As an advertiser, you want your audience to see your ads and think, “Hey, this is for me!” You want to speak to their aspirations and problems so clearly that they feel like you understand them and your product or service can really help them.
You want them to see themselves in your ads.
That’s why organizations marketing to church leaders need to be aware: they aren’t just marketing to men anymore. Or, perhaps more accurately, if they are just marketing to men, they’re missing out on a big chunk of their target audience.
It’s true that a lot of churches today still don’t have female pastors, and only allow women to serve in specific leadership capacities. But the reality is that more and more, women are leading their congregations and influencing their churches, too.
And we have data to back that up. It may surprise you to learn that a lot of the biggest church leader websites now have more women in their audiences than men. We surveyed some of these women to learn about their influence on their church and their aspirations.
Here’s what we learned from the 2018 ChurchLeaders survey, and what organizations should be aware of when advertising to church leaders.
Women are pastors, too
Of the women we surveyed (which, remember, is now the majority of the ChurchLeaders.com audience), 40 percent held titles like:
- Senior pastor
- Executive pastor
- Youth pastor
- Children’s pastor
- Outreach pastor
- Associate pastor
In other words, if you want to advertise to pastors, it’s unwise to rule out women. It’s easy for brands to assume women reading articles on ChurchLeaders.com are volunteers or administrators—but that assumption is outdated, and if you’re still operating on it, you’re leaving money on the table.
Women influence purchases
Even women who aren’t in an official pastoral position influence what their church buys, or what content they promote or experience together.
62 percent of the women on ChurchLeaders.com have a direct impact on their church’s purchasing decisions.
Imagine if a church was trying to decide on a new giving solution, and none of the key decision makers had heard of you—not because you weren’t advertising on the right websites, but because you assumed your ads weren’t relevant to the women who visited them.
Every influencer who encounters your brand represents a potential sale down the road. If you want churches to consider your product or service, you should aim to make as many church leaders familiar with your brand as possible.
Additionally, 92 percent of the women who visit ChurchLeaders.com recommend faith-related movies to their congregation. Any organization that creates faith-related content should be promoting it to these women.
Women want to get better at ministry
Since so many of these women are church leaders, it shouldn’t come as a shock that 56 percent of them are planning on—or open to—continuing their ministry education. And 91 percent of them buy books each year to help them become more effective in ministry.
Women respond to ads for leaders
Of course, for advertisers, the real proof is in the clicks: do these women actually engage with ads to church leaders? Absolutely. 59 percent of them reported responding in some way to ads they saw on ChurchLeaders.com, whether they made a purchase, recommended a product, or genuinely considered the offer.
So what should you do about this?
Leadership positions have been becoming increasingly diverse for decades—both in secular organizations and in ministries. (In the US, the first female pastors were ordained in the 1800s, by the way.)
You don’t have to completely rewrite your advertising playbook. But if you want to tap into the full potential of your target audience and maximize your advertising dollars, you might consider a couple changes.
You could start by replacing gender-exclusive language with gender-inclusive language—in other words, not assuming that everyone you’re talking to is a man.
You might also consider creating more diverse ads that feature women in positions of leadership and influence.
You can even leverage data to create targeted ads for men and women, so more people see themselves in your ads.
Who knows—you may even discover that ads targeted to women in leadership are more effective. But you won’t know until you try it and test it.
However you decide to proceed, the reality is that more and more women are involved in church leadership. By recognizing that you’re talking to them as well, you have an opportunity to make more relevant, engaging ads that resonate with your target audience.