HomeDigital MinistryCommunicationUsing Email for Church Communication to Share Your Story

Using Email for Church Communication to Share Your Story

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Last month we started a series on Church Communications on the Cheap. I spelled out 4 Steps for Budget Friendly Success in your communications.

In that post, I promised practical ways to put the steps into action. I’d like to start today with email.

Church Comunication Cheap pt 2Let’s face it, there is nothing glamorous about email. For many, it is a necessary evil that invades our space with info we’d rather ignore.

But, done well, email gives churches a way to tell their story in a user-friendly way that members are already engaged with.

The question is how do we do it well? What steps can we take to keep cost low and deliver a quality email people want to open and read?

We need to understand…

The Power of Email

Email is the communication medium of choice for several reasons.

  • Low cost
  • Ease of setup
  • It’s personal (goes to the user)
  • It’s part of our everyday lives
  • It’s transactional (people can interact with you)
  • Email has nearly three times as many user accounts as Facebook and Twitter combined (2.9 billion) statistic from https://blog.kissmetrics.com/email-crushes-social-media/

A look at the total emails sent every day vs the number of social media posts its even more staggering:

Email_infographic

With reach far exceeding social media, email has the potential to be a powerful communication tool. If we know how to use it.

Unfortunately, email has some…

Challenges

Personal email plans, like the kind you get from Yahoo, MSN, or Google, are created to send messages to small groups of people. Try to send a large group message and you run into trouble.

Email providers track every message that passes through their systems. They don’t read them, but they measure…

  • Number of recipients
  • Percentage of emails opened
  • Number of links clicked
  • Number of undeliverable emails (bad addresses, typos, etc.)
  • Number of emails marked spam

Each of these areas has a point value assigned to it. Below a specified point value your email goes through. Hit the next level and your emails go into the junk mail folder. Exceed the final level and they label you a spammer and block your account.

If you’ve ever fought to get your account unblocked its not fun. My IT buddy has done it several times and its a long, ugly process.

Solutions

There are two options to help get around this:

Option 1: Church Email

  • Create a dedicated email address that is only used for church communications
  • Write your email
  • Format your content
  • Copy and paste names out of your contact list
  • Send the message to a small number of recipients, every 5-10 minutes, until your list is complete. (Every provider has different rules for number of emails and time between matching subject lines.)
  • Use a tracking service, like Sidekick, to make sure people are opening your emails ($10 a month) Or Streak for Gmail that is free
  • Track and purge bad addresses from your contact list regularly
  • Pray you don’t get banned

Option 2: Email Marketing Service

  • Import your email addresses
  • Pick a template
  • Write your email
  • Send your message
  • Let the service track:
    • opens
    • reads
    • clicks
    • bad addresses
  • Watch your email analytics to know what is working and what’s not
  • Contact tech support when you need help

Most likely, Option 1 is a slightly different angle on your current approach. Before you discount Option 2 take a look at the breakdown.

Email_infographic2

If you have fewer than 2,000 email addresses in your list MailChimp is free. You get access to their basic tools and analytics with options to upgrade if you need extras. They take the headache out of Option 1 and keep your email from getting flagged. And, for the price, you can’t beat it.

Another option that includes great video email marketing solutions is BombBomb for ministry. ChurchTechToday uses BombBomb for it’s email marketing solution; this solution mentioned offers integration with several church management software solutions out there such as Fellowship One, Church Community Builder, IconCMO, and ACS which make keeping contacts in your email marketing system much easier.

Email is the communication medium of choice. While I haven’t addressed the importance of writing engaging content, I hope this post helps you share your story in budget friendly ways and avoid the most common technical issues.

 

Ryan Holck
Ryan Holckhttps://rad-ideas.com
Ryan is the founder of RAD Ideas and Graphics.Church. He works with churches and denominations to grow their ministry through graphic design and marketing strategy. Follow Ryan at RAD-Ideas.com.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Email can be effective in the right circumstance but also terribly annoying in another. I have seen Spirituality Directors use email effectively with constant contact to notify followers of programs and events being offered at their shrine or abbey. It basically broadcasts back to the web site for details and sign up. It does stand out more than twitter. Especially with certain demographics who are leery of even using social media, like twitter.

    In other email broadcasts, getting religious news (NYT/CNA) in an email several times a day, is a bother. I love these people and have suggested other communications tools. A select few of these emails are informative standouts. Sometimes email is used because people don’t want to try something new, even paper.li is an improvement. In this example, email is just another way of getting a message into my trash and a future unsubscribe.

    • Thanks for your comment, Ridley. Agreed that email can be abused, especially if it is coming at you from multiple ministries and segments – can overwhelm your inbox and people begin to tune out.

      Love your website and what you’re doing – thank you for your work for the Kingdom!

  2. BombBomb.com has some awesome features and a great form, Gmail video widget, awesome app to show you who is downloading, and a ton of other features. I do use MailChimp for my writing website, http://laurenhunter.net and love their features as well. They have a great free version for those with smaller lists, plus it pulls in RSS feed from blog posts and can set up weekly, daily, feed sends, which is a crazy awesome feature that BombBomb doesn’t have yet.

  3. I think email is still very much an important part of church communication. With corporations still operating to communicate with their employees through email, this method of communication is very valid. My question though…using a service like Constant Contact of MailChimp. Is there a place where something like FellowshipOne and one of these services would interact and play nice with each other? The email service in FellowshipOne is wretched.

  4. Ryan,

    Good stuff. I love that you’re bringing the email topic to the front and center. One of the key principles I abide by when it comes to my email campaign communication strategy is to make a promise connected to my email list. So I’ll say, “this email gives you the first look at upcoming events and announcements. You’ll see it here before anywhere else,” and then I deliver on that promise by making sure that before any events or information is announced anywhere else in the church – it shows up in the email.

    By making a clear promise and the delivering specifically on that promise I know that my emails are bringing value to the people who opted in and I consistently see high open and click through rates.

    Email is so powerful and I’m glad you took the time to help us church folks think of it in a new way! Cheers my man!

    • David,

      Thanks for the insight.

      I love the idea of promise and delivery and using email as your sneak peek for the content. I’ve always used email as a support to the print, social media and web but not as a primary engagement point. I can see why it keeps open and click through rates high. I’ll have to give it a try.

      I’ve been following your tweets for a while and would like to connect and talk communications. Is there a way we could do that?

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