Is your church leveraging chatbots to reach people? Are you leveraging a social media listening tool to understand the sentiment toward your church? What’s your Instagram story strategy to engage people in your community? Is your church ready for augmented reality and the impact that will have people attending your services?
Too many church leaders are running too quickly to optimize the latest communication tools to reach people in their community while they are ignoring “low hanging” fruit with “old school” technologies with proven abilities to do the same. Before your church figures out the latest tool or trend, you need to make sure that you are leveraging existing channels.
In January, Facebook announced its latest changes to the news feed, which means organizations like ours are going to see even less “organic” reach on that channel. In fact, many brands are reporting a 50 percent drop in traffic from the social media behemoth in just a matter of weeks. [ref] This underlines that no church communications strategy can be single source dependent but needs to employ a wide variety of channels to reach your people and your community.
3 Reasons Church Leaders Are Drawn to the Latest Communication Technologies
- Shiny Object Syndrome – Too many of us are drawn toward the “latest” thing because it’s the latest thing. We hear some tech blogger talk about the latest whiz-bang service and we’re convinced that will solve our communication issues. The act of jumping from one shiny object to the next means that we don’t take time to dig deep and optimize any given channel.
- FREE is in our Budget – Most of us are trying to figure out how to reach more people with little or no financial investment. Lots of digital marketing solutions start out using “free” as a marketing tactic to get businesses using their platforms, and we’re drawn to that pricing! Over time, these platforms end up charging for what they were giving away, which means, we need to move on.
- We’re Aware Consumers – Lots of church leaders I know are actively engaged in the world around us. We spend time not just floating through life but are curious individuals. This is a great way to be! We see other organizations and businesses communicating with their communities and wonder what would happen if we applied those lessons to what we do in our church. In the end, we can be left bolting on one new strategy after another and ignoring legacy approaches that are still highly effective.
Your Church Should Be Sending More Emails
The industry’s average open rate for email for churches is 25.62 percent, and the average rate that people will click on links in those emails is almost 8 percent. In fact, in a recent study it was found that as an industry, religious organizations have the highest open rates among dozens of tested industries. [ref] In a world where less than 1 in 100 people will see a post on Facebook that your church publishes, the fact that 1 in 4 people will open an email you send them starts to seem like a great opportunity!
Most of us have a love/hate relationship with email. In fact, if we’re honest, most days we hate email. However, don’t allow your stress around managing your inbox drive assumptions about how your people think about receiving emails from your church. Well-crafted emails need to be at the core of your communications strategy. Regardless of how many emails your church sends on a regular basis, you need to increase the frequency. Email isn’t going anywhere and continues to be the go-to channel for driving engagement with people.
6 Emails Every Church Should Be Sending on a Regular Basis
- “New Here” Guest Welcome – When guests arrive at your church, you need to acknowledge that and send a quick email to them. Ideally, this email is received within hours of them visiting your church.
- Saturday Emails Before Series Launch – In my book, Church Growth Flywheel, we talked about using email in some ways to grow your church. One important way is through sending an email to your people the day before you launch every new series.
- Donor Acknowledgements – When people give to your church they are doing an incredibly special thing. Ensure the emails you send to them not only thank them for giving to the mission of the church but also point toward how their giving is fueling the mission of the church.
- Volunteer Reminders – Send your people a reminder about the fact that they are serving with your team. Use this email to reinforce the vision of why they are serving and give them vital information so they know what to expect.
- Sunday Recap Emails – Not everyone attends your church every weekend, so why not tell them what they missed. Give them insights about what the message was about. Tell them what the big “call to action” announcement was.
- Year-End Giving Email – Ten percent of all charitable giving is done in the last 48 hours of the year. You need to leverage that opportunity through a well-crafted email asking people to give to the mission of the church. Read more about this here.
4 Ways to Increase Open Rates on Your Church’s Emails
- Pay Attention to the “Sender” – Experiment with who the emails are sent from to see what increases open rates. People are more likely to open emails from the lead pastor than a generic inbox.
- Write to Real People – Don’t overdo the graphics and fancy stuff. Lots of studies show that the best responding emails are underwritten as if they are going out to just individual people.
- Ask Questions in Subject Line – As a rule of thumb, when you use a question as the subject of an email it will see higher open rates. Humans can’t help but click on that to see the answer.
- Email Is a Mobile Tool – Remember that most of the people who open your emails will do so on a phone or other mobile device. Keep your email short and to the point!
What’s the open rate on a postcard mailed to someone’s house?
Your church isn’t leveraging the postal service enough. This is about as “old school” as it gets when it comes to communication strategies. However, there is a great opportunity here because there are only two types of mail that most people get at home anymore:
- Junk Mail – stuff they don’t want.
- Bills – bad news they wish didn’t exist.
When you send any form of direct mail to your people, it’s received as an oasis amid that desert. Your direct mail gets their attention and can drive deep engagement with your church. Often the mail that you send to people’s homes has long lasting staying power as people will put it up on the fridge or the coffee table.