Church Ads: A Proven Facebook Ad Strategy For Small Churches
Outreach is one of the biggest challenges a small church faces. Its primary purpose is to share the message of Jesus through engagement. That engagement is what builds relationships and makes the connections that bring others to worship or inspires them to tithe online. Unfortunately, many ministries overlook the potential of using church ads.
Today, there are more ways than ever to communicate the message of love and grace. Why limit the church to the old-school word of mouth, though? Instead, expand your reach by creating an online presence that should include social media marketing.
It’s not easy to think of a church as an organization that needs marketing strategies but how else can you grow as a congregation? At last count, 69 percent of people in this country use Facebook — that’s seven out of 10 adults according to Pew Research.
The Unique Benefits of Facebook Ads
Businesses are expected to spend a whopping 25.56 billion dollars on digital marketing this year and 93 percent of companies that advertise through social media use Facebook. All this data tells you one thing — there is the value found in creating Facebook ads.
Despite all the changes Facebook has made to its platform, it still offers more ways to engage than any other social media site. When your church places a Facebook ad, the platform can use an algorithm to decide where to put it for the best exposure. For example:
- Desktop newsfeed
- Mobile newsfeed
- Right column
- Facebook instant articles
- Audience network to extend the ad to other areas of the internet
The church can also take complete control of who sees the ad if they prefer.
The ad manager provides data that allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of the ads compared to other online options like posts on a Facebook page, Youtube channels, or blogs.
As the church grows it can continue to increase its online presence by adding more ads. A small church might invest 25 dollars in its first ad campaign but grow enough to double the budget for the next one. By the time the third campaign rolls out, online ads may pay for themselves.
Compare the cost to what you would spend on printing flyers or buying print ad space to get the word out. Online ads add stability to your outreach effort. There is no chance your viewer will throw away your online ad without reading it.
Creating an Ad Campaign Strategy
Small churches can break their campaign strategy down into three digestible steps.
1. What’s the purpose of the ad?
A good place to start is to figure out how you want to use Facebook ads. Ideally, the church should reserve these ads to promote something other than itself. Promoting the church should always be secondary.
Instead, you want to get the news out about:
- A special event
- A new study topic
- A new blog post
- An inspiring video
- A meaningful piece of scripture
You are not trying to sell the church but looking to build relationships and to make connections. To do that, you must offer something engaging. The people the ad connects with will not be on Facebook to find a new church so the topic needs to focus on something else to get their attention.
2. Who’s the ad for?
Facebook ads run on targeted demographics. Your ad can address Christians in your city and county, for example. Specificity is the point of using Facebook ads.
What age group is best suited for the event or focus of the ad? Young couples will be more interested in parenting classes than seniors. Educated readers will connect with scripture or study topics.
Facebook allows you to target the ad by:
- The audiences’ interests like hobbies, family, Christianity, and Entertainment
- Connections to groups, apps, pages — Facebook’s Audience Insights is a free tool that helps find those connections
- Relationship status
- Workplace or industry
3. How much can the church spend on the campaign?
One of the perks of Facebook ads is the strict budget management tools. Facebook offers two payment levels:
- Cost per 1.000 times displayed (CPM)
- Cost per click (CPC)
The most economical is the CPC. Charges are directly linked to clicks — no clicks, no charge.
3. Measure the Effectiveness of a Facebook Ad
This is an important and often overlooked component of an ad strategy. How can you figure out how well an ad produces?
There are a couple of options. Facebook does provide metrics that will give you some indication in their ad manager. They can be confusing, though.
Facebook can also equip you with offsite pixels to help track the effectiveness of the ad. The pixel is a bit of code you place on the church’s web pages or an event page. When a visitor goes to a page after viewing an ad, it will appear on the ad manager as a traced conversion.
Another approach is to ask new visitors to the church or the church’s website if they saw the ad. Add a section on the connection card to allow visitors to say how they found the church or learned about an event and list Facebook ads as one of the options.
Tips for Ad Success
Creating Facebook ads that get attention takes some practice. Here are some tips to help get you there.
1. Make ads visual
Imagery is everything in social media. Visual content is by far the most engaging, so the ad should have some kind of graphic. It can be an illustration that gets a laugh, a picture of people in the church worshiping and enjoying fellowship, or a profile picture spotlighting a leadership member. You can use symbolism, too, such as a crowd singing for a concert event or a cross for an Easter celebration.
Use videos for a more personal touch. A video of the church leader talking about a near and dear subject or a parishioner getting excited about an event will bring the ad down to a more intimate level.
2. Look at other church ads
Look at the ads from other churches for inspiration. You can check out larger regional congregations and look at small churches in your area, too.
3. Keep it short and sweet
You want the audience to connect with a glance, so make the message clear in just a few compelling words. As a general rule, Facebook insists the ad has less than 20 percent text. Remember, online ads are a visual medium.
4. Test multiple designs
Don’t create one ad, create at least four for the same event or topic and run them all. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Swap out images or use different fonts and wording. The goal is to see what design pops best, so you learn more about your audience.
5. Add a brief call to action (CTA)
A CTA is an encouragement to make contact with a link such as:
- Click to learn more about Paster Bob
- Subscribe to our church newsletter
- Find out about our next service
CTAS give the reader a sense of balance.
Facebook wants churches to take advantage of their community pages and groups but they have limited reach by design. It’s necessary to invest in their paid marketing to reach through those limitations to find others that might be looking for fellowship.
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