Marketing Ministries through Video

We had the privilege to spend several months working with a local nonprofit on an exciting video series project.  The project included 5 videos; a full-length production video, a motion graphics video, and a 3-part video series for their Annual Fundraising Gala.  Here is a sneak peek of a couple of these videos, and why/how we put them together for this deserving client.

9-year-old Creativity

Our team recently came across this story and it captured our attention.  The video begins with a 9-year-old named Caine who creatively used old boxes from his dad’s auto parts shop to create a cardboard arcade, and ends with..well, we won’t wreck it for you; watch and see.

The freedom young people experience to be creative, and their interest in trying new things to go beyond what has been done before….may we adults follow suit.  This limitless pursuit of passion and creativity is how great things are accomplished!


This also highlights for us (once more) the power of story through video.  It wasn’t until a filmmaker happened to discover Caine’s arcade that his story got the attention and applause it deserved.

Interested in having a video tell your story?  Start here.

Full Circle with Circle Urban

Circle Urban is a nonprofit ministry located in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago.  Every year they host an event called Summertime, an uplifting performance by urban youth expressing the complicated choices of growing up in the city.  The performance is a blend of spoken word, dance, acrobatics, and music, and follows a young person as they walk through various relationships and experiences, exploring their deeply rooted struggles and realities, and learn what it means to choose well.

We were asked to script and develop a video that would promote this important event for Circle Urban, and “tell the story” of the making behind this production.  After days of scripting and shooting, the video was complete.  The highlight was watching it with the kids for the first time!  “I feel like a celebrity,” one said.  The real life stories of the students who contribute to the performance are so much more powerful than any story we could script or develop.  It was refreshing and humbling working with these awesome kids!

Check out the finished product below.

Our videographer gained a new little “apprentice”

Circle Urban Kids

Summertime Rehearsal



Want our team to create an awesome video for your organization? Start by visiting our Services page, viewing our Video Portfolio, or Contacting Us.

Nonprofit Mobile App Trends & Uses

The following post is an adaptation of a presentation, How Mobile is Changing Content and What it Means for Businesses and Nonprofits, given by Luminate Marketing at the 2011 Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago.

Mobile Marketing Today

Smart Phone Growth

comScore’s data shows US 53% YoY smartphone growth in the US

Marketing bloggers and observers have been predicting and proclaiming “the year of mobile” for years. Let’s step back from predictions and look at what’s happening now in mobile marketing and how we can make the most of it.

The reality is, we’ve seen mobile marketing help our clients immensely and really get them on the map. No small part of this has been the accelerated adoption of smartphone technology. Currently, 37% of US mobile phone users own a smart phone — nearly 90 million users. Regardless of if we’ve seen the year of mobile or if it’s still in the future, these numbers present a real opportunity, now.

Browser and Application Use

Among smartphone users, comScore finds 90% of users use browsers or apps

5 Impacts of Mobile Technology

Mobile technology has certainly made its impact on the marketing industry. For businesses and nonprofits alike, we are seeing

  1. Localization
    Search on mobile is increasingly local; mobile devices allow for a more relevant content experience including check-ins for businesses and location-based searches for nearby services for nonprofits.
  2. Immediacy
    We now have the ability to provide timely content, that otherwise would be less valuable if you had to wait for user to get back to desktop. For business – offerings like Groupon Now, deals you can use in the next two hours; for nonprofits informing donors of immediate needs for resources, volunteers, etc.
  3. Sharability
    Content served in the mobile environment have an incredible opportunity to be shared with users’ networks. Mobile devices have become a hub for social sharing, and that’s not industry or sector specific.
  4. Media Mobility
    We now have the ability to create and view nearly all media from just about anywhere.  See below for a more detailed look at this impact.
  5. Divergent Platforms
    With the previous 4 positive impacts comes this challenge. Marketers have to account for variability in users’ devices and feature compatibility. We have to decide which platform and which feautres are most important to our users and constituents and prioritize development. We can’t provide everyone with everything.

Media Mobility, the Center of it All

The mobility of media is at the center of all of these. Without content to distribute immediately that’s worthy of sharing, location-aware, and optimized for our chosen platform(s), the entire process would be sunk. Specially let’s look at the overlap between the two sectors Luminate Marketing works in, the nonprofit and for-profit, and what businesses can learn from nonprofits taking advantage of mobile marketing today.

Paid Search Marketing 101: Part 3 of 3

This is the third post in a three-part series, Search Engine Marketing 101. If you haven’t already, read Part 1, Fundamentals of Search Engine Marketing and Part 2, Search Engine Optimization.

Introduction to Paid Search

SEM 101: Paid SearchPay-per-click (PPC) advertising is often more flexible and straightforward than SEO. In PPC advertising, you are bidding for the ability to run ads for certain keywords. Search engines identify keywords from users search queries and other data and display ads with the highest combination of bids and quality scores (a 1-10 scoring of competitiveness). Impressions are tracked, but only clicks are paid for. (There is a great infographic here that goes into much more detail)

Paid search gives you much greater control over the content displayed on the SERP and may be used to supplement exposure for keywords which are low-ranking in organic results – due to competitiveness or priority. PPC programs allow you to choose which keywords to bid on, craft your own ads, and choose which page searchers will be shown after clicking on an ad. As with SEO, PPC can become very complex at a professional level, but these fundamental best practices will help build a strong foundation:

  • Learn the difference between broad, phrase, and exact match types for keywords. Google has a great explanation here.
  • Use a keyword tool to build a keyword list and group similar keywords. Google’s keyword tool
  • Use keywords in ad copy
  • Make a compelling calls-to-action in your ads
  • Review costs, quality score, and click-through rates regularly and make adjustments

Take your ads to the next level and try

  • Dynamic keyword insertion
  • Ad extensions
  • Remarketing campaigns

You can Do It!

Search engine marketing is an incredibly effective tool to have in your online marketing arsenal. With a basic understanding of what the moving parts are and how they work together, you are well on your way to success in search engine marketing.

Still need help getting started? Start with our Services page or Contact Us.  We offer a whole host of SEM Services for churches, nonprofits, startups, and small businesses.

Paid Search Marketing 101: Part 2 of 3

This is the second post in a three-part series Search Engine Marketing 101. If you haven’t already, read Part 1, Fundamentals of Search Engine MarketingStay tuned for upcoming posts on Paid Search. (Subscribe to the RSS Feed)

Search Engine Optimization

SEO 101SEO is often seen as the black magic of online marketing; instead of toad’s wart and ox tail, marketers use keywords and inbound links to somehow move pages around in Google’s SERP (save the toad’s wart and ox tail for calculating social media ROI). However, as complicated as it may be at the expert level, the fundamental goal of SEO is to give search engines clear, consistent, and trustworthy signals on what your website or webpage is all about.

Within the vast array of ranking factors (there are hundreds), there are several that are quite effective and very much accessible to the every-day online marketer.

  • URLs – Use real words in URLs. Avoid URLs like
  • Title Tags – Use clear, concise titles for pages on your website with targeted keywords incorporated into them.
  • Use targeted keywords throughout the copy as well as in
    • H1 headers
    • Images’ “alt” text
  • Build Inbound Links – Inbound links to a website or webpage indicate to search engines that other people think it’s important/relevant too.

     Before you do anything that feels like a shortcut, ask yourself it is primarily providing relevant, valuable content to searchers (hint: paid link services rarely do).

You can Do It!

Search engine marketing is an incredibly effective tool to have in your online marketing arsenal. With a basic understanding of what the moving parts are and how they work together, you are well on your way to success in search engine marketing.

Need help getting started? No problem.  Check out our Services page, Work page, or Contact Us.

Paid Search Marketing 101: Part 1 of 3

This is the first in a three-part series 
Search Engine Marketing 101. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on Search Engine Optimization and Paid Search. (Subscribe to the RSS Feed)

Search engine marketing (SEM) can be a daunting and confusing world. Much like the workings of an old watch, the variety of moving parts and complexity of their relationships can leave newcomers overwhelmed. To make matters worse, search engines reveal only certain aspects of their proprietary ranking and bidding algorithms, limiting many aspects of SEM to theories or educated guesses, about which there is often much debate.

Let’s look at some fundamentals of search engine marketing that will start you in the right direction.

Who’s Who, What’s What

Straightforward definitions of common terms

Search Query – Text the searcher enters into a search box

SERP – Search Engine Results Page; the page displayed by search engines with results for the search query

Organic Results – Listings on the SERP, which are a result of non-paid data collected by the search engine (both on a site and across the web)

SEO – Search Engine Optimization; the practice of tailoring a website’s content and data to gain higher positioning on the SERP.

Paid Search – Listings on the SERP whose placement has been purchased. Often designated by different background color and/or “Ads” or “Sponsored Results.”

PPC – Pay Per Click; the most common form of paid search results. Advertisers only pay for an ad when it’s clicked on.

Keyword – A term or phrase targeted by SEO practices or paid search bids

If it’s Too Good to be True

When starting with SEM, it’s tempting to find the quickest and easiest way to better rankings or click rates. But don’t forget that the primary goal of every search engine is to provide searchers with the most relevant results possible (after all, better results mean more searches, which means you and I will pay more to be in their results). So before you do anything that feels like a shortcut in SEM, ask yourself it is primarily providing relevant, valuable content to searchers. If not, you may succeed temporarily but be warned, search engines have become very good at identifying these shortcuts and penalizing offending sites.

You can Do It!

Search engine marketing is an incredibly effective tool to have in your online marketing arsenal. With a basic understanding of what the moving parts are and how they work together, you are well on your way to success in search engine marketing.


5 Tips for Church Email Marketing

Email marketing can be a great tool for your church to retain and reach out to congregants.  Most people either personally or professionally, or both, have an email address that allows you to stay in touch with them throughout the week in between services and gatherings.  Many churches are familiar with the practice of sending regular newsletters, but if you’ve never ventured into email marketing (or need a little refresher) here are a few tips to get you on your way:

  1. Determine Your Goals
    Sit down as a church leadership team and determine the goals you have for email marketing as a church.  Are you looking to retain existing members and stay in touch with them throughout the week?  Will you have an email signup on your church website?  Will it be important for each ministry to have its own email design or list database?  Establishing goals will help you get a handle on how you want to best utilize email, and why.
  2. Choose an Email Provider
    There’s no shortage of email service providers (ESPs) out there – and many of them are decent.  How do you decide which is right for your church?  Here are a few points to consider:

    1. Usability – First and foremost, you’ll need to be comfortable using whichever ESP you choose.  Spend some time with a few before you commit or feel free to ask us for recommendations.
    2. Cost – Many ESPs offer free plans for churches and nonprofits, but be sure you have room to grow and that any costs you may incur will be within budget.
    3. Website Integration – Minimally, you’ll most likely want to include a subscription form (for people to add themselves to your email newsletter list) on your website.  Many ESPs provide direct integration with common web platforms like WordPress; consider which providers will work best with yours, both for signups and performance tracking.
    4. Deliverability – Review the deliverability rates each ESP advertises and how they intend to continue improving and adapting.
    5. Customer Service – Issues arise from time to time.  How will the ESP handle technical issues?  What kind of knowledge bases and help forums do they have available?  Simple test: we call the vendor to see if we can get a human 🙂  It’s also a good idea to check out reviews online.
  3. Design Your Email

    Based on what you’ve found in your research on engaging content, design your email template to make the most of the content you’ll be sending. Consider including links to social media accounts, your blog, service pages, donation forms, volunteer signups, etc.

  4. Get Subscribers

    Include a signup page on your website, promote your newsletter in social media channels, and offer newsletter signup on donor and volunteer forms. Remember those engaging blog posts you identified? Let your blog readers know they can get even more by subscribing to your newsletter!

  5. Go for it!

    There’s a lot you can do to plan and prepare for a successful email campaign (this post is only scratching the surface), but in the end nothing is more valuable than getting started and testing live campaigns. If your ESP offers A/B testing, take advantage of it – test subject lines, featuring different content, and variations in content length.

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