Church Marketing – Are You Measuring Your Marketing?
I was recently discussing with a client about the marketing efforts of their church to get a feel for where they were at marketing wise. The Minister told me they had roughly 50-60 members. I indicated that was great for a church as young as it was. The Minister said "Thanks, but our Board feels we are not growing because we have been at that number for well over a year"
I asked if the church got many visitors and the reply was, "Oh yes, we get 2-5 new visitors every week" I explained to her what a conversion rate was and asked if they felt they had an effective conversion rate. "Definitely … probably about 30-40 percent" was the response.
Politely, I told the minister that just was not the case. "What do you mean?" she asked. Because if it were as you said, your church would be doubling in size approximately once or twice a year. Knowing the answer, I still asked, "Do you measure this?" In a quiet voice, she replied, "No."
I am not telling this story to demonstrate how good I am. The reason I am sharing this is to let you know how important your marketing efforts are!
Measurement is the compass that guides us through our mistakes
I believe Peter Drucker said "Anything that is worth doing is worth measuring". And as I tell my clients all the time, there are two things that I believe should be a part of any marketing campaign:
- Split testing – So many times, I have seen people spend a lot of time, energy and extremely money on a marketing idea / campaign only to find out that the product or service was not as needed as was once perceived. Or to determine that the design (be it signage, website, or graphic display or logo) that was "so cool" turns out to be annoying. This is something that everyone should be doing! Split testing is for another article.
- Metrics – If you do not measure where you started, as well as where you are currently in regards to the overall objective, then how can you tell how your marketing is doing?
Not monitoring the metrics is irresponsible and inexcusable!
Church leaders may not want to hear this as they argue that the church is not a business.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not market just to market. You need to have an objective or goal in mind when you begin a marketing campaign! Those goals need to be quantified or measurable.
I can not stress enough that this is actually more important in smaller churches than larger congregations. Why you ask? Because you have to make every marketing dollar you spend have a solid return on investment.
I have heard many reasons why a church can not be performing metrics:
– It is either too expensive or time consuming! – My response is you can not afford not to. My question would be; which is more expensive? Tracking a campaign or to create and spend money on campaigns that do not work? If you are monitoring the results, you can make adjustments along the and have a better opportunity for success.
We are not expecting to make a huge impact by doing "pick an activity" – I get it that you want to be seen and known in the community. How do you know if your efforts are having an impact if you do not measure them? This goal can and should be defined in measurable terms (ie such as the number of people exposed to your presence during an event).
We are not sure how many people will (respond, show up … you pick the end to this excuse) – If you had been doing the metrics the last time you did a similar activity, you would have a history for similar events that you have held. And that alone would make it easier to determine whether you want to spend the money to have that big time speaker come in. Your church not having this type of data is no excuse not to estimate the results or clearly define the goals. If you're just starting out (and everyone has to start somewhere), guess! That's right – guess. Because some goal is better than none in my opinion.
It is difficult to track new visitors ! Another poor excuse. You need that data. When put to the test, I have not found an effective (meaning they convert visitors into members at a rate of about 20%) church that does not measure this activity. It is not that difficult to count the number of hands that are welcomed into the church each Sunday.
Estimate whatever you can not measure directly until such time that you can find a better way of accomplishing that activity. Imperfect measurements are still better than no measurement at all.
Things You Should Be Measuring?
This is not an all inclusive list, but I would look at the following just like I would look at financials for my business. In other words … I would be including "comparatives".
What do I mean by that? Well, the weekly total is one thing, but I would also include month to date, year to date and also compare that against the same periods for last year. Here are some of the metrics I would track:
New Church Visitors
Sunday Services (taken at a specific time during the service)
Classes that you put on
Average tithe per member
Average tithe per person attending that week
Membership conversion in regards to new church visitors
What is your most important marketing measuring tool?
A simple spreadsheet works wonders and would be high on my list. But there are also websites such as ChurchMetrics that will do a lot of this for you without charge.
Where should I begin?
The starting point is to define your marketing goals / objectives clearly. That would mean that you have a start, middle and end date of when you want to reach these miles by clearly defending the goals.
The goals should be reasonable. Going back to the church above, the minister said they wanted to double the membership in 4 months. For a church that has been stagnant growth wise for a year, that may be a tall order. I believe in momentum marketing. So if you were to add 10 new members in that time frame, you have a feeling of success and empowerment. Not hitting
Objectives must be measurable!
All of these goals have to be expressed in quantified, measurable terms if you are going to determine what impact you are making on your marketing investment.
Putting even the simplest of tracking codes makes this task simple and easy to implement. This is where a lot of church webmasters start to go off the tracks a little bit. If you are running multiple marketing campaigns concurrently, you either need a tracking id to determine where the traffic is coming from or different pages (with occasional identical content) to find out how traffic is driven to you. You could also use tools like Google Analytics to learn more about how people are getting to and using your site, which pages are effective and which ones are not.
In summary …
You need to outline clearly what your marketing goals are BEFORE you start a campaign. Therefore, they have to be measureable. There is a need to check at critical milestones along the way to see the progress you are making and make adjustments if necessary. You have to start somewhere in creating goals. If you do not have a prior number to go from, estimate where there was no data previously.