Email is pretty boring, right? At least compared to all of the flashy moving parts of social platforms. An Instagram Story with a gradient filter is considerably more exciting than a plain, old, HTML email.
An email seems duller than the fresh, interactive posts on social media feeds. Yet, year after year, the data shows that email elicits more engagement than social media.
- A message is 5X more likely to be seen in an email than on Facebook (Source: Radici).
- 72% people prefer to receive promotional content through email, while only 17% prefer social media (Source: Marketing Sherpa).
- You are 6X more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet (Source: Campaign Monitor).
This data suggests two very important things:
- More people will interact with your content in an email than what you post on social media.
- People will tolerate promotional/informational content through email.
This is especially good news for churches, because not only is email still one of the best ways to be heard, but it’s also acceptable to send information and promotional content without feeling the need to be overly inspirational with storytelling (you can’t do that with video or social media).
Email is one of the few digital platforms where you can share content that is heavy on the information side and get away with it.
With this data in mind, let’s break down 5 ways to send better email newsletters at your church.
1. Send Your Church Newsletter From An Individual Person
One surefire way to get more opens and clicks with your email newsletter is to send it from an individual on your church staff (ideally, your lead pastor).
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the average person is more inclined to open an email from a person than from an organization. And while it’s preferred that this person be your lead/senior pastor, if it needs to be someone else, that’s okay too.
Stylize your email’s from field to appear like this:
Person’s Name — Church’s Name. In practice it would appear like this: Pastor Dean — First Community Church.
Another key is to send your church newsletter from the same person every time. Don’t have a different person write your email newsletter every week. This is a big mistake in terms of open rates! Always sending your email newsletter from the same person creates repetition. This, in turn, will cause your email subscribers to habitually open your emails every time they see that familiar name in their inbox.
2. Send Your Church Newsletter At The Same Time Every Week
We send our emails out every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00AM EST. Punctually.
Guess what? Our email open and click-through rates continue to improve. The last email I sent out was sent to 21,834 people. It got a 37.94% open rate, and a 10.52% click-through rate (both of those numbers are uncommonly high for a list of that size).
Of course, those numbers exist due to of a variety of contributing factors, but one of those key factors is consistency in delivery. I send out content that people like to read, and I send it out at the same time every single week.
3. Send Your Church Newsletter With Exclusive Details
Your church newsletter can definitely act as a catch-all for your church’s informational and promotional content. Meaning, if you posted something on Facebook, it’s okay to include that same thing in your email newsletter.
But here’s the key: make sure to include something in your email newsletter each week that you can’t find anywhere else. This exclusive content gives your church a reason to subscribe to your emails. And it will also give them a reason to open your emails each week, knowing there’s something exclusive in there they can’t get anywhere else.
4. Write Subject Lines That Are Impossible To Ignore
Here’s a subject line that’s doomed to fail: Central Community Church Newsletter, December 2016.
Why is this subject line doomed to fail? Because it doesn’t inspire to me to open the email. The subject line of your email has a single goal: get people to open your email.
Your subject line doesn’t need to be an exhaustive description of what is inside the email. Simply write a subject line that motivates me to want to read further.
How is that best accomplished? With mystery. Your email subject line should open a loop, but not close it. Here’s a hypothetical example of a subject line that creates a sense of mystery: 5 Fun Things For Your Kids To Do At Central This Weekend.
This subject line opens a loop (5 fun things for kids to do), but it doesn’t close it. The only way to close the loop and discover the 5 fun things is to open the email.
By the way, your subject line does not need to summarize all the information in your newsletter. Far from it. In the hypothetical example I used above, 5 fun things for kids could simply be one of the bullet points listed in the body of the email. Remember, the goal of the subject line isn’t to summarize the content of your email. The goal of an email subject line is simply to get someone to open your email.
5. Use Data To Drive Your Content Decisions
As you continue to send more email newsletters, you’ll begin to compile more metrics from your email marketing service. Every email service tracks stats such as open rates and click-through rates (along with other stats) every time you send out an email.
Once a quarter, dive into these stats to see which emails generated the most traction. First, look at which emails earned the highest open rates. This will help you write better subject lines in the future. Next, note the subject lines of the emails you sent with the three highest open rates. Then take inventory of what made these three subject lines so successful. Try to find commonalities and trends that you can replicate in the future.
The same goes for click-through rates. Find the top three emails that generated the highest click-through rates, then reverse engineer the steps you took to get that engagement.
Once you have some data on what works, incorporate that into your emails going forward. Then re-test again the following quarter.
It might not be the most glamorous form of communication, but year after year, email still excels as being one of the most engaging forms of digital communication.
Use the 5 strategies detailed in this article to send better emails. Find what works for you and your church. Repeat it over and over again, improving with every iteration.
What’s your best tip for sending better church newsletters? Add your voice to the comments below.