We are all enmeshed in a digital era where technology and communication are an integral part of daily life. And this includes the church…but are you using cutting-edge church growth strategies that actually reach people?
Or are you using outdated techniques, assuming people will eventually come to you?
People are spending their free time differently. And they’re used to communicating and gathering information online. So, this blog post discusses seven vital church growth strategies you need to reach people in the digital age.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Table of contents
- How to Use Digital Marketing in Church Growth Strategies
- 1. Define your church growth strategy and goals
- 2. Try to appeal to everyone
- 3. Create scroll-stopping digital content for your church
- 4. Use paid advertising wisely
- 5. Create genuine personal connections
- 6. Use keywords and SEO to help solve peoples’ problems
- 7. Make disciples and leaders, not just consumers
How to Use Digital Marketing in Church Growth Strategies
Most church growth strategies are timeless at the core. Churches grow because they reach hurting people, bring them into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and build community.
As you read through the list below, keep that in mind. The gospel message hasn’t changed, but we have new methods and channels to communicate it.
1. Define your church growth strategy and goals
What does growth mean for your church? Is it more people in seats on the weekend… or do you measure the degree of life transformation?
To put it simply, are you focused on growing in breadth or growing in depth?
Of course, you want both. And thankfully, these goals aren’t in opposition; they work together. But you do need to bring some clear definition to your plans.
When you’re measuring growth and impact, be clear on your priority goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and metrics.
Don’t be scared off or offended by these corporate-sounding terms.
A church isn’t a business, but you do need to understand where you’re going and how to know if your efforts are fruitful. That’s good stewardship, and it’s a leadership responsibility – especially if budget dollars are involved.
Once you have clarity on what to achieve and how you’ll measure it, you can start to develop and implement growth strategies.
2. Try to appeal to everyone
How could you possibly appeal to everyone? Isn’t this a ridiculous goal?
Actually, it’s a more effective communication style if you understand what we mean.
Everyone isn’t in the same place regarding their interest in church. So, you need to appeal to people at different stages with unique communication.
If you understand how marketing and communication funnels work, you can craft appealing content for people at different places in their spiritual walk.
Let’s dive deeper into this idea.
Marketing Funnel Stages to Grow Your Church
Although marketing and sales funnels were created with for-profit products and the customers who buy them in mind, the concept will help you visualize your church communication strategy.
Here are the five stages in a marketing funnel and how they apply to church:
- Awareness: People who were oblivious to your existence discover your church for the first time, usually through some kind of advertising or word-of-mouth.
- Interest: People are interested in what your church offers and curious to learn more.
- Consideration: People are evaluating whether or not your church is the right fit for them.
- Action: People make the decision to visit your church.
- Loyalty/Advocacy: People are bought in and committed to your church and are passionate about its mission and vision.
Content Goals Based on the Marketing Funnel
As people move through these stages, different types of content will be appealing. Most people won’t see an ad for your church for the first time and sign up to attend your membership class the next day.
Your goal is to move each individual to the next step on their discovery journey. Understanding that principle will help you measure your marketing goals more accurately.
- Awareness Stage: In this stage, you want to get people’s attention with eye-catching content such as a creative social media ad or a useful blog post.
- Interest Stage: Now that you have their attention, it’s time to start building interest. You can provide more information about your church and its mission by sharing your story.
- Consideration Stage: People are starting to think about whether or not your church is right for them. They may visit your website, read your blog, or watch an online service. In this stage, they’re seeking answers and information.
- Action Stage: People are ready to take action. Invite them to visit your church, sign up for a class, or join a small group. Make the call to action clear and obvious.
- Loyalty/Advocacy Stage: People are bought-in at this state. They’re your church’s biggest fans and want to tell everyone about it. Provide them with content that they can share with their friends and family, like testimonials, blog posts, or social media graphics. Also, find ways to speak to them directly and help them grow and stay excited.
So, map out your typical church member’s pathway from “don’t know your church exists” to being an active, engaged member.
Then, you can create tailored content and experiences for each stage and measure the right goals and KPIs.
3. Create scroll-stopping digital content for your church
Traditional advertising includes billboards, mailers, and radio ads, among other things. While these are fantastic marketing church growth strategies, they’re also expensive.
Whether you use traditional marketing or not, digital content is a must. Digital content includes anything people can consume online, like a blog post, video, social media update, or even an email.
Here are some digital content essentials to include in your church growth strategies:
- Blog posts: Blogs serve people by sharing practical and inspiring information. Write blog posts that appeal to people at different funnel stages. For example, you could write a post about why belonging to a church is vital for spiritual health for the awareness stage. Or, people in the loyalty stage would benefit from a post about how to lead a fantastic small group.
- Social media posts: Social media is a way to interact, entertain, inform, and inspire. Create social media posts that link back to your blog and website. Social media is ideal for top-of-funnel (awareness and interest) activity that catches peoples’ attention.
- Videos: Videos connect with people in a powerful way. You could create a video tour of your church for first-time guests, so they know what to expect. Or, you could create a video series on a specific topic or area of struggle, like “how to have a better marriage” or “how to parent teenagers.” You can also create video Bible studies or teaching moments to share as short-form content.
- Email newsletters: Email newsletters should be consistent and keep people updated on church news and events. They are a practical way to keep everyone on the same page and direct people to take action. You could also include links to blog posts or videos in your email newsletter for inspiration and spiritual growth.
There are endless possibilities for digital content. And the best part is that most are free or low-cost to create.
4. Use paid advertising wisely
Organic growth strategies are essential, but it takes time to see results. It’s also difficult to stand out with 1.6-1.9 billion websites on the internet. But if you need traffic now, paid advertising gets your church’s online content in front of your target audience immediately.
Paid advertising can target the individuals most likely to be interested in your church based on their online behavior and interests. When your content is seen by the right people, it gets higher engagement and conversions.
Paid advertising opportunities include
- Google Ads: Google Ads allows you to place ads on Google search results pages and partner websites. Non-profits are also eligible for Google Ad Grants, up to $10,000 a month in free advertising.
- Social Media Ads: You can place ads on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
- Online Publications: You can run digital ads on local websites or community papers. They often offer opportunities for banner ads on websites and in email newsletters.
Your goal with running a digital ad is to pique interest so that people want to learn more. If you can get them to click to a landing page and sign up for a free resource–and give you their email address–then you can continue to follow up.
5. Create genuine personal connections
Getting more clicks to your website or subscribers to your social media or email list is a start, but that’s not the end goal of church growth strategies. Ultimately, you care about people.
And there’s no substitute for a real, human connection.
People seek church communities where they feel accepted and valued. They’re looking for a place where they can belong and grow.
Healthy church growth strategies focus on building people and helping them build relationships with God and others.
Here are some tips to make your church growth strategies more personal:
- Pray with people. You can do this through live chat, live social media broadcast, email, text, or phone calls.
- Create opportunities for small groups. Groups can be virtual or in person.
- Encourage church members to invite their friends. Equip them with resources like digital invitations, social media posts, and email templates.
- Create a personalized “plan your visit” experience for first-time guests. This can include a personal email from someone before their visit, meeting a team member in the lobby on the first day to show them around and help them check kids in, and a personal follow-up after the first visit.
The bottom line for making things more personal is that you create a two-way street in communication. You’re not just broadcasting content, you’re also inviting conversation.
6. Use keywords and SEO to help solve peoples’ problems
People are going through extreme challenges, and they’re looking for answers.
And they can tell whether you actually care or you’re only concerned about getting people to come to your church. Are you willing to reach out and meet them where they are? To serve first before you ask?
People typically search Google or YouTube when they need help.
First, it’s how they’re accustomed to finding “how to” problem-solving information. Second, many issues such as anxiety or addiction can be difficult to discuss, especially with a stranger. The internet provides a safe place to explore solutions while staying anonymous.
You can use keywords and SEO (search engine optimization) strategies to create content that will minister to people.
Here are a few tips:
- Use keyword research tools
- Optimize your website for SEO by using keyword-rich titles and descriptions, as well as alt tags on images.
- Focus on helping people with problems
- Think about questions people will type into search engines
Use keywords and SEO best practices to ensure that your church’s website appears in search results when people seek help.
This means you don’t shy away from complex topics like depression, addiction, and marital infidelity. Instead, you focus on creating content that will help those who are struggling in these areas.
When you do this, you’ll be surprised at how many people will find your church online and reach out for help.
7. Make disciples and leaders, not just consumers
If your church growth strategies are built solely on marketing initiatives pushed out from your church staff, you’ll be limited. Having a top-down strategy creates a church full of passive consumers.
Part of the strategy is activating peoples’ gifts and sending them out.
When people come to church, they should be able to foster lifelong relationships and serve purposefully in a common mission; not just attend occasional services. This transforms individuals, communities, and the world.
There’s simply no way to fulfill the Great Commission unless we make disciples. Jesus gave us this charge thousands of years ago, and it’s still true today.
The best church growth strategy of all time is word of mouth: go and tell!
- Equip people to share and invite
- Empower people to lead
- Encourage church members to be on mission in their everyday lives
When you focus on growing people in their faith, connecting them in relationships, and equipping them to share their faith, you will see healthy growth.
Church Growth Strategies You Need Now
Church growth strategies come in all shapes and sizes. The most effective will focus on using effective technologies and communication, meeting people where they are, serving others, and making disciples. All while using the latest digital tools without forgoing personal invitation.
What has been the most effective way for you to grow your church in the digital age? Let us know in the comments below.