Some churches rely primarily on print newsletters to communicate ministry news. Other churches look to social media as their main communications platform.
While both have their place in the church, a consistent email newsletter is a good compromise between both print and digital that allows you to effectively reach your audience.
Despite an apparent decline of email communication over the past few years, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to keep your congregation informed and engaged.
Best Way to Communicate Online
Despite the popularity of social media, email remains the best way to communicate with an audience online. Average email open rates have dropped to only about 20%, but that’s still better than the reach of most social media content.
Email is a reliable way to speak directly to people online. It reaches a wider age and demographic range than any one social media channel. And it also changes far less rapidly than social media and is therefore more reliable for consistent communication.
Because nearly everyone has an email account these days, this also provides an easy way to reach a wide audience within your church. No single social media platform can boast as wide a reach as email. Email is a more direct way of communicating a message to your audience.
Low Barrier to Entry
Sending an email newsletter is relatively easy, even for those technologically challenged. Services like MailChimp and Constant Contact make designing and distributing mass email campaigns a user-friendly process.
Even better, MailChimp is free for accounts with less than 2,000 emails. Even if you have a larger email list, or want to pay for the extra features, it’s still relatively inexpensive. For the cost of one print newsletter, you can get a year’s worth of email newsletter service.
Because these services make signing-up and creating email newsletters a painless process, there is no real excuse why your church shouldn’t be engaging in email marketing. There are also plenty of resources that can instruct you how to be effective with the emails you send.
Provides Relevant Content
Email is a higher-value communications platform compared to print because it eliminates the time it takes to produce and deliver to people. Usually in this time, the information you’ve printed onto a physical newsletter has already grown stale.
Because you can create and distribute an email in hardly any time, you can contact people while the information is still relevant. Sending a regular newsletter, whether weekly or monthly, can provide your audience with a regular reminder of your ministry.
Just remember to provide your audience with valuable content that they’ll actually care about. Going through the motions to put together an email newsletter will only drive people to ignore you. This is true of any communication piece.
Uses Interactive Elements
Email campaigns also allow you to include interactive content like links, photos and video. Take advantage of this digital platform by filling your email newsletter with engaging elements that will convince your audience to pay attention.
Provide summaries of stories with links to the entire content back on your website. Include videos and images to engage your audience with more visual pieces. Adding call to action buttons provide a way for interested users to learn more.
Emails are also not limited by space in the same way print newsletters are—although you should still be cautious about how long you make your emails. People tend to skim emails so keep it short and sweet, then use links that people can follow to find out the full details.
Track Effectiveness With Data
One major advantage of email newsletters is the ability to clearly measure their effectiveness. Nearly all major email marketing tools have ways to track important data. The two main metrics you’ll want to look at within each email campaign are open and click rates.
A decent open rate is anything above 25%, although this number can skew upward if you’ve got an especially small list. Average click rates tend to hover about 2-3%. Anything above that is impressive. Track these numbers over time to see if any trends develop. Keep a close pulse on how effective your content is.
Since these number can be impacted by your list size, you’ll want to be sure to have an email list that’s actually interested in what you have to say. Don’t add people to your list just for the sake of making your list bigger. Focus on growing a healthy email list of people interested in your content.