Bart Blair: [00:00:00] Welcome to season three episode 30 of the Missional Marketing Podcast. My name is Bart Blair and I’m the co-host of the show, flying solo today without my co-podcasting partner, Jason Hamrock. But even though I’m by myself, I still feel like I have some content that is going to be super helpful for you today, especially if you are the person in your church responsible for the communications. If you’re listening to this podcast and you’re not the person responsible for the communications in your church, you should share this podcast with the person who is. You know, our goal with this podcast is to help your church grow by leveraging digital marketing and effective communications.
Bart Blair: [00:00:34] And I’m just going to tell you straight up, our conversation today is going to be about email. And while email is not the sexiest tool that you have in your toolbox as a church communications professional, it is one of the most important if you’re going to be effective. And so I’m going to share with you some things today that I believe will really move the needle with your effectiveness as it relates to your church email. If you’re a regular listener or viewer of our podcast, you might recognize that my voice is a little raspy today, I’m a little bit under the weather and don’t have my regular, sultry podcasting voice, but I decided I wasn’t going to let that deter me and I would go ahead and record this podcast episode anyway. If you aren’t a regular listener, you had no idea that my voice sounds different today and well, you should be a regular listener, so why don’t you go ahead and subscribe wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts? If you’re watching on our YouTube channel, make sure that you subscribe and then ring the bell so that you don’t miss any future episodes.
Bart Blair: [00:01:26] And speaking of future episodes, this episode is one in a series of three that we’re going to be focusing on the topic of email. Today, I’m going to be giving you ten things to make your church emails more effective, and then the next two weeks we’re actually going to be talking to a couple of church communications professionals and some different ways that they are using their church email to be more effective at both internal communication and also reaching people in their community. So make sure that you subscribe so you don’t miss those future episodes.
Bart Blair: [00:01:55] Today’s episode, as I said, is called Ten Things to Make Your Church Emails More Effective. Now for the sake of full disclosure, I took ten points out of a list of 50 provided by a company called Salesforce. Salesforce wrote a blog post about four years ago called Best Practices for Email Marketing. And within that blog post is a link to a lead generator, you hear us talk about lead generators all the time here on our podcast. I signed up for the lead generator, it was 50 of the best practices for email marketing. I read through those, was super enlightened by them, but I took ten of them that I think most effectively connect to what we’re trying to accomplish as a church. And so I want to share these ten things with you, we linked to the blog post where you can get the full list of 50 if you would like to do that. But I’m going to share with you ten today that I think will really help you be more effective in using your church email and being a more effective communications professional. All right, here we go. Ten things to Make Your church Emails More Effective.
Bart Blair: [00:02:56] Number one, understand your objectives. Now, if I asked you if you have goals for your email, I bet you’d say no. Do you ever ask yourself the question, what is my ultimate goal? What is my real purpose in sending the email that I’m about to send? Whether you send a weekly email or a monthly email now, I think it was Carey Nieuhoff that I heard mention this on a podcast years ago, he has an email list of over 80,000 church leaders around the world. And he said, before I hit send on any email that I send, I ask myself the question, am I adding value? Now I think that’s what we all want when we send a church email out, we want to be adding value.
Bart Blair: [00:03:37] But how do you measure value, and how do you know if you’re actually adding value? Well, there are some metrics, some things that we can measure and that we should be measuring and then setting goals off of to measure our effectiveness. Three of those things, there are more, of course, but I’m going to give you three things that I think you can and should be measuring with your emails. The first is your open rate. What is the percentage of people that you’re sending your emails to that are actually opening the email? Is that number going up? Is that number going down? Is that number remaining static? Have you ever set a goal for increasing and improving your open rate? I bet you haven’t, or maybe you have, we’ll talk about that in just a minute.
Bart Blair: [00:04:16] The second thing that you can be tracking is your conversion rate. What do I mean when I say conversion rate? A conversion rate is the number of people that are actually clicking on the calls to action within your email. Most emails that we’re sending out as a church, we’re asking people to do something, RSVP for something, register for something, sign up for something, download something, whatever it is we want people to click through and you should be measuring the click-through rate and setting goals for yourself for a more effective click-through rate.
Bart Blair: [00:04:42] The third thing that you can and should be measuring is your unsubscribe rate. When I send emails out every week or every month or however often I’m sending them, how many people are actually unsubscribing? Am I measuring that? Am I working to lower my unsubscribe rate? And some of the other things that we’re going to be talking about in this list of ten things? Are things going to help you both increase your open rate, manage and increase your call to action and your click-through rate, and finally reduce your unsubscribe rate? So the first thing that you got to do is understand your objectives.
Bart Blair: [00:05:15] Number two, include all the details. Now, I don’t mean to include all the details about everything, but I’m talking about some very specific details. Number one, contact information. If someone receives your email and they need contact information about a specific event, activity, or story that you’re telling, whatever the case may be, make sure that there’s a logical and an easy way for them to extrapolate that information out of the email. Secondly, make sure that you always include social sharing buttons, ways that people can share either the full email or parts of the email on social media. And third, make sure that people can always unsubscribe, make sure that it’s obvious and it’s not a difficult thing for them to find. I know we hate the idea of people unsubscribing from our email, but you need to make sure that people can and they don’t get frustrated with you. Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye, but sometimes a goodbye is necessary.
Bart Blair: [00:06:07] And that brings me to my third point, and that is, let the unengaged go. I know, I know you don’t want people leaving your email list, but sometimes they need to and sometimes you need to move them from your email list. Now, I’m not saying you need to unsubscribe them or delete them altogether, but sometimes you need to remove them from the weekly newsletter or whatever it is that you’re sending on a regular basis and put them in a separate list, send them occasional emails, send them emails with an opportunity to opt back into the regular weekly email. Send them other emails that might pertain to different things that might pertain to them. But the reality is, if you have people that are not opening your emails at all ever, you need to take them off of that regular weekly list. In fact, rule of thumb is that if they haven’t opened an email in the last 90 days, you need to reach out to them, send them an email, and ask them if they would like to remain on the list. And if they don’t respond, remove them from the list. If they do respond and they tell you they don’t want to be on the list, then remove them from the list. If they don’t unsubscribe, don’t unsubscribe them, but give them an opportunity to opt-in or opt-out. Keep your list as clean as possible.
Bart Blair: [00:07:12] Now, I know one of the things that you’re thinking is that, well, some of these people are members of my church, and I want all the members of my church to be on my email list. If the members of your church are not opening your emails, there’s one of two things wrong. Either they’re not interested in what information you have to provide them, or you’re not providing them with any information that is useful to them. Do you get my point? Let the unengaged go.
Bart Blair: [00:07:34] Number four, account for Mobile. One of the cardinal sins of church communications directors is sitting down on their desktop or their laptop on MailChimp or constant contact or their church management software and creating an email and never actually looking to see what it looks like on mobile. The reality is, is that 70% of the people in your church or more are probably opening that email on their mobile device, and you didn’t stop to take a look to see what it actually looks like. Make sure that you always do that, and make sure that it translates well on mobile. In fact, I would say you should probably design your email with mobile first in mind because most people are going to open it on a mobile device. If it doesn’t translate well to mobile, people are not going to be able to find the appropriate calls to action, they’re going to find themselves frustrated scrolling through your emails, they’re not going to do the things that you want them to do, and ultimately they’re going to unsubscribe, that is, if they can even find the unsubscribe button.
Bart Blair: [00:08:24] Number five, make the CTA shine. What is a CTA? A CTA is a call to action. Most emails that you’re sending out to your church congregation, to your email list, there is something in there that you’re going to be asking them to do, right? You’re asking them to register for something or to RSVP for something or to connect with you in some way. And you want to make sure that those calls to action really stand out. You can do that through buttons, through color, through placement on the page, you can do it through different text treatments, but you always want to make sure that your calls to action are very clear and easy for people to follow. Make that CTA shine.
Bart Blair: [00:08:58] Number six, break things up. When you’re composing your email, especially if you have multiple sections with different topics that you’re communicating in the email, the best thing for you to do is to delineate those with spacers or with lines or even bullet points. So it makes it easier for the person who’s scrolling through the email to find the different sections that they’re looking for. This will also make your CTAs stand out more vividly for the sections that you’re wanting people to respond to.
Bart Blair: [00:09:24] Number seven, tell a story. You know, most of the time when we send out our church email, it’s not much more than a digital bulletin and a digital calendar with a whole bunch of events and all the things that we want you to do to sign up for those events. But one of the most effective ways of using your church email is by telling stories, tell stories that reinforce the mission, the vision, and the values of your church. Tell stories that connect people to the events and the activities that you want them to actually register for and attend. By using stories in your email, you will increase your open rate and you will increase your engagement rate, and that’s a win for everyone. Now, I’m not going to spend any more time on this particular aspect of the email today because we have a new podcast episode coming in just a couple of weeks that’s going to be all about a story-based email. So I’ll use this as a plug to make sure that you subscribe if you’re not yet subscribed.
Bart Blair: [00:10:14] Number eight, grab their attention. You know, people receive a lot of emails every day, and one of the ways that you can grab their attention is by using an effective subject line in your email. Short and medium subject lines tend to be the most effective, really long ones tend to get truncated when a person’s opening their email on a mobile device. I’m not a big fan of churches using the same subject line in their newsletter every single week. Sometimes that can be effective because it identifies that it is an email from you and from your church every single week and they don’t necessarily miss it, but I’m always big on experimenting with different types of subject lines to see if different subject lines will increase our open rate, especially if you’re using a story based email, you can use subject lines that connect people directly with the story that you’re trying to tell.
Bart Blair: [00:10:59] Number nine, make it personal. Most of our email platforms allow personalization in the email, and beyond just the salutation, Dear Bart. You can actually use a person’s name throughout the email. The more personalized you make that email, the better the experience for the user and the higher the retention rate, meaning the lower the unsubscribe rate. You don’t have to start with anything too complex or too complicated but just experiment with different ways that you can make those emails personal and see if it doesn’t increase your retention rate.
Bart Blair: [00:11:30] Number ten is to make sense with segmentation. Segmentation is taking your larger list and breaking it down into smaller subgroups so that you can deliver more relevant content to the people who are receiving the emails. You can use tags, you can use segments, you can even create different lists, but what you want to do is think about the different subgroups that you have in your church. Maybe you can create segments or tags around where people are in their spiritual journey, perhaps you have a large group of people who have said yes to Jesus but who haven’t been baptized, so you can deliver content specific to them about the next baptism class. Or you can create a segment of people who have become members but who haven’t yet joined a ministry or signed up for a small group, and you can deliver content to them that’s relevant to where they are in their spiritual journey. Maybe you create segments around different demographics, it’s parents of young children or parents of teens. Or maybe you can create segments around different geographic locations, if you’ve got multiple campuses to your church, you want to make sure that you create segments for each different location so you’re delivering appropriate content to the different people based on which campus they attend. Using segmentation is one of the ways that you can keep your unsubscribe rate really, really low. Because if you’re delivering content that is specifically relevant to the people who are receiving that content, then they’re more likely to stay on your list. If they’re a 64-year-old widow, empty nester and all you’re doing is firing them information about the children’s ministry, chances are they’re probably going to unsubscribe at some point. If you’re delivering marriage content to people who are single, they’re probably going to unsubscribe. Make sure that the content that you’re delivering to people when you’re sending out the emails is always appropriate.
Bart Blair: [00:13:04] And there you have it, there are ten things that can make your church emails more effective. I hope that this has been a helpful podcast for you, and I hope that you’ll try some of these things because I really believe if you do, then you will find your email strategies to be much more effective. Again, if you’re not subscribed, make sure that you subscribe so you don’t miss any of our upcoming episodes. And again, we want to thank you for tuning into the show, we know you have a choice about the podcast that you listen to and the fact that you take time to listen to ours really means the world to us. If there’s anything that Jason or I can do to connect with you, to help you be more effective in what you’re doing as a church, just click over to Missional Marketing.com. If you go to the About link, you’ll see a contact page and you can schedule an appointment to meet with one of us or one of our capable teammates. Thanks again for tuning in and until next time, God bless.