Church Internet Marketing
By: Asaf Darash
Church content marketing is a form of marketing that isn't just having a Facebook page (though you should have one!), creating Facebook events or ads, posting photos on Instagram, or updating your blog. Content marketing is not just content, but creating content that is meant to engage with its readers and build your credibility online.
This type of content isn't asking for event attendance or for someone to do something like make a donation or sign up for something. It's just a way to publish great content online, which has an indirect impact on your visibility online and getting people looking for a church community to find you!
Obviously, the final objective is to reach people and have them come to your church and check you out. But, in order for this to happen, you need to produce great content first, get people engaged and interested, and the rest will follow naturally.
What is good content marketing? What does this look like for a faith-based community? And how do you get this awesome church content marketing you're making out there in the world?
What are great topics to focus church content marketing on?
The idea is not to look at your church and think what content will be good for it, but, rather, what interests your community, what are they thinking about and what are the challenges they are facing, and, then, what are they searching for when they are online.
Try to think of yourself as part of your community (which obviously you are) and what you, as a member not someone running the church, would want to read about. Once you get into that mindset, the ideas will flow, and you will most likely need to filter out the ideas, and not struggle to come up with them.
Make a list of topics you would like to talk about. Now comes the tricky part connecting this to your church. The idea is to talk about a topic that interests your community and then show how this interest can further be fed by the church.
If you record sermons every Sunday, this is a great opportunity to write a post about the topic and link to the recording so the reader can see what your church says about that topic or idea.
When someone is considering attending a service or one of your events, if they are viewing your website or social media profiles, they are checking out what you are posting. You want to share content that you know they kind of people you want joining your community would enjoy.
Remember, if someone is in the market for a new church, they are going to search for their options through Google, on Facebook, etc. Your website, your blog, your Facebook profile are all a part of your brand and an extension of your church.
When someone comes across one of these pages, you want them to easily understand what you are all about and what kind of experience they are going to have with you. Content marketing is great for showcasing your point of view and your unique offering.
The purpose of a church is to serve the community and spread the gospel so ask yourself these questions anytime you post something. Is this serving a specific purpose to my community? Is it a good representation of what we believe and how we practice our faith? If it doesn't answer those questions well, it might not be a good option for content.
Here are some easy church content marketing ideas to get started. You can publish these things as blog posts, as a Facebook status (or both!), via photos and links to pages on your website.
* Sermons or speeches from church clergy
What mediums should you use to share content?
So, once you have content, it is time to get the word out. The work done on content marketing is 20% the content itself and 80% making sure people are aware of it. Today there is so much content out there that if you do not do this part of the content marketing you will not see results.
The fact that there is a lot of content out there should not discourage you. On the contrary, it should help you focus on creating content that is specific for your community and the issues and dilemmas they face.
There are few ways to let "the Internet know" the content is out there. If you are using WordPress, there are a few plugins that will push the information into the search engines. Just search "publish to search engines for WordPress" and you will find a lot of plugins. Google will find your content anyway, but using these tools will speed things up. These are methods that every online marketer will use.
But you have a very unique advantage: your community. Most marketers are trying to create a community through content marketing. You already have a community, and you want to expand it so use that community to help you out!
First create a mailing list of all your members so that you can send them a notification with new content is out. Ask them in the body of the email to share the content on their social media of choice. Then ask them to also send it directly to anyone they think will be interested in it. If you are using a church management software, sending out these messages should be easy.
Once in awhile, post content regarding your volunteer activities. Do not only post that you need volunteers or that there are new volunteer opportunities. This is good for someone in your community already, but you are seeking to grow the community. Therefore, post content that showcases the activity itself. This way, people who are seeking volunteer options will read your content and say, "Wow, this is really great work. I want to be part of this!"
In order for this to translate to new community members, make sure you have an email address, a phone number, and, if possible, a form they can fill out right online so that the people that are interested will be just one click away from becoming a new member.
Videos are a great content idea that can be shared across many mediums: YouTube, your website, Facebook, etc. Record the service weekly so those who cannot attend can still view it and those who are interested in attending can check out a service before committing to coming in person.
Consider also a podcast or recording, which is basically an audio version of your video. The point here is making available your content in as many formats and ways as possible, as this gives you the biggest possible reach.
A great church management software is a great way to disseminate your great curated content. Reaching out with targeted content to specific people is easily managed and automated with a church management software.
Using a software to automate administrative tasks (like payments for programs, schools, membership, etc.) allows your staff to devote even more time to more meaningful outreach and connecting with prospective and current church members to grow your community even more.
Another great way to spread the word is spending some time on social media and posting on local groups related to your church. Every area is different, but this could include a general group of Christians in your local area where you can post events your church is organizing, a place where parents connect locally to advertise kid-focused events or to respond to questions members ask about church options in the area.
Again, this isn't something that gives you results overnight, but it's a way to ingratiate yourself with the local community and it slowly will get the word out about you. These places are also a great place to share your blog posts if you have one. If you are writing about things your community will be interested in, people will first see a great article they want to read and not you just promoting your church.
Great content is easier than you think many times it's just taking what you are already doing and saying and putting it out there in a marketing format! Good luck!
Asaf Darash is the founder of Regpack, an online registration system used by more than 4,000 organizations worldwide, www.regpacks.com.