It’s a constantly changing world out there, and while the internet is no longer a new thing, the ways in which we can use it are continually evolving. One trend you might’ve seen popping up around the place is the art of ‘email list marketing’, and using this strategy to make customers. But in church, we don’t really have customers, so it can be a little confusing as to how or why we might follow this trend to help grow the church. With a ton of research and a bit of on-the-job experience, I have found that building an email list for your church is one of the most valuable communications strategies you can have. This post will tell you why!
Feel like listening instead of reading?
Firstly, let’s back up a little, and I’ll answer a few FAQs:
1. What is an email list?
An email list is a list of people who choose to subscribe your email updates by giving you their email address.
2. How do I collect email addresses?
While you could sit there and make a spreadsheet filled with email addresses, or painstakingly save each email address to your contacts, the simplest route is to choose an email service provider. There are hundreds of email service providers out there, but one that I love to recommend to small churches (especially because its free!) is MailChimp.
And now, onto the meaty stuff:
Why should my church build an email list?
1 | It’s much more personal.
When you post on social media, your post is for everyone - it can get lost down the line in someone’s news feed, or just get scrolled past if it doesn’t look too interesting. With email, you’re popping up inside someone’s inbox! Even if they don’t check their email at the exact time of day you send it, they’re still going to receive your email. You can even take it one step further and use your email service provider to add in a code that will then paste their first name into the email, adding a personal touch! The more personal and less promotional your emails feel, the better you’re going to connect with people. And hey, isn’t that a lot of what church is about?
2 | It’s much more likely that people are going to take action!
You know when people make an announcement in church and then they say ‘Check the website for more!’ or ‘Find Vicky after the service to do XYZ’. Most people tune out when you tell them to take action like this, because it’s hard, and we’re all naturally lazy.
But if you send them an email, with the link or instructions for exactly what they need to do to be involved in whatever it is, people are much more likely to take action, cause they’re already sitting at their computer, poised to do stuff that day (rather than dozing off in the church notices…).
3 | It’s direct.
You can contact your subscribers when you want to. You can send emails day or night, and no matter when your subscribers check their emails next, they’ll still get yours in their inbox. With social media, you might put up a post and hope that all of your followers will see it, but you can’t be sure. And you never know when Facebook or Instagram will change their programming so that no one sees what you’re putting out into the world.
4 | You own it!
Your email subscribers have given you their email contact details, so you own that list. It can take a long time to build up an audience of followers on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, but have you ever thought about the fact that if Facebook suddenly goes bust, you will lose all of your followers, and won’t be able to contact them again. Or even worse, a couple of years ago Facebook changed their algorithm, which meant that your followers would barely see your posts unless you paid to boost them! What a crisis! With an email list, you own the information that people have given to you, and then you can use an email service provider (like MailChimp) to contact everyone with ease.
5 | Emails have much higher conversion rates.
Let’s say you have an event you would love to invite your church along to. You post it on Facebook, where you have 100 followers, and 2 people see it, and sign up for the event. That means your ‘conversion rate’ for Facebook is 2%, because 2% of the people who follow you actually took action and signed up for something! 2% is a fairly normal rate for Facebook conversions, whereas email has an average conversion rate of 30%! So you’re reaching fifteen times more people if you advertise to them through email!
6 | They remind everyone that you exist.
I’m guilty of forgetting about church and anything related to church during the week. Or maybe someone has been on holidays, or they’ve come sporadically to church but you’re not really sure where they’re at? Email. By popping up in your congregation’s inboxes once a week, you remind everyone that you exist! You also have the chance to remind them of the things you’re offering, or talking about at church.
So, you’re feeling keen-as-a-bean to try out building an email list for your church? EXCELLENT!
Sign your church up for an email service provider and start collecting those email addresses, friend!
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