Why Your Church REALLY NEEDS an Email Marketing Platform
Email marketing platforms have been around for awhile now. Paid and free systems like Mailchimp and ConvertKit have helped countless businesses and non-profits gain traction with their email in ways normal email simply can’t compete with.
So why are so many churches still using basic email to send church emails?
I’ve encountered a lot of excuses but they usually boil down to the person who writes them either fearing change or not being technology or creatively inclined.
Plus, if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right?
I get it. I’ve meet and trained many people who identified with these fears. But these fears are worth overcoming because if your church isn’t using an email marketing platform then odds are it’s not communicating effectively. Here’s why.
You need strategic campaigns
Normal email is usually haphazard. A person has a list and that person sends it when and how she or he desires. This may be easier for the sender but the result is often poorly timed announcements, repetitive prayer emails or even forgotten needs.
Email marketing tools allow the sender to have strategic lists of contacts, segmented by age, gender, neighborhood, campus, you name it. When you use a marketing platform, you have templates that look and feel the same every time you create a campaign. Once you finish writing an email, you can send test emails to get info approved or proofed. Finally, instead of sending an email when it convenient for the sender, you schedule the email for a strategic day and time so it’s delivered when it best for the receiver.
Every church partner I work with is given multiple templates to create campaigns from, each created for separate purposes (prayer, announcements, opportunities), and they are trained to schedule these campaigns for the same day and time. So now if your pastor writes a devotional email each week, people will come to expect that devotion to arrive on time. They begin to rely on it and develop their weekly rhythms around it. Plus, now the sender can create all the email for the week at once, schedule them and then move on to other work.
So begin to think strategically about your emails and take some steps to make it happen.
You need creative campaigns
Normal emails give you very few options when it comes to adding your church’s brand to emails. When you use an email marketing platform, suddenly a world of creative options open up to you. You can now add banner images, buttons, video and more.
Using these features to create emails that look and feel distinctly like your church, website, or other publications will give your church a tastefully professional feel.
A word of caution: don’t go crazy with the creative options. Most research shows that the simplest emails are often the most effective. You don’t want to create a campaign with 5 banners and 20 announcements and buttons. People WILL stop reading. You can put hours into making a really snazzy campaign but that doesn’t mean it will be effective.
For example, I send out multiple denominational emails every month. They have nice looking banners and icon branded thumbnails with each section. However, after a while the emails were getting bloated and I was having a hard time keeping the content organized and concise. So I split one email into two, sending news in the first and fresh content in the second. Guess what happened? The engagement on both grew.
You need to track your campaigns’ successes and failures
The way I able to know splitting the aforementioned denominational email into two would be effective is from the reports Mailchimp generates for each and every campaign you send.
From these reports I can learn how many people open the email, how many times, what time of day, what they clicked on, and more. From this data, I can see how people engage with my campaigns and (here the important part) learn from it.
When you send a normal email, we just assume people read it. Our assumption is: Email sent = communication accomplished.
You need to learn as much as you can from your successes and failures in order to eventually communicate effectively with your congregation.
By the way, you may need to help your church leadership understand why failure is a good thing. Success is great but failure helps you know what not to do and make it better for next time.
So please, if you are not yet using some kind of email marketing platform, I would encourage you to start with Mailchimp and experiment. Create some templates, connect it to your ChMS, do some test emails, and see where it take you.
Founder and Lead Catalyst for Clearpath.Church. Josh is ordained in the Reformed Church in America and is passionate about helping small churches find their voice. Josh lives with his family in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California.