Email is one of the easiest ways for churches to connect with members and new visitors. Nearly everyone in you church has at least one personal email account that they use on a regular basis. Email provides a way to streamline communication with your church, and is typically free or inexpensive, especially for small churches. If your church is using email without any type of strategy, you may not be using email to its greatest potential.
Here are 5 reasons you need a church email marketing strategy.
- Easy and inexpensive: Email is relatively easy to manage. Use email to quickly communicate with your church members the information they need to know without having to spend time printing or emailing direct mail. The timeliness of email is key. It’s also inexpensive to use an email marketing service to help you automate your strategy.
- Controllable: Email is more controllable than any other digital platform. With social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, your content may not be shared with every person. You’re dependent on the algorithm and how the platform operates. With email, you can send to your list and it’s pretty much guaranteed your recipients will receive the email. Email is a great tool to use alongside your social media strategy, especially for information that’s really important for people to know.
- Easy to get email addresses: Email addresses are easy to collect. Plus, an email marketing service helps you manage the emails you have to maximize opens and engagement. People (especially those in younger demographics) are much more likely to give you their email address than their physical address or phone number. Email is less invasive and helps start the conversation with new visitors.
- Measurable: Email marketing is data-driven and measurable. With an email marketing solution, you can measure opens and clicks, as well as figure out the best time to send your emails to maximize open rates.
- Segmentation: Email gives you the opportunity to segment, or send emails to specific groups of people. When people opt-in to your email list, they can select which emails they want to receive. This helps your recipients receive relevant content rather than information that may not matter to them.
So, now that you know why you need a church email marketing strategy, what do you actually need to do to execute that strategy?
Establish a Purpose
The best place to start with an email marketing strategy is to define the purpose of your strategy. Determine what messages will be sent through email, which will be on the website and what messages will be posted on social media. There may be some overlap, but it is key to identify what you want to say through email, how frequently and to whom.
You want to make sure your email content is simple and easy to digest. Remember, a majority of your email readers will open their emails on a mobile device. You’ll want to make sure your emails are mobile optimized, or easy to read on mobile, and clear and to the point. Your weekly emails are not the place to write a novel, as most readers will skim the content. Keep it short, sweet, informative, and to the point.
Some examples of emails you can send in your church emails are weekly newsletters with upcoming events and announcements, weekly prayer request lists, one time announcements like canceled events or services, and ministry-specific news.
Automate your Email Strategy
Gone are the days of manually adding new emails from connect cards each week to your Gmail list and bcc’ing your audience. Using an email marketing solution offers the convenience, manageability, and measurement tools your church email marketing strategy needs.
There are lots of affordable options your church can use to automate your email marketing like MailChimp, AWeber, SendinBlue, and Constant Contact. We really like MailChimp because of its ease of use (plus it’s free if you have less than 2,000 emails on your list).
Most email marketing solutions will come with templates your church can use to easily build well designed, professional emails. Plus, the automation aspect of email marketing helps you save time by scheduling emails in advance. Finally, most email marketing solutions will have options to add a “Subscribe to our emails” button you can add to your website. This makes it easy for members to get added to your email lists. Social Reach Websites already has this function built into the platform.
One of the best ways to use an automated email solution is to set up automated follow-up campaigns. These are email series or “drips” that are automatically sent when someone adds their email to a specific list. You can easily welcome new guests to your church with follow up campaigns. You can easily welcome new guests to your church, thank them for visiting, provide ways for them to get involved, and invite them to come back. The best part is, you can set the campaigns to be automatic so you don’t even have to think about it!
Build Your List
Now that you’ve got a strategy, it’s time to start building your list of contacts. Some ways you can collect email addresses are through website subscription plugins and contact cards (print and digital). Be clear about why you are asking for emails. People can be skeptical that you’ll send too many emails and become “spammy.” Let your congregation know on your website, on contact cards, and from stage that you simply want to keep everyone in the know.
Keep in mind regulations about email opt-ins and acquiring email addresses with permission. Updates in the EU concerning General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) make it more important than ever to make sure your church is complying with all regulations. It’s a good idea to ask for permission when acquiring emails, and to give subscribers the option to unsubscribe.
A great way to maximize the impact of your email list is to segment your lists into different groups. This way, people only receive information that is relevant to them. Some examples of lists your church can use are:
- New Visitor List
- Church Members
- Regular attendees
- Youth ministry (students and parents)
- Volunteers for different ministries
Write Good Content
The most important part of your church email marketing strategy is to have good content. You can send lots of emails and great lists, but it won’t matter if no one opens your emails.
Focus on subject lines to help grab your audience’s attention and open your emails. Good email subject lines are short, personalized, and tell the audience what to expect when they open the email. The industry standard for open rates for non-profits is 28%, so you’ll want to aim for open rates around or higher than that. Using an email marketing solution can help you track this data.
The most important part of your church email marketing strategy is to have good content.
Test your subject lines to find which work best for you. Then, supplement those awesome subject lines with great content. Be creative and don’t be afraid to try something that’s outside the box. Once you find your rhythm, your audience will trust that when they open emails from you, they’re guaranteed to get the content and information they need.
Don’t forget to include a Call to Action (CTA) in your emails to help your audience take the next step. If the purpose of the email is to inform people about an upcoming event, add a button to the registration page. You can also add social sharing icons as CTA’s to help your audience “like” your church pages on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Test, Test, Test
Like most digital communication, keep testing to find what works best for your church. An email marketing solution can help you track data like open rates, click through rates, and even help you find what day of the week and time is best to send your emails. Test subject lines to help open rates, and test design of the emails and content types to help find your perfect email strategy.
As you begin to develop your church email marketing solution, keep the following in mind:
- Establish a purpose
- Build your List
- Write Good Content
- Test, Test, Test
As you can see, using email to communicate with your church community is cost-effective and efficient. It’s an important part of every church’s overall communication strategy and shouldn’t be overlooked. We hope these tips help you get started with your church email strategy!
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