What's in this session?

  • After your website, email is still the most effective communication tools (0:33)
  • #1: Plain text email (1:24)
  • #2: One link (2:42)
  • #3: Multiple CTAs (all the same link) (3:05)
  • #4: Line breaks (5:36)
  • #5: Sent from a real human (6:46)
  • #6: Send two emails each week instead of one (8:43)
  • #7: Include a PS (9:13)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily. The show where in 10 minutes or less, you’ll get a daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man. It’s Brady Shearer, and today we’re going to talk about seven ways to write better church email newsletters.

Brady Shearer: May not be as glamorous as some social media channels. Heck, IGTV with its 9 by 16 aspect ratio and 4K native uploads, but email is still, after your website, the most effective way to market your church and communicate with your existing congregation, and we do a ton on social media here at Pro Church Tools, but our email list, Pro Church Nation, remains undefeated.

Alex Mills: I mean, you have a direct line of communication with the people that have shown interest in your church and your community, what you’re doing. You have a direct line of communication. You hit that send button, you know it’s landing in their inbox and they have an opportunity to open it. It’s a great medium to keep your church updated, especially we’re going to talk about newsletters today about what’s going on in your church and where you guys are headed.

Brady Shearer: We’ve done a number of episodes of Pro Church Daily before on email marketing, episode 99, we talked about email subject lines and episode 72, we talked about email open rates and how to increase that.

In this episode, we’re going to talk about your newsletter and how to write it better. Seven different things that you can do. The first thing? Make sure your email is a plain text email. I don’t want to see any graphics in there. I don’t want to see a header. I don’t want any fancy formatting. Just send plain text, because similar to email itself, plain text is undefeated because why?

We’re getting so many marketing messages, every single day. Getting a plain text email feels like an email from a friend or family member, and it’s so much easier to read and because you are a church and likely because 90+ percent of churches are 350 or fewer, you are getting a message from a friend or family member and so you don’t need to dress it up. Why? Because dressing it up will actually hurt engagement.

Alex Mills: Yeah. This one’s a little counterintuitive and to be honest with you, I’m having a hard time. I’m having a hard time. Maybe.

Brady Shearer: See, Pro Church Nation? It ain’t just you. I can’t even get him to change.

Alex Mills: I mean, MailChimp. A lot of our listeners and viewers are probably using mail chimp to send out these email newsletters and mail chimp just makes it so easy to make a really cool looking email. They’ve got these drag and drop templates and we’re still using that for our main newsletter. I know that we shouldn’t and we’re working on transitioning for all of our updates and youth group emails, those are all going out plain text, so we’ve started the transition. I just have to get over myself and my cool designs, but we’re on our way because we know that this is true.

Brady Shearer: Second thing that is also true: when you’re sending your email newsletter, you are going to be tempted to include many different links. So links to the youth and links to the men and the women and the sermon and the worship and the downloads. If you want to maximize click through, and again, engagement, only include one call to action to the same place.

Now, the third tip is that you actually want to include that multiple times, but make sure it’s the same call to action. So what I mean by that is let’s say you’re sending an email newsletter and the main thing that you want to focus on is people subscribing to the audio podcast for your sermons. What I would do is include two different links to the same destination, so two different links to the subscribe page for your podcast. And then with your copywriting, label those links a little bit differently.

So the first one that you could say, you know, the Hope Church podcast, and in brackets, audio and before that you can say, click below to subscribe. And then later on same destination, but label that link differently, maybe you label it, “Click here to subscribe to our audio podcast.”

And what this does is by including only a single link, your narrow focus, we talk about this all the time, less is more with communication. Your narrow focus is actually going to result in more next steps, but by including multiple opportunities for people to click that link, you’ll actually boost the number of chances and times people will click just by having those two different differently labeled links. And hopefully I’m making sense here.

Alex Mills: Well, I mean and think about it, especially in the email medium, if I’m reading a newsletter and the first call to action is sign up for men’s group. When I click on that, it’s taken me away from the email app. So if I’m using the app on a Mac computer, if I’m using the Gmail in my browser, it’s taking me to a new tab. Sometimes it’s taking me to a new app. I finish what I was doing there, the likelihood of me going back to that email to continue reading and take an action on another call to action is very slim because by the time I get back to my inbox, I’ve got more unread emails. I’m trying to get that you know, unread notification thing down to zero.

Brady Shearer: Inbox zero, baby.

Alex Mills: And so I’m trying to get there. And so the likelihood of me going back into that email is very, very slim.

Brady Shearer: So with Pro Church Tools, we’ll send out … the email I sent out yesterday to Pro Church Nation. It was a link to a Pro Church Daily episode we did on three reasons why it’s better to be a smaller church. And so the only link in that email was to the YouTube video for that content.

But the first time I mentioned it, I was like three reasons it’s better to be a smaller church. And then I did a little bit more text and then I put in another link to that same destination and I said something different, like the big advantages of being a smaller church, discover those advantages. So one destination, multiple mentions of that destination and say them a bit differently because the way you say it the first time might not get someone to click, but the way you say it the second time might just.

Alex Mills: Nice.

Brady Shearer: Fourth way to write a better church email newsletter is to include line breaks and talk with a conversational tone when you’re sending this email. Don’t be corporate speak. Again, your church is friend and family, so you don’t need to be all like PR and corporate. Stay conversational. Write in short and punchy sentences, you know, keep them five to seven word sentences or less.

And then lots of line breaks. This makes the email very scannable. No one likes when they click an email and they see a chunk of paragraph, like I just want to burn my computer when I see that.

Alex Mills: You know that’s from Uncle Bob asking for prayer for-

Brady Shearer: And you’re like, I can’t even like where does the line begin?And then you start reading the same line twice and you’re like, oh goodness. It’s a bad time.

Alex Mills: Ain’t nobody got time for them.

Brady Shearer: You don’t want that impression. I said it and Alex just like had a panic attack. You don’t want your church to give that same panic attack to your congregation. They’re gonna stop opening those emails. Short, punchy sentences, lots of line breaks. Make it scannable, and if you’re looking for copywriting tips for this specifically, we did an episode of Pro Church Daily, episode number 36, talked about my best copywriting tip, and you’ll learn more about reading those short punchy sentences in that episode number 30.

Alex Mills: So good.

Brady Shearer: Fifth tip, and Alex saw huge results when he put this into practice.

Alex Mills: I did.

Brady Shearer: Which is why I don’t know why he didn’t put the first tip into practice yet, but this one is, the send from name that your email newsletter comes from. Don’t send it from Life Abundant Church. Send it from Alexander Mills and Alex can talk about the results he saw with this.

Alex Mills: I’ve been doing this just within the last year or so, from our church and what a few months ago I sent out two emails, on two consecutive days. So one email a day. The first day, I sent out an email from our church’s name and I was kinda doing a little bit of A/B testing here just to see our own metrics, how people respond to this.

The first email I sent out was a great email, sent from our church, from Life Abundant Niagara. Had I think a 64.5% open rate, which is good.

Brady Shearer: And how many people did it get sent out to?

Alex Mills: That’s to about 100 people.

Brady Shearer: Okay.

Alex Mills: And the click rate was 9.7%. So I mean, pretty good, but for our list, that was fine. The next day, I sent out another email. Good email. I sent it from our lead pastor. So it came from Rick Mills.

Brady Shearer: Lead pastor.

Alex Mills: Yep. And the open rate jumped by just over 10% to 75.4%. So this is from 64.5 to 75.4. And the click rate jumped from 9.7% to the next day, 31.1% percent. And so just in the same way that you’re writing in a conversational tone and you’re sending an email that’s plain text, people love to see an email that’s sent from somebody they know. From a person.

They love that personal interaction. So when they see it’s coming from Pastor Rick or from Alexandra, they click on it and they open it. They’ve got plain text. It’s conversational. It feels like my pastor sent this email just to me. He’s talking just to me and you know, we sent it to 100 people. Some churches are sending it to thousands of people, but that’s how it feels to each individual member that you’re sending it to. And you’ll see it reflected in open and click rate.

Brady Shearer: Tip number six, send two emails each week instead of one. Most people send one church email newsletter each week. If you’re going to only include one call to action, one destination in an email, you’re going to want to split and send two different emails each week.

So for Pro Church Tools, we send an email on Tuesday and Thursday, right around 8:00 AM eastern each time, and so you could follow that exact same pattern. Send two different emails, send them at the same time, and people will begin to get conditioned to opening the email and almost expecting it on a certain day.

Alex Mills: Nice.

Brady Shearer: Final tip for writing a better church email newsletter is to include a PS at the bottom. The PS section of an email, if you include it, is almost guaranteed to be the most read part of that email. So the end of your email could be talk soon, comma, line break, Alexander Mills, line break, pastor at Life Abundant Church line break, line break, P dot S dot. Line break, line break. And then you include something else there. People are going to see that PS and be like, oh my gosh, don’t want to miss something, FOMO FOMO FOMO.

And that will be huge for engagement.

Alex Mills: That’s even another place you can include one more opportunity to click that call to action.

Brady Shearer: Same destination, but just one more link at the end. So there you have it. Seven ways to a better church email newsletters. The featured resource we wanted to highlight at the end of this episode is the two part church announcements formula. Really if you’re thinking, how do I write announcements? We’ve got a formula. It’s two parts and it’s linked in the show notes. So click that to discover that resource. It’s 100% free and that’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Daily. See you next time.

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