Almost everyone these days has at least one email account. Email has become the preferred method of communication for personal and professional use in the 21st century digital age. So why not harness the power of this easy and quick Internet tool to boost your church or organization's contact with members and visitors?
For the church on a very limited budget, there are places you can go to get a free email account. These are fine as long as the address is something that relates to the church and its ministries versus an individual. For example, you would want an email address that says "[email protected]" or something generic like that to associate it with the church.
Free Email Service Providers include:
Most Internet Service Providers will supply a number of email addresses with your service, so you can create several through this service, such as "fi[email protected]" if you are using Earthlink as your Internet Service Provider. Based upon the decisions you make about website design and hosting services, you may get email addresses in your plan. These addresses would then be tied to your domain name or website address. See the Hosting Options section for more information about these services.
In the best possible worlds, it is preferable to create email addresses that the church owns and operators for its ministries so that when individuals leave or change roles at the church, you do not have to change the email addresses. For example, it would be better to have an "[email protected]" then the name of the person staffing the office. In this way, when the person leaves, the address is still good since it's not tied to a particular person's name. Likewise, it is much easier for people to remember the generic email address associated with the church ministry or function.
Church Email Marketing
The key to successful email communication is knowing your target audience and sending one clear, key message. Digital Impact conducted a user study to determine how people interact with their inbox. They found 80% of those tested opened their inbox, read the "from" line and then subject line and then hit delete. They then opened the emails that were left in their inbox. There are a few simple things you can do to insure your email messages are read and don't end up in the delete, Spam or junk mail folders.
- Include the most important content towards the top of the email, "above the fold."
- Use creative subject lines and preheaders to entice people to open your emails.
- Study the best days to send email and best times to send email.
- Header images should be no more than 600 pixels wide and between 50 to 200 pixels high.
- Keep images below the header as small as possible (200 x 200 pixels or less).
- Web-optimize all images to be the smallest file-size without looking pixelated. You can do this in Photoshop or use a free online image optimizer.
- Use "confirmed opt-in" (aka "verified opt-in" or "double opt-in") practices to ensure subscribers want to receive mailings as well as easy-to-follow unsubscribe information in each mailing.
- Provide your physical mailing address and phone number, as well as a link to your website.
An e-blast is an email message sent to a list of people simultaneously, such as an announcement about a meeting or event. Using something as basic as Microsoft Word and an Excel spreadsheet of names and email addresses, you can create a custom message for each recipient delivered via email, similar to the way you would use these tools to generate a mail merge letter only it is delivered electronically. You can also set up different groups for e-blast delivery using Google or Yahoo groups.
Uses for Web ministry:
There are many ways to use church email marketing and e-blasts to enhance your communications as well as benefit your Web ministry. Consider these effective, efficient and low-cost suggestions:
Instead of mailing postcards to remind people of committee meetings and other church events, send an e-blast to everyone.
Use email to send a follow-up message to visitors (remember to collect email addresses along with other information when they visit your church on Sunday).
Send an email message to next Sunday's worship leaders, ushers, greeters, communion servers, Sunday school teachers or other leaders to remind them of their responsibilities.
Create a weekly, brief message from the pastor or other church staff member or ministry leader announcing what will be happening in these next week's services and other ministry gatherings. This is ideal for music ministries, children's ministries (sent to parents) and youth ministries.
Use email to develop a list of prayer ministers and send the weekly prayer concerns electronically to this designated group.
- What? My reputation has a score now?
- Five tips for effective email design
- Five tips to write effective email copy
- How to program your email to improve its functionality
- How to enter through the back door to your readers' inboxes
- Must church-based organizations comply with the can-spam law?