Jim Sweeney • December 01, 2016
With all the attention paid to social media, it can be easy to overlook another great communication tool a church can use — the email newsletter.
There’s nothing flashy about email, but it remains one of the most effective ways to communicate. While not all your community members are on Twitter or Facebook, virtually everyone gets email. And email can reach regular members, occasional visitors, stay-at-homes and those who are traveling.
Still, access to someone’s personal inbox is not something to take lightly or abuse. Inboxes are regularly flooded with things people don’t care about; be sure that your newsletter doesn’t add to the clutter.
This is a two-part blog-series. In this post, I’ll discuss the logistics of creating an effective email newsletter program. In the second post, I’ll talk about how to create engaging content that will make people want to read it.
Regardless of your community’s size, using a service is a wonderful way to create and distribute impactful newsletters. Newsletter services make it easy to schedule and deliver emails and provide useful analytics. If you’re just getting started, check outMailChimp and VerticalResponse; both provide free services up to a certain size and offer templates to help make your newsletter visually engaging.
Though most services offer free templates, consider building your own. Think about which topics you’d like to draw particular attention to, such as church news, announcements, video messages, etc. Once you build a template, use the same one week after week so that people know exactly how to find what they’re looking for.
People receive an average of 121 emails a day, according to a 2016 DMR report. That’s why it’s so important that you communicate your message efficiently and effectively! Remember that many people now read emails on their phones and don’t want to do too much scrolling. A concise and powerful message will go a long way.
Whether it’s once a week or once a month, send your emails with consistent frequency. Your community will come to expect it.
An unopened email might as well have never been sent. Not every recipient is going to open every email, but you want to reach as wide an audience as possible. Most email tools allow you to see what percentage are opened, the clicks on links in in the newsletter and unsubscribes. This is all valuable feedback and makes it easier to see what type of content resonates with your readers.
A newsletter is only as good as the list of email recipients to which it’s sent. As new people join your church, be sure to include them on an updated newsletter list so that they can stay up-to-date on all that your church offers.
Of course, you can follow all the email best practices, but people aren’t going to read a newsletter if they don’t think it’s worth their time. The next post will show how to create content that resonates with readers.