Church Marketing 101

Church Marketing 101

Church Marketing 101 is written as a primer for churches to know what are best practices of other churches. Church marketing can sometimes be misunderstood and wrongly defined as church leaders that are exclusively using “business practices” rather than biblical principles to grow their church.

Marketing is simply how an organization, business or church gets their message out to others. Every organization, business, and church has a marketing plan. The question isn’t, “Does my church have a marketing plan?”, the question is, “How effective is our church marketing plan?”.

Church Marketing 101: What?

The first step with an effective church marketing 101 plan is knowing what your message is. You would be surprised when you sit down with executive leaders in mega-churches as we have and asked the question, “What is your primaryman in gallery with metrics of marketing, church marketing 101 message?” An effective church marketing 101 strategy begins when team leaders can easily answer this question.

Once this message has been decided upon then it’s up to the leadership of the church to repeat it often as a way of educating the entire church. This morning my wife and I worshipped at Apex Baptist Church where my close friend, John Mark Harrison pastors. Their simple, repeatable message is “Awakening every generation to impact their world for Christ.” This statement was on the worship guide, on their church website front page, mentioned three times from the stage. What does Apex Baptist Church desire to do? Apex Baptist Church wants to awaken every generation to impact their world for Christ.

Effective church marketing 101 has at its core a clear answer to the WHAT question. Your message needs to work internally and externally. This is no time for a bait and switch tactic. My recommendation to churches is always: Simple, biblical and reproducible. Can elementary students repeat and define your church’s mission statement? If not, I’d encourage you to keep tweaking.

Church Marketing 101: Who?

The who is actually given to the church by Jesus himself in the great commission and in Acts 1:8. The who is actually a worldwide endeavor in gospel advancement. In this church marketing 101 article, we are going to focus on the immediate surroundings of the WHO.

church marketing 101, lightbulb with marketing strategyWho are the people that live in the immediate mission field of our church? Some of these people have live around our church for decades, some for a short time and many that are just arriving. Some of these individuals have constant contact with our church through relationships with our church members and many of them have little or no contact with our church.

An opportunity that the church has today that didn’t exist years ago is targeted marketing or intent marketing. Many churches around the country are taking advantage of this technology to get their message out to their community like never before.

We know that people live online today and that marketers are willing to pay top dollar to know potential buyers intent. How does this work in church marketing?

An ambiguous keyword search would be a Google search for “Church” as an example. Is this person wanting a definition, historical data or simply working on a class project? Not all searches show intent but others show CLEAR intent. Google knows the difference and when the keyword sear is unclear Google responds with definitions, tutorials, news, and other general links.

Clarity of intent is what business pay top dollar for. They will do almost anything to get into the top three spots of Google rankings and pay for click ads so their company is listed on the top of the page.

Clarity of intent in the church world would be keyword searches like, “service times for Summit Church”, “Churches in Raleigh”, or “churches near me”. Large churches today are hiring staff SEO specialist so that their church remains in the top three of Google rankings. Other churches that can’t pay for full-time staffing work with companies like Steeple Marketing or Digital Rocket to do the same reason.

Here is an example of why churches are now paying attention to these stats. Let’s use Greenville, SC as an example. There are 1,653 families, individuals, and non-churchgoers that use specific keywords searches on average each month. Annually, this number becomes 19,836.

Church Marketing 101: Google Rankings

Pay close attention to the numbers above in relation to the charts below. 19,836 people that are using SPECIFIC KEYWORD SEARCH terms visit the following church websites when determining where to visit. Remember that 85% of first-time guests first visit a church website- 85%!

google traffic by rank, marketing statistics, church marketing 101

When those 19,836 people search for a church to visit this is what Google returns. Following are the first eight ranked spots for “Churches in Greenville, SC”.

greenville south carolina churches, church marketing

Here is the break down of how this actually breaks down for the entire year. Notice the percentages from the chart above.


  1. Grace Church –               32.5% –        6,447
  2. Best 30 Churches –         17.6% –        3,491
  3. LifePointe –                      11.4% –        2,261
  4. Bridgeway Church –          8.1% –        1,607
  5. Church Finder –                 6.1% –        1,210
  6. Redemption Church –        4.4% –           873
  7. Summit Church –               3.5% –           694
  8. Fellowship Bible Church – 3.1% –           615
  9. Real Life Church –             2.6% –           516
  10. City Lights –                       2.4% –           476

91.7% of web traffic goes to the first 10 ranked pages. The top three ranked church websites get 61.5% of the visits. The fastest growing churches in the country (Both large and small) know these numbers. These are the individuals in your surrounding area that are LOOKING for a church to visit.

One small church doubled their attendance by paying attention to the above numbers and their story is amazing. When you multiply the numbers above by families (Not exclusively singles are searching) you can see how big these numbers become. More churches today than ever are understanding the value of effective church marketing principles.

Church Marketing 101: The Number You Should Know

Don’t trust your gut, know the facts. There are three basic numbers I believe every church leader should know when it comes to your mission field:

  1. How many people in your city are searching for “Churches near me”?
  2. How many people in your city are searching for “Churches in (your cities name)”?
  3. What is your church’s current Google church ranking?

If you do not know these numbers we can send them to you today free of charge.



I do not speak Greek or Hebrew but I do speak..SEO.. I started DR in my parents garage. You want to grow your church but most people moving to your community can’t find you. I have a very specific set of skills to help you get found and expand your reach!
I’m married to the love of my life Rebecca. I coauthored Millenials & Money with my brother Tyler. I look forward to meeting you and serving your church.

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