Content marketing is a perfect fit for churches. It’s true. It might sound like another generic business term to you, but it’s at the core of what you’re already doing. So let’s dive in and take a look at the basics of content marketing and how it can help you better reach your community.
What is content marketing?
Here’s how I look at content marketing. It’s creating something of value that helps win mindshare so when people are ready to make a decision they turn to you. In a church setting, this means you’re providing relatable advice for people in need. By doing so, when they’re ready to come to church, or take the next steps in being more involved, they engage your church because they trust and value what they’ve already received.
How do I generate valuable content?
You’re already doing it. Isn’t that great? Churches are content factories. By nature, Sunday mornings are a time when pastors and staff are creating experiences to help people live better lives. Many times all it takes is a little reformatting and repurposing. The key is always keeping audience need in mind. What are the felt needs of someone turning to your church and how can you provide insight that others can’t?
What’s the right platform?
A three-point sermon on reducing prideful behavior can become a blog post on your website or part of an email devotional series. A great quote from your pastor added to an image would work well on social media. There are plenty of creative ways to repurpose content. The right platform depends on where your audiences hang out. Websites, social media, email, video and downloadable ebooks are all popular outlets. We also wrote this post a while back on intentionally working repurposing into your communications planning that might be helpful for you.
Does content marketing work for reaching my members, too?
Absolutely. Developing content that’s relevant to your congregation, and sharing it with them over the communication platforms they use, will help you be a greater presence in their lives. It builds their trust in you and makes them more committed to the work your church is doing. The more they engage and are delighted by the content they receive from you, the more apt they are to share with their friends. Most content marketing is easily sharable, giving your members a simple way to be an ambassador to their friends. Word of mouth is the strongest invite tool your church has. Content marketing removes barriers for members to share content and start conversations with friends.
What are the challenges?
Content marketing isn’t magic. It’s a content stream that has to be consistently fed. You also need to be intentional about identifying audiences you want to reach, creating appealing messages for them and repeating the process. For the most part, copying and pasting from one format to another won’t work. It takes thoughtful editing and trimming for message simplification. The good news is, you’re likely doing some levels of content marketing already, but the challenge remains in tying all the pieces together so they share a cohesive message.
How do I measure success?
Success is going to look different for any organization. The key is identifying goals before launching a communications project and picking the right matrix for measuring those objectives. So for social media posts, you might put emphasis on the number of shares or retweets. Maybe your goal is to do content that leads to people signing up for your email list. If you’re focusing on visitors, make sure part of your assimilation process is asking how they found out about your church. Whatever your hope, find a way you can statistically identify whether or not you were successful.
More than six years ago, when we started Church Juice, I had no idea there was something called content marketing. We launched with the goal of providing churches with best practices to help them better reach their congregation and community. From the early days we’ve tried to keep you in mind and watched what topics were in tune with your current needs. And guess what? This project grew (and continues to grow). It is an entire project that would be considered content marketing. Hopefully this give you a little example of how this type of system can work for a church.