In 2021, more and more churches are turning to advertising to fill the seats with first-time visitors. Think about it— when was the last time you attended an event because of a flyer on the street or switched churches because of a sign outside a building? It’s probably been a while. And even if a flyer has caught your eye, chances are you researched that business online before pulling out your wallet or attending that event.
In fact, 83% of Americans Google a location before stepping into a physical location for the first time. There’s only one problem: what if they don’t know it’s you they’re looking for?
That’s where advertising comes in. As Americans are looking to return to church, ads are the best way to connect prospective visitors to your Sunday service. Ads—especially on a search engine like Google— are a cost-effective way to grow your church without having to spread hundreds of flyers or host expensive events.
7 Tips to Run Effective Ads for Your Church
It’s not enough to hastily write some copy and put up an ad. Many churches have been burned wasting money on ads that have not been well constructed or optimized. Don’t throw money away on bad ads! Follow these seven tips to find success in advertising and fill your church every weekend:
1: Connect Google My Business
If you’ve done any work on Google for your church, you know Google My Business is an essential tool for listing your church’s location, contact information, reviews, business hours, and more. However, you may not know that Google My Business can be an invaluable tool to boost the effectiveness of your ads.
While Google My Business and Google Ads are two different programs, they have the ability to synchronize and enhance your ads’ performance. The biggest impact Google My Business has on your ads is through location extensions.
Location extensions list your address on your ads, which allows users to see where you are located. This sounds elementary, but by providing the address, users are more likely to click on your ads, increasing your quality score and making your ads more effective overall. This means cheaper ads that get more clicks— a big win for your church.
To learn how to use location extensions, check out some of Google’s resources and guides on the topic.
2: Target Your Audience
It’s a natural temptation to target everyone— we all want everyone to know the life-changing power of Jesus, right? So does that mean we should serve ads to everyone? No. Targeting everyone may sound good in theory, but will result in a high cost per click and ineffective ads that fail to fill the seats.
Who is your church for? Maybe you have great programs for kids, so you’d like to advertise to moms in their 30s. You might have a thriving community of seniors that would be receptive to your messaging. Lean into whatever your niche is. When you try to cater to everyone, you ultimately reach no one.
3: Address Pain Points
One of the biggest reasons ads fail is because of bad copywriting. One trick to avoid this is to think of your ad as a conversation. Have you ever been to a party where someone won’t stop talking about themselves? Whenever you’re trapped in one of these conversations, the natural reaction is, “SOS! Get me out of here!” So why are so many ads written this way?
It’s very common to see ads that say, “We’ve been around for 40 years!” or “We’re not your grandma’s church.” Where these lines fall short is that they don’t take into consideration what the reader is looking for.
Instead of talking about yourself, answer the reader’s pain points. If I’m a married mother of three, my pain points are: 1) I want my kids to learn about God, 2) I want my kids to be safe, and 3) I want to enjoy church. When I see your ad, I need to know if there are kids’ programs, my kids will be safe, and that I’ll enjoy service worry-free while my kids are in their classes.
So you might write an ad that reads...
Best Church for Families | Welcoming Oakvale Church | Programs for Kids 0-18
Tired of boring church services? We have exciting programs for all ages. Children and parents love our safe, engaging kids classes that connect them to who God is and what He came to do. Plan your Sunday visit.
Instead of talking about ourselves, we talked about what we offer and how it will make the reader feel. People choose churches with their hearts. Let them know that they’ll feel welcomed and their needs will be met at your church.
4: Give a Clear Next Step
Congratulations! Someone has read your ad and they’re interested in your church ...now what? You need to give them a clear next step. A call to action. This could be a direction to fill out a first-time-guest form, or a simple nudge to come to church this weekend.
Here are some examples of calls to action that have worked for churches:
- Plan Your Visit
- Visit this Weekend
- Join us Sunday at 9:30 or 11:00
- Fill Out a Connect Card
Your call to action should be placed near the end of the ad once the reader is hooked and is looking for their next step— don’t leave them hanging! Readers are easily distracted, and will hop to the next ad or piece of content without a push in the right direction.
5: Lead them Down a Path to Coming to Church
Along with your call to action, you may want to consider building out additional structures to transform readers into visitors. Forms, emails, and reminders all increase the chances that someone reading your ad will walk through the doors of your church.
In marketing, we call this the marketing funnel. The ad is the first part of that funnel, capturing the most eyes. From there we direct them to a form that has them schedule their weekend visit by entering their name, email address, and service time. Now, we can send them emails about church, and remind them on Saturday that we can’t wait to see them in service on Sunday.
Even if someone doesn’t make it to church on Sunday, if they have filled out a form with their email address, we can still send them emails and communicate with them until they complete the journey to church or unsubscribe.
Need help building out a marketing funnel or strategy for your church? Contact us.
6: Choose the Right Visuals (FB and IG)
While you should invest in Google Ads first, Facebook or Instagram ads can also be a valuable tool to gain interest in your church. All the above rules about copywriting still apply on Facebook or Instagram, but there’s another big element to think about— visuals.
On Google, only those who are searching for churches will find your content. However, Facebook and Instagram deliver ad content to those who aren’t looking, and many are non-christians. That means you must provide imagery that is inviting, but not intimidating to someone outside of the Christian culture.
To put it plainly, ditch the worship photos and the pictures of people on stage. The people you’re advertising to already have their favorite bands. Instead, feature the important connections they’ll make at your church. Smiling families, happy kids, laughter. An ad ran for one of our partner churches featured a family smiling in the lobby and garnered almost 20 organic shares on Facebook because their friends saw it and shared it. Embrace human connection to welcome new visitors.
If you’re sharing a video, the same principle applies. A hype reel of everything that happens at your church shows the events, but it doesn’t communicate the connection. Testimonies, sermon clips, or invites to events provide a human element that allows Christians and non-Christians to connect and understand what your church offers.
7: Review Your Work, Change Your Strategy
Perhaps the most important step of running ads is to review your work. You’re not going to get your best results in the first month. Or the second month. Or the third. But every month will get better and better as you hone in on what works and what doesn’t.
Every month, you’ll want to pay special attention to a few key metrics for your ads:
1. Cost per click
2. Click-through rate
3. Engage audiences.
Depending on your location, your cost per click and click-through rates will vary. However, we have seen costs per click as low as $0.14, and click-through rates as high as %15. If you’re spending over $3.00 per click, you may want to adjust your strategy to reduce the cost.
Your engaged audiences will give you the key to get more clicks and reduce the cost per click every month. By looking at who is engaging with your ad and who isn’t, you can trim out audiences that you’re wasting money on, and focus in on those who are interested in your church.
A Better Way to Grow Your Church
Advertising has proven to be a cost-effective and trackable way to grow a church in 2021. By taking advantage of Google’s tools, practicing copywriting, and reviewing your strategy, you can run ads that will draw your neighbors into your church service.
But running ads can be a demanding process, and many have devoted entire careers to creating and optimizing ads. That’s where Healthy Church Growth comes in.
If you don’t have the time or bandwidth to dive into the ads process, Healthy Church Growth is an ads solution that provides end-to-end service, from Google My Business setup through ad strategy, creation, and review. Set up a meeting today to see how Healthy Church Growth can get more butts in the seats of your church.