Katie Allred: Welcome to the Church Communications Podcast. I’m Katie Allred.
Kenny Jahng: And I’m Kenny Jahng.
Katie Allred: We want to help you become a better church communicator.
Kenny Jahng: And this is the place we’re going to talk about strategies and best practices for your church.
Katie Allred: Let’s get started. Welcome to the Church Communications Podcast. I’m Katie Allred, and today with me I have Jason Hamrock from Missional Marketing. How are you doing Jason?
Jason Hamrock: I’m great Katie. How are you today?
Katie Allred: I’m doing pretty well. I’m a little sleepy, I won’t lie. It’s a nice, dreary Monday here. It’s quite overcast. So I’ve been a little sleepy, but I believe in us. We’re going to get through this.
Jason Hamrock: You bet. I’m excited.
Katie Allred: So can you tell the lovely people, all of my lovely church communicators, what you do at Missional Marketing?
Jason Hamrock: Well, I’ll tell you-
Katie Allred: What Missional Marketing is and all that.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah. Right. Yeah. Well we love working with churches and we stay very narrow and deep in what we do. But I kind of start by saying that we love to equip and educate churches. Because when you educate and equip somebody that doesn’t know something and how they can use those tools to grow, that empowers people. So part of our ministry is just letting you know how does Google really work? What’s the difference between local SEO versus on-page SEO? And the benefits of why you need to know that. And so we really stick in the lane of digital tools, but it’s more about educating and equipping so that people can be empowered to make good decisions.
Katie Allred: And hopefully if people have been listening to this podcast, they now know the difference between on-page and local SEO.
Jason Hamrock: I hope so. Yeah, that’s our hope.
Katie Allred: If you missed out, you can go back and listen to those episodes.
Jason Hamrock: Please do.
Katie Allred: Because Kenny and I had a good time explaining those differences.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, and you’ve done a great job of that too, by the way.
Katie Allred: Oh, well thank you.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, yeah.
Katie Allred: Yeah, you can see I’m a web development professor maybe on occasion, right?
Jason Hamrock: Just a little bit, yeah.
Katie Allred: So that’s fun. Okay. So I do have some questions for you that I want to ask you because you’re an expert in this. And so the first question I have for you is with church attendance shrinking, do you see this as an indication that people are less interested in spiritual things online?
Jason Hamrock: That is a great question. Actually we see that searches in Google around spiritual kind of topics are going up and to the right, and it makes sense when you stop and think about this. So you’re right, church attendance is kind of on the decline overall, the big church to where people attend 1.5 or 1.7 times a month. So these days you go to church to learn. And you’re learning about spiritual kind of things. Well if you’re not in church-
Katie Allred: You’re not learning.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, and the curiosity doesn’t go away. People are still curious about, is there a God? Who’s this Jesus guy? Does he care about me? All of those kinds of things. And Google tells us that it’s happening. We can look into Google and see the trends and the volume of searches going on. And what’s really cool about that, and actually a little scary sometimes, is that we’re now allowing Google to kind of shape-
Katie Allred: Yeah, people’s-
Jason Hamrock: Our spiritual formation.
Katie Allred: Completely. Their Christian worldview or their worldview at all. Yeah.
Jason Hamrock: Exactly.
Katie Allred: Isn’t’ that crazy?
Jason Hamrock: So you could have secular things educating you. You could have certainly other religions educating you. But we want the Bible to educate you. And so that’s done through a local church.
Katie Allred: I can remember thinking back in probably 2002, so I was very young, I remember thinking I need to write all the answers for people who are asking all these crazy questions on the internet. Isn’t that funny? So I’m like 12 in 2002-
Jason Hamrock: And going I need to write these down.
Katie Allred: Why isn’t someone telling people these specific … Because there’s these long tail keywords. If you don’t know what a long tail keyword is, it is basically people asking a question, like a full question. So even today, I asked a theological question to the internet. I asked, is there something different between Armenian and Calvinist? Because I am interested in that. And I found Molinism, and so now I’ve gone down this Molinism track for today. And my answer came from Wikipedia. But wouldn’t it be better if it had come from a theologian?
Jason Hamrock: A church.
Katie Allred: A church.
Jason Hamrock: What if a local church had the answer? So I get all the time-
Katie Allred: If a local church had had the answer here, I would be like, I got to go to this church.
Jason Hamrock: Bingo. Exactly. And let’s just break it down because that’s kind of a deep topic surge. What if somebody is going, how to know Jesus? Does Jesus forgive? How many people, and this is for the audience to hear. How many of you actually have a page on your website dedicated, optimized to explain who Jesus is and how to have a relationship with him? It’s that simple.
Katie Allred: Like basic landing pages for… Even how do I raise my teenager? These are things the church should be answering. I have a toddler who is crazy. What do I do? These are things that the church should be answering. Parenting, should I spank or should I not spank? Let’s talk about it, and the church should have some of these answers. So I am right there with you Jason. And too, talking about this church attendance shrinking but spiritual things online increasing, I think too it has incredibly increased just over the last couple of weeks because of Kanye.
Jason Hamrock: Oh exactly. Yeah. What a trend. What an opportunity.
Katie Allred: It went up directly. Isn’t that wild? Jesus is King just went off the rails, and I’m like, praise God that he’s given us this opportunity to just talk about the things of God again. But there’s so many elementary things of God we’ve got to cover with people online. So just figuring out how can we as a church answer those questions I think is going to be real unique over the next couple of years.
Jason Hamrock: I agree. I agree.
Katie Allred: Okay, so another question I have, what are the three rings of church attendance? I have no idea what they are. So I’m actually kind of intrigued. I mean, is it seeker?
Jason Hamrock: Right. So when I talk with churches, again with this educating equipping thing, I try to say that you have three rings to your audience. So ring one are people that go to your church. Now we’re coming up on Christmas, and so you have some people that are C and E. They only come Christmas and Easter. And then you’ve got all the way to somebody who comes every single week. They are living the Luke 9:23 life. They’re carrying their cross daily. And then you got everybody in between. That makes up your ring one. And so our team likes to speak into that and kind of help and equip, but really ring one is a great spot. But ring one is people that go to your church. Then there’s ring two.
Jason Hamrock: Ring two are people that are looking for a church. So they’re in Google, they’re on this thing because everybody has this thing, and they’re searching churches near me or best churches near me or best churches in my city, that type of thing. And so that has a lot to do with local SEO and being found online. But we don’t know why somebody is looking for a church. Maybe they moved to the area, maybe their old church kind of split. Or maybe they’re not being educated, they’re not learning spiritual things at their church and they’re wanting more. Or I think most commonly is they got a divorce. So she’s staying at our home old church. I got to go find a new one. That’s ring two. Because it’s a huge ring when you look at Google. And so not only are you, I don’t like to say that we’re competing with other churches, but there are definitely other churches that have other philosophies and religions that we would be competing with. And so if somebody doesn’t know anything about God, the faith…
Katie Allred: Church at all. They might end up just finding another kind of church.
Jason Hamrock: A different kind of church. Right. But that’s ring two. Then ring three, we just talked about it, and it is really, really deep, Katie. It’s people that are searching for help with a felt need. And there are hundreds if not thousands of felt need searches that the Bible has answers to that people are searching for. And when you start to understand that and you teach a church communication director to say you can really drive traffic to your website through this ring three audience, the light bulb turns on. They’re like, I never thought about that. And then we get into some really cool strategies about pastor sermons.
Katie Allred: Yeah, how we can do that. Isn’t it wild that churches never think about that? For me, I automatically think of course we need to answer these questions or whatever. I’m a digital native and more of a digital native than even other people in my generation. Of course I’ve grew up completely online. I’m very into it, been into it for a long time, been a part of the online community for a long time. But it just seems so obvious. You Google things all of the time. Why shouldn’t your church be the first answer for those things? So that’s great.
Jason Hamrock: And using Google, the different tools that Google offers.
Katie Allred: Yeah, you can tell.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, exactly.
Katie Allred: That’s the great part. You can find out in your specific area what people are searching.
Jason Hamrock: Yep. And we do that for churches. We offer that as a service to say, let us just inform you about what that looks like around your area.
Katie Allred: Right. Are they searching for help with their teenagers? Are they searching for rehabilitation centers? Are they searching for these things? Your church probably offers divorce care. Is divorce trending in your area? That sounds terrible, but is it as a search?
Jason Hamrock: We know it is. So how…
Katie Allred: Right. How can we as a church support it is another thing all together. Okay. So what are the best methods a church can use to impact their growth? So we talked about this one, about answering the felt needs on their website, but are there others?
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, absolutely. So when I talk to churches, and I used to do this as a communication director, I kind of put a pie chart in front of me to say, if this is how we get new people, what’s that pie chart look like? Of course people drive by and they see our campus or campuses. So there’s a percentage of growth there. We have events or conferences, and there’s percentages there. There’s social media stuff, so there’s a percentage there. So I want to understand what does that look like and say, what can I impact? Now I’ve always said this and I believe it 100% that the best way to grow your church is with your own people. Yeah, that makes sense. You need to not only invite but bring your friends and families and neighbors and enemies and mother-in-law’s. You need to bring them to church, and that’s always the best way to grow your church. That’s number one. But I think the second best way these days is getting people to your website. And of course that’s with all kinds of ways to get people to your website.
Jason Hamrock: I think churches these days would say that our front porch is really our website, and I’d actually disagree with that a little bit because really the front porch to your church isn’t the website. It’s really Google my business. It’s Facebook, it’s Yelp. And if you think about that, I was just talking to a church this morning…
Katie Allred: It’s like you just walked in the door. That’s kind of what the website is.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I walked in the door because I saw you online, and what did I do? I read reviews, I looked at photos. I go, these reviews look great and these photos look like they’re having fun. You find that on Google my business. You read those reviews on Yelp. You learn that on Facebook. So getting traffic to those is so important to then get them to your website so you can invite them to church. So that’s really the second thing. And then again, I think using social media from Facebook, Instagram, display network, those kinds of things are great avenues to help get more people knowing about your church to invite them to church so they see benefit when they come. So yeah, those are really the top three that we preach on.
Katie Allred: Today, people are searching for spiritual answers online more than they ever have before. Unfortunately, the local church is seldom seen as a top relevant result to their questions. Many churches aren’t even being shown to those searching to attend a local church.
Kenny Jahng: So the group over at Missional Marketing, they know a strong online presence is not optional for churches today. And as most people visit a church website before attending physically, an effective website and online presence is essential to growing a church today.
Katie Allred: So Missional Marketing offers all kinds of online tools and strategies that will improve your online presence to help grow your church. You can visit them today to discuss how your church is doing online and find out how they can help. You can learn more by going to missionalmarketing.com. Again, that’s just missionalmarketing.com
Katie Allred: Yeah. Okay. So I guess my next question is what is it like to work with Missional Marketing?
Jason Hamrock: Well, I think since day, our ministry focused on educating and equipping. I said that earlier. I worked for over a decade as a communication director. So I…
Katie Allred: Yeah, I think that’s important to talk about. You were a communications director just like everybody else.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah. And just like you and everybody listening, you’re spending like 10-15 plates, and every weekend’s a big event called church, and how do you have time for these things that are really, really important that you really don’t know about? And so we decided, hey, if we have the posture of a servant and we want to educate and equip and give people these tools, then they can use these tools to help grow their church. So working with us, we really strive to be an educator and then a servant and then create raving fans because then often churches will look to us and say, well, can you help us? And yeah, that’s how we’re built. We’re here to help serve. And so in these specific products we offer that we say are very narrow.
Jason Hamrock: We don’t get into branding and things of that nature. We stay very narrow. That really helps because then a communication director can know that they’ve got somebody on their side that’s equally yoked, that wants to expand the kingdom through their church, connect people to Jesus, that we have their best interests in mind. And internally, we always talk about, hey, is that person a raving fan? What do we need to do to make them a raving fan of our colony? And when we have that posture every day, it’s very, we’re blessed.
Katie Allred: That’s what we want for anything. I want raving fans of Church Communication. And thankfully we’ve been really blessed to also have many of those, which we super appreciate.
Jason Hamrock: You have a vehicle that can help communicate and help solve problems because face it, we’re dealing with all kinds of stuff every day.
Katie Allred: Oh yeah. It’s the biggest communication shift in what the last thousand years. I mean it’s just wild the things that have changed for us, not just for the church, but for humanity in the last 20 years even. I mean has been wild. We used to not have email just in the last 20 years.
Jason Hamrock: I know. Isn’t that crazy? We’re just getting started I believe.
Katie Allred: Yeah. I mean me and you, we’re not in the same place geographically. We can have this conversation over video chat. Even 10 years ago, that was hard to do, which is wild to think. Just 10 years ago in 2009, I had a Motorola Razor.
Jason Hamrock: I know. Crazy. Yeah, that’s right. And we talk about those all the time. The R & D department for our company is Google and Facebook, and what they’re doing that we can then take that information and package it up to say, hey church, you need to know about this because this is coming now. And we can’t be 10 years behind anymore. That’s like 100 years. [crosstalk 00:16:39] will not exist if you don’t…
Katie Allred: Keep up.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, exactly. And so churches that are keeping up, they’re the ones that have a future.
Katie Allred: Oh yeah. And they’re growing by leaps and bounds. That’s what’s crazy is that the churches who are answering these questions, these felt need questions on their website, I mean to me they seem like pretty basic things, but just working on their local SEO, getting good reviews on their Google page, actually uploading pictures to Google my business. That’s a difficult one altogether. So many churches don’t do that. And I’m like, you should do it every week. You should not just do it once.
Jason Hamrock: Have reviews every week and get photos every week. I was on the phone with a church over in Orlando today, and I say, hey, let’s just pull up your Google my business and see what we see. I hadn’t been there yet. And sure enough, the first eight pages were just empty rooms.
Katie Allred: Yeah. And who wants to look at pictures of empty rooms? I think my favorite thing I learned, I’m a StoryBrand certified guide, which is kind of fun. I’m doing some copyrighting and stuff, but one of the best things I think Donald Miller said was, “Your church isn’t an empty building. Your church is humans.” It’s people. Don’t a picture on your website and have it just be a picture of your beautiful building. Because people don’t go to church anymore to look at a beautiful building. They used to. That used to be a big in draw. Because we didn’t have iPhones a thousand years ago when we were building beautiful churches. So people used to go, oh, I’ve got to go see the Sistine chapel. And then there, I will be inspired by God and maybe accept salvation. But now we’re like, I mean that’s a fun travel tour, but it’s not something that’s inspiring me.
Jason Hamrock: I often often say this too, just the way we live our lives, I like to take my wife on date nights. And sometimes I’ll just go online and see kind of what Mexican restaurant is out there, and I do this all the time, and I’m in Phoenix. So I’ll do that. And the two things I look at before I would take my bride to a restaurant is pictures of the food. And that’s probably the most important. And then reviews. What are people saying about this place? If I didn’t have any reviews and I just saw an empty restaurant with tables and nobody’s sitting there, you think I’m going to go to that? No way. I’m going to move on. Church is no different.
Katie Allred: No, definitely not. Yeah. And it’s so crazy too how many restaurants don’t have pictures. I’m sure you’ve noticed that. And it was so funny, I had done that one time for some restaurant. I couldn’t find any pictures of it or whatever online, but I was in the middle of nowhere, so I was like, I’m going to go to this restaurant. And luckily it worked out, but I was like, I’m going to take some pictures while I’m there because there are none, and I did it and uploaded them. Those pictures have been viewed millions of times now. So think about for your church.
Jason Hamrock: They should pay you.
Katie Allred: I know. Maybe they should have. Google local guides gives me some feedback, so that’s good. Yeah, they give me a tiny little kickback. Not like of payment, but of cool stuff. But yeah, so maybe you should become a Google local guide. If you’re a church communicator, maybe you should go in your community and help take all these pictures for these restaurants. I mean, come on, think about it. It’s a great missional opportunity for you. You can help them with their Google reviews. But too just getting those pictures taken and putting them up every week, I think that’s so important. So talking about that, what are the three services that Missional Marketing offers to churches?
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, the top three ones that we’ve really onboarded a lot of churches with is local SEO is one of them, and just Google your name church. Just go out there and Google your name, and take a look at that Google my business. That’s just one piece because…
Katie Allred: And too, we’ve got to go, not just Google search but also go because your search will be tailored to you and what you’ve searched before. So just really important to try a privacy browser as well.
Jason Hamrock: That’s right. Yeah. Because I love to teach about the idea that… You have the Google local pack. So if somebody types in churches near me, they’re going to get that map with three search results. Well Google tells us 70% of time, people click on one of those top three before they even scroll down to the organic search results. So you want to be in that local pack. Now, if you’re on your campus, I hope you’re number one. If you don’t, you’ve got a problem. But drive a mile or two or three miles any direction, and you’ll probably find that you’re following up a local pack. So we help churches make sure they stay inside that local pack by fixing citations and building things up to make sure that Google sees this business because that’s what they already Google. They’re not a church, they’re a business or businesses if they have multiple campuses.
Jason Hamrock: Make sure they’re found online. And so when somebody types in the keyword, a church, we want to make sure they’re in the local pack. So that’s really the first thing, the most popular product. The other one is Google grants. I know you probably get into a lot of conversation. I see that on the Facebook page a lot with the Google grant questions. Well, we have a pretty specific strategy on how we help churches with the Google grant where we’re spending eight 10,000 on up, well beyond $10,000. We work with Google every day. It’s kind of a love hate relationship, but we really love using Google to help drive more traffic to websites, which expands the kingdom.
Katie Allred: Right. So you help churches get the Google grant if they don’t have it. And then you help them manage that.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah. Because there is a strategy behind that. That’s right.
Katie Allred: Yeah. And I’m sure that strategy involves some landing pages for these felt needs.
Jason Hamrock: Exactly. Yep. Google cares about two things, making money, and they’re good at that, and their users. And so you, well we talked about the keyword of Jesus. If you have no, if you don’t have the keyword Jesus on your website, and you want to run an ad about who is Jesus, Google is not going to deliver that.
Katie Allred: Right. And isn’t it fun… I found it funny. I was a web person at a mega church. I thought it was so odd. I was like, we don’t even have Jesus on our menu. We don’t have Jesus anywhere on this website, except for maybe in our belief section. Where is Jesus? Because I cannot find him. So anyway, that’s a lovely conviction to give all of you pastors.
Jason Hamrock: I do it every single time I talk to a church. I’m like, really?
Katie Allred: Where’s Jesus?
Jason Hamrock: You preach on him very Sunday.
Katie Allred: Right. Why is there not a plan of salvation somewhere on this website? Because clearly you’re missing it.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah. Because then if you cut a video and you walk people through the gospel and how to accept him, you can use a Google grant to drive traffic there. And Google’s helping you reach more people for Jesus. So the Google grant and paid adware campaigns, we do a ton of that. And then the third is, it kind of goes with these two, is building church websites. We really have got into that. We’ve really built a lot of church websites, and we take a little bit of a different angle because of the SEO component. So of course ring one matters, of course. But you really want your website to reach ring two and ring three, people who do not exist in your church yet.
Katie Allred: Not just people at your church.
Jason Hamrock: Exactly. And so you don’t want…
Katie Allred: That’s how most people think of their website for, is this is for our congregation. That’s it. And I’m like, no, it’s really not though.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, we exist for those who are not yet part of the body of Christ.
Katie Allred: We did a survey in our church communications group pretty recently. I did a poll, and I just asked, what’s your percentage, if you go into your Google analytics, for the past year, will you tell me the percentage of new versus returning? And it was 80/20. It was very much the Pereda principle. It was 80% new and 20% returning. So what does that tell you about who uses your website?
Jason Hamrock: That’s right. Yeah, and then so I love to get into the analytics to say what are they doing and where are they going?
Katie Allred: Where do they fall off?
Jason Hamrock: Right. And so you’ve also got to work with Google on call to actions and what those conversion funnels look like. And so building a church website is so important these days to focus on ring two and three. And we do a lot of that, help churches in that capacity.
Katie Allred: Okay. So tell us about your special offer, your special deal that you can help churches with.
Jason Hamrock: Well I’d love to put together a packet of research for you, for anybody who wants this. Because first of all, we want to call your current site to tell you…
Katie Allred: If you’re listening or watching.
Jason Hamrock: Exactly. If you’re listening or watching, we’ll run an audit of your website, tell you exactly the good, the bad and the ugly, as I like to say, on how Google sees your website. Very important to know what you should do with that. And then we also do an audit of your local SEO and how you shape up and how Google sees you as a business. And then we also put together the volume of traffic around your area on every felt need keyword you can almost imagine. And so that’s kind of a gift. It goes towards educating and equipping churches so that they can do something about it.
Katie Allred: Okay. So if they want this, where should they go?
Jason Hamrock: Well you probably can put a link on there because I think if they go to our website, or go to our website and you fill out a form, then that’s going to go to David on our team and he’s going to make that packet.
Katie Allred: Yeah. Okay. So yeah, directly to missionalmarketing.com, and then you can just fill out their contact form and they will get you started.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, and if you tell them that you learned about this through the podcast, and we’ll make sure that we get that done right away, and that way we’ll know it’s coming from the Facebook communications group.
Katie Allred: Right. So you can also email them firstname.lastname@example.org as well. And just mention Church Communications Podcast, I listened to the podcast with Jason Hamrock, I’m interested in getting an audit of our services or digital marketing strategy. And Jason’s going to hook you up with a sweet deal.
Jason Hamrock: That’s right.
Katie Allred: Which is awesome. I mean definitely something that I would take up on if I was still working at a church full time. It’s just so hard to do if you don’t know what you’re doing, and it takes a lot of time. And so I think this is an incredible resource, so thank you so much Jason for doing that.
Jason Hamrock: You’re welcome. Yeah, our team has really built a lot of different tools, and then we use a lot of third party tools that you may not know about. And yeah, those things can help equip you to know what you need to do regardless if you have a Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, or you’re using Rock or some other third party. You want to know how is that website performing. Is it working for us or against us? How does Google look at your website? Very important stuff these days.
Katie Allred: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, definitely any platform, doesn’t matter. Just the audit, I think the SEO audit will tell you the things that you can improve on. So, yeah. Awesome. Well thanks for hanging out with us today, Jason. I super appreciate it. Man, we learned a lot. I was just looking over the stuff. I was like, oh man, there’s so much that you can take away from this conversation, so I appreciate it so much.
Jason Hamrock: My pleasure. Yeah, we love to be able to serve churches and just equip them, and so thanks for allowing us to share today. It’s been awesome.
Katie Allred: All right. Talk to you later.
Jason Hamrock: All right, bye bye.
Katie Allred: Your church’s website and online presence are essential places to your growing church today. Missional Marketing is ready to help your church figure out how you’re doing online and offer tips and proven strategies that will not only improve your online presence, but ultimately increase your Sunday attendance. To learn more, you can go to missionalmarketing.com. Again, that is missionalmarketing.com.