With the amount of emails we all seem to receive these days, it seems crazy that they still have the highest engagement with followers than any form of social media. In fact, only 3% of your Instagram or Facebook followers will see your posts, while 30-40% of your email subscribers will open up your emails. So, for small churches, it feels like an absolute no-brainer to put together an email list, where you can easily contact church members straight in their inboxes.
The only issue, of course, is that a lot of us have a sky-high pile of unread emails that we never get around to reading. So, how can we make your emails the ones that entertain and excite your readers?
It’s simple! Read on to find the 5 key ingredients to an engaging email.
Feel like listening instead of reading?
1. It’s all in the subject
Before anyone reads your email, they actually have to open it! The main tool we have available to entice opens is our subject line, so make it fun, make it conversational, and make it specific. These three keys will drive some great subject lines into your mind.
Here’s some examples:
1 | ‘Email newsletter #5 for Oak Church’
2 | ‘Oak Church News!’
3 | ‘What’s been happening at Oak Church this week…’
4 | ‘Open to read all about Oak Church’
There are a few reasons why these subject lines simply don’t work.
Example 1 shows a little too much of what’s happening behind the scenes - like the fact that they’ve only ever written 5 email newsletters. It’s also just not very interesting.
Example 2 is trying to inject a little excitement, but ends up falling flat. After all, who really gets excited about ‘news’? It’s too general and doesn’t give detail about what will be in the email.
Example 3 is another attempt at intrigue, but ends up falling flat because, once again, its just too general, however it does describe what will be in the email.
Example 4 is my least favourite of the bunch, and this is why: it says you have to ‘read’. Anytime that you imply that the reader has to do work inside the email, you’re not going to pull them in. Reading is hard, and people feel as though they don’t have time for it. If you’ve been mentioning ‘reading’ in your subject lines, stop now and you’ll likely see a big difference in your open rates.
1 | What is God telling you this week?
2 | (First name), inside is your invitation to the biggest event of the year!
3 | Overwhelmed this week? Us too.
4 | OAK Youth| The HUNT is on
Example 1 is a perfectly simple subject line, but it doesn’t rabbit on about ‘news’, it asks the reader a question. This is a really simple tactic to get the reader thinking and wanting to engage with your email.
Example 2 uses the person’s first name (which I’ll let you know how to do in a tick), and immediately makes a personal connection with the reader. Next, mentioning what is inside the email, but adding that it is an invitation will immediately convince them that they can’t miss out on what is inside!
Example 3 is similar to 1 because of the use of a question, however the tiny sentence ‘Us too.’ adds a commonality to the subject line that you can easily implement!
Example 4 is a great example if you are sending to a smaller, segmented group of people. For this group, they receive the normal church newsletter, but they also receive the Youth newsletter, and therefore it helps to specify that this is a youth-related email.
2. Make it personal!
When talking about subject lines, we mentioned the power of using someone’s first name in an email! It really can make all the difference! Think of a time when someone has used your name in conversation - it feels special, and like they really care about you as a person. And, because we genuinely do care about people, it totally helps to give off that vibe!
If you’re using MailChimp, you can use a person’s first name by adding a ‘Merge Tag’. This will automatically take their name from the database and add it anywhere where you write ‘ *|FNAME|* ’.
3. Write it like a letter
There is great temptation to treat your email newsletter similarly to your print newsletter. This is a mistake, because they’re actually very different publications, despite both being called ‘newsletters’.
Email newsletters are much more effective if you write them like a letter. Why? Because you’re sending them directly to someone’s inbox. You don’t simply want to dump information in someone’s inbox, you want to relate to them, ask them questions, use their name, and sign off as a real person! Treat it like you’re writing a letter to be delivered to someone’s house.
To start, you could say,
And to end, you could sign off with,
Ruthie Grace + the team at Oak Church’
Including positive stories from the week, or an inspiring message can make up the content of your email, all leading to my fourth key:
4. Give a Call-to-Action
A Call-to-action (or CTA) is simply when you ask your reader to do something. We need a lot of direction in life and being told what to do through a call-to-action can really encourage us to get up and actually do what we’ve been meaning to do.
So, what could your call-to-action be for the week? It might be to ‘sign up for the women’s conference’, or ‘reply to this email with an area you’d like to serve more in’, or ‘head over to Facebook and share your favourite Bible verse’.
These are really simple ideas, but can make a huge impact on the engagement you receive from your email newsletters, not to mention getting a little more engagement elsewhere too!
5. Send often
I recommend sending your email newsletter at least once a week. One concern that many people I’ve talked to seem to have is that they’re worried about spamming inboxes too often, and that people will get sick of content from the church.
My reply is always this: If you’re not sending consistently, people will forget who you are, or forget that they can use your newsletter as a source for information, or it will start going to their spam. If you send consistently, at the same time each week, your subscribers will know exactly what to expect, when to expect it, and will be continually reminded of your presence.
Sending often won’t hurt your subscribers, but will actually improve their lives because they’ll be seeing more of you! Just make sure that what you’re sending them is always stellar.
I hope you enjoyed reading my 5 key ingredients to writing an engaging church email newsletter! Let me know if you’ve got any tips to add!