Analyzing the Haystack: How People Find Us

I was running the numbers from the past year on how people first heard about our church. During membership classes each person takes a short survey, and indicates how they first heard about First Baptist Orlando. I get those reports, and once a year I average the responses, with particular interest in the areas I am involved in. I always want to know how people found out about us in the mass-media, multi-message haystack we exist in.

It is no surprise that the top two responses are always “invited by family” or “invited by friend”. Fully 41% of people who joined our church last year first came because of a personal relationship (more if you count those invited by staff). The people in your church or organization are your best marketing resource.

In 2009, TV was 3rd down the list, behind family and friends, at 15%. That is, 15% of the people who joined the church say they first heard of us through TV. In 2010 that percentage climbed almost two points: 16.6% of the people who join the church first heard about us from TV. We’ve been on TV for almost 50 years. Two years ago we added a 30-minute program on some local stations. We have an established audience, and get great response from the programming.

In the last quarter there has been one significant shift, website/internet has moved into number 4 with 9% (that would include web streaming, facebook and twitter.) Over the past few months we have been enhancing what we are doing in social media and the internet. I will be watching this trend. It’s not the only indicator of a successful strategy, but it is one of the indicators. Social media has proven to be an extremely cost effective tool for us. it can be for you, too. I wish more churches were focusing on the tools available and the potential for having real impact.

In contrast, the newspaper had a big fat 0% last year. Not one person said they first heard about us through the paper. We run a weekly ad in the religion section, and once in a while run other advertising. To be fair, we don’t throw a lot of money into newspaper advertising, so we should not expect to see a lot of results. We make decisions on where to spend money on marketing using numbers like these, and as we pull back from print, we see print be less effective. You can set your self up in sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy cycle. Even so, I don’t think we will be increasing our print ad budget this year.

Yellow pages/phone book had 0.33%. We do keep a presence in the print phone book, but we spend most of our “yellow pages’ money on the online components, and those results would appear in the web statistic.

Overall, I’m pleased with these numbers. Again, this isn’t the only way we should measure results of our marketing efforts. But it is an interesting number to track. These are people who have made the journey from knowing nothing about our local body to committing to be a member of the church. We should be interested in knowing how they first heard about us.