagram ads
Instagram ads are actually set up through Facebook, so they often make sense to run together. One big differentiator though is the audience they attract. On Instagram, you’ll likely reach a younger crowd, which can be appealing for many churches. However, you’ll have less flexibility in terms of the content that you’re sharing compared with Facebook ads.
19. Remarketing ads
Remarketing ads are a simple, cost-effective way to build your brand. Say a prospective churchgoer visits your website while researching local churches. She probably does a search in Google and then clicks around a handful of different church websites in your area. What makes your church stand out from the pack? That’s where remarketing ads can come into play. These ads can follow her around the on the internet when she goes and does other things like checking email or reading the news. She’ll see your logo and your brand to keep your church top of mind.
Not all church marketing has to be done by your leadership or staff. Consider leveraging core members to do some marketing for you as well. Here are some ideas of how they can help.
This once commonplace marketing tactic may seem obsolete, but it can actually be a highly effective way to get to known in your community. It can be especially fruitful in the fall as the summer winds down and before school starts. This is because peak moving season is the summer time and in the fall people are back from vacation and seeking a routine. If they’re in the the market to find a new church in their community this is the best time to reach out.
21. User generated content
Think about how your congregants can develop marketing content for you. This might mean taking photos of church sponsored events they attend or sharing social posts with a specific hashtag. Your members love your church for a reason – create ways for them to share those reasons and develop ways to leverage that content in your marketing.
At the end of the day, your church exists to develop your congregation spiritually. As you carry out this mission, you are continually developing a pool of people with stories to tell. Develop a strategy for collecting and sharing testimonies to encourage others and get the word out about what your church is doing.
23. Small groups
Some prospective attendees may not feel comfortable simply walking through unfamiliar doors on a Sunday morning. Having a strong small group program can provide a less intimidating setting for people to get to know new people and get a bit involved before they’re ready to attend your church.
24. Handwritten notes
When people attend a church for the first time, they want to feel welcomed, they want to feel at home. A great way to engage newcomers and make them feel more comfortable is by reaching out with genuine regard. Consider writing a handwritten note to let them know their presence is appreciated. A delicious baked good can also be the perfect pairing.
That wraps up our 24 church marketing ideas to help you increase attendance. Hopefully you learned a few things and have a clearer picture of where to start with growing your church’s membership.