Digital Strategy for Christian Organizations


If Christian churches and nonprofits are going to be effective at reaching people and accomplishing the mission Jesus has called us to, we need a plan. The mission is too important to just hope we get it right.

The mission is clear: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). That’s an urgent call. If Jesus has promised to return soon (Matthew 24:44); if, everyday, people close their eyes to this world and open their eyes in their eternal home, whether heaven or hell; if people—youths, adults—are increasingly suffering and desperately searching for hope, we should be doing all we can to immediately answer His call.

Whether or not your organization explicitly states this biblical truth, your mission, the reason why you exist, is to give people hope. Even for corporations, the reason why you [should] exist is for a bigger mission than just making money. Mission-focused organizations—corporations, nonprofits, ministries—tend to make more than just “customers.” They make champions.

This mission is too important to just hope we get it right. This is precisely why having digital strategy for Christian organizations is essential. To be effective at reaching people and accomplishing our mission, we need a plan for meeting people where they’re at and in the moments when they have the greatest need.

We need a plan to get found when and where people are searching.

One of the first places we can turn to is the Internet. Consider that:

5.2 billion people across the world are mobile phone users, representing about 73% population penetration.

73% of American adults go online daily—21% of whom go online “almost constantly.” 

92% of teens go online daily—24% of whom go online “almost constantly.”

Among millennials, 87% say that their smartphone never leaves their side.

What are they doing online? Pew Research Center finds that the vast majority of Americans believe their use of the web helps them learn new things, stay better informed on topics that matter to them, and increases their capacity to share ideas and creations with others.

Facebook is the most popular and frequently used social media platform among teens; half of teens use Instagram, and nearly as many use Snapchat.

We need a plan for meeting people where they’re at and in the moments when they have the greatest need.

We need a plan to get found.

U.S. adults today engage with digital media each day for more than 5 hours, mostly via mobile device.

In other words, most people use the Internet and mostly via mobile device.

92% of teens go online daily—24% of whom go online “almost constantly.” 73% of American adults go online daily—21% of whom go online “almost constantly.”Pew Research Center
 

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Internet growth has stopped in some respects because it just can’t grow any further.

Chances are good that your key audiences—the people who are your customers, supporters, visitors or members—use the Internet and increasingly, via mobile phone.

If this is the case, it makes sense to get a digital marketing strategy in place that helps your Christian organization meet people where they’re at online. Get found so you can give hope.

How do you formulate a digital marketing strategy?

It starts with knowing your key customer(s). Who is your donor, your member, your visitor, your buyer, the person you serve? What are their pain points? What do they need? What do they relate to? What is their greatest challenge? What are they searching for?

This is where marketing can go totally wrong. In an effort to easily categorize marketing messages, marketers traditionally put people into demographic segments based on gender, age, occupation, marital status, income, race and life-cycle stage. You’ve probably heard the term “DINK” (dual income, no kids) which is a common example.

Get found so you can give hope.

The problem with this is that people don’t classify themselves as a demographic segment. They classify themselves as human beings who relate to other human beings.

People are searching for answers, information, connection, hope. But they aren’t doing so based on their demographic. They are searching in the moment.

According to think with Google, marketers who rely only on demographics to reach consumers risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile “shoppers.” Demographics are important, for sure. They’re just not the whole story.

Christian digital marketing strategy can stand head and shoulders above the rest of the marketing strategy world in this regard.

People don’t look for a new church, become a member in a ministry, buy tickets to a Christian film, download a Christian album, shop at a Christian store, volunteer for a mission because they fall into a specific demographic segment. People look for such things—for answers, information, connection, hope—in the exact moment they’re searching for it.

Your best chance for reaching people is in these intent-filled moments called micro-moments.

 

According to think with Google, intent trumps identity. People turn to their smartphones to search Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or their email in their I-want-to-know (curiosity), I-want-to-go (“near me” searches), I-want-to-buy (mobile-assisted in-store purchases) and I-want-to-do (“how to” searches) micro-moments.

When your audience—your customer—has an immediate want or need, and they turn to their mobile device for answers, they need to find your Christian organization there, at the ready, with the information, connections, hope they are trying to find. You need to be found.

Be there. Show up. Get found.

Be there. Show up. Get found.

Create YouTube videos.

Create super useful webpage content.

Create extremely useful, frequently-updated social media channels—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or more.

Create great search engine results for your Christian organization by publishing better, highly useful content.

Create quick bites of information, accompanied by excellent images and share across digital platforms.

Create content for media outlets.

Create awesome sponsored social media posts.

Create an excellent Google My Business listing.

Yet an effective digital strategy doesn’t stop at just getting found. The answers, information, connections, hope you offer needs to be so valuable that people will return to you for more. If people derive only some value from the information you provide, they’ll turn elsewhere. Once you know your customer, their greatest needs and their micro-moments, it essential that you know how your organization can sufficiently help.

This means having a deep understanding for your value proposition.

How is your organization completely unlike any other organization? What do you do that is totally unique? Why should your customer turn to you for answers, information, connection, hope? Could your organization’s name and logo be swapped out for another organization’s name and logo all across your website, and the same information would hold true?

If you don’t know this, you need to go find out. Before you spend another penny or any more time on any type of marketing, go find out what makes your organization different.

Then you can provide tangible answers, solutions, ways to simplify someone’s life.

Give value. Be useful. Give hope.

How-to videos

Guides

Personal stories

Tips

Infographics

Podcasts

Video advertisements

Email marketing

Give value. Be useful. Give hope.

Who is your Christian ministry or Christian business trying to reach? What are their biggest questions, needs, problems? How can you meet those people in the exact moment when they’re looking for answers? How can you superbly offer so much value and usefulness in those moments that they return to you again?

These are the important questions to answer while formulating the digital strategy for your Christian organization—a strategy that ultimately should get your organization found so you can give hope as you fulfill the urgent mission to make disciples of all nations.

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