A year ago, the SermonView team embarked on a journey to answer a question: How can churches better reach people interested in Bible studies in their community?
Today, churches aren’t seeing the kind of results they used to get with old-style tear-off Bible study card mailers. In part, this is due to a smaller number of people using mail as a primary form of communication. In addition, a single mailpiece cannot speak to the diverse needs of a community. We knew there had to be a better way, so we started working the problem.
Our team went through dozens of possible solutions—looking at cost and availability—to determine where a Bible study card-style system would work. The solution we kept coming back to was social media—especially Facebook.
Many churches had been wary to give Facebook a second chance because they didn’t see results on their first try. But our research pointed to Facebook as the key, and we just had to find a working system that unlocked the power of social media advertising.
One year later, we have some answers. Here is what we’ve found:
Facebook advertising can lead to Bible study interests
Today, 79% of all adult internet users in America are Facebook users. And two out of three Facebook users are on it daily, spending more than 50 minutes per day on the platform. This level of saturation rivals direct mail, and—even better—it gives advertisers the ability to reach each individual in the household.
Not only is it able to reach each person individually, but it collects more data about its users than any other social media network, allowing advertisers to target specific needs and specific interests. All of this adds up to a perfect vehicle for reaching new faces in your community. But if mostly larger corporations and businesses are finding success with Facebook advertising, how can it be used effectively for your local church?
Generating Bible study leads
Although Facebook is a portal into people’s lives, it is also a confusing maze of options that can paralyze even the most sophisticated user. As our team started diving into the world of Facebook, we tested types of advertising, several different audiences, and varying styles of ads. After millions of impressions, and over sixty thousand interactions with interests, we learned some powerful lessons about how to use Facebook effectively. Specifically, here are four things we’ve learned:
- Every ad needs a home: Facebook requires that all ads connect to a Facebook Business Page. If the Page is not congruent to the ad campaign, users will sense disingenuity and won’t click on the sponsored ad. It is important to develop a page that is specific to your various goals—whether it be marketing for an event, Bible study generation, or generic page marketing.
- An ad manager is vital: Facebook allows people to engage with your ads. In fact, they encourage it. Ads constantly receive responses, comments and shared posts. This means that your ad needs to be managed to help monitor where those reactions are going. It is a tricky balance. Ads need to receive reactions in order to keep costs down and encourage more viewership, but vulgar or disparaging comments need to be managed and removed. Setting someone up to take the time to review each ad’s responses throughout the day will help your ad be more successful.
- Minimize friction for maximize response: Facebook offers several options for your ad. Whether you should utilize a landing page with your event information, promote a Facebook event, or create a lead generation page can vary on the function of the ad. Testing various techniques is the only way to truly determine the best results for a given campaign.
- Testing will save you money in the long run: The path to Facebook effectiveness is multivariate testing. This means you need to have substantial volume to determine which combination of ads, techniques and audiences will yield the results that make it worth it for your church to continue. The good news is that through testing, you’ll be able to find the sweet spot that maximizes response. But in a shifting environment, systematic testing is the only way to ensure ongoing success.
SermonView is committed to perfecting this
Through our experiments, we have discovered a system that meets the needs of local churches, and we’re excited about the results that churches are seeing. With multiple churches continuing to help test this new avenue for reaching communities, we have found a system that beats the costs of traditional Bible study interest mailers and allows a church to better control their costs and number of interests. Today we are seeing interests responding to a request to receive a Bible study at 30%-50% the cost of the best results from a traditional Bible study card mailer. We are also learning what works in various types of communities and creating better ad models as we learn.
Today we can reach more people, faster, and with more data than before—helping churches to connect with the people in their community who are just waiting for an invitation to learn more about Jesus. It is time to redeem social media in a way that builds real connection and invites people into a genuine community of faith in their local community.
Want to try using Facebook to reach people in your community? Contact us!