Customize your church's email marketing by embracing uniqueness and fine-tuning your strategy accordingly.
Let’s face it: church staff have an ever-increasing list of responsibilities. Whether you oversee pastoral counseling and first impressions or outreach and communications, every church leader knows there’s always another weekend service knocking at your door.
With this reality in mind, it’s important to acknowledge that while every pastor would love to invest in a full suite of marketing strategies, time and budget are often limited. It’s imperative to know what marketing efforts to prioritize and what should take a back seat until further notice.
Enter email. It’s the non-sexy pick of the marketing litter. While it might not get as much love as your website or the latest social media channel, the results are undeniable.
The tech mogul HubSpot found through recent research that for every $1 invested in email marketing, an impressive $36 was returned on that investment. So, that begs the question…what would your church be able to do if you saw that kind of ROI?
It also invites an adjacent question—what kind of intentional email marketing strategy does your church have in place?
Email Strategy Content
With those details in mind, let me test your attention span with a quick story. My children attended a local church’s nursery for several years, which inevitably meant I landed in their church database. To this day, I still receive 2 types of newsletters from them—sermon series updates and funeral announcements. Yes, the only emails I receive from them are notices about an upcoming sermon and when someone has died. Yikes. While this is a strategy, it’s not the kind that will provide incredible returns.
Your email list is one of your church’s most important digital assets. If your church is only sending out monthly newsletters—or worse—just funeral announcements, you're missing the mark. Your email list should be thoughtfully curated to build trust and add value in a way that leaves readers looking forward to your next update.
With that in mind, let’s unpack 3 simple strategies your church should consider for your email marketing program.
3 Email Marketing Strategies to Consider
Approach #1: An Evergreen, Automated Email Sequence Only
For churches getting acquainted with email marketing or pastors who are seriously strapped for time, this approach is simple and scalable. Select your email marketing platform of choice (Convertkit, Mailerlite, and ActiveCampaign are a few of my favorites) and write a series of evergreen emails that go out weekly.
To use an analogy, this strategy acts like a conveyor belt where you enter new email addresses at the beginning, and they ride through the entire journey from start to finish.
There are definite pros and cons here, so let’s consider them both.
Pros and Cons of an Evergreen, Automated Email Sequence
- You write every email once, add it to your email service provider, and it’s sent out automatically every week.
- You can write everything in batches so you’re never scrambling for that next email.
- You routinely show up in your members’ and guests’ inboxes on repeat, with little effort.
- Everyone on your list won’t get the same email each week as they are likely at different points in your sequence.
- This strategy does not account for relevant news, current events, and timely updates you may want to share.
This simple, yet effective, strategy certainly has benefits and drawbacks but is a solid foundation to start, and then grow.
Email tips: 9 Gmail Tips That Will Help Church Communicators Crush Efficiency
Approach #2: An Evergreen, Automated Sequence + Timely Campaigns
This email strategy employs the stability and scalability of the first approach (timeless, evergreen emails) and addresses one of the biggest drawbacks to only taking that approach—timely campaigns.
While your automated weekly emails are deployed, this strategy acknowledges the importance of still sending relevant updates about the life of your church, such as:
- Weekly or monthly newsletters that curate helpful updates
- Testimonials that highlight recent wins for families in your church
- Mid-week inspiration from a pastor on staff
- A short update addressing a recent current event
For example, this strategy could look something like:
- 4 weekly automated, evergreen emails every month (timeless content that’s always relevant)
- 2-4 timely emails every month that share a story, call everyone to prayer, remind readers of an important event, and inspire us all to live differently
This email strategy employs the best of both worlds (timeless and timely content) and is a solid approach to build trust and invite your readers into a deeper sense of community.
Approach #3: Custom Email Campaigns + Supporting Automated Sequences
There’s no denying this third approach takes a larger investment of time and energy. The good news about this approach is entering you into that sacred territory of seeing a $30+ return on every $1 spent that HubSpot touts.
Here’s an example of what this email strategy could look like for your church:
- 4 weekly emails sent each month written with the intent to address the most relevant news, notes, and things to share
- Multiple automated email campaigns live and active, speaking to unique segments of your email list
These unique, automated sequences compliment your live content and could be built around:
- Guest Sequence: Follow up content for new guests
- Program Sequence: Content that fires off for seasonal programs in your church (i.e. Spring Small Groups)
- Volunteer Onboarding Sequence: Content deployed to educate, train, and equip your new volunteers so the entire process doesn’t need to be facilitated manually
Select And Customize Your Church’s Email Marketing Strategy
It’s important to note that these 3 approaches to email marketing are not the only ways to build trust and make a difference in your community. Identify the unique attributes and gifts of the people and leaders within your church and fine-tune your email marketing efforts accordingly.
- Does your church have an insanely talented creative team? Innovate so that your content brings readers closer to Jesus.
- Is your church known for prayer? Use email to inspire everyone to pray.
- Are you seeing an influx of young families? Prioritize parenting tips that enable moms and dads to raise their children with confidence.
It’s also helpful to remember that while there are a number of sleazy tactics that give the marketing and media world a black eye, I truly believe that marketing is simply an avenue to create and build more relationships.
That’s why it’s so important for your church to build an effective marketing funnel that prioritizes email as a tool to engage and serve your community.
Regardless of your approach, the goal is to recognize the importance of your email list and prioritize building it as a valuable digital asset.
Keep reading: 4 Reasons Why Email Marketing Is Critical For Churches
Helpful Email Marketing Resources And Reminders
Helpful Email Marketing Reminders
- Find, select, and use an email marketing platform built to serve today’s and tomorrow’s needs. (it’s expensive to continually change from platform to platform)
- Utilize helpful frameworks, like StoryBrand and They Ask You Answer, to easily create content.
- Harness tools like ChatGPT, Jasper, and other AI software to generate email subject line ideas—not to simply take over the writing.
- Test your email subject lines with a program like CoSchedule’s Email Subject Line Tester to optimize your subject lines.
- Proof everything you write for typos and readability before sending with Grammarly and the Hemmingway App
Helpful Email Marketing Resources
- Digital Marketer’s Everything You Need to Know About Email Marketing.
- HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing
- My Personal Favorite List of Marketing Resources
- How to Build a Church Marketing Funnel
- Church Marketing University’s Free Email & Marketing Tools
- Church Tech Today’s Top 5 Email Automation Sequences Your Church Should Set Up
Make your emails stand out when you discover the 10 Best Email Signature Generators For Church Staff.