Did you know that people are out there looking for a church on Google? They aren’t waiting to be invited by a neighbor or to receive a catchy postcard in the mail… they WANT and NEED a church now and are asking Google what their options are.
For church planting pastors, one of the fastest ways to get in front of people who are looking for a Christian Church is by using Google AdWords. Also known as pay-per-click advertising and search engine marketing (SEM), this strategy allows you to pay for placement above or next to the organic search results on Google.
As an example, if I were to head to Google and type in "Dentist" I would see all of these local dentists competing for my business. The same principle can be used towards church marketing.
It Makes Sense to Buy Google Ads for Church Marketing
Here are four reasons why I would encourage every church plant to use pay-per-click advertising on Google as part of their marketing strategy.
- It Immediately Gets You to Page 1 on Google - If you are a new church (or business for that matter), Google might not recognize your website for quite some time. Getting your website ranked is a long-term process that can be built through strategies like a weekly sermon blog. You need results now, so it is smarter to buy your way in to the search results.
- Reach Church Shoppers at the Perfect Time - Your message reaches people who are actively looking for a church this weekend! You can't ask for better targeting than that.
- Cost Effective Advertising - If you follow the campaign recommendations provided below, this can be done at a pretty reasonable price. Set budget limits and you won't need to worry about this.
- Easy Ramp Up for Christmas, Easter, and Other Events - You can quickly change your ad copy and increase your spend when needed.
How Much Will Google Ads Cost my Church?
Google will charge you every time somebody clicks on one of your ads (pay-per-click). You don't pay every time somebody sees your ad (CPM), which is a very good thing.
The ads are served up on a bidding system. The more you pay, the more likely you are to show up near the top. Our church is in the Seattle suburbs and pays an average of $1.50 - $2.50 per click. There aren't too many churches paying Google for ads in our area, so this is relatively inexpensive. Your price will depend on the competition in your area.
We are currently seeing about 20-50 clicks per month to our website. As a church plant with only a couple hundred regular attendees, those are very exciting numbers for us!
Building Your Church Ad on Google AdWordsYour ads on Google simply consist of a headline and two lines of text. You don't need a graphic designer or outside experts to make a big impact on Google.
Here are some design tips that we've learned:
- For the title, use the name of your church. It will build up your brand name even if they don't click the ad right now.
- Include the city/state where your church is located.
- Include the word "church" in the body.
- Advanced Tip: Experiment with "Ad Extensions" to include links to your website, address, phone number or reviews to really make your ad stand out.
Where Does Your Ad Take Them?While the ad copy isn't wildly important, the website that they land on is! You can find a church plant website checklist if you are just getting started with your website. Send these visitors straight to your home page, but make sure you have key information that church shoppers are looking for so they can decide if your church meets their basic needs before visiting.
Google AdWords Campaign SettingsPay attention! This is the section that will keep you from blowing your entire annual monthly marketing budget on a silly mistake. To make my point, here is a screenshot I took this morning showing two churches that are over 3,000 miles away with ads appearing near Seattle.
While Google AdWords is very easy to set up, it is also easy to screw up. Here are my recommendations for your campaign settings to keep your church budget safe!
Add locations by zip code. Only include zip codes of people who would realistically drive to your church every week.
Google will only serve your ads to people whose computer or phone are located in those zip codes. This is your safety valve to make sure your ads don't appear to people 1,000 miles away.
People are going to look for the word "church". That is your number one keyword to utilize.
If you want to get fancier, you can apply a "phrase match" on the keywords listed below to target your search even further. Often, these longer search terms will cost you less money.
church in, christian church, christian churches, church directory, christian, churches near me, churches near, find church, family church, best church, churches near me, the new church, find churches, new churches, church near me, new church, christians church, evangelical churches, list of churches, finding a church, church search, church locator, list of christian churches
I also found that by adding some "negative match" keywords, we were able to lower the amount of ads delivered to people who aren't very likely to visit our small evangelical church.
catholic, lds, mormon
Set a maximum daily budget to keep your spend under control. I would recommend $10-$15 per day, knowing that is unlikely that a small church plant won't hit the daily maximum very often.
When you set up your campaign, Google will also ask you which bid strategy you want to use. I prefer to select manual CPC bidding, which means I tell Google how much I am willing to pay for each click on each keyword.
More Campaign Settings
There are tons of other options in AdWords that you can learn with experience, but the three areas mentioned above (location, keywords, budget) are all you need to worry about out of the gates.
Keep in mind that Google is a multi-kajillion dollar company filled with really smart people who are paid to get your advertising dollars. When you see suggestions, tips, and other news from Google encouraging you to try new things with your ads, proceed with extreme caution!
Tracking Your ResultsWhen you first start up your account, you should be logging in a few times each week to check your stats and make tweaks to your account.
If you're not getting many clicks:
- Check your bids. They are probably too low. You have to pay to play on Google.
- Read your ad copy. Would a church shopper want to click it?
- Check your locations. You might be paying for a nationwide ad campaign.
- Check your keywords to make sure they aren't too broad. If you live in Falls Church, VA, that "church" keyword is going to rack up a huge bill and need to be modified.
SummaryWould you pay $2 to get a church shopper to check out your website? So would we!
Google AdWords for pay-per-click advertising is a great move for church plant marketing. Just make sure you have a volunteer or staffer who takes the time to understand the Google AdWords system, checks in regularly on your ad campaigns, and doesn't fall prey to Google's upsell tactics!
You are welcome to leave any questions you have on PPC advertising on this post. This topic is far too heavy for a single blog post so please let me know if there are specific areas you are struggling with.