A couple of us met with members of a small web team from a community church the other day to discuss church marketing, content creation, and SEO strategies. Through our conversation, we discovered that one of the church members had already met with someone from another company who’d pitched re-targeting.
That’s right. Re-targeting!
We asked, “Do you even have a budget for that?” Of course, “no”, was the answer. The web coordinator said, “I came to the meeting hoping to learn about SEO, but was introduced to the concept of ads that follow people everywhere they surf.”
Why Some Reps Sell Re-targeting
Don’t misunderstand. Re-targeting and PPC are excellent sales avenues and may very well be the right tools to use with certain churches that are ready, but when you’re living in a small community and the website should first address its speed and content issues, why would a marketing rep pitch re-targeting?
Actually, because it’s easy. It’s easy for the sales person to earn a steady revenue managing re-targeted or paid ad accounts. Google doesn’t foil re-targeting with algorithm changes. The church’s content can squeak by with being mediocre, as long as the ads are engaging. Ads are personally served on the sites where prospects spend their time. The client provides the budget, the salesperson figures a commission, and off the two go into a relationship that’s easily communicated with monthly spreadsheets. Both Google and Bing are in the business of making money, so support for agencies or businesses with paid accounts is extensive.
Marketing companies know that no one can guarantee top search engine ranking results and content creation is not cheap to produce. Business clients can get impatient to see top rankings or might snipe about the outsourced content quality. So, in general, it’s easy to make a steady income managing paid search or re-targeted accounts.
But, here’s the crux. Your church might not need re-targeted or paid ads to bring the community—(both attenders and newcomers) through your door. For the local church, there are usually a finite number of prospects depending on your community’s population. What are the best and most economical avenues to reach them?
A Digital Strategy for Church Marketing
Work on creating really engaging content– informative videos, church news, and social media interaction through a smart, responsive website and you’ll probably naturally evolve to the top of your local listings without a recurring budget drain. People will find you in natural search and will interact with compelling information. It is the best long term play. If you spend your budget on ads, but never improve your website then if you ever have to cut back, the ads disappear and your website remains in the same sorry shape it was before you gave your money away to paid. Capture the same people through organic improvements.
If your church can’t afford professional writers, approach those within your congregation who will tithe their time. You can always hire a professional SEO editor to optimize the content that volunteers provide.
But first, get the design, navigation, site speed, keywords, social interaction, and content correct. Just guard the budget that’s meant to serve widows and orphans—unless, of course, your paid search rep is a widow or orphan.