As a church, it’s important to stay connected with your community—from visitors to volunteers to the entire church body. Email is a great tool! But you should operate with some best practices in mind so you don’t make these email marketing mistakes.
1. Hoard email addresses
If people include their email addresses on a sign-up form for an event you’re hosting, that doesn’t mean they’re giving you the license to add them to your regular email list for eternity. They are signing up for a picnic, not subscribing to your newsletter. If you take any email addresses you can find and send those people hundreds of emails, you’re just asking for them to be reported as spam.
Create separate email lists. If someone voluntarily gives you his email address, he probably anticipates getting an email from you at some point. But not every single email you send out. If you need to contact small group leaders, send the email to them only. Keep your lists separate so you aren’t flooding inboxes with irrelevant messages.
2. Use terrible subject lines
Subject lines containing these types of words will almost guarantee your email goes directly into the spam folder, never to return. And even if your email somehow finagles its way into someone’s inbox, there’s a good chance it still won’t get opened. They sound generic, like they came directly from a used car salesman’s manual. You want those recipients to open the email and find all that great content inside! A great guideline to go by is, “the best subject lines tell what’s inside and the worst sell what’s inside.” Keep it short, sweet, and honest.
3. Talk like a robot
If your email flows off the tongue as easy as Exodus 29, consider how this might discourage your audience from attending your conference or visiting your church. People want to hear from other people. You don’t have to impress people with your vast vocabulary. Stay conversational. But that doesn’t mean you want to use junior high text lingo like “how r u 2day?” You still want to maintain some level of professionalism while sounding personable. Find the right balance.
4. Make it impossible to unsubscribe
Another sure fire way to get reported for sending spam is not giving people the option to opt out of future emails. Sure, you don’t want them to unsubscribe, but you have to make that option available or their only alternative will be to flag your emails as spam. It can be placed discreetly at the bottom of the email—where they are typically located. Make it easy to find, but if you are following other best practices, hopefully they won’t need to use it. Most ChMS solutions also provide these services in their communication tools so you don’t even have to think about adding it to your emails.
5. Leave people wondering the purpose of your email
Never send an email just because you haven’t sent one out in a while. If you don’t have anything important to say, don’t say anything at all. That being said, you do want to maintain some kind of regular communication schedule. Odds are you will have an update or announcement important enough to shoot into your subscribers’ inboxes from time to time. Be sure that anytime you send an email you include some useful content that gives value to the readers. And make what you would like them to do with that information very clear through strong calls-to-action. If people feel like they truly gain something from your emails, they will remain loyal subscribers.
Email, when used properly, can be an effective tool to communicate with your community and “market” your church. What are some rules you go by when creating an email for your church?
Check out these other great resources for more insight when developing your church’s email marketing plan:
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