Next in a series of posts featuring the winners of the 2023 Christian Authors Network (CAN) Excellence in Marketing Awards. Lee Ann Mancini won second place in the fiction Web Presence category and describes her activities here.

The 2024 marketing awards will open in November 2023. CAN members, please be thinking of how you can enter the awards. See the guidelines at

Creating an Award-Winning Web Presence

by Lee Ann Mancini

Raising Christian Kids

Raising Christian Kids

Digital marketing is an integral, crucial tool for the successful growth and development of business today. With society’s intensifying reliance on technology for everything from ordering dinner via Uber Eats to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, strategic digital communication is no longer optional.  It is essential in order to expand brand presence, engage with audiences, and generate revenue. For Christian businesses and entrepreneurs, effectively marketing in the secular online world can be especially difficult – but far from impossible.

Our Easter Campaign – Goal, Strategy, Tactics, and Results

When we launched our Sea Kids Easter campaign, our immediate objective was not sales. We aimed to get our books in front of families who wanted to teach their little ones the importance of what Christ did for us.  We used our book, God’s Easter Miracles, as our central advertising piece.  We showcased it in every ad as the perfect tool for parents to use to teach their children what Easter was really about. Our goal was to generate impressions and engagement.

After 46 days of running our Easter campaign, we were blown away by the results – and we had only targeted half of the country (15 cities/counties).  We reached 327,354 people and received over 14,000 comments and shares – many of whom we were thrilled to speak with about the book, our Sea Kids book series, and our company.

Targeting such a large audience was no easy feat.  It required much time, patience, and reliance on what we had learned from prior ad campaigns about what ads worked with which audiences. And we were learning, adjusting, and tweaking every day throughout this promotion.

How did we segment our audiences? We created four ads, with each having two variations.  These ads were pushed to eight unique audience groups.  As we moved through the campaign, we shut down ads where engagement declined or became stagnant. This ensured that our advertising dollars went to the audiences who were receptive to the ads. This helped create a massive amount of momentum among our followers!

A Big Bump in the Road

Ultimately, we ran our top three ads for the entirety of the campaign. Unfortunately, during this time, Facebook decided to ban the use of religious words and affiliations when targeting specific audiences. Of course, this had a huge negative impact on how all our ads performed.  But we persevered, making adjustments that enabled us to overcome this problem. When all was said and done, we had reached over 300,000 people – a wonderful surprise!

What I Enjoyed Most About This Campaign

Marketing can be exciting, frustrating, educational, overwhelming, defeating, and brilliantly successful.  But for me it is fun, too.  This time was no different.  I had two “favorite moments” about the Sea Kids Easter campaign.

First was creating the ad designs. Taking a thought or idea and turning it into a legitimate concept that eventually becomes the picture that expresses precisely what you want your audience to understand is such a gratifying process.  We used professional photography to capture real moments of kids with our products. In the ads, we included pages of our Easter book, used Easter-themed props, our products in the background, and photos of children reading through the Easter book.

Second was learning how our ads made others feel. So many people expressed that they loved the message in the books, the photography in the ads, and our mission to empower parents with the tools to spiritually nurture their children.  It felt “surreal” to learn how we had touched so many hearts across the nation.  This was truly the ultimate ROI for us – reaching families and hearing their testimonies about our books.

Tips Before Launching Your Campaign

Marketing online can be expensive, tedious and cumbersome, with many moving parts.  But if there’s anything I want someone reading this to walk away with, I offer these four pieces of advice to follow before launching a campaign:

  1. Know your target audience. If you do not really understand who your target audience is, you will miss out on one of the most important aspects of online advertising. Paint a visual picture and then describe – in writing for yourself – who is your “best customer.” Then you can branch out from there. Our best customer target is busy moms and grandparents.
  2. Find your target audience. Do your “due diligence” and research where your best customer is.  We searched for the most Christian states, cities, counties, etc., and cross referenced them across multiple websites. We also looked at the largest churches and Christian preschools/elementary schools. This was crucial to finding our audiences in Facebook’s Ad Manager.
  3. Separate your audiences. Dig deep. This means, instead of targeting, say, all busy moms and grandparents in one audience, split them up. Busy moms and grandparents will not have the same interests, life experience, or disposable income.  Having too broad of an audience often means you have no real audience at all.  We segment our audiences by age and location.
  4. Create multiple graphics for each audience. Not everyone responds to the same thing the same way. Some audiences will react to certain ads better than others. Facebook gives you numbers for comparison.  You can turn off those ads/graphics that are not performing as well. When you shut off an ineffective ad, you are then funneling your budget into the stronger ads.
Lee Ann Mancini

Lee Ann Mancini

Online marketing does not need to feel scary! I hope some of our strategies and tips will resonate with and help anyone planning to dive into the digital marketing realm. Above all, seek wise advice, trust God, and enjoy the journey.

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