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Unpacking the stewardship day 2015, what I learned

If you missed the 2015 Stewardship Day, we certainly missed you! It was a remarkable day with record attendance of over 275 people! The day was electric and a total blast.

My goal for 2015 was to increase attendance by 20% which was exceeded. To get different results, I tried different things with marketing and digital media. Here is what I learned that can benefit your parish events. Keep in mind, I wanted different results so I was much more aggressive about trying things that might fail.

  • First, I went to the Diocesan Bulletin Corner on the diocesan website to submit a "save the date" bulletin announcement for all bulletin editors in the diocese. I asked editors to run the announcement for a month early in the spring. It's free and can be in each bulletin in the diocese. Click here to see the Bulletin Corner.
  • Second, I create an email campaign of six emails going to my email list of 245 subscribers. I use as my bulk mail service. Each message was crafted with language to created interest, emotion and scarcity. All six emails are below with descriptions for the use of each message. I used six messages as internet marketers recommend this type of system when selling an idea or product.

Email #1 - Designed as a point of first contact. "Hey something is coming up".

Email #2 - Just as the first sentence indicates... "Just in case you missed the first message..." The chances of your message being filtered into junk mail or being missed all together is pretty high. A second contact affirms the first message.

Email #3 - The third message is totally designed to address reasons people would say "no". The biggest reason people turn down great events at our churches is time. I don't have time or, I can't stay all day. I addressed both roadblocks in this message as well as build anticipation.

Email #4 - This message serves two purposes; continue building anticipation and provide social proof. People eat at restaurants with crowded parking lots. A crowded parking tells us "that restaurant must be good". Amazon reviews, Youtube views and Facebook likes provide the same social proof. I created social proof by using comments from past conference evaluations to show readers that this conference provides value and is the place to be.

Email #5 - In this email I introduce scarcity. I wanted to readers to make a decision and telling them the deadline is coming up is one way to produce scarcity. I also reinforce the value of the conference by promoting the topics again.

Email #6 - This email is the final call to action and to let readers know that registration is closing.

Did the campaign work? I cannot tell who registered as a result of the email directly. What Mailchimp can tell me is approximately 25% or 61 people opened the messages on average. I placed links inside the messages in several places and the click through rate was 3.6% or 6 people on average clicked the link for more information. I received more feedback on this campaign than most marketing I've done to date. The first four messages scheduled a week apart on Wednesdays at times MailChimp told me the message would most likely be read. Messages 5 and 6 were scheduled on the final day of registration. One early afternoon and the final message #6 at 8 PM that evening.

  • Dave Myers, writer for the Southwest Kansas Catholic created a great ad that ran in the Diocesan newspaper.
  • A short promotional video was created in June and placed on the diocesan Youtube channel. This video also went out in a teaser email, was place on the stewardship website, and ran in the monthly notes for all priests to see. The video received 199 views.
  • A targeted Facebook Add was ran for seven days. Why an add? Organic reach for Facebook Pages, such as the Diocese facebook page, no longer works. Plus, I wanted to target a specific group of people which Facebook is excellent for. The target groups was women, 30-55 who lived within a 25 mile radius of towns in our Diocese. That gave me the very good coverage. I would have selected Catholic women but that only works if a person identifies their self as Catholic. In my research I did not find a Catholic identifier among women I know to be Catholic. I excluded men as women have greater attendance than men.

Did the ad work? Well, sort of. I accomplished one goal which was to get the Conference information in front of more eyes. Mission accomplished. I know 216 people interacted with the add. There were Likes and Shares which helps the message spread organically (no cost)...Bonus. My present technology limits my ability to see who clicked through and landed on the registration page. A Facebook tracking pixel embedded on our website would allow me to see how many people clicked through. But, I started the process late and had no time to figure how to do it.

  • A Facebook event was created the same day the Add went live. They are two separate things. The event will go into the newsfeed of all the people who "like" the Page. Four people responded that would attend. What is nice about an event is I can see who responds which is a great way to track and see what works.

Did the Facebook event work? Not really but it didn't hurt. It was free and simple to create. Plus, it did create a bit of awareness and reinforced all the other marketing efforts.

  • Annually I send out an invitation from Bishop and trifold brochure for the conference to approximately 3,000 people I have in a data base. This process is 100% frustrating as most of this mail goes in the trash IMO. This year I worked with Coleen Stein to rework this piece. I chose to make an 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" post card using heavy card stock that used feminine language and more images. The goal was to present the day as a relaxing journey oriented to appeal to our target audience. The art work for the post card was created at

Did the postcard work? I really have no way of knowing. Although, I did not have 6,000 sheets of paper folded and 3,000 envelopes stuffed. My attitude was much better. Win for me. Effectiveness questionable...

Did it work? Win. Win. The take away here is to give people a bit of ownership in an event and they will naturally spread the event around.

A few statistics from the evaluations. I asked "How did you hear about the conference?" on the evaluation. I forgot to mention to the audience I wanted them to fill out the evaluation plus this specific question. The results are not representative but still interesting.

Number of people who responded: 22 of 275+
Email Bulletin Facebook Priest Youtube Family Friend Postcard
19 16 1 3 0 2 1 1


Where do we go from here? I took time to post this for ministers in this Diocese to see what can/could work in your parish. If you have any questions about the practices I used, please post a comment in the comment box. I am happy to elaborate. One thing to keep in mind as you consider all this content, not everything here will work for you. Some practices may be wrong for marketing your events or ideas. But please consider what could be tried to expand your efforts.

Peace, Eric

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