How often have you wanted to market your church, but you just don’t have the budget for it? The truth is free marketing tools make it easy to reach a much wider audience and grow your church without spending a dime.
While you will need a church website for some of these tools and methods, this one-time cost serves as a 24/7 marketing tool. Plus, it gives your members a way to stay in touch all week.
Forget trying to scrape together funds for marketing. All you need is time and a solid church marketing strategy.
Google Ad Grants For Nonprofits
Google is the undisputed king of search. What if your church could benefit from free ads every month? Google gives nonprofits a special grant, as long as you qualify, to use specifically for Google AdWords.
You don’t just get a small ad budget either. You get $10,000 per month. It doesn’t matter how big or small your church is either. You do have to use it all each month and all ads have to be related to your church. We can help you get everything set up, but we’ve provided a quick look at the program and details on how to qualify.
Google Nonprofit Tools
Google’s nonprofit program isn’t just about ads. It also provides free marketing tools to churches. From helping with donations to keeping your marketing (and church) more organized, there are several free tools to help you out.
We’ve outlined some of these amazing tools, but here’s a quick overview to show you why your church should take advantage of what Google’s offering for free:
- Business version of Gmail, along with access to Google Docs, Sheets, Calendar and Drive
- Google One Today – manage donation campaigns without all the fees
- Google Earth Outreach – show your church’s volunteer actions all over the world
- YouTube Nonprofit Program – an easy way to market your church on YouTube and collect donations
All of this is free just for being a nonprofit. Why not take give it a try?
While there are free blogging options, hosting your church’s blog on your own website works best for traffic. If you do have your own church website but don’t have a blog yet, now’s the time to add one.
Even you just post once a week, you’re giving search engines more content to index, which leads to more organic traffic via search. You can use our guide to helping pastors start a blog to get started.
Ideally, you should post at least one non-promotional piece of content each week. For instance, if you’re talking about an upcoming event, you’d want a second blog post discussing Christianity. These types of posts are more valuable to readers, which leads to more return traffic and shares on social media.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to write up a quick post about events to keep everyone informed about what’s going on.
At first, it might not seem like blogging is helping much. It’s a slow marketing method, but it will work. However, guest blogging is one of the most commonly overlooked free marketing tools for churches.
Much like blogging for yourself, you create a high-quality piece of content for another blog. You can guest blog for other churches, Christian websites and Christian thought leaders. Higher traffic sites already have an established audience.
When you add the occasional blog to these sites, you’re putting your words and your church in front of a brand new audience. Usually, you get to add one backlink, which would likely be your church’s website. You could also add a social media link if you don’t have a website yet.
Email Marketing Tools
When it comes to email marketing, you might not immediately think of free marketing tools. However, many email marketing services have free plans. It’s important to note that these are usually limited, but for small to medium churches, they’re ample.
Of course, as you market your church, you’ll likely grow your membership and even increase online tithing. If you feel you need to upgrade to a premium plan, you’ll have a larger budget to do so.
Some great free email marketing tools include:
- MailChimp – Limited to 2,000 contacts and you have access to basic templates
- SendPulse – Send up to 15,000 emails monthly to up to 500 subscribers
- Benchmark Email – Send up to 250 emails (an individual message sent to X people counts as a single email) to unlimited subscribers
- Mailjet – Send either 200 emails a day or 6,000 per month to unlimited contacts
- Sendinblue – Send up to 300 emails a day to unlimited contacts
Social media has long been one of the most popular free marketing tools. While you can buy ads and pay for social media management tools, you don’t have to. In fact, with a little patience, you can grow your church for free on your chosen social media platform.
The key is picking the right social media networks to use. Facebook is often a safe bet, but you’re not limited to just Facebook.
In fact, you could use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and even Snapchat. Our World In Data shows the monthly active users for the largest social networks. Not surprisingly, Facebook comes in at number one with over two billion users. However, Instagram has over a billion, Twitter has over 300 million and Pinterest has over 250 million users.
Of course, don’t forget about YouTube. It’s Facebook’s closest rival. While the site is focused on videos instead of posts, it’s a great free marketing tool. Upload sermons, Q&A sessions with Christian leaders, clips of your volunteers in action, special events and anything else related to your church.
To be effective, choose the network(s) where most of your members and target audience hang out.
Social Media Management Tools
If you’re trying to juggle several networks or you just wish you had something easier to use, social media management tools can take some of the stress out of learning to market your church on social media.
Before you worry, there are free tools and plans available. These tools aren’t just for posting content, though the scheduling tools are incredibly useful. However, you can also monitor conversations, check out trends and discover what your audience is talking about across multiple networks in a single dashboard.
Free tools and plans are often limited. You might only be able to manage a few accounts or only certain networks. Choose the free one that works best for your church.
A few social media management tools to consider include:
- Later – Manage one account per network for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. You can only view analytics for Instagram though.
- Buffer – Manage three profiles and schedule 10 messages a month. Better for management over scheduling.
- Hootsuite – Manage three profiles and schedule 30 messages a month. You also get light analytics data.
Keyword Research Tools
Keyword research tools might not seem like free marketing tools, but if you’re using the right keywords on your church site and blog, you’ll get more organic traffic. After all, you want all that hard work on producing wonderful content to pay off.
You don’t need to be an SEO expert. All you have to do is a little keyword research to keep up with what people are searching for, what keywords are popular and which keywords competitors are using.
Keywords help give you ideas for new content, along with optimizing existing content. Just remember, use keywords and phrases naturally. Of course, knowing what keywords to target will also help with your free Google AdWords campaigns.
A few great tools to use include:
- Moz Keyword Explorer (you’ll need to create a free account)
- Google Keyword Planner
- The Hoth Keyword Planner
Local Business Listings
One of the best free marketing tools is local online business listing sites. These are designed to make it easy for people to find businesses, including churches, in their immediate area. It’s usually free to create a business profile and include essential information, such as location and service times.
Ideally, you’ll want to use several sites as people may have their own favorites. Some of the best local business listing sites include:
Image Creation And Editing Tools
Whether you’re uploading social media posts, creating promotional materials or livening up a blog post, your church is going to need images. Not only do you need images, but you’ll probably need to edit them too.
There are plenty of premium image creation and editing tools, but you don’t really need those. You just need some simple that’s free and easy to use.
We already have a few posts that should help you out with images:
- The Best Sources For Free And Premium Church Graphics
- Free Platforms For Creating Church Graphics (more images sources listed as well)
- The Complete Guide To Church Facebook Images
Nextdoor is a type of social network, but it deserves its own section because it’s dedicated to bringing local communities together. It’s designed to help people get to know their neighbors. It’s also a great platform to invite those in your local community to special events and services.
While you won’t post as frequently as you do on regular social networks, posting now and again helps those in your area know your church exists. For local marketing, it’s a great free tool.
This is also a great chance to get to know more members of your local community who aren’t in your church.
If you have a church website, one of the best free marketing tools is Google Analytics. While it’s not a direct marketing tool, you’ll get valuable insight into how your website is performing. Discover which pages are most popular and which ones have the highest bounce rates.
Test out new strategies, such as moving your newsletter sign up form, to see what works best. Naturally, Google Analytics is completely free.
Blog Title Generators
Even the best blog content won’t reach its full potential without the right title. In fact, many bloggers struggle more with this than the actual meat of the post. Don’t let this happen to you.
Reach a wider audience and increase organic search traffic by carefully picking a great title. Several free blog title generators are available for you to use. You enter a few words or a key phrase and you’ll get a series of potential titles. These are also great tools if you’re struggling to come up with a topic.
Next, use the following tools to generate ideas to fit with those title formats:
One final tool is Sharethrough’s headline analyzer. See how good your title is and get suggestions on how to improve it.
Content Curation Tools
Sometimes, you don’t have to create new content for effective marketing. Instead, curate great content. Content curation tools are some of the most overlooked free marketing tools. Some see it as a cheat, but actually, it’s simply sharing the hard work of others.
When curating content, you can either just link to it or quote parts of it along with your own analysis and thoughts. No matter which approach you take, always credit the original author and link back to the original content.
Some great options include:
- Social media – Any platform works. Just follow topics and users you like and share some of their posts with your audience.
- Flipboard – Create a digital magazine filled with relevant content to read and share.
- Listly – Find, create and share lists.
- Feedly – Follow topics and trends to find content to share.
- Zest – Manually curated content to help you find the best content to curate.
People are constantly asking questions on Quora. The Q&A site allows people to ask questions on pretty much any topic, including religion. This is a great opportunity to reach a large audience that wants to know more about Christianity.
You can create a free profile with a link back to your church’s site or social media profile. Set your account to notify you when specific topics and questions come up. Add thoughtful answers and you’ll become an expert in the community and grow your church at the same time.
Free marketing tools help keep your church on budget. Make a great investment in your church with a church website. Then, use the free tools to grow your traffic and church membership.