It’s October, which means most organizations are in the throes of strategic planning for the upcoming year.
For Christian-based organizations and mission-driven companies, digital marketing strategy should be an essential part of the planning process. After all, for organizations to get found, to grow, to accomplish their mission, the Internet and online technologies afford more and bigger opportunities to do so—about 3 billion people worldwide have Internet access, and about 2 billion people use social media.
So what exactly should organizations consider in their planning when leveraging the Internet to get found, grow and drive their missions forward?
Consider these 5 digital marketing strategy elements for Christian organizations:
1. Overall organizational goals. Nailing this down to specific numbers is very important because it determines what your digital marketing strategy objectives should be.
For example, say your company wants to grow revenue by 20%. It will be important to understand three things: 1) Whether or not that’s an attainable number given how your organization operates, 2) how the leadership thinks that goal can be achieved and 3) importantly, what your communications and marketing team need to do to contribute to that 20% increase.
So let’s say you normally have a 2% conversion rate on your website—2% of your website visitors typically buy from you on your website (2% is an industry average). What do you need to change on your website to contribute to a 20% increase in revenue? Do you need to focus on gaining more traffic? Focus on converting more traffic? Raise prices? Or perhaps all of the above?
It’s the same principle for churches and nonprofits, but it may get a bit trickier. For churches, the goal may be to increase attendance. Consider what needs to happen online (and by what percentage) to encourage an offline action. Perhaps you create an invite for website visitors to attend a service. Then maybe from that 2% online conversion rate, you may see 15-20% actually come through the doors. This is something you’ll need to measure and adjust over time.
The point is, get a clear understanding of the bigger organizational goal so that you can realistically and strategically set each area of your digital marketing and communications up to achieve that goal.
2. Audience. Let’s be honest, your Christian-based organization—whether it’s a mission-driven company, charity or a church—won’t appeal to just everyone. People tend to identify with certain causes, styles of worship or brands more than others. That’s OK. Figure out who your organization is called to serve.
3. Digital marketing budget. This, of course, will be different for each organization, but it’s important to know what this is so that you can more effectively plan. Of course you don’t want to overspend, but you also want to be sure to spend enough to effectively fuel growth. Get a clear understanding of what percentage of your budget you can devote to digital. Typically, organizations devote between 20-40% of their overall marketing budget to digital. Again, it’s unique for each organization.
4. Channels. Which channels your organization pursues will depend entirely on:
the audience you are called to serve and where they are online
on budget and
on the resources your team has to manage those channels.
Be bold and get after the channels that fit well within these parameters and will ultimately help you reach your digital marketing objectives. Drop the channels that don’t fit these parameters or just aren’t having an impact.
Your website is probably a channel you want to invest heavily in. Probably your mobile app if you have one. Most likely also social media (which social networks will depend on the parameters above).
Here are a few ideas for consideration.
I strongly recommend that you have a clear strategy for each channel: why you’re there, what content you’ll create for that channel, how you’ll promote that channel, what is the ultimate goal of that channel in your overall digital marketing strategy, how you’ll respond to people there, how often you’ll post and more. Create a calendar that includes timelines, topics, managers and more.
5. Measurement. If you want to know whether you’ve achieved your objectives, you need to measure. Don’t measure at the end of the year when your plan is completed; measure each month or even each week.
Determine what questions you need your data to answer (for example – Is Facebook advertising bringing in more traffic to our website? Is our new call to action causing more conversions on our website? By how much? And among which audiences? Are we on track to meet marketing objectives and organizational goals?).
Measurement helps you determine what’s working, what’s not working and if you’re seeing a return in your investment on various channels. Drop the activities that just aren’t working. Don’t spend another minute or dollar on those activities. Invest more in the activities that are working well.
Keep in mind, no one gets digital perfect each and every time. But these 5 essential elements will help you make a bigger impact in getting your Christian-based organization or mission-driven company found so you can give hope.