For more than fifty years, Mariners Church has been a beacon of hope in Orange County guiding people to Jesus and making a positive impact in the surrounding community through social programs, volunteer engagement and giving back. What began as a small gathering of believers at Mariners Elementary School, has become a movement of people across Orange County passionately following Jesus and sharing His love with friends and neighbors. Under the leadership of their Senior Pastor, Eric Gieger, Mariners Church is growing into a multi-congregational church with locations across Orange County.
In advance of launching regular weekend services at 4 neighborhood locations, and “re-launching” 2 locations with post-pandemic, in-person services, the communications team at Mariners Church wanted to leverage pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to bring awareness to the broader community. All efforts focused on promoting the September 11-12, 2021 Launch Weekend, and inviting community members to attend.
What we did:
Alongside the Mariners Church Communication Team we hosted a digital marketing planning session to outline the strategic and creative vision of the campaigns. We defined the platforms we would use for the campaign (Facebook/Instagram, Google, SnapChat and TikTok), the ad types we would leverage (display, keywords and video), how we would define conversions (“RSVP to attend” form completions), and what follow-up actions we would take to nurture the leads (email drip campaign).
We also brainstormed the creative aspects of the campaign and landed on the concept of “Mariners is For You,” illustrating through video and photography that Mariners Church is a place anyone can find community, friendship, belonging and care. With that creative direction, we hosted an onsite photo and video shoot with the Mariners Team where we captured images of actual members of the church across all their locations. This allowed for a greater emotional connection to the church community with improved response rates over using stock photography.
To manage the influx of leads and to trigger the nurturing email drips, 454 Creative also deployed a marketing automation platform called SharpSpring. Leads collected from Facebook, TikTok, SnapChat, and landing pages on the marinerschurch.org website were centrally managed in SharpSpring. Each new contact automatically triggered a multiple email outreach drip to the individual and sent email notifications to the church leadership to facilitate personal follow-up and outreach.
To reinforce the online messaging, 454 Creative also designed, produced and mailed 6 direct-mail pieces to specific sets of zip codes to target neighborhoods and those who had recently moved to the targeted areas. Over 20,000 households received a postcard inviting household members to attend Launch Weekend and learn more about Mariners Church with a trackable QR code directed to the campaign landing page on the church website.
Lastly. so the leadership of the church could track real-time performance of the campaigns, 454 Creative created a campaign dashboard. Sharing these vital datapoints meant everyone had visibility into campaign performance and the keywords and locations triggering conversions.
Over a 3 month period, 552 new leads were generated for the 6 Mariners locations. Facebook native lead forms performed exceptionally well for the campaigns, generating over 360 new contacts for the church through embedded contact forms in the Facebook and Instagram Ads. Additionally, a Google Keyword campaign ensured that individuals in Orange County searching for information about churches near them were met with information about the new Mariners congregations. To reach a younger audience, TikTok and SnapChat ads generated significant interest as well at a lower cost than Google and Facebook.
Upon the launch weekend of the 4 new locations, attendance rose more than 50% over the previous, preview weekends. Staff members reported new attendees walking in with their direct-mail postcard in hand, or making reference to seeing an ad online. To keep the momentum going, the Mariners Church Team has been trained to take over management of PPC ads and with the new infrastructure in place can easily create new campaigns.
The intersection of technology and faith can be a difficult one, but we are thankful for the example that Mariners Church has set of how digital platforms can be leveraged to further the mission of the church, reach new audiences and help others find belonging and purpose.