Your church newsletter can be one of the greatest assets or liabilities of your church, depending on how to use it.
Email can accomplish several important things for your church’s relationship with its members:
- Emailing your church can humanize your church’s experience with “the church.”
- Emailing your church can help your members feel connected to what’s going on.
- Emailing your church can increase your volunteer team.
- Emailing your church can increase giving by letting your members know what special ministries you’re building.
The list is endless.
Giving. Volunteers. Engagement. Care. Connection. Email can be the beating heart of how your members feel connected to the life of your church.
However, if you misuse your email by emailing too often (or not enough), sending irrelevant information, or sending badly designed emails (this is is also endless), then your members may begin in unsubscribe, ignore, or even worse, label you as spam.
There are several important best practices to make sure your email strategy builds (rather than sabotages) your relationship with your members.
Here are 8 highly effective strategies to build a vibrant church email relationship with new visitors and long-time members alike.
1. Use email opt-in on all your church forms
Make it extremely easy to opt in to your church email updates.
Every time someone visits your website, registers for an event, or asks for information about your church, make a signup form available for them to get weekly updates.People want to be in the know.
If you make your church email list difficult to subscribe to, people won’t know how to get the most up-to-date information about your church’s events, opportunities, and giving agendas.
Liberally include your email opt-in forms in as many places as possible.
One simple way to do this is to include a link to a signup landing page, as well as to embed an email signup form in the footer of your website. That way, every digital communication someone receives from your church will prompt them with an opportunity to stay connected.
2. Limit yourself to one weekly church email
People don’t need more than one email a week.
If your weekly email is designed well, contains links to more information, and is compactly written, people won’t feel the need to dig through sporadic emails or through hundreds of words of texts to find the information they need.
The worst thing you can do with your email list is to become an annoyance to your congregation.
The easiest way to avoid this is to pick a single day on which to send your email, and send it on that day every single week.
Most churches send emails on Tuesday and Wednesday, because it gives the staff enough time to send congregants an update on the Sunday service. More than that, mid-week emails are a great opportunity to remind your congregation about what’s happening at church when the church may not be top-of-mind.
3. Segment your church email audiences
Split up your email list by tagging people according to their level of involvement in your church.
- Hasn’t yet visited.
- First-time visitor.
- Interested in joining.
- New member.
- Long-time member.
- Small Group #1.
- Small Group #2.
Assign multiple tags to people so that you can easily send group-relevant emails to people who may need information that isn’t appropriate or meaningful for the entire congregation.
In this sense, it is entirely appropriate to send out more than one email per week according to the specific needs people have. Email recipients separate these two kinds of emails into two groups: For Everyone, and For Me.
It’s acceptable to send one general email to the entire subscriber base as a weekly newsletter, and to send one “For Me” each week to individual groups.
4. Write emails “From” the pastor as often as possible
The “writer” of the general church newsletter email should be the pastor. This is a way for the pastor to personally connect with people he may not have had the time to speak with during or after the Sunday service.
This practice also cultivates a sense of accessibility to the pastor. This is true even if response emails are directed to the church secretary. Writing the general newsletter “From” the senior pastor gives people a sense that, should they need to contact the pastor, there is a pipeline of communication that enables them to do this.
5. Repeat important information
People need to hear the same information more than once.
While it’s easy to be fearful of annoying your readers, people are often more annoyed when they miss important information.
Make sure to repeat important information in your emails. This is particularly true for event sign-ups, one-time (or sparsely held) classes, and deadline-driven actions your congregation needs to take.
It’s your responsibility to make sure that they don’t miss this information, so don’t be afraid of repeating this information in more than one email.
This will require that you begin mentioning important deadlines up to two or three months before the actually deadline occurs.
6. Invite people to subscribe to text updates in your email
If your church has a text messaging service that enables you to communicate with your congregation via SMS, you should provide a link that enables people to opt in to this service at the bottom of every email.
The copy can read something like this: “To receive important updates via text message, sign up here: [LINK].”
In fact, it would be appropriate to make this opt in the primary message of one of your general church newsletter emails in order to kick things off.
7. Send your church email mid-week
As we’ve already mentioned, Tuesday and Wednesday are optimal days to send your general church newsletter.
While people may be distracted by their jobs and families at this time, this actually presents an even greater need to receive a communication from your church.
Your congregation need spiritual encouragement. They need reminders. They need church-relevant information to be brought top-of-mind in order to discuss with their colleagues, families, and accountants.
If you send an email on Monday, you may not have enough time to design and digest everything that happened during the Sunday service.
If you send an email on Thursday or Friday, your church may be too busy planning for the weekend or finishing up work to respond to any of the action items in your email.
And last, and certainly least, nobody opens their email account or takes serious action on Saturdays.
8. Give people spiritual encouragement in your church email
You don’t have to use church email merely to communicate the raw data of church events and needs. It doesn’t all have to be news and updates. Especially mid-week, people are often spiritually tired.
Include a spiritual note from the pastor. Tie each email together with a theme—generosity, legacy, service. Give your congregants something to reflect on as Sunday’s message sinks into the back of their mind throughout the week.
This spiritual message may become the very reason that people look forward to receiving and opening your church emails altogether.
Use these church email best practices to grow a healthy relationship with your church through email. And be sure to check out the top email marketing tools rated by EmailToolTester. It's a great resource.
If you stick to these guidelines, not only will your church sign up for your emails—they will look forward to opening them.