Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter – there are many ways to connect with and contact your church members and potential attendees.
But did you know that email marketing has been around for over 40 years? In 1978, the very first mass email campaign was sent to about 400 recipients.
So, after more than 40 years, is email marketing still relevant today? In 2022, does it still work?
With all the myriad of ways for people to connect, email remains a tried and true – and popular – means of communication. Research clearly shows that email is still the best way to reach people — ahead of other communication means, even with the popularity and increase of social media usage.
"Email is still one of the most effective marketing tools and consistently has the best return on investment,” said Josh Mullenix, Manager of Electronic Marketing at United Methodist Communications.
The agency sends out over half a million emails every month, highlighting different resources that leaders and members can use to further their ministries and personal walks with Christ. That’s a LOT of emails, so Mullenix and his team consistently research the best and most effective ways to reach people.
So, what makes a good email campaign? What are some tips and things to remember?
Engage readers at every step. "Start with a good subject line. A good subject line can inspire urgency or spark curiosity," says Craig Flagg, Associate Electronic Marketing Specialist. "Experiment with emojis or italic text. Consider setting up emails with the recipient's name in the subject line. That makes it more of a personal invitation. Include a helpful preheader line. Make it an added enticement to open the email."
Present a clear call to action. "Most successful email campaigns present a specific call to action that helps the reader to eliminate a decision and focus solely on that specific call to action, whether that is to go to a website, listen to a podcast, or engage with your social media platforms," says Mullenix. "Email is one of the most useful tools to be able to target those who you know are interested in your voice, since at some point they did decide to allow you to email them."
Be proactive when building an email list. "Collect email addresses through all sorts of interactions," says Flagg. "If you have a website or are involved in social media, use these tools to interact and encourage people to sign up for your email or something else you have that would be of value to them. Feature your email opt-in form in as many places as possible, even on posters. On posters or printed material, you could have a QR code that links to your website or opt-in form. Anyone with a smartphone can use that QR code as a portal to your content."
Get in the loop. "Email marketing also gives you the ability to send communication to people at the time that they tend to engage with it the most," says Flagg. "Because of how easy it is to test different times, you can effectively and quickly learn when your audience interacts the most with your messaging."
"If you have a target group or audience, determine how they communicate among one another and try to "get in the loop," says Mullenix. "You might be able to use text messaging as a way to get people to your content and, in turn, sign on for your email."
Don't be a pest. "You will want to track and measure email open rates and properly maintain your email list," says Mullenix. "Remove email addresses that are undeliverable or go to people who don't open your emails. Consistently send helpful content.Consistency is a key to email success.
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*Aaron Crisler is a Senior Public Relations Specialist at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn.