Market Research for Churches: A Beginner’s Guide

confused church marketers

The most common mistake churches make online.

Suppose you start doing online campaigns without market research for churches. In that case, you may not be able to connect with members in the best possible way.

Without market research, the church won’t have a good idea of what its members want or need, and they may be unable to provide the right programs or services. This could lead to low engagement and participation levels and cause members to leave the church.

For example, suppose a church offers online Bible studies without doing market research first.

In that case, they may not know if their members are interested in online Bible studies or prefer in-person studies. Without knowing this information, the church may offer a program that isn’t very popular and may not meet its members’ needs.

This could lead to low participation and engagement and cause members to become disinterested or disengaged from the church.

On the other hand, if a church does market research, they can learn more about what their members want and need and tailor their online campaigns to better meet those needs.

By doing market research, the church can get a better idea of what their members like and don’t like and can use that information to create programs and services that are more likely to be successful. This can lead to higher engagement, participation, and overall satisfaction among members.

Overview of Market Research for Churches

market research for churches

Market researchers look at many different things to learn about the church community, which can take a while. However, even if you only look at one area, you can know much about what your members need and want and how to improve things.

It’s important to remember that even if a church already knows a lot about its members, doing market research can help the church learn more about what they want and need, and that can help the church make better decisions about how to serve them.

You can make good decisions based on your experience and what your members have told you, but remember that other churches might be doing similar things. Looking at a more extensive group can give you a better idea of what your members want.

Finally, the market research services market is expected to grow to around 90.79 billion by 2025, which means more and more people are interested in learning about what their members want and need.

Why Should Churches Do Market Research?

Market research helps churches understand what their members need and want so that they can better serve them. It’s like asking your friends what they like or doesn’t like about going to church.

By doing this, churches can make their services, events, and activities more appealing to their members.

The market research also helps churches learn about different things that can impact the church’s success, including:

  • Where their members go to learn about church-related things,
  • What other churches their members might be interested in attending
  • What is popular or trending in the church community
  • What kind of people go to church, and what might they be struggling with
  • What makes people want to attend church
  • What people think about different aspects of the church, like the sermons, music, or community events
  • Whether there’s interest in new church initiatives or programs
  • What do people think about donations or fees associated with attending church

By doing market research, churches can get information from a larger group of their members, and this helps them make better decisions about what their members need and want. This makes it easier for churches to serve their members in the best possible way!

Types of Market Research

There are two main types of market research that churches can use to learn about their members: primary research and secondary research.

Primary Research

Primary research is when the church talks to its members to learn more about them. There are two types of primary research: exploratory analysis and specific research.

Exploratory Primary Research

It is when the church talks to a small group of people to learn about potential problems. This kind of research usually happens first and is used to help the church figure out what questions to ask next.

The church might ask people about their experiences with the church, what they like about it, and what could be improved. The answers to these questions can help the church figure out what it needs to investigate further.

Conducting surveys with a small
group of new members to learn
about their experience with the church.
It helps the church understand what new members like and what they think could be improved.
Holding focus groups with existing members to get feedback on specific programs or services.
Provides insights into what members find valuable and what they think could be changed or improved
Conducting one-on-one interviews with members to learn about their spiritual journey and how the church can better support themIt helps the church better understand the needs and challenges of individual members and how it can provide more personalized support.

Specific Primary Research

Specific research is when the church talks to a smaller group of people to learn about a problem they’ve already identified. This research is more focused and can help the church figure out what changes it needs to make to solve a specific problem.

Surveying with members who have children to learn about their needs for childcare during church servicesIt helps the church better understand the needs of families and develop programs and services that cater to those needs.
Holding a focus group with members involved in a specific ministry to get feedback on how to improve that ministry.Provides insights into the challenges and opportunities of that ministry and how the church can better support it.
Conducting interviews with members who have left the church to learn about their reasons for leavingIt helps the church better understand why some members might leave and what it can do to address those issues.

Secondary Research

Secondary research is when the church uses data and public records to learn about its members. 

There are three types of secondary research: 

  1. public sources, 
  2. commercial sources, 
  3. internal sources.

Public Sources

Public sources are accessible and easy to find, like government statistics. The church can use these sources to learn more about its members, such as their age, income, and occupation. This information can help the church determine what kinds of services and programs to offer. 

Finding out how many people in the
area are church members using public data from the government
It helps the church understand the size of its community and how it can better serve its members.
Using census data to determine how
many children live in the area, their
age range, and how many
attend school.
It can help the church develop programs and services for children and families tailored to their needs and preferences.
Looking at data on the average income
in the area to determine what types of financial support programs or resources might be most helpful to members
Provides insight into members’ financial needs and challenges. It can help the church offer more targeted support.

Commercial Sources

Commercial sources cost money, but they give information on industry insight. These sources often come in market reports, consisting of industry insight compiled by a research agency like Pew, Gartner, or Forrester. 

The church can use these reports to learn more about trends and changes in the church and religious industry. 

Purchasing a report from a research agency that looks at trends in religious practices and attendanceIt provides the church with valuable insight into how people practice their faith and how it might need to adapt to meet changing needs.
Using a market report to learn about
new technologies or practices that
other churches are adopting
Allows the church to learn from the experiences of others and stay current with new developments in the industry
Purchasing a report on changes in
church attendance or membership numbers over the last few years
It helps the church better understand how it fits into the larger religious landscape and identify areas where it might need to focus its efforts to attract and retain members.

Internal Sources

Internal sources are data the church already has, like customer retention rates. This is the market data your organization already has! 

The church can use this data to learn more about its members and what they like and don’t like about the church. 

Analyzing data on member attendance
at various events over time
Helps the church identify which events are most popular and which might need to be reevaluated or adjusted to meet better the needs of members
Looking at data on how often members donate money or volunteer their timeProvides insight into members’ level of engagement and what might motivate them to become more involved in the church
Examining data on feedback received
from members through surveys or other means
It gives the church a better understanding of what members like and don’t like about the church and what changes they might want to see in the future.
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