Marketing 101 for Pastors
By: Mike Vitamvas
The Internet has changed so many aspects of our lives, including how churches connect with their communities. The changes have taken place so fast that it is sometimes difficult to stay current. Here are 10 steps that you can take to fulfill the Great Commission.
So, how many people are searching for churches in your community? You can find out by using this free tool from Google: www.adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. Type in the search term you are looking for and the city and state. Google will also give you other related terms. I typed in: churches, Greensboro, NC and got a total of 49,490 results.
That is a lot of people searching for churches. More people searched for churches than plumbers, electricians, and home repair. The search results represent just Google's information, which is about 70 percent of the results and does not include other related search terms.
Smart phones have GPS, and Google can use your specific location to serve up churches that are close to you. I am going to be talking about desktop results here.
Go to Google.com and type in: churches, your city, your state. One of the first results will be the local listing.
So, how do you claim your listing? Go to www.getlisted.org and type in your church name and the zip code. It will give you the results for Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo and Best of the Web and a link to create or claim your listing for each site.
There is also a button on the right-hand side named "Enhance your listing," which will give you other options.
Most of the additional listings are very reasonable, and, if you have the budget, I recommend listing in the local directories. The reason is that Google also looks to them for information about your church. If you are listed on the local directories, Google will put more stock in your listing and give you a higher rank.
Google allows you to create a great mini-website. You can put in keywords, which are terms that people would search for when looking for your church.
Be sure to include terms such as: youth group, children's church, VBS, Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, singles ministries, outreach programs, and anything else that you offer.
Now, add in a description of your church, service times, and ministries at your church. They also allow you to upload photos and videos, which you should do.
Once you have completed Google, be sure to finish listing with the rest of the search engines. Google will want to confirm that you have the authority to update the listing and will ask for either the church's phone number or address. You will find that by doing this your church will move to the top of the search listing.
If your website is hard to update, take a look at some of the companies that provide websites specifically for churches. Most of them will also have some reporting tools that will let you know how many people are visiting your website.
If you set up a Facebook fan page for your church and post on a regular basis, you will find visitors will move from Facebook visitor to actual visitor to active church members.
Do you have a fall festival, trunk or treat, day care, or VBS program? They all attract visitors to your church. While they may not have come to worship, they are open to any messages that you send them.
Mike Vitamvas has been involved in helping companies get their message out for 24 years through print, Internet and social media. His passion is helping churches use new media to fulfill the commission of Christ to go into all the world and preach the gospel, www.GrowingChurches.net.