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Why Churches Should Utilize Personas and Target Audiences on the Digital Mission Field

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persona

This article originally appeared on Leadership Network

Pastor, are you tired of thinking It’s not working! when trying to reach people online? Do you feel like no matter how hard you try, nothing works? You’re not alone; many churches struggle with this challenge. With every obstacle, though, there is an opportunity. Leveraging personas and intentional audience targeting can help your church reach new communities meaningfully on digital platforms. Today we will dive into the power of personas, empower churches to define their target demographic, and provide proven strategies for engaging with the digital mission field. So grab a cup of coffee or tea and get ready to jump in!

Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand (Matthew 13:3-9, NLT).

In Matthew 13, Jesus teaches us a powerful lesson about sharing the gospel with an audience. He presents the Parable of the Sower, essentially likening a scatter of seeds to sharing faith. The seed that was scattered on “unhealthy soil”—on the “thorny bush” or the “paved road”—did not grow. Instead, it withered away. This parable should serve as a warning for modern churches who want to propagate their messages digitally; without context and purpose, any message can wither, just like those seeds scattered without meaningful purpose. Suppose a church wants to be effective when they share their message digitally. In that case, they must utilize personas and craft a message specific to their target audience’s context. These personas will help ensure that the gospel is spread in “healthy soil” and that the resources provided are not wasted where no impact or growth can be seen or felt. As we move forward in an ever-changing technological world, churches must learn how to adjust to best reach out to and communicate effectively with potential audiences online.

LEVERAGE PERSONAS FOR MAXIMUM EFFECTIVENESS

Utilizing personas in digital marketing is an excellent way for companies to successfully target their audience and deliver a unique message that stands out in the marketplace. Personas allow companies to tailor their message to a specific audience so they can relate more effectively. Furthermore, personas can help the Church better understand their target audience and serve them more effectively with tailored messages that are understood. Consequently, churches should use this same strategy to identify critical points of engagement, prevent miscommunications, and build authentic relationships with their audience by getting to know them and how best to serve them according to their needs. As such, churches should take the time to determine what type of persona they are trying to reach, consider multiple perspectives on how the target audience will receive their message, diversify communication channels, and work towards crafting a personalized communication flow for each persona for maximum effectiveness.

Personas allow companies to tailor their message to a specific audience so they can relate more effectively. Furthermore, personas can help the church better understand their target audience and serve them more effectively with tailored messages that are understood.

5 STEPS TO FIND YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

Discovering your church’s target audience can seem daunting. Still, with a few simple steps, you can clearly define and communicate with the people most likely to engage with your church digitally.

  1. Consider the typical characteristics of the people that attend physical services.
  2. Look at outside influences like location and demographics to determine who could be interested in your message.
  3. Research their motivations, their relationship status, and any other vital details.
  4. Then, create a persona for each segment of your target audience—a living representation of your ideal members.
  5. Finally, create marketing strategies that make use of these personas and help to keep churches on-mission in spreading their message.

By taking these five steps, churches will quickly discover who their target audience should be and who they are already engaging with online.

TAILOR A DIGITAL COMMUNITY FOR YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s essential to build a digital community specifically tailored to them. Get on the right social media platforms and bridge the gap between physical and digital relationships. Whether the relationship is physical or digital, it is still an authentic relationship that can be grounded in biblical discipleship. Understanding this, we can recognize that our buildings may be lids to our ministry. You can reach even more people through your digital presence than with a physical building alone.

Whether the relationship is physical or digital, it is still an authentic relationship that can be grounded in biblical discipleship.

With so many social media platforms out there, it can be a daunting task to work out which ones churches should be using for their digital presence. Facebook and Instagram may spring to mind first. Still, other platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Discord, Twitch, and LinkedIn can be great platforms for reaching specific audiences with contextualized messages. For example, LinkedIn could be utilized by the Church to build a solid professional network and create conversations with people in business that they would unlikely reach elsewhere. But it’s just about having fun and experimenting—being creative on each platform to engage with the right people meaningfully. Discipleship doesn’t need to behave differently because it’s happening over a digital platform. Create content relevant enough to your target audiences that encourages discussion around Scriptures or holds debates about hot topics among your followers—just make sure you know who you’re talking to first!

By understanding personas and creating a message tailored to them, churches can better contextualize their message effectively.

To conclude, churches need to carefully consider their digital strategy, who their target audience is, and how to reach them best for the highest returns. By understanding personas and creating a message tailored to them, churches can better contextualize their message effectively. With the proper use of technology and platforms to cultivate relationships, leaders can create a powerful connection with those they seek to connect with. Churches should also remember that they don’t necessarily have to reach everyone—you can still be successful without trying to preach your gospel as far and wide as possible. So buckle up and get ready to spread your church’s message further than ever in today’s digital age. Looking to embrace the digital mission field?

Check out Leadership Network’s Digital Discipleship Learning Community and discover how evangelism and discipleship can be strengthened digitally.

What do you think?  Share your ideas below or on social media.

Through the Digital Church Network we are helping physical and digital churches better understand the discipleship process, and helping churches and church planters understand this and other decentralized mindset shifts. Joining the DCN is free and be encouraged! 

Looking for a Coach or Guide to help you with social media and other digital ministry tools, take this quick survey and connect  today. 

 

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About Author

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

With about 20 years experience serving the church in the digital/technological realm, Jeff loves working with churches. As passionate about Discipleship as he is Technology, Jeff uses his passion to help Churches develop technology systems to bring people far from God closer to him. Oh, and he loves Digital Church & Church Online.

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