Email is still king.
Let me just put it in perspective for you. According to The Radicati Group, a technology research firm, the total number of email accounts worldwide was scheduled to hit 4.9 billion by 2017. That’s 3x more email accounts than there are Twitter and Facebook profiles combined.
Read more about that here if you’d like to see a current comparison.
So, needless to say, your church probably has an email marketing strategy of some sort. It may not be a very good or very intentional one, but one exists out there in the ether somewhere nonetheless.
Every week in one of the many Facebook groups dedicated to church communications, someone is asking a question about how to do email better. I grabbed a few of the most frequent questions and I’m going to answer them quickly here. So here we go in random order…
How often should we email everyone?
Easily the most common question, it’s also the easiest to answer. For your church newsletter with a bunch of info in it, once a week. I find that 8:00 PM works for us. That’s when kids are finally asleep and parents can read the email, talk about what’s in it, and possibly do something with the info (sign up, etc).
If you’re talking about department emails, you have to balance that out with your needs and NEVER email them on the same day as the all church newsletter.
For departments, I also say only email when you have something important to say. You don’t have to do a weekly email with students or kids. Just ask that the important stuff be included in the all-church email or send your department email once a month with the whole month’s info in it.
Best platform to use?
Mailchimp. It’s the cheapest with the most features and easiest interface to learn. It also integrates with so many other applications like your database. Others like Constant Contact or Active Campaign are good too, but for the price, Mailchimp. There’s also a monkey.
What’s a good open rate/click rate?
If you can get 20-25% open rates on your emails, you’re doing good. To put that in perspective, a post on Facebook is seen by less than 5% or so of your followers unless they start to share it and comment and even then, it may only get to about 15-20% of your followers.
For click rates, 3%-5% is pretty good. For a social post, you may get 1-2% clicks. And even then, it’s too a smaller sample, so email is the clear winner. It’s science.
It’s not that I don’t think social media is valuable, it’s just not super valuable for getting people to click stuff unless you’ve put some money behind it.
How many images can I use?
None. Maybe one. But don’t make it important, ie. don’t put information on the image and not type the info out too. Why?
Because the default mode for most email providers is to turn images off. Also, it looks spammy, like from a business instead of a friend.
Whatever images you insert into your email will probably be blocked by Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. Why? Because 1) It slows down load-time for emails which is a bad experience, 2) images are big and could land your email in the promotions folder, and 3) they usually don’t improve the look of your email as much as you think.
Best practice is to make it look like it’s an email that you would get from someone you know. How flashy are those? None. How opened are those? Usually.
Bonus Quick Fire Round
How long should a newsletter be?
No more than 150-200 words are best. If you get to 300, turn around, you’ve gone too far. They’re reading it on mobile most likely. If I have to swipe more than 3 times, I’m out.
Should we post our email campaign to Facebook/Twitter?
No. If I wanted to see your email newsletter, I’ll sign up for the list. When I’ve been at a church that required this, it was easily our lowest performing post of the week (actually of the day because it was a daily devotional).
Why is that important? Well, Al the algorithm doesn’t like it for sure. But mostly, your people don’t like it. The 3 that do will tell you, but the 45-200 that don’t will just silently unfollow your posts on Facebook.
I’m working on an updated checklist for best practices for email writing that I will be releasing soon to my email list. Join HERE if you’d like to get that and I’ll send you some other freebies including the 88 ideas for church social media posts ebook.
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I go back and forth on the images. We’re planning to A/B test images vs no images in March and see if it shows in the metrics.
I just did an ab test on images too. Just took out the header and tested for clicks. No header won by a landslide. I’d be interested to hear how your test goes.