In the fast-paced realm of church marketing, certain strategies have proven effective over time. But as we move deeper into the digital age, some traditional tactics are losing their luster. Recognizing these outdated strategies is key, allowing your church to pivot towards more effective methods.
In this post, we delve into five such antiquated church marketing strategies. These strategies may have once held value, but they now risk draining resources without delivering a corresponding return.
We’ll dissect why these methods have lost their relevance and propose modern alternatives. The goal is to help your church maintain its edge and continue to thrive in our increasingly digital-focused world.
Table of contents
Direct Mail: A Postage-Paid Past
Direct mail was once a dominant force in church outreach. Flyers, newsletters, and postcards filled mailboxes, offering a tangible touchpoint for churches to reach their communities. However, in an increasingly digital world, this method has fallen out of favor. Not only is direct mail often expensive and labor-intensive, it’s also environmentally unfriendly. Plus, with the rise of digital communication, these physical mailings often go unread, ending up as just more clutter in your congregation’s homes.
According to a study by Data & Marketing Association, the response rate for direct mail is 4.4% for both B2B and B2C mailings, in comparison to email’s response rate of 0.12%. However, the cost-per-acquisition is much higher for direct mail ($19) versus email ($11-15) [source: Small Biz Genius].
Ignoring Email: Missing the Inbox Influence
In the era of social media, some may view email as a somewhat antiquated form of communication. However, this assumption could lead to a significant missed opportunity for churches. When used effectively, email offers a direct line of communication to your congregation, allowing for personalization and frequent touchpoints. It’s not just about weekly newsletters; email can be used for event reminders, volunteer opportunities, and personal messages that build stronger connections. Ignoring this medium can mean overlooking a substantial avenue for engagement and outreach.
According to Statista, there were over 4 billion email users worldwide in 2021, a number that’s projected to grow to 4.6 billion by 2025. Also, a study by Emarsys indicates that 81% of small businesses rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel, and 80% for retention.
Newspaper Ads: Pressing Pause on Print
While newspapers were once the cornerstone of local advertising, their influence has waned dramatically with the rise of digital media. The reality is, fewer and fewer people are turning to print newspapers for their news. Investing in newspaper ads might seem like a way to reach an older demographic, but even many older adults have transitioned to getting their news online. Instead of spending valuable resources on newspaper ads that may go unseen, churches can focus on digital advertising strategies that offer greater reach and more precise targeting.
Pew Research Center reports that U.S. newspaper circulation reached its lowest level since 1940 in 2018. Additionally, the percentage of U.S. adults who often get news from a print newspaper decreased from 27% in 2013 to 16% in 2016.
Overlooking Online Reviews: Neglecting Digital Word-of-Mouth
In today’s digital world, online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. People often check reviews and testimonials when considering a new church, and a lack of reviews, or a prevalence of negative ones, can deter potential visitors. Ignoring this aspect of your online presence can impact your church’s reputation. Encourage your satisfied congregants to leave positive reviews, respond to any negative reviews in a constructive and empathetic way, and make sure your church is listed on relevant review platforms. This proactive approach can enhance your online reputation and help attract new members.
In the face of a rapidly evolving digital landscape, it’s essential for churches to adapt their marketing strategies to stay relevant and effective. By phasing out outdated methods like direct mail and newspaper ads, and embracing the power of digital tools like email and online reviews, churches can reach and engage their congregations in ways that resonate with modern audiences.
A report by BrightLocal suggests that 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and 52% of 18-54 year-olds say they ‘always’ read reviews. The same study found that 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month.
Skipping Social Media: Bypassing a Vital Connection Point
In today’s connected world, ignoring social media is akin to cutting off a vital communication channel. Social media platforms provide a space for your church to share its message, engage with its congregation, and reach new audiences. It’s more than just posting updates; it’s about fostering community and connection in a digital space.
According to Pew Research Center, as of 2021, 72% of U.S adults use at least one social media site. The demographic spread is wide, with 84% of individuals aged 18-29, 81% of people aged 30-49, and 73% of individuals aged 50-64 using social media.
Yet, some churches are still hesitant to fully embrace these platforms. This reluctance can lead to a significant disconnect, especially with younger demographics who heavily use social media. An active, engaging social media presence is no longer optional; it’s a necessity for modern churches. This means regularly posting relevant content, interacting with followers, and using these platforms to their full potential.
By embracing social media, churches can engage with their congregation in meaningful ways, share their mission with a wider audience, and adapt to the communication trends of today’s increasingly digital world. It’s not just about being where the people are; it’s about actively engaging and building community with them in these spaces.
Final Thoughts on Church Marketing
In an ever-evolving digital landscape, adaptability is essential. Letting go of outdated marketing strategies like direct mail, newspaper ads, and ignoring social media will pave the way for new, more effective methods.
By embracing current tools like email, online reviews, and social media, your church can continue to connect with its congregation and reach new audiences in meaningful ways. Remember, the goal isn’t just to keep up with the times, but to lead your community forward in them.