In today’s digital age, harnessing the power of the internet and its ease to convey messages is often not utilised enough by the church. Whereas once people stayed in the communities they lived in for their whole lives, it is now more common for people to relocate, whether it be for university or jobs, and therefore lose contact with the church they once went to in the village they grew up in.
However, it doesn’t have to be like that as you, as the church, can keep in contact with your parishioners wherever they may be, in addition to attracting new members so they feel like a part of the community and keeping dedicated members up to date with church matters during the week before they meet up again.
One of the best ways of doing this is through email marketing.
How many times do you check your inbox everyday? Exactly!
Now your church focused email could be landing in any number of people’s inboxes, keeping them up to date with what’s going on, what the spiritual focus is at the time and any special events the church may be playing a part in.
But where do you start and how do you make it work for you? Fortunately, we’ve created this quick guide to help you along the way.
Choosing an email provider
Rather than sending out emails from your personal inbox, there are a number of online platforms that enable you to quickly upload a subscribers list, create templates that are easy to change around month on month or week on week, depending on how often you want to send your emails out, and also assess how well received they were by exploring open rates and other analytical data.
Through MailChimp, you can design custom email templates through an easy drag and drop format, whilst also being able to upload images, add text and any links through to your church website or other resources. Essentially, you have the platform at your fingertips and can add any information you wish to send out.
Start to build your subscriber list
In order to send emails out, you need to start building up your subscriber list. If you have a church website, add an opt-in form for people to fill in when they visit the site so they can be kept up to date with all that’s going on in the church, add the details to any existing bulletins that you send out and of course utilise the power of word of mouth, explaining your plans to your congregation, getting them to spread the word to anyone else they know.
You’ll soon start to see your mail list grow as more and more people become aware of your email marketing plans.
Develop a schedule
If you can get a schedule in place and stick to it, those receiving your emails will start to know exactly when and what time they are coming through, so will be more likely to look out for it and open it.
Select a time and day that works for you, giving you enough time to craft your emails before sending. If you use this as your ‘anchor’ email, you can then send supporting emails during the week if necessary, but your subscribers will know to at least expect this one every week/fortnight/month.
When starting out with email marketing for this first time, you can always experiment with the day and time you send your emails over the first few months, using the statistics the platform provides to identify when the most popular time and day of the week was for your emails to be opened and read.
Take the time to craft your emails
The last thing you want is for your emails to appear rushed and without a clear message or purpose. It’s very important to take the time to craft your emails, before also thinking carefully about the subject line, as that will be the first thing someone sees when it lands in their inbox.
You need your subject line to catch they eye and encourage them to open it, but without giving too much away. It’s a difficult task but being clear and concise is often a better option than being too creativity as the receiver might have no idea what your email is about and will therefore ignore it.
Within the email itself, identify what the purpose is and stick to it without going off on a tangent. If you think of something else that isn’t really relevant to the current email, make a note of it and send a supporting email later in the week or use it in the next update email.
If the platform you settle on allows you to personalise your emails, for instance adding hello and the person’s name, make sure you take up this option as being a little more personal can make all the difference in terms of how people connect with that you are telling them.
Track your results
As we’ve already touched on above, most email marketing platforms offer analytical data so you can see how well your emails have been received, the number of people who opened them and exactly when they opened it in relation to when it landed in their inbox.
It’s very important to track how well your emails are performing, as you could be wasting an awful lot of time and effort crafting your emails if no-one is then actually opening and reading them.
You can also see which emails most people are interested in, whether it’s your weekly church newsletter, updates on upcoming events at the church or something different; you’ll be able to assess what is working and tailor your future emails on this moving forward.
Email inboxes are congested areas, with hundreds of businesses and other non-profits running email marketing campaigns to keep in touch with customers and followers, however your church has an important message to get out there too.
By following the tips outlined above, you can embrace a new way of keeping in touch with your current congregation and getting new members interested and intrigued by what’s going on in your church too.