What is one of the most difficult things to do as a church or a pastor? The answer - attract millennials.
This generation is one that has baffled its predecessors since its coming of age - pun unintended.
Often regarded as one of the most passionate and justice-oriented age groups to have ever existed, it makes complete sense that this group would engage well with the story of Christ and his ministry.
However, studies show that while 68% of millennials believe in Heaven only about 18% attend a religious service at least once a week, 11% once or twice a month, and 9% attend several times a year.
This huge gap represents one thing to the church, an opportunity to see these individuals come to know Christ.
This 30% difference represents a mere fraction, too. That number doesn't account for the droves of young adults who don't believe in God or Heaven or don't even know what to believe.
In order to help reach out to these millennials, the church needs to implement one strategy: Inbound Marketing.
Inbound Marketing, as HubSpot defines, is the marketing strategy "focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content...With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media."
A study done by Statista shows that 223 minutes were spent on mobile phones per day by millennials in 2017; therefore, youneedto market to this audience.
This means that the mobile phone in your pocket just became the best friend in attracting the millennial generation.
Now, let's get into some strategies to give your church the right tools for its marketing strategies.
The easiest example of effective blogging is what is happening right now - You have a problem, you seek information on search engines, and you've found this blog.
This is the power that blogging has on attracting people to your business, and attracting is the first step of The Buyer's Journey!
1. Awareness- The buyer becomes aware of a problem or issue they may have. You market to this stage by writing content defining and giving this problem a name.
2. Consideration- The buyer is considering solutions to the problem. This stage should have content focused on the solutions available. Address the different options that solve the problem.
3. Decision- The buyer has decided on a solution and is now ready to buy. Finally, engage the buyer with content focused on how your company/service is the solution.
To provide context, let's describe a situation about how your blogging strategy could apply to your target audience.
First, identify your target audience. In this case, it is the millennial that doesn't know what to believe.
Next, identify their problem, which in this scenario would be "I don't know if God exists or not."
From there, write blogs addressing the issue by detailing questions he or she might have.
After this, you move into publishing more content aimed at the consideration stage.
Here you can write blogs supporting God's existence and support those with reasons to attend church if they want to have their questions answered.
Follow up this step by blogging about how your church is perfect for answering these questions.
And Bam! You've effectively blogged for each stage of the Buyer's Journey.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The next major strategy is SEO. This is the process of utilizing certain techniques to improve how well your website and content perform on search engine result pages (SERPs).
What techniques? Well, I'll tell ya!
Hyperlinking/Backlinking- Insert links in your articles that refer to your own website or the relevant pages/articles within. This allows the reader to flow more easily throughout your content and Google likes that.
Utilize Keywords- Put trending keywords in a few major areas (title, hyperlink, alt-text on images, and periodically throughout your article).
Use Meta Descriptions- This is the description that is about 300 characters long beneath each result on the SERP and Google analyzes these to find the most relevant content. Accurately describe your content and incorporate the keywords in here.
3. Social Media
Again, millennials spend just shy of 4 hours on their phones every day. This means you need to really invest in incorporating a social media marketing plan into your inbound strategy.
You should have accounts on most social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are three platforms that command a lot of the millennial traffic but don't overlook getting a YouTube channel, Pinterest, or LinkedIn profile.
Be active on social media. Activating an account and only posting during the first month won't drastically change your results with your target audience. It takes dedication to consistently update and post on social media to grow the following that will make a difference.
Fill out all aspects of the account. The "about" or "bio" areas are important to optimize your social media page.
Get reviews on these accounts. Have current members of your church leave reviews about their experience of joining and attending your church. This provides credibility to outside parties.
Create a Pinterest board. You can fill Pinterest boards with keywords and fill the meta descriptions of those posts with keywords. Google will eat this up. This is a great opportunity to post blogs you have on Christianity and what Christ stood for.
Push original content. Google doesn't like copy-cats. Invest in the research and creating content that is original. Google ranks that higher in terms of SERP.
And as mentioned before with SEO, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
As you look to grow your church, combining your outreach and evangelistic efforts with a properly structured Inbound Marketing strategy, will increase your church's chance in attracting millennials.
This means work on your blogging, structure your website for SEO, and push your social media game!
Now that you know these areas to focus on you are better equipped to bring in that younger generation and continue growing the Kingdom!