A Facebook Marketing Experiment

One of the people I’m following on Social Media is Bryan Harris, who is absolutely killing it with online marketing and list building.  A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet about how he did a webinar for new people who weren’t on his list.

What would happen if I did a Church Fuel webinar and only promoted it on social media?  Could I reach brand new people and not use our mailing list? So I decided to do a similar experiment last week.

Here were the steps and the results.

  1. I created a simple webinar registration page using Lead Pages.
  2. I created three Facebook ads to promote the webinar.  Two of these ads were targeted to Facebook users in the USA who listed “Pastor” in their job title.  The third ad was targeted to people who had already liked our Church Fuel page.
  3. I spent a total of $343 on Facebook.
  4. 92 people registered for the webinar.
  5. I used Webinar Jam to host the webinar and provided about 60 minutes of helpful content.  For about ten minutes in the middle, I talked about Church Fuel One.
  6. I sent out two follow-up emails using InfusionSoft, one was immediate and the other was the next morning.
  7. Seven people joined the membership program.  That’ seven new leaders we can serve.
  8. $343 in spending equaled $269 in immediate results. That’s a net short-term loss. But when you look at our average customer lifetime value, it’s 5x return on investment.
  9. We also added about 80 new people to our mailing list.
  10. I’m doing the same experiment again this week and changing a couple of variables.  I believe we can do better and continual improvement is one of our core values.

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Here are a few things I learned doing this experiment.

  1. Email marketing is our most effective form of promotion, but it’s smart not to be locked into one channel.  We don’t need to diversify products…we just need to find new ways to keep selling the best one.
  2. I did 100% of this personally. It wasn’t that hard, and part of that is because I was focused.  Something like this could happen every week in our business.
  3. Facebook is a huge opportunity for any small business, non-profit or church.

I’m looking forward to round two of this experiment this week.

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Why You Should Visit Israel

Ten years ago, I took my first trip to the Holy Land, traveling with a small group of young adults to see the places Jesus walked and lived.
Since that first visit, I’ve been two more times.  Once with a group of pastors, and another time with my wife and some friends.
Three trips in all.  Three amazing experiences.
And I’m absolutely convinced every pastor should visit Israel at least once in their life. Maybe this trip with me later this year.
Here are five reasons you should go.
#1 – Your own faith will be strengthened.
There’s a reason many people think of a trip to the Holy Land as a spiritual pilgrimage.
What you’ll see and experience at many of the sites will connect on an emotional level.  Everybody on each trip seems to hear something from God, in a way they didn’t expect.  A trip like this isn’t just about history and archeology, it’s an encounter with Jesus.
#2 – You will understand the bible at a deeper level.
When Mark Batterson from National Community Church in Washington, D.C., went to Israel for the first time, he tweeted, “One revelation from our trip to Israel? I read the Bible wrong! Just knowing the geography adds nuances of meaning. Text + context = aha!”
Bible studies and seminary classes do a wonderful job explaining the Bible.  But when you visit the Holy Land, you will experience the Bible.  You’ll see exactly what Herod the Great constructed and read the Christmas story in a whole new light.  You’ll see the Jezreel Valley and understand why David wrote what he wrote in the Psalms.  You’ll stand on the top of Mount Arbel and overlook the Sea of Galilee, imagining Jesus calming the storm after seeing the disciples in the boat.
#3 – If you’re a preacher or communicator, you’ll preach better.
Your sermons will be seasoned with new information and experiences and quite simply, people will notice.  You’ll be able to explain passages with an extra dose of history, geography, and understanding.  In a way, your experience in the Holy Land can influence everyone in your congregation.
#4 – You’ll understand the relationship between Israel and Palestine a little better. 
You’ll meet people descended from Canaanites, orthodox Jews, Palestinian Christians and Muslims, often living side by side. Experiencing a week in the Holy Land will better equip you to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6)
#5 – You’ll meet new friends, experience new cultures and have a great time. 
Traveling to Israel with a group of people could be one of the most enjoyable trips of your life. The sites, the food, and the conversations will all encourage you.
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Keep the Vision in Front of You

Back in 2011, my wife and I were living in a rental house in Midtown Atlanta and we were ready to move into something bigger.  But a decade in youth ministry followed by six years of church planting didn’t really translate to a lot in the savings account.

Don’t get me wrong, we were blessed and we were fine financially, but if we wanted to move into the neighborhood we wanted, we needed to save some money.  I knew we weren’t going to stop drinking coffee and cutting out cable wasn’t going to reach our goal.  We’d need to earn more.

We made it our goal that year to save a specific amount of money.

This extra money wasn’t going to save itself.  It was going to take a lot of intentionality and daily decisions. So, here’s what we did…

I opened a brand new online savings account ad I hung up a wall calendar on the back of our closet door.

Then we got to work.

My goal was to transfer any extra money we got from our mail checking account into this new savings account.  And to do this every day.

Now most days, I didn’t earn anything extra from my side projects.  So I would just transfer $1 from our general checking account to this new savings account.


But some days were good days and we were able to transfer more.

And at the end of the year (with 13 days to spare), we met the goal.  We had enough money in this new savings account to do what we wanted to do.  I don’t think I’m a financial genius, but I do believe there were some things at work that helped pave the way to success.

  1. We didn’t just have a generic goal; we had a specific vision. If “be a good steward” was the general mission, then “save this specific amount of money” was the specific vision.  Maybe your organization has an important mission that you’re always shooting for.  But you also need a specific and concrete vision for the next couple of years.  Something you’re going to accomplish by a certain date and check it off the list.  What matters NOW in order to get out o what matters MOST?
  2. We literally put the vision in front of us.  It might sound silly, but this wall calendar helped us keep the project in front of us every single day.  Find some way to put something tangible in front of you – an index card on a mirror, a desktop image on your computer, or a calendar on your wall.
  3. There was a plan to support the vision.  We didn’t just hope for extra money; it became a major focus. I created a product and sold it online. I consulted with a few individuals and organizations. And all this was in addition to the day-job.  If you’ve got a big vision, it deserves a big plan.

Whatever you’re trying to do, keep it in front of you every day.

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People I’m Following on Social Media in 2016

Every year, I update my list of people I’m following.  Thought I’d share some of the unusual suspects I’m learning from this year:

  • Aussie Dave – Original photography and amazingly insightful devotions.
  • NASA – Amazing pictures from explorer scientists…absolutely.
  • Daily Overview – These are pictures taken from above.
  • Stephen Brewster – Stephen shares creative inspiration
  • Discover Atlanta – Pictures of my city.  Hopefully, there’s something similar for your city.
  • Billy Ivey – He writes funny notes for his kids lunchbox.  Always funny.
  • Mike Foster – Nothing more encouraging on the Internet than Mike and the People of the Second Chance movement
  • J.R. Lee – a pastor and a friend of mine.
  • Rich Villodas – a pastor in New York, and a great thinker and leader
  • Aussie Dave – Dave is the social media pastor at North Point ministries.
  • Chris Brown – great financial advice from a great leader
  • Barnabus Piper – great leads on books and a great source of information
  • Nils Smith – social media tips and strategies
  • Bob Goff – one of the most encouraging and helpful people you can follow on Twitter.
  • Bryan Harris – a Nashville entrepreneur who shares so much great information
  • Jason Fried – author of ReWork and Remote and co-founder of Basecamp, my favorite software tool
  • Carey Nieuwhof – Carey is a friend and has one of the best leadership podcasts out there.  His guests are top-notch.
  • Stuff You Should Know – I love learning and these guys are funny and entertaining in the process
  • Planet Money – great stories told really well.
  • Fizzle – These guys are entrepreneurs and have some great information on being a creative entrepreneur
  • The Distance – profiles of businesses who have been around for a really long time
  • Scott Berkun – Scott is an author and a speaker, great stuff here.
  • The 99 Percent – insights on how to make ideas happen.
  • Quick Sprout – if you’re into online marketing or business growth, Neil Patel puts together some of the most practical information you’ll find.
  • Future Fundraising Now – Marc Pittman writes about fundraising and fundraising mistakes.
  • Thom Rainer – Thom is the CEO of Lifeway and gives a lot of ideas and training to pastors and church leaders on his blog.
  • The Story of Telling – Bernadette Jiwa’s blog on marketing, storytelling and communication is fantastic.
  • Paul Sohn – Paul is a young leader and a great writer.
  • The Buffer Blog – Buffer puts out amazing content on social media and business.  These posts are regularly saved and shared.

That’s not an exhaustive list, but those are some people and organizations I’m following right now.

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What We Did in 2015

I’m a little late to the 2015 in review post, but I wanted to share some thoughts on the first full year of business at Church Fuel.  We started this company last year to provide insanely practical resources to pastors and church leaders, and I’m really thankful for being able to help so many people.

As I look back on 2015, we had a lot to be thankful for.

  1. We released three online courses. The Systems Course helped pastors create and implement key systems in their church. We started with this because we know that systems actually lead to life and growth.  Then we released a course on digital outreach called Content Marketing for Churches.  Finally, our third online course called Breaking 200 to help pastors Break the 200 Barrier.  All three courses will open up again in 2016, and the Systems Course will be all-new.
  2. We also released two resources.  Church Docs is a collection of 25 useful documents, spreadsheets and flowcharts.  These all-new documents have already helped hundreds of churches get organized.  And Church Forms is a collection of six evaluation forms. Churches are using them to evaluate services, ministries and team members.

All in all, we served more than 700 pastors with some type of paid resources. But we also built a membership program that releases in early 2016 called Church Fuel One.  This is the program I imagined when we started Church Fuel and I’m so excited how it turned out.  We’ll still offer courses and resources, but this membership program is going to be the starting point for pastors.

In addition to that paid content, we also released a bunch of free resources.  Some of my favorites were:

These resources have been downloaded by thousands and thousands of churches – from big to small, urban to rural, and across dozens of denominations.

We also published dozens of articles on our blog.  Some of the most popular articles were:

Finally, we started a weekly newsletter called FireStarter and it grew to more than 5,000 readers. Every Thursday, we send one church growth idea and one picture to help you see what other churches are doing well.  If you want to get that helpful newsletter, sign up here.

2015 was great, and I’m really looking forward to a great 2016.

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