How likely is someone to share physical mail with their friend? Is written communication in letter format the best way to describe ministry initiatives? Is there another communication method that can assure you that a piece is read, that can track the message, and even develop responsive messages that change with the audience's specific needs? Paying your digital postage is the modern equivalent of using the printing press.
When we think of advertising, we think of TV ads or items that clog up our mailboxes. Digital advertising now accounts for 88.4 billion dollars, more than TV, print or radio advertising (Mullin & Flint via Comscore, eMarketer and Interactive Advertising Bureau, 2019). The number of Americans who read a newspaper daily has declined from 41% to 23%, while the number of Americans who use social media for information has risen to above 70% (Pew Research, 2018).
- Design emails that are eye-catching, visually interesting, and therefore more likely to be read.
- Measure whether an email message has been opened by your audience.
- Track which links your readers find interesting and which online action steps they actually take.
- Analyze the regularity, length, and format that your audience prefers.
- Prevent messaging people who do not want it and avoid your primary email from being blacklisted as spam.
Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms originally carried a church's or school's message alongside that of any individual who posts information. Now ministry organizations, like any corporation, must pay for digital postage if they expect their organization's message to be carried far. Yes, your message can still be viewed by a few of your core followers without a monetary investment. Yes, interesting and emotional content is always more likely to go viral and be spread. However, a huge shift has occurred in social media platforms. If you want people to see your ministry's message online, your organization must budget accordingly and pay digital postage.
Facebook offers an easy way to reach users on both their platform and Instagram. Boosting a post is a simple way to pay digital postage, but you can always get more message reach and dollar-for-dollar impact by visiting the top right arrow drop down and working through the manage ads tab. Within the manage ads tab, you can target people by interest, affiliation to your organization, age, geography, and many other areas. You can send your message out in ways that focus on those most likely to click and visit your site, or most likely to view it, or simply reach as many of your targeted audience as possible, one time per day. The manage ads tab in Facebook opens up a world of possibilities for targeting your message and extending your reach.
Google AdWords has become an incredibly complex tool with an infinity of possibilities. How often do we marvel at all the things Google can do? Doesn't it make sense for your ministry organization to invest in learning to use this great tool of communication? There are ways to direct ads to visitors of specific web sites, Youtube channels, or by various interests, and target through an infinity of other possibilities. If "go and make disciples" is a core part of your ministry focus, an investment in Google Adwords has become the next wise step. Because of the complexity, it may require working with an outside vendor.
Optimizing your website is another way to pay your digital postage. While a focus on search engine optimization (SEO) can be free, there are costs that can ensure you do it well.
- There are assessment tools which determine the best layout, links, and effectiveness of landing pages.
- Domains, labels, and keywords can be adjusted to encourage traffic to your site.
- Mobile-friendly, loading time, and easy navigation are key and their mastery is an important science.
- Welcoming content which can communicate grace and truth is an art form and a blessing from our Lord.
The next time you review your ministry's annual budget ask "Are we paying our digital postage"? Consider what Martin Luther must have thought when he first saw the printing press. The Lord's richest blessings in your efforts to use all of our Lord's wonderful creation to proclaim His grace.
Dr. Jeff Lemke, Vice President of Admissions and Enrollment, presented at the 2019 WELS Leadership Conference on the topics of "Best Marketing Mediums for Outreach" and "Reach New Families with a Sustainable School." Dr. Lemke is scheduled to present in January of 2020 in Chicago at the WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership on the topic of "Financially Sustainable Models for Schools." Contact him through this website.
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