We’ve blogged a lot about ways churches can market themselves online through search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, link building and more. While all this information is great in theory, does it actually work in the real world?
Relevant Church in Tampa, FL is creative church leading the way when it comes to online church marketing. In fact, I found out about Relevant Church after seeing an ad for the church on Google. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Paul Wirth, senior pastor of Relevant Church in Tampa, FL about their online marketing strategy. Pastor Wirth had so many informative things to say about Relevant’s marketing that I’ve broken it up into three articles.
Part 1 – Pay-Per-Click Marketing
Kurt: To start things off, could you tell me a little about Relevant Church?
Pastor Wirth: Relevant started about 4 years ago now with 6 people in a living room. I was a youth pastor for 15 years and I was thinking about what we could do for the 20-somethings. A lot of churches have ministries for 20-somethings, but there are no churches for 20-something year olds. So, we prayed about what we could do and it happened that we said, “Why don’t we do a church for 20-something and 30-something year olds, married and single and do the whole church for them, just for them. It’ll be geared towards them and everything we do will be about them. And let’s see what God does.”
4 years ago it was 6 people and now we run close to 400 now on a weekend. We are about 60% single and 40% married and the average age is 27 years old. We’re a contemporary church. We don’t take the term contemporary (or culturally relevant as we like to call it) lightly. We really believe that our music, the way we dress, what I talk about, and the topics that we discuss need to hit the culture right between the eyes. It needs to be stuff that they are dealing with. We try to take the truths of the Bible and see what is going on in our culture that those truths actually dove-tail with.
Kurt: Well it definitely sounds like you are hitting your goals. I discovered you guys while I was searching around on the web and I saw a Google Adwords ad for Relevant Church. How long have you been doing Adwords?
Pastor Wirth: Probably 4 years, since we started. We knew that the culture that we were going to reach was going to be very Internet savvy. It’s very hard to get your name out there. So, we decided, ok, it’s going to cost us to get our name out there, but we’re going to do whatever it takes to get our name out there.
Kurt: When you first started that (Adwords and other Internet marketing), was it immediately accepted by the people or was there any kind of resistance?
Pastor Wirth: What, our people? That’s what they do. So, for them there’s no resistance whatsoever. That’s the culture that we’ve created here. We’re definitely not in the traditional mindset where “you can only do church this way.” In fact our people would probably baulk at our doing anything traditional. They would be more mad about that.
Kurt: Can you give me an idea what your monthly Adwords budget is?
Pastor Wirth: Our Google Adwords probably runs about $150 a month.
Kurt: Really? That’s not very much when you consider what people spend on billboards and other forms of offline marketing.
Pastor Wirth: We do billboards as well, but we only do those a few times a year.
Kurt: Are you able to track your results? Do you know how many people have come to Relevant Church through your Adwords campaign?
Pastor Wirth: Not necessarily through Adwords. I would say, as far as guests; we probably have 60%-70% of our people come to us through the web. They find us through one of our websites whether it be a website we promoted via billboards, a website we promoted via yard signs, or one we promote online.
Kurt: You say that you think that about 60%-70% of your members found the church through the web or through billboards and signs that led them to a website. How do you come about that information? Do you ask people?
Pastor Wirth: We actually ask. When they come to the church they are given communication card and every communication card that we get in actually asks, “How did you hear about Relevant Church?” They get several options: Billboard, Newspaper, Friend, Word of Mouth, yard sign, and Website. When it says website we ask what website address did you hear about us from and then we track whether it’s Google, Yahoo, one of our sites directly. We also combine some of those things, so if someone responds billboard, we know that the billboard was actually tied to an internet site. So, we can tie those together and say that they did this which caused this person to come.