Low open rates on your church emails? Is it possible to get more people to read your correspondence? Is there a trick to getting people to open and read emails?
The answer to all three is “Yes.”
Most churches need to communicate with their congregation throughout the week. Whether it’s to remind, promote, encourage or motivate, churches need a regular way of communicating. You just have to master a few practical tips to get your emails opened and read.
Most churches use a program such as a church management system, Constant Contact, Mailchimp or other platforms to send emails, which is wise since these allow users to easily schedule email delivery and manage a mailing list.
The analytics offered by these services reveal the open rate, the percentage of people who opened your email out of all the people who received the message. Knowing whether people are spending longer than a few seconds with your email before closing it is an excellent gauge of whether your communication is reaching your audience.
What can you do to increase the likelihood your church emails will be read? Here are 5 practical tips:
Segment your list. Effective communication rises and falls on how well you know your audience. Why? Because if you know them well, you can talk directly to them. If the list has “everyone” on it, the message needs to be broad. It would be better to segment the list based on groups you’re talking to. Some examples might include lists for members, non-members and visitors. Another option might be seniors, couples, parents, singles and students. It’s entirely up to you based entirely on how you need to communicate differently to each group.
Make the subject feel personalized. Now that the list is segmented, direct the subject line specifically to that audience. Many email programs allow you to use a placeholder “code” for a first name in the subject and body of the email.
Use that, but don’t overuse it. An email should feel natural and conversational to the reader, like you’re writing the email for that individual.
Don’t overdo frequency. If you send too many emails, fewer people will open them. Once a week is probably standard, but if you don’t have much to say or find yourself repeating information, don’t send quite as many.
Once-a-month emails may be all that’s needed to get your church emails read.
Keep them short. If someone opens your email, they’ll scroll quickly through it. If it feels too long or full of paragraphs, most won’t read any of it; they’ll leave it to read later or delete it immediately.
The shorter it is, the more chance to get your church email read. So edit, edit, edit. Preview the email on a phone (where most receive it) and see how many swipes you need to get to the bottom.
Much more than 2? Edit some more.
Make them scannable. Most people only read headlines. So make the subject line interesting, then have three or four subheads that allow readers to get the idea of the email.
Need to provide a few details under the subheads? Use bullet points, not paragraphs. Add website links for details. This keeps your emails shorter and still provides relevant information.
EDITOR’S NOTE — MacDonald is communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of the Center for Church Communication, empowering 10,000-plus churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites and social media. His book, “Be Known for Something,” is available at BeKnownBook.com.