Every church wants to engage with more people from their community, but the million-dollar question is: “How?” At Missional Marketing, we ran more than 300 campaigns leading up to Easter this year, and we were asked this question all the time. So we ran several campaigns to test how churches can best spend their budget on outreach for big holidays like Easter. We carefully tracked the results of three different churches using three distinct strategies. The first multi-campus church went all out, spending its budget on targeted direct mail pieces with QR codes, digital ads, and word of mouth. The second church kept it simple with a door hanger, digital ads, and word of mouth. The third church blasted direct mail pieces and direct digital ads to thousands of homes in addition to using its own people for word-of-mouth marketing. Based on our findings, here are the top strategies we recommend 100%, every time.
#1. Utilize Your People
The biggest game changer in church marketing is creating a culture of invitation. The gospel is all about welcoming people in your community. But just asking church members to invite their friends to church on Christmas, Easter, or several times a year isn’t enough. You need to talk about outreach often. People need this reinforcement frequently to remind them to have a heart of hospitality like Jesus. We live out the Great Commission by passing the baton of faith through a simple invitation.
To build excitement around a culture of invitation, you can show videos with testimonies of people whose lives have been changed. Make sure the subjects mention how they found your church. You can also include quotes from your congregation in your newsletter, social media posts, or on your website about how they extended an invite to a friend. When people hear stories shared by their peers, they are more likely to feel like they can do it too. From the research we’ve done, it’s clear that utilizing the people within your congregation is—hands down—the most effective way to grow your church. Word-of-mouth marketing is free, and it’s one of the most powerful forms of advertising! It just takes time and intentionality to develop a culture of invitation where this is the norm.
#2. Signs around the Church Campus
Signage around campus is a great way to increase visibility and community awareness. People are more likely to walk through your doors if they know you are a church and they know they are invited. Placing a simple banner close to the street is inexpensive and if you’re on a busy road, you get tons of exposure. For a big church service like Easter, you can include the service times and an invitation to come in big letters so people can read it quickly as they’re driving past. If you want to go a step further, place some A-frame signs around busy intersections during the week leading up to it to promote your event.
#3. Google Business Profile
Yep, that’s correct. Log into your GBP account and click on “add update,” then “add event,” and fill in the details. By promoting your event, you are getting that event on as many event websites around your community as possible. This is another free form of marketing that can get the word out pretty effectively. You can promote all the major holidays like Easter and Christmas, but you can also promote kid’s activities, all-church programs, and women’s and men’s events.
#4. Paid Ad Campaigns
It takes money to advertise, but a well-crafted paid ad can go a long way. So you should leave room in your budget for paid campaigns. How much? That depends on the size of your church, how many campuses you have, and what you want to accomplish. Some ads are great for informing and inviting. Other ads can be used as lead generators. Most churches budget anywhere from $500 to $5,000 for a campaign such as Easter. Below are the platforms we recommend, in this order:
- GDN – Clicks come from younger people and 50/50 split male to female
- Facebook lead generation
- Facebook/Instagram ads
- Google search ads
- YouTube ads
- TikTok ads
#5. Traditional Marketing Methods
Direct mail, when done right, can be powerful. However, blasting 25,000 postcards to your community is not a good strategy anymore. It’s expensive, there’s too much noise happening in people’s mailboxes, and they get annoyed with wasted paper. Plus the cost of printing, address lists, postage, and additional processing fees add up fast. However, if you actually create a strategy, it can cultivate church growth quickly.
For example, let’s say you figure out that a handful of your congregation lives in a specific section of town. If you decide to send a direct mail piece to every house in that area, run a Google Display Network campaign, Facebook campaign, and buy a billboard in that area, then tell the people who live there about your church marketing strategy so they can be encouraged to invite their friends. If you want to go deeper, send out student teams to hang door hangers on every home too. Typically, radio and TV ads are not as effective because you’re not able to send them to a targeted audience. The best opportunity to use them is if you have multiple campuses so you’re not inviting people who live more than 30 miles from a campus.
Ultimately, these methods will help you engage people in the most effective ways. With a limited marketing budget, it’s important to create a strategy that uses your own people and a few targeted campaign efforts to spread the word about your upcoming event. Ultimately, when you get people to your website or landing page, you want to invite them with a call to action that makes them feel welcome. You can’t just have a nice graphic and expect people to show up.
What will get someone to come to Easter at your church? Benefits. Engagement. Options. A sense that their kids will thank them afterward for taking them to church because they had a great time. People want to see pictures of people who are just like they are. They want to hear from other people in the church about what it’s like to attend. They want to catch a glimpse—not a whole sermon—of what the pastor is like on video. These elements invite people into the story of what your church is about and what you have to offer. The perfect landing page also includes information about where to park, what to wear, where to register kids, and what the church believes.
No matter how big your budget is, you have options to engage with people in meaningful ways. In fact, some of the most powerful marketing methods are free, like fostering a culture of invitation in your congregation. You don’t need to have a huge church to make a huge impact. With these top five marketing methods, which any church can utilize, you’ll catalyze growth and engagement through intentional invitation.
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If your church is looking for ideas to reach your local community, schedule a free call with one of our expert church coaches today. They’re ready to help your church reach the next level now.