Your church relies on email to keep members informed. (If not, here’s our case for why you should.) But simply having an email list by itself doesn’t mean you’re effectively communicating with people. Over the next couple of blog posts, we’re going to look at ways to make sure your email communication is read and not banished to the trash folder.
Let’s start with looking at the advantages of using a professional email management system. It’s a big step forward from just using an employee email account. If email management isn’t built in to some other software service you’re already using, or if you’re wanting to make a switch, we really like MailChimp. We have no affiliation with the company, but are fans of their easy to use interface and free basic level.
List management is one of the biggest hassles in email communication. Knowing who needs to stay on the list and handling email address changes are burdensome when done manually. Professional systems let you create online forms for your website where people can subscribe to your list. Plus, they allow users to change email addresses or unsubscribe on their own. Not only does automation make your life simpler, it also keeps you compliant with CAN-Spam privacy laws in the U.S. and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation regarding email communication.
A well-designed email is a simple reality with professional systems. Plug in pictures, add some text and insert buttons people can click for more information. All of this is easily done without much technical know-how needed. Plus, when an email is formatted well, people are more likely to read it.
Once you’ve sent an email, there won’t be any question of whether people are interacting with it or not. Professional email systems give you analytics on how many people opened the email, clicked through on links and more. You’ll have access to tangible evidence on what topics and formats work effectively in your email strategy, letting you fine-tune future campaigns to get better interaction.
It’s likely you have a church-wide email list where you share news with the entire congregation. There are lots of sub-groups you need to reach, too. An email system lets you filter folks into unique lists for different needs. For example, your men’s group has different priorities than your women’s ministry. Communicating with them through separate lists lets you be more targeted in your message, which hopefully will lead to better engagement with the groups.
There are few things worse for a church communicator than sending out an email only to learn it’s formatted wrong or not displaying correctly. Systems like MailChimp or Constant Contact allow you to see what your email will look like on various devices and in different browsers. Plus, you can send yourself, or team, a test email to make sure everything is good before firing it off to the whole congregation.
The easiest way to think about automation is creating a set of evergreen emails that get delivered based on a user’s action without you having to do anything after initial setup. A common email automation is a welcome series. Here’s how it works. After a subscriber has been a part of your list for several days, they could receive an automated email letting them know what to expect from being a part of the group. That might be followed up a few days later with an email about your church’s missions and vision. After a month, maybe they get an email about volunteer opportunities or membership options. You choose the content, create the emails and set parameters for when they are sent. Another, simpler automation is sending an email on someone’s birthday. Click here for a more in-depth look at automation.