Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bay Area marketing campaign data

This post has me with my "regional marketing gUUerilla" hat on (rather than UUA Board member), a group I have been chairing for the past four years that has about 10 people from 8 different congregations working on low or no cost ways to keep our faith visible in the Bay Area. I spent the last two days in various meetings and workshops with Valerie Holton, UUA Marketing Director, including highlights of the 2007 Bay Area marketing campaign, which I share below.

There were five objectives for this $300,000 media campaign:

Build brand awareness of Unitarian Universalism
Increase visitor attendance at local UU congregations, [resulting in]
Increased membership
Build excitement and pride among Bay Area UUs
Build a sense of UU community among Bay Area congregations

The campaign used a "media mix" of TV, BART ads, newspaper ads and inserts, radio, direct mail, and the Internet. The "call to action" in almost all the media was to go to the website, which we hoped would connect them to one of our congregations that they would then visit. That meant we could track results through web hits during the campaign and visitors who walked through the doors. We also attempted to track new members, but converting visitors to new members was up to the congregations rather than the campaign.

Over 5000 unique visitors went to the uuba website in the 90 days that covered most of the campaign. This was more than 3 times the average daily traffic before the campaign started. 1127 visitors filled out registration cards in our 17 congregations between September 16 and January 6 (though that data is short about 30 weekly reports from congregations that did not consistently report). We do not know how that compares to "normal" visitors as most of our congregations were not counting visitors the previous fall, but we do know that 236 of these visitors specifically cited the marketing as what brought them to the congregation. We also know that more than 322 people joined in the Bay Area (data missing from 2 of the 17 congregations) the 12 months following the start of the campaign, though we don't know how that compared with the year before. You can download Valerie's complete report from the UUA website.

Ahh, the tyranny of incomplete data! Not to mention the hassle of trying to get congregations to actually report it. I understand that we are all volunteers, and have different priorities, but it does make simple questions hard to answer.

Was the campaign a success? It certainly increased web traffic, visitors, and (probably) members. There is a stronger sense of congregations working together, and I heard a lot of positive comments from UU members who saw the ads.

It was not the silver bullet many of us hoped for, with the Bay Area an expensive market that is not exactly pre-disposed to go to church. If we did it today, we would probably do more with less traditional media, though no one really knows quite how to do that yet. Valerie and I met with two agencies in San Frnacisco on Friday that have some interesting approaches.

Speaking as a donor, I am glad we had the financial commitment from over 600 people in the Bay Area that allowed us to try - and that we did. I'd love to see your opinion in the survey on the right.


Robin Edgar said...

"but we do know that 236 of these visitors specifically cited the marketing as what brought them to the congregation."

$300,000 divide by 236 visitors who claim to have responded to that marketing effort comes to $1271 per visitor. . . How many of the 322 people who actually joined did so due to the marketing effort is likely to be significantly less than the 236 visitors who indicated that they visited because of the ad campaign.

Linda Laskowski said...

If you look at the objectives again, you will see this campaign was about a lot more than money. But if you want to stick to financial return, bear in mind that the lifetime dollar value (net present value) of a pledging member is somewhere over $20,000 in pledge payments alone -- not including time or other contributions, let alone the value of knowing they are not alone.

Do the math.

Anonymous said...


Ask Chuck or Cilla for the PCD membership totals for 2006 through 2009. My calculations show:

2006 PCD Total: 6827
2007 PCD Total: 6758 down 69
2008 PCD Total: 6700 down 58
2009 PCD Total: 6558 down 142

If you look at the details by Church/Fellowship the large congregations are generally down and the small congregations are generally up a wee bit. Many north bay area congregations (Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, Marin) went significantly down in membership during this period.

Overall it seems as if the $300,000 spent was not a success in terms of congregation growth in the Bay Area or PCD.

Perhaps grants to individual congregations would be a better use of funds for growth.

A South Bay UU

Anonymous said...

Advertising needs to be a sustained effort over a long time and needs to be positive. Not: hey, you hate God. Come to our church.