How I Use Digital Marketing to Fill Churches – The Definitive Resource List

by John Jordan, Willow Creek Association on May 16, 2016

By: John Jordan, Director of Digital Communication; 
The Global Leadership Summit; Willow Creek Association

Since 2013 The Global Leadership Summit  attendance has grown 59% through churches and organizations around the world. Apart from God’s obvious blessing, there are success factors that help fill churches that may serve your ministry as well. 

Here are a few quick stats on The Global Leadership Summit after 23 years of successes, failures, and refining (as of this writing):
  • Nearly 305,000 people attend The Global Leadership Summit in 675 sites, primarily churches
  • Churches in 125 countries and 59 languages fill up with people attending the Summit
  • More than 100,000 people downloaded the GLSnext app in the first 9 months (iOSAndroid
I still have much to improve, but I’m ready to share a few lessons learned. It’s my hope that these tips and resources will save you a ton of time. 

I’d like to share the resources we use to spread the word, serve churches, and helpChristians grow their leadership to maximize Kingdom impact. 

The overarching principles and resources explored apply to much more than church events. 

Filling Churches with People

"God can’t do anything with an empty seat.” - Bill Hybels

The following are The Top 5 Digital Marketing Tools I Use to Fill Churches…for the Summit. Hopefully they will help you fill your church as well. 
  1. MailChimp Pro – Multivariate Testing
  2. Salesforce’s Pardot – Contact Nurturing
  3. Optimizely – A/B Testing Online Engagement
  4. Lead pages - Landing Page Builder
  5. Google AdWords – Reach potential attendees, only pay for performance. 

Connecting People - Online

Connecting the people is the glue that makes them come back. Here are The Top 4 Digital Marketing Tools I Use to Connect People at the Church for the Summit
  1. Create an Event App – We leverage polls at the event and live social media chat. (iOS, Android)
  2. Sprout Social - Social Media Management
  3. Tagboard Live – Capture Attention & Increase engagement
  4. Use an Event or Series Hashtag to centralize conversation – we use #GLS16 

Discipling People - Year Round

What happens when your series or event is over? How do you nurture and help the attendee go deeper? Here are The Top 4 Digital Marketing Tools I Use to Disciple People at the Church after the Summit
  1. Get Site Control - Website Email Capture for Leadership Article Delivery
  2. – Our Leadership Blog
  3. Salesforce’s Pardot – Contact Nurturing
  4. Video + Image App for year-round content delivery – iOS, Android

World Vision has partnered with The Willow Creek Association for The Global Leadership Summit, an event that brings together the best and latest in leadership experience, wisdom, and training. It’s designed for leaders who want to sharpen themselves and lead their life well — everyone from a Fortune 500 CEO to a stay-at-home parent. Learn more and register now!

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