How do Church Social Media Retargeting Ads Work?
If you have put in the effort, and you’ve gotten the top of your funnel ads set up and working, take a moment to celebrate! People are starting to know what your church is all about, and they are beginning to trust you. Now it’s time to invite them to take the next step. We don’t ask for anything in the top of the funnel, but in phase two, “the ask,” you request for them to come and check out your church online or in person. This is your chance to convert them from knowing who you are, to receiving from you on a spiritual level.
Here is how it works: you have a separate set of posts or videos that you only show to people who have first engaged with one of your top of the funnel ads.
How do you show ads to only those specific people?
This is a process called “retargeting” and is the top secret ingredient in the funnel. In the marketing industry, retargeting is a term for showing different ads to people who visit your website for the first time or engage with a post on social media.For example, if you go online to a major retailer’s website right now, I can almost guarantee that the next time you open Face- book or Instagram you will now see retargeting ads from that company. Why do they do this? Because it is a much smarter use of advertising money if you spend it on people who are interested, instead of showing ads to everybody. Imagine a world where you are able to only show ads to people who are current- ly interested in checking out your church, instead of wasting it on people who are not interested at all. You would be more than willing to spend that money, because you know it is going to produce results.
This is exactly why companies do anything they can to figure out who is interested in their products, then show theiradvertisements solely to that audience. With Google and Facebook, you can use tracking codes to build a custom “audience” of people who have interacted with your church online and have shown interest. You only show your middle of the funnel content to this custom audience. This is retargeting, and this is the middle of your funnel. In the Paid Ads chapter of The Funnel book, I show you exactly how to set this up for your church.
Here is a cool thought. We are taking the exact same tactics and strategies used by multi-million dollar corporations, and using them to impact people’s lives for eternity. It has taken the marketing world years to figure out how sales funnels impact people’s decision making, and now you can use this same funnel to introduce people to Jesus. The process works, but the motive is different.
Here is a real life example from a local church leader. Let’s call him Greg. Greg wrote an article that offers practical tipsand biblical insights for overcoming fear and anxiety. He spent time studying and writing the article in a very encouraging and helpful way and posted it on their church’s website. They also shot a short, thirty-second promo video to let people know what the article is about. Greg’s prayer was that God would use this promotion to help someone who was struggling with anxiety and could use some encouragement. Greg had a budget of $15 per day and promoted the article as an ad on Facebook, Instagram, and Google to his top of the funnel audience. Over the next three weeks there were over 7,400 people who saw the ad, and 433 people clicked on the link to his article. He had twen- ty-three comments and five shares. Pretty good! But it didn’t stop there.
Because of the tracking codes and custom retargeting audience set up, all 433 people who engaged with that post were immediately added to Greg’s retargeting audience. So now they are starting to see a personal invitation from Greg on their Instagram feed inviting them to check out the current series on fear and anxiety at their church. In his retargeting ad, Greg talks about how this series goes deep into this topic, and he invites people to watch their livestream or visit them in person. Every one of those 433 people have gone from the top of the funnel to the middle of the funnel. This happens automatically with Facebook’s and Google Ads’ custom audiences. Your job is simply to produce the message, and people get taken on the journey without any further prompting. Over the three weeks of promoting this article, Greg saw twelve new people fill out a Plan Your Visit form from this funnel.
These twelve people went from the top of the funnel, into the middle of the funnel, and then converted through the bottom of the funnel.
This is how the social media ads funnel works, and it changes people’s lives.
You should be running a new top of the funnel ad every week. In addition, you should be updating your middle of thefunnel (retargeting) ads once every two or three weeks. Some- one in the middle of the funnel will see your retargeting con- tent on high rotation in their social media feed, meaning that they will probably see the retargeting ads two to four times per week. That’s a lot. This is why it is so important to make sure you are updating your retargeting ads on a regular basis. You should have around three to five retargeting ads all running at the same time. This way people will see a healthy rotation of ads, instead of the same one over and over. The retargeting ads don’t have to be super specific like Greg’s was, it can just be a general invitation to come visit your church on a Sunday. How- ever, it can be very specific if you want. It just depends on how much time you can dedicate to it.
One of my favorite churches in Los Angeles uses the funnel to help boost attendance to their annual conferences. For the top of the funnel they use clips from the keynote speakers, and then a follow-up retargeting ad is shown with the details of the conference and a link to buy tickets. The process is still the same—they start by offering a helpful post from the key-note speaker filled with good and encouraging content, and the conference invite does not come until the middle of the funnel. People’s first impression is a video that gets them excited about the keynote speakers, and then they are primed to be shown the retargeting ad to buy the tickets.
Similarly, a great church that we work with in Florida does a sixty-second clip each week recapping the message from Sun- day. They promote the video as a top of the funnel ad on both Facebook and Instagram. Everyone who watches the clip will then start seeing personal invitations from the lead pastor to an upcoming Sunday. The message recap is the top of the funnel, and the personal invite by the pastor is the middle of the funnel.
Are you seeing a pattern?
In order to make the middle of the funnel effective, you have to make sure the call to action is clear and easy. Many churches use the Plan Your Visit model to give users a well-defined next step. This works great for some people, but by far, most first-time guests will just show up on Sunday and not even use the Plan Your Visit option. But even if they don’t go through with filling out the Plan Your Visit form, the contenton that “Visit Us” page on your website will still be very helpful in converting them to a visitor. Some churches encourage peo- ple to join them online for their livestream as the call to action, which can be very effective as well. You can start impacting people online, before they even make it through your doors for the first time.
The key is to be consistent and relentless. It is totally com- mon that people will go from the top of the funnel, to the mid- dle of the funnel and never go any further. This is absolutely normal and to be expected. You want to show those retargeting ads for around sixty to ninety days. We have found that any- thing longer than ninety days loses its effectiveness. If people don’t respond within that sixty to ninety day window, that is ok. They go back to the top of the funnel. The next time they in- teract with one of the top of the funnel posts, it starts the whole process over again. Just keep it going!
The beautiful part about the middle of the funnel is that it costs less than the top of the funnel. Generally a church has a top of the funnel target audience around 300,000 people, depending on the location. But since the middle of the funnel ads are only shown to select people in the retargeting audience, you generally have only around 2,000 to 6,000 people in that audience, way less than the top of the funnel. This means that you don’t have to spend nearly as much ad budget to reach those people. Fewer impressions costs less money. We will discuss budgets in a later chapter and dive into the practical details of setting up your ads and campaigns.