I’m quickly becoming a believer in email. When launching Church Juice nearly five years ago, I had no interest in what felt like a dated medium. Instead, we put more focus on social media, which worked for a while. But email didn’t fade away and social media is trickier than it used to be. Since we’re playing catch-up for ignoring the power of email, I want to share a few ideas of why it’s smart for you to invest in it, too.
- Recipients control what they see. Unlike the algorithm-controlled world of Facebook, users have much more control over their inboxes. That doesn’t guarantee your email will get read, but it does mean there’s a better chance someone knows your content exists. Of course it’s key that you provide great content that your audience looks forward to reading.
- Increased engagement. It’s not guaranteed your engagement will increase when you utilize email, but it’s worked for us. Since launching our email subscription several months ago, we’ve seen overall traffic to our website go up— including email referrals. It’s more than made up for the audience we’ve lost with decreased Facebook reach. Email alone doesn’t assure engagement, but the right content to the right audience does. Email can make that connection.
- Email let’s you get closer to your community. Email marketing is permission based. You can’t get in someone’s inbox unless they invite you. Inboxes can overflow, which means users often curate who they’re letting in so that they can reduce the clutter. If you’re in the mix, it’s a far closer connection than a Facebook like or Twitter follow.
Are you ready to take your church email communication to the next level? Here are a few more tips for using email well.
- Use a professional system. Maintaining a list manually in a spreadsheet doesn’t cut it. Email management tools let you handle multiple lists and create emails from templates that look professional and display correctly on multiple devices. It also provides the right tools to let people sign up and unsubscribe from your list. If you’re looking for a program, MailChimp is a good place to start and it’s free at the basic level.
- Limit what you say. Emails should not be a seemingly unending list of every little thing happening at the church. Narrow down your content to a handful of the most important projects, activities or initiatives your congregation needs to know. For each item, have a clear call to action. How should someone respond based on what they read? Also consider having multiple lists for different groups in the church. For example, parents of kids in Sunday school can get a separate email with news and information that other people in the church who don’t have kids don’t necessarily need.
- Limit how many emails you send. I know many people in my life who’ve funneled church emails into their spam box because of how frequently they were appearing. Multiple emails in a week, let alone a day, become a burden instead of a service. Coordinate information through a centralized person who can curate, edit and control the flow of information through limited and thoughtfully planned emails. Protect your lists by limiting access so someone can’t send an email to a list on a whim.