Five Tips That’ll Help Your Church Crush Facebook Ads

I am not really much of a morning person, so texting me before 7:00am will almost never earn a response. I get it, you imagine most pastors wake up extremely early. They rise at 4AM to connect with God, read scripture, drink coffee, meditate, and watch Fox News. This is not me. I sleep as late as culturally acceptable. God and I usually do our hanging out after I have had my coffee and the morning news is over.

Now that is cleared up…

My phone violently vibrated at 6:10AM one morning. The buzz woke me up and I checked the message. Looking into the screen was like staring into the sun. It hurt. Once my temporary blindness had healed, I could make out the text. “Wear good walking shoes today. Door hangers.”

I sighed.
I hated door hangers.

Our vacation bible school was coming up, so we were going to go out into the suburbs on a mission. We had to plaster as many houses as possible with 30 cent door hangers. We used to think this strategy was brilliant. I mean, doesn’t everyone love the idea of someone walking onto their property and leaving a note? This was marketing gold! These hangers even had cute little cartoon animals (or maybe vegetables) advertising the event. As I hiked around those middle class neighborhoods while sweating into a puddle, I thought to myself — there must be a better way to do this.

Well, there is. At least there is now.
Facebook Ads.

The thought of purchasing targeted advertising is alien to most churches. Buzzwords like “marketing,” “advertising.” “targeted,” and “purchasing” immediately intimidate most conference rooms.
But, when done well, Facebook ads can be an affordable & powerful way to grow your audience.

I am not going to teach you how to post a Facebook ad. There are hundreds of wonderful tutorials all over the internet.
You can check some out: Here || Here || Here

Instead, I want to give you five practical tips that I have gleaned from running over 100 Facebook ads for churches & nonprofits.

Send people to a landing page, not just your website.

Send them to an ad-specific page on your site. Do not send them to your home page and just hope they find the right information. You want to send people to an optimized page that exists for one purpose — welcoming & orienting people that clicked your ad.

This serves three purposes:
– It ensures they see your call to action (and are more likely to put in their information).
– You can keep this page simple and clean.
– You can track that specific pages performance — to see how well your ad did.

Analytics are your friend. If you are not tracking the landing page, then you are not ready to be running ads. This helps you learn what content works, what demographic works, and what post-type works. You need to be a data ninja. Track your successes & failures! This will save a lot of money and help you run more effective promotions.

Targeting is crucial

Do not just blindly hit that “boost post” button. That’s a scam. Without properly setting up an audience for that ad, it’s automatically sent to anyone with a Facebook. Your post could literally show up on the newsfeed of some teenage boy in India. The likelihood of him booking a plane ticket to check out your women’s conference is slim.
Be sure to target your ads well!

Start with you city, then narrow it down to age, then gender (if you want), then add some interests that may suggest they’d be into your church.

This may take some critical thinking.
Maybe your band is playing one of those new Elevation songs (great album) in your ad video. Target people who like Elevation Worship. They’re very likely to engage with your content. (Side-note: Working in marketing, I have learned that its common practice to advertise to your “competition’s” fans. Never do that.)

Here are three completely random things I have learned.
– Targeting to women seems to work the best.
– Young adults love Instagram, but Instagram ads never receive near the same click-through as Facebook ads. (Users are not as likely to leave the native Instagram app.)
– Ministry-focused ads seem to work best on Sunday & Friday.

Set specific outcomes for your ad — and track them!

What do you want this ad to accomplish? Your goal should have numbers attached to it. Is your goal to see twelve new kids sign up for your VBS — write it down and track it.
If you goal is to increase your Facebook audience by 30 — write it down and track it.
If your goal is to see two new families visit your church this month — write it down, pray for it, and track it.

Goal-setting is scary to a lot of people. Being held to a numeric goal is hard, because you cannot skew it with emotion. It’s data. It doesn’t lie.
If you don’t reach your goal, it’s okay. Change a variable and try again.
If reaching your goal was too easy, set your standards higher.

It’s simple: data is your friend.

Have a Clear Call-to-Action

It sounds silly, but you need to tell people what to do. Just some vague quote in your valuable text space will likely not cultivate the results you desire.

Use CTA’s like:
– Sign up now
– Click the link below
– Visit Us this Easter

You can even add an incentive with this (just not all the time, it gets old). “Mention this post to a greeter and receive a free chik-fil-a cookie.”
Have you had a chik-fil-a cookie? They’re life-altering. At one church I worked for, Chick-fil-a occasionally donated a massive cookie tray to us. These were the only Sundays I wished we didn’t have too many visitors, because I wanted to take some visitor cookies home with me.

Use Video

Over 8.5 billion videos are watched on Facebook every day. Video Ads will show up directly in your demographic’s newsfeed. This is the place where they are already hard-wired to engage with content.
This is one of the most powerful ad-types on Facebook.

Here are a few random tips concerning video ads.
– 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound – do not rely on your audio.
– Keep it short — people aren’t going to watch you ramble at a camera for three minutes.
– Show your logo & ministry name immediately.
– Only use humor if you’re good at it. When done well, humor is one of your best engagement triggers. When used poorly, you fall into the category of “another-cheesy-church.”
– Catch people attention in the first seconds. People usually stop watching after five seconds unless they’re hooked.

About the Author

Jackson Garrell

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Jackson is a pastor, designer, and cheese enthusiast. He lives in New York with his wife and several dozen plants. When he is not building websites, consulting churches, or pastoring, you will probably find him trying to create the perfect omelette.