Tell Stories In Your Church Email For More Engagement | Maddie Hall

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Desire more Engagement with your Church Email? Missional Marketing Coach Maddie Hall shares how stories in church email drives better engagement.

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Jason Hamrock: [00:00:07] Well, Madie Hall, welcome to the show. How are you doing?

Maddie Hall: [00:00:11] Hey, good to be here.

Bart Blair: [00:00:13] This is welcome back to the show. Welcome back to the show. This is not Maddie’s first time on the podcast, although the first time was a long time ago. I don’t remember how long ago.

Jason Hamrock: [00:00:23] I don’t either, but we’re glad to have her back.

Maddie Hall: [00:00:25] Almost two years.

Bart Blair: [00:00:28] How many years?

Maddie Hall: [00:00:28] Almost two years, yeah.

Bart Blair: [00:00:28] Two years ago.

Jason Hamrock: [00:00:30] Okay. Well, Maddie, for our listeners, would you just take a minute and kind of share who you are, and your background in church communications, and just a little bit about yourself, that’d be great.

Maddie Hall: [00:00:44] Yeah, absolutely. So I work alongside Bart and Jason at Missional Marketing, which is fun, I am glad to be able to do that. I am one of our coaches, and help churches with marketing strategy, marketing communications, digital marketing, and all the places that churches need to be communicating with the people, right? So I’ve been doing church communications since, gosh, man, almost ten years now. It’s just crazy. Never thought that I would be working at a church, my husband’s a pastor, and my dad’s a pastor, and I thought that they had that figured out, they didn’t need me in the mix. But one thing led to another, and I ended up as the communications director at a church in Indianapolis. And I’ve been on the Mission Marketing team for about two and a half years, and it’s just been a really good fit. I get to use, you know, I’m really passionate about the marketplace and how to use tools that we would use in the business world for churches, and just really get to, to marry both of those things here at Missional Marketing.

Jason Hamrock: [00:01:59] Yeah, Yeah. Maddie, she’s selling yourself short, she’s one of our lead coaches. Like, she gets to actually lead the coaches because she’s talented and she knows what she’s talking about, and we’re pumped to have her on our team and she gets to oversee a lot of churches. She’s pretty vast in all the stuff she knows, but today I want to kind of dial into one particular topic, which I think is incredibly important for our listeners to hear this, because every church, pretty much every church does this activity. And what you’re going to talk about is how do you do what you’re doing now and make it a whole lot more effective. And the one thing that every church does, pretty much on a weekly basis or they should, is they send out an E-newsletter of some sort and some kind of an announcement. And everybody in every church has their own way of doing that, their own style, their own, you know, terms of how many things they put inside their newsletter, what they say. Sometimes they just throw up on people, and there are like 30 different announcements, and other times it’s just 1 or 2. And so today I want to talk about how do you actually use your newsletter more effectively, and in particular more story based. And so today’s topic is about story-based emails. Maddie, take a minute and just explain to our audience about what does that mean when you talk about a story-based email.

Maddie Hall: [00:03:32] Yeah, sure. Let me, I’ll back it up even a little bit more. Because you said, you know, everybody’s kind of sending out a newsletter. Well, when you think newsletter, like you kind of think like, well that’s kind of some updates, here’s what’s happening here, and here’s what’s happening over here. And the story based email is taking what’s happening in your church, the changes that you’ve been able to make in your community, in your world, the changes that you’ve seen in the people that are at your church, and sharing that information with the other people in the church. Right, it’s taking the good that you’ve seen happen in your church and using it to market to other people. And say this happened to this person because of you, and we want to see more change like that. Or this happened because of this event in our church, and this could also be your story. So it’s getting at the heartstrings of people more so than just saying, well, we’re doing this. And by the way, did you know we’re doing this? By the way, look at us, we’re doing this, too. Oh, and we’re doing this. And it’s saying, hey, like it’s not about us, it’s about the people. And so story-based email is one way to do that.

Jason Hamrock: [00:04:49] So, for example, if you have alpha, you do alpha. If you don’t know what alpha is, go look it up, but it’s pretty much a curriculum that actually helps people navigate who God is. And it’s a really, really, really powerful course. So what you’re saying, instead of just, hey, Alpha’s happening and it starts this Wednesday at 7 p.m. in room B, 152, sign up here. What you’re saying is maybe go find somebody who’s been through Alpha and they could tell their story about how they didn’t know God before Alpha, and now they do know God and they’re following Jesus as a result of it, and you tell that story to promote the upcoming alpha. Is that what you’re saying?

Maddie Hall: [00:05:33] Absolutely, yeah. Because why do I want to go to some random program I have never heard about that starts at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday, like, I’ve got so many other things that I could do on Wednesday night. Like your church, particularly like if it’s a brand new program, you know, for your church, like I need to know more than 7 p.m. on Wednesday. You know, I want to know that I’ve talked to that person, maybe I know that person that happened to be in the story, or I’m connected to them somehow. You know, because we’re talking about story-based email in this podcast, we’re really talking about internal marketing. These people are already on your list. I mean, like I could go on and on about how to use email to reach people that, you know, maybe don’t know about Alpha, but could really benefit from Alpha. But when we talk about using, in this particular scenario, it’s people that are already on your list. Right? They’re already subscribed. And now story-based marketing works for pretty much anything, right? But when we talk about kind of our weekly newsletter, how does it work with Alpha or any activity or event?

Maddie Hall: [00:06:53] So it’s saying, hey, let’s send this email out, and the main thing is going to be a promo for Alpha, but the words are going to be a picture. And here’s an important piece, so maybe it’s three paragraphs, just include one paragraph in that email. Don’t include all three paragraphs because what you want people to do is not only open the email, you want them to click through to your website. So that first paragraph should be strong enough that people are like, well, wait, what happened? Like they went to the first two weeks of Alpha and then like, did they fall off? Did they go to the rest of the weeks? Did they end up accepting Christ? Like, I want to know more. So either it clicks through to the rest of that story, which would live on a blog. Gosh, we could talk so much about blogs, right, and how to use that. Or it goes to a video where people can watch the video.

Jason Hamrock: [00:07:49] So you’re basically, like, the first word of that is story. Right? And as you were saying that I was thinking of everybody loves Chick-fil-A, So Chick-fil-A can run a TV commercial, and just put a chicken sandwich on there and you start drooling. But do you notice what Chick-fil-A does in their commercials? They tell a story, right? Now they’re doing a video, and it’s a commercial. But do you ever notice that there are two people sitting on a couch and they’re kind of sharing a story And that makes you think differently about Chick-fil-A? It’s like, why do they do that? This is kind of a similar thing, it’s like instead of just making this announcement that’s like, come and buy a chicken sandwich. It’s the story behind why Chick-fil-A is different and it’s about a community, and they have really good food.

Bart Blair: [00:08:35] Well, they’re using the story to reinforce the vision and the values of the organization, right? Which, it’s one thing to put a list of announcements together and sign up links and send that out to people, it’s another thing to actually use the story-based email framework to continuously reinforce the things that you as a church are your core values and I think that that’s it’s a great opportunity.

Bart Blair: [00:09:02] Now for just a second, Maddie, let me pretend that I’m the communications director that’s listening to this. Number one, I want you to tell me what’s wrong with the way I’m doing the emails now. Hey, I shared with you before we started this call with one of the churches that I’m working with that has a 53% open rate on our weekly emails, and honestly, there’s nothing in it except for announcements. So there’s a part of me that’s kind of like, well, I’ve got a really good open rate. Now, I did tell you that my engagement rate is not nearly as good as the open rate, that’s a 3% engagement rate with a 50% open rate, so maybe that’s a problem there. But what’s wrong with the way I’m doing it now? And boy, Maddie, it just sounds like a whole lot of work.

Maddie Hall: [00:09:49] Well, it is, I won’t lie. You know, it sometimes can be difficult to get the stories right. It’s like, how do I, you know, how do I even, the kid’s team is doing so much and the group team’s doing so much, and how do I track down these stories? And that is one of the issues that we do run into, like just church in general. I work with a lot of churches like Jason said, and time and time again it’s like, how do we get these stories? How do we get these stories? We’ve tried this link, and we’ve tried this link. And I would say, where you spend time, you’re going to see benefits, right? It’s just like stretching, like I’m very inflexible, okay? That’s just my husband, super flexible, I wish I had his genes, right? But I know like, I know that my dad is still very inflexible and it hasn’t super helped him as he’s aged. So that’s something that I’m like, you know what, that’s important to me. So I’m going to put in the work and put in the time so that I see results. Okay, so maybe that seems like a silly example, a silly comparison, but it’s one that’s on the top of my mind. But when I put the time in, I see results. So when you think about engagement in an email, that’s really what you want, right? You want somebody to click on it and not just get lost in the weeds, right? You want them to click on it and then do what’s in that email or engage with what’s in that email. Okay, so stories, putting the work in, finding the stories and say, I’m going to find a story a week, or I’m going to create a system so that my kid’s team knows how to tell me the stories that are happening. Or in a staff meeting once a month, we’re going to spend 15 minutes and everybody’s going to tell me a story. And here’s a little tidbit of what I used to do when I was on a church staff, and even now I serve as Communications Director at a couple of churches, that’s one of the programs that we do here at Missional Marketing is stepping in as the communications director at churches. And I’ll sit in a meeting and I’ll just listen, all these different ministries are saying, hey, here’s our update, here’s our update, here’s our update. The last time I sat in a staff meeting, I walked away with 27 story ideas. Okay, it was a two-hour staff meeting, 27 story ideas, right, all I did was take notes. Now I have to follow up with those people, but there are other people on my team, so I can just say, hey so there you go, 27 story ideas about sets me up for at least half of the year, right? So, I would say it’s work, but it’s worth it, right?

Maddie Hall: [00:12:29] And then to address kind of your other question about, you know, I’m already getting a good open rate. I do, I have a similar situation that I’m thinking of right now, I have a church that does have a good open rate, and part of that is consistency. Like, if you open up any random article that talks to you about email marketing, they’re probably going to say one of the things that you could do is send that email at the same time and on the same date each week. Okay, we’re going to send it on Tuesdays at noon. All right, like we’re going to send it on the front part of the week, we’re going to send it when people have time, they’re taking their lunch break, and they’re able to get that email and read it, you know? So with consistency, you likely would have a decent open rate. Also with people that are subscribed to your list, like you want those people to actually, you know, want your information that also helps with your open rate.

Maddie Hall: [00:13:23] But yeah, I’ll take it back to where you already took it, which is engagement and click-through, and also, how much time people actually spend looking at the emails. I might click it just because I’m going through my email and I’m going to delete it quickly, right, but if there’s something there that catches my attention, like, Oh, there’s a video there, you know, and that’s something that I would encourage you to do too, is once a month we’re going to try to do a video. That would be linked then to our blog, or however you have it set up. But as part of these stories, it doesn’t always have to be a news story. Like, let’s say you share a story from the weekend, I think it’s totally fine to use that story in the email also. You’re catching a different audience.

Jason Hamrock: [00:14:17] And on social media.

Maddie Hall: [00:14:18] And on social media, absolutely. Right, if we think people come to church one and a half times a month, they maybe didn’t even see the video, they maybe weren’t even there, you know? So it’s maybe less work than you think. And also what one thing about what the content of your email by putting, you know, kind of the old school thing was let’s just blast the information out there, let’s get it all out there, and then they can pick and choose what they want to do. Well, really, you’re diluting your content. And so instead of choosing from this massive list, people choose nothing, they just end up doing nothing because it’s so much. They’re like, well, I don’t know what to do, you know, and so they end up just saying, well, I don’t know. They’ll send me another email when they need me, you know, and they don’t read that one either.

Jason Hamrock: [00:15:11] Do you think that so…Because, yeah, for a lot of people, they’ve got to create the…As a communication director, your job is to help communicate. And so one of those things might be is trying to train up the staff to say, keep your eyes on what God’s doing in the church on changed lives because you’re helping me do my job, and you’re helping me not only do my job but also helping people. And when you were saying that, I was thinking that an email newsletter, even though it is for kind of an internal thing, it doesn’t have to be that way. It can also be a tool that somebody could share or forward that email, or if they go to the website, they could forward a share widget, if it’s a cool changed life story. And you know somebody down the street who’s, you know, a friend of yours that’s going through that same kind of a struggle, so it can turn into something way more than just communicating.

Jason Hamrock: [00:16:07] Now, saying all that, though, my question is this. Do you have to, you know, for people that are just doing weekly email newsletters, do you have to do it every week or could somebody like start off with a goal to say, hey, at least once a month we’re going to have our newsletter be story-based, and eventually we’ll have it twice a month, and then three, and then eventually four, can you build up to that?

Maddie Hall: [00:16:32] Yeah, absolutely. I would say start with what you have, right? I mean, if I go back to the stretching, like if I stretch once a week, that’s better than not stretching at all. Right? And so I would say, absolutely, if you can provide one story a month, start there. If you can provide one story every two months, start there, like, it’s as much as you can do. And even with the churches that I work with, a lot of times what I’ll even recommend is, hey, let’s do three stories because these are churches that have the capability to do this. Let’s do three stories a month, and then on that fourth Sunday, let’s do a what’s coming up? And we’ll provide a little bit of this activity, this activity, this activity, this activity, Right?

Maddie Hall: [00:17:20] So the framework that I recommend is a story with one, we’ll call it, announcement at the bottom. The purpose of that whole email is not that announcement at the bottom, but like it might be…So when we’re recording this, Easter is coming up, right, so we might have a story about an invite and how an invite to someone for Easter changed their life, and they’ve been coming to the church for the last year. Well, that announcement at the bottom might be like, hey, our Easter services are at 9:00, 11:00, and 1:00 this year, you know, so it’s related kind of to that story. And then on that fourth Sunday, or excuse me, not Sunday, but the fourth email that goes out that week would be what’s happening. And I would never do more than four, that’s just kind of my rule, as we look through how people actually scroll through emails and how much they’ll actually click on. Right? Because think about it, I mean, I probably am not going to click out more than once out of an email. I might, but it’s unlikely, right?

Maddie Hall: [00:18:32] I’ve also been able to track this with one particular church for quite a while, almost, oh, gosh, almost two years, actually. We’ve been tracking every single email that’s been sent, their open rates, their click-through rates, what’s been engaging, what’s not been engaging, and what should we change.

Bart Blair: [00:18:55] If I’m not mistaken, that’s a big church with a lot of programs. Right? It’s a big church with a lot of programs. So I’m just, I’m hearing, it’s almost like they’re in the room with me, I’m hearing all the communications directors in the world go, but Maddie, if I know that if I post events and activities on social media and a fraction of the people that are on social media ever see them, because the way that the algorithms work against me, and I’m limited with how many announcements I can get from the platform at church on Sunday, the email to me seems like the last ditch effort that I have to communicate to everyone what’s going on in my church. And so I don’t want to derail our conversation here about the story-based email being the primary point of our conversation. But you’re saying that if I’m doing a story-based email, I’m actually significantly limiting the amount of additional content that I’m including in that email. So how do I find the balance there between telling good stories and increasing that engagement, but also making sure that I’m effectively communicating to people in the church what they need to know and when they need to know it?

Maddie Hall: [00:20:05] Go ahead, Jason.

Jason Hamrock: [00:20:05] I’ve got an idea. So I think what you’re saying, Maddie, is and this is true, that in your church, God is moving, we hope. So if God is moving, lives are being changed, there are stories out there. But what I think, maybe what you’re, so what you’re saying is go find that story, wrap that event around that story somehow. If you can’t do that, at least make it more creative. Instead of having the pancake breakfast for men on Saturday morning, and you’re just saying that, pancakes, 9 a.m., you know, bring a friend. Why don’t you tell a story like you could say, hey, dads, have you ever wanted to spend more time with your son? And, you know, you just kind of share more of a cool idea, like, what it would be like for you to have more time with your son. Well, we have got a great…And you’re kind of like dads that do that. will have more kids who will enjoy that and say yes to that. And you do some research and you actually have more of a story, so you could see yourself as the reader in that story. I want to spend more time with my son, I’ll totally come to that pancake thing. But if you just invite me to the pancake thing without any other feelings behind it, or any kind of emotion or drive towards it, I probably will just skim over it.

Maddie Hall: [00:21:24] Yeah, and what you just brought up, Jason, is another way to do it. Kind of using stats and data to say, hey, when dads spend time with their sons, this happens, this happens, this is proven. You know, and you can also, and I would recommend, yeah, you just opened a big can.

Bart Blair: [00:21:47] Sorry.

Maddie Hall: [00:21:51] But I would recommend, if it’s something very specific let’s keep with the pancake breakfast. Dads and sons, let’s say it’s a father-son, father figure, and son, pancake breakfast the student ministry is putting on. Right? And so let’s just say that’s 6th to 12th graders, and that’s with dads, right? So if you’re the church, that’s where you have to evaluate and say, what are our church’s core values? Are we a family-centric church? Is that our number one? If that’s your number one, then father-son pancake breakfast probably merits a story in that weekly email with a story, and then pushing people to register. Right? But you know, getting that story, and saying this is Jim and this is his son Jason, and they’re going together, and they went last year, and here’s why they’re coming back. And in the meantime, in between the pancake breakfast and this last year, like, their relationship has grown, it’s developed, you know? And telling and kind of, following Jim and Jason over that year.

Maddie Hall: [00:23:03] But outside of the weekly newsletter, that’s what Bart was kind of asking, well if we can only do a story in one announcement or even when you do the end-of-month email and there are only four announcements, like, there are, what about everything else, right? What about all those people? So there are kind of two things that I would say there. One is let’s, again, like what are your main focuses as a church? That’s where you, as the communications director, that’s your job. Your job is to push forward what your main mission and values are of the church. And so like you have to get your supervisors to buy in and be okay with that because you need the authority to say to, MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers, now, you know, like, hey, that’s an awesome ministry, but we know that 75% of our moms work. I mean, I don’t know. I’m making this up, right? This could be a bad example, but something during the day that happens at 9:30, that’s more of a niche, like it’s not really going to work for all of our families. So then your goal is not just to say no, and I think communications teams get a bad rap because it’s like these ministries think, well, communication is you’re just going to tell me no. Like, I’m just going to go do it myself, you know? And that’s the opposite of what you want, your goal is to help them communicate so that they end up with more people, Right?

Maddie Hall: [00:24:34] So let’s go back to the pancake breakfast. I would send targeted emails, then, to those dads, and to the moms of those kids to say, hey, moms, here’s why you need your husband and son at the pancake breakfast. Hey, dads, here’s why you need to bring your son to the pancake breakfast. And you’re using, it’s multiple stories from the pancake breakfast, along with data to back up why you need to do that. So that’s why I said you opened a can of worms because that’s where I end up getting to with ministries, is because they’ll say, I have to have a stage announcement. I have to have an email, I have to have X, Y, or Z. And, you know, I’m running tests right now that just prove so often. And here’s a good stat for you, I had a church that did a campaign for global missions trips. I told them you’re going to send emails to people that have been on mission trips before, okay, that’s going to be one of the things that you do, and we’re going to have targeted emails. They had about a 40% open rate on those emails. We also had them do stage announcements and all those other things, anytime they did a stage announcement, the highest click-through rate to the website was 2%. So you’re thinking that email only went to those people that went on global trips, right? The stage announcement was to all these people, like it could have been anybody, and this was a rather large church. So 2% of people ended up being, you know, just a fraction of who opened that email, even though that email went to fewer people. So that’s your answer, Bart, is pushing your ministries to say, you know what, we’re going to get with just the people that this really affects and have them be our main sellers.

Maddie Hall: [00:26:33] So like I used MOPS, for example, we’re going to connect with those moms and say like, who can you text? Who can you say, hey, we really want you to be a part of MOPS? Or where in your community do moms who don’t work, where do they hang out, you know, and how can you get involved in those places? So it’s really, instead of the, I probably said this last time I was on the podcast, instead of the traditional marketing funnel, kind of let’s just tell everybody and then eventually a few people will come. You flip that upside down so that we say, we’re going to start with the people that we know are really invested, and we’re going to work with those people to get a much larger base at the bottom.

Jason Hamrock: [00:27:22] Yeah, I’ve heard you say that, and it’s so brilliant, I love that upside-down model. So in essence, what you’re saying is to know your audience. Because when you send out an email blast, and we’ll use the pancake breakfast and you’re sending it to a single gal, what you’re saying is we don’t know who you are and we want to just throw everything at you. You’re sending me, a dad who works, something on MOPS, of course, I’m not going to engage. Duh. So what you’re I think what you’re saying is, can you start off with creating stories when you’re communicating in your email newsletter and build to the point where you actually know your audience and you’ve been able to segment your audience so that you can tailor that message straight to them because you’re going to get the best result out of that. That’s kind of what you’re saying, I think.

Maddie Hall: [00:28:14] Absolutely. And another reason to use a story is if I see a story in the news that says, you know, more details about a father and a son that went to a pancake breakfast and the impact they had on their life, I’m going to engage with that and read that because I’m interested. I want to know about that, even though I have no sons. Like I’m not going to, nobody in my family is going to the pancake breakfast, but it’s still an engaging story and I’m excited that my church is able to make that type of impact on my community.

Jason Hamrock: [00:28:47] Yeah.

Maddie Hall: [00:28:48] Whereas if I see pancake breakfast this Saturday, 9 a.m., I’m like, okay, cool, I have no sons. Like next, what else? Do you know what I mean? But if I see the story, I say, oh my gosh, that’s so cool. Like, you know what, my neighbors, they do have theirs, you know, that’d be really great for them. Like, that story was really cool. I might even go tell my neighbor, like, my church just sent me this story, like, that was so cool. Like, you know, and then now I’m engaged with your email beyond just opening and clicking through.

Bart Blair: [00:29:24] That goes back to what I mentioned earlier, is that even though you may not have a husband and or a son to participate in the pancake breakfast, it is reinforcing the value and the mission of the church and you are a part of the church. So whatever the values are and whatever the mission and the purpose of the church is, you’re still a part of that, even though that particular event or that activity might not pertain to you specifically, and that’s what that story reinforces.

Bart Blair: [00:29:51] Maddie, let me ask you another question because I’m watching the clock here and I want to make sure that we have time to talk about this. In addition to simply telling stories, I know that you’re doing some other creative things with church emails that are maybe not exactly storytelling, but they’re a little bit out of the box and they’re designed to increase the engagement with your emails. Can you share some of the other ideas that you’re doing, some of the other things that you’re doing with some churches you’re working with?

Maddie Hall: [00:30:19] Yeah, one of the things that we’re doing, we call a top three, and the idea is to get to know your pastors more than you maybe do. You know, I happen to work with larger churches, that’s kind of just the bucket of folks that I work with. I think this works for churches of all sizes, however. So the idea is that alongside that story, you would pair it with a pastor’s top three and maybe you start with what are you watching? What are you reading? What are you listening to? So maybe it’s, you know, I’m reading this book, I’m watching this show, you know, and that just helps people to say, I already feel like I know you because I see you on the stage giving the message each weekend. Well, if you’re at a larger church, you may not have the opportunity to meet that pastor in the lobby very often, you know, or interact with that person outside of kind of from the stage. So this makes that person more human, you know, in a sense of, oh, my gosh, what, like he was listening to Encanto because he has three kids. Like, of course, like, I’m listening to that right now, you know. And then it starts to just, you start to build a relationship, even though you don’t maybe see or have a face-to-face conversation as often. And I mean, like I said, it doesn’t really matter whether the church is large or small, because even if I see the pastor in the lobby every weekend and I talk to him about maybe I talk to him about like, hey, you know, we went to this cookout over the weekend, super cool, whatever, but I don’t know what he’s maybe reading as far as how he’s growing and learning more about what he’s been teaching us on the weekend. And I want to know that, you know, that that to me gives me more trust in that person.

Maddie Hall: [00:32:24] So yeah, we call it the top three, like I said, watching, reading, and listening. But we’ve done themed ones where maybe it’s Christmas on the holidays, you know, what are your top three things you like to do with your family? And we’ve switched it out not always maybe the lead pastor, but maybe it’s a campus pastor, or maybe, you know, it could be any pastor that has a face with people that it would make sense to do that with.

Maddie Hall: [00:32:54] So that’s one of the things that we’re doing. We’re also talking a little bit we just kind of, I’m saying this now, even though we’re in the early stages of it, but, I mean, it’ll make sense to you guys, making the engagement cross-channel. So saying in social media, asking people questions and then saying, all right, we’re going to put the answers to these questions in our email. And then, oh, you want to subscribe to the email? Here you go, this is how you subscribe to the email. So we’re able to take engagement from one platform into the email, just like you might drop your social channels at the bottom of your email. You know, it’s just kind of the opposite. So I don’t have a whole lot of stats on that yet, but it’s something that we’re in the early stages on.

Jason Hamrock: [00:33:37] Wow. Yeah, that’s interesting.

Bart Blair: [00:33:40] Jason, I’m gonna put you on the spot, but because I like to do that. What’s something, that as a communications director, something creative that you did with your church’s emails to keep people engaged? Can you think of anything off the top of your head, or did you just throw up on people with all your announcements?

Jason Hamrock: [00:33:59] Yeah, we probably threw up on people. Well, simple, like, we fought hard against throwing up on people, so we, we tried to limit it to like 2 or 3 things and that’s it. And, you know, if you wanted, you know, we’d always have a link out to like upcoming events and things of that nature. But we never really got into stories, it was kind of too early for that, but we tried to just be very careful with how many announcements we were making. It’s come a long way since I was in that space because now we can, you know, you can really tailor it…

Bart Blair: [00:34:42] Because now we have way more creative people like Maddie who are doing the emails.

Jason Hamrock: [00:34:47] Not only story based, but also like we were just kind of mentioned earlier of actually knowing your audience. And I’ll use another perfect example that is like you don’t know people when you’re, when you’re saying we’re having all church baptisms coming up or something like that. And you’re saying you need to get baptized and you’re like, dude, I got baptized like ten years ago, you don’t even know who I am. Right? And that’s a perfect example of where churches can go and use tools to help you better know your people and then just target that message. Now, that’s obviously churches that have gone deeper in that space, size doesn’t matter, it’s about the tools.

Maddie Hall: [00:35:22] And I would say, if your database can’t do that, you need a new database. You need to start that conversation right now.

Jason Hamrock: [00:35:28] Exactly, keep up your database.

Bart Blair: [00:35:31] Yeah, it is a little tricky, especially like I’ll use an example. If you use Planning Center as your church management software, which I would bet that a significant percentage of the churches that are, you know, listening to this podcast would, you can track all that in your database. But most of those churches are not using Planning Center as their email platform, they’re using MailChimp or Constant Contact or something of that nature. So it does get a little bit laborious to maintain those MailChimp or Constant Contact lists, but it is doable. You can do it, you’ve just got to put the effort into it and then work hard to keep it up to date.

Bart Blair: [00:36:09] I shared with Maddie before we started recording, one of the things that I’m working with is a church that is really wanting to see an increase in their volunteering in the church. I mean, what church doesn’t? We need more children’s ministry volunteers. We need more parking lot volunteers. We need more people serving coffee. We need more small group leaders. Like whatever it is, every church needs more volunteers. And so what we’re going to do, is we’re going to start doing a twice-a-month volunteer spotlight. So the story that we’re going to tell in the email is actually telling the story of someone who’s been serving on a specific team for some specific length of time. And we’re not specifically going to have a call to action to say, hey, sign up for the children’s ministry because Maddie just told her story. But we want to highlight and celebrate the volunteers in the church who have been committed and who are doing it. Again, it reinforces one of the values in the church, which is, you know, involvement and engagement and using your gifts and talents for the sake of the Kingdom. It also gives us a great story to tell every couple of weeks when we throw that in the email.

Bart Blair: [00:37:13] Now, what I hadn’t thought about before, and I’m thinking about this now after you talked about this, Maddie, is actually doing those profiles, those volunteer spotlights as a blog post, and actually just telling part of the story in the email and linking over to the blog post. I haven’t thought about that, I might do a little A B testing over the course of the next few months, you know, because I think we’re going to do it twice a month. And so maybe I’ll tell the whole story in the email once, and then I’ll tell part of the story in the email once with a link to the blog and test that out for a little while and see how that goes. I’ll keep you posted.

Maddie Hall: [00:37:46] That’s a good idea. Would you link to anything in the blog, or would just once they got there, do you think you would just leave it as is?

Bart Blair: [00:37:54] I don’t know, I’ve got to think through that a little bit. I think, you know, we do have some forms that people can fill out if they’re interested in getting information about volunteering in a specific ministry, so we’ll probably link to that form. Maybe, you know, one of the ways that in this particular church you get onboarded into ministries is through a membership class called All In. So, you know, maybe we’ll include links to when the next All In class is taking place so someone could register for the All In class if they want to do that, if they want to kind of take it to the next level. I’ll experiment with a few different things and see what works.

Maddie Hall: [00:38:31] You’ll have to let us know.

Bart Blair: [00:38:32] I will.

Jason Hamrock: [00:38:34] Okay. Well, we probably need to land this plane, so, Maddie, thanks for pouring into this and helping the big C church get better, but helping smaller churches get better at this as well. So hopefully we, you know, as you guys are listening to this, you would take some of this advice and run with it. And just as Maddie was saying, you don’t have to like hit a home run every time, right? Just start off with something, and experiment with it and you might fail, but that’s that’s how you get better. So push through your failure, keep learning, keep getting better, because God is doing some amazing things in your church. You just got to investigate and find out what those are, those stories, and then build a new email, the story based email. Right?

Maddie Hall: [00:39:16] Yeah, absolutely, that’s well said. And I’ll throw this last little thought at you as we wrap up. That you mentioned the Chick-Fil-A commercials and the story there, we know Chick-Fil-A sells chicken, like I get that that’s kind of a common thing that most people know. But like they weren’t selling the chicken in in that in that commercial, like you said, right, they were just telling us a story about something that happened in their restaurant. Okay? Like think about it from that angle, what’s your main point from the church? And I think this is kind of one of the things that I’ve been on lately is our main purpose and call to action as a church is, like you said, love people and tell them about Christ. It’s not to get them to sign up for some random X, Y, or Z, right? And so if we think about it from that angle, then it’s like, okay, I’ll just put one story in there, you know, and we’ll work on getting the information out about but everything else in different ways. So, thanks for having me on.

Bart Blair: [00:40:17] Maddie, thanks for hanging out with us, it’s been fun.

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