With a few exceptions, churches are not normally considered to be at the cutting edge of marketing. Church marketing strategies tend towards the conservative, and for the most part it makes perfect sense, given churches need to appeal to a very broad base of demographics. At some point, however, these strategies can cross the line from being prudent to being hopelessly outdated. Here are a few examples:
1.) Relying on Nothing but Direct Mail
Don’t get us wrong, direct mail still works. But using direct mail by itself can be inefficient as well as a waste of other marketing and communications resources. Take a cue from larger enterprises that have successfully integrated digital media and real-world marketing tactics like direct mail.
Online tools can improve the effectiveness of traditional tools like direct mail, by helping you target only the people most receptive to your message. This means fewer of your flyers and brochures will find their way into the dumpster than if you ran your communications campaign purely offline.
2.) Not Using Analytics
Truth be told, it’s hard enough to tell if what you’re doing is worthwhile with analytics. Without analytics, you could be flying blind for months or years without having a definite clue where to best focus your efforts.
Chances are you already have access to free analytics tools from Google or whatever social networks you use. Using these tools can not only help you save time and resources, they can also help you identify future opportunities for your church.
3.) Still Using the Yellow Pages
Let’s face it: this medium is dead. The return on investment is terrible. Very few people bother to open the Yellow Pages these days, and in any case you limit your potential audience to a very specific location. Compared to web and social media marketing tools that have become available in the past few decades, the Yellow Pages is unreasonably pricey for what you get. If you still feel you have to go this route, maybe just go with listing the church address and phone number.
4.) Not Defining Church Marketing Strategies in the First Place
It’s not only churches that have this problem. Other small enterprises that may not be able to dedicate that much time to marketing, because there is so much else to do, also suffer from this issue. The lack of well-considered church marketing strategies can result in the lack of a coherent direction and an unfortunate waste of resources over the long term. Take just 15 minutes a month to assess your goals and you will reach more of the people you need, for less time and money than you might have spent otherwise.
5.) Spamming Social Media
Social media for churches should be managed pretty much like any other business or organization. The type of content you share matters, but the frequency can mean a lot, too. Basically, no one wants to see you posting updates or images every couple of minutes. Not only does spamming social media often result in followers blocking you or your posts, it often leaves a bad impression, which you certainly don’t want for your church. You really should be spending your time crafting better content or building a better mailing list. Anything but spamming!
6.) Telemarketing Outreach
It’s not that this approach doesn’t work. It can, but it takes a lot of finesse and some technical expertise to pull it off. In the past decade, automated telephone surveys started becoming a popular tool for ministries to efficiently get in touch with thousands of potential followers. The problem was twofold: it was impractical for many churches for geographical reasons (people were too far away). It was often too obtrusive as well, for many people. Social media finally made this kind of church telemarketing impractical for most churches.
7.) Keyword stuffing
Getting church websites to rank on Google and other search engines by applying search engine optimization (SEO) principles still works, but not the way it did 10 years ago. It probably doesn’t even work the way it did six months ago, or even yesterday. This is thanks to self-improving search algorithms employed by search engines such as Google and Bing. Obsolete tactics like keyword stuffing are now a good way to get your church website penalized by search engines. This makes them even harder to find on a results page.
8.) Not Updating Webpages
As we discussed in another piece, many church websites are generally considered among the worst-designed on the internet, and the frequent occurrence of outdated design is a major reason for this. It’s usually forgivable, if not totally expected, for a church website to be outdated aesthetically. But all too often these sites got their last overhaul in the pre-smartphone era, resulting in pages that are unresponsive on mobile or are otherwise difficult to navigate by contemporary standards. (This can also hurt your ranking in search engines as well.)
Make sure your church website is up to current standards. This will help your site truly live up to its potential and help you generate a better return for your efforts. Don’t let the negative stereotypes stop you. Church websites can be truly amazing if they’re given plenty of thought.
Faith-Based Segment Manager