Digital Outreach: Email Marketing in Ministry, part 1

Published on: March 1, 2012

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Across all digital outreach, a ministry’s bread and butter is email marketing. It’s immediate and extremely cost-effective to maintain. Over the next three installments, we’ll take a look at best practices and how to take your email marketing to the next level.

First things first: Let’s make sure you’ve already got the basics covered.

Get permission. This means asking your community members to join your list and not just automatically adding them. Ask them at every opportunity; people are more likely to share their email address with you than any other contact information. At events where congregants gather, be sure they can sign up for information on future events before they leave. It’s a key to bringing them back.

Be relevant. We all already have too much email in our inbox, and not all of it is wanted. Make your emails ones that people want to read. Set a precedent of including relevant, timely, valuable information for your email subscribers. Highlight upcoming events, ways they can get involved or volunteer, the featured music schedule or articles from Unity that may help them midweek on their spiritual path. Share great content, both from your own spiritual community and others.

Send regularly. No matter how large your list of subscribers, start sending right away and send consistently, at least once a month—or if you have enough great content, once a week. This helps your readers stay connected and also, in a technical way, helps you get through to your readers’ inboxes instead of their junk folder.

Make it easy to maintain. If you’re using Gmail or Outlook to send your community newsletters, you’re not only making it more difficult on yourself, you’re also missing some legal basics (like an opt-out link for easy removal) and some automated management (for no longer sending to invalid addresses). Check out MailChimp or other email service providers (ESPs) that will let you send up to a few thousand emails per month for free. The bonus of using an ESP is that you can monitor who opens the email and which content gets the most clicks. You can use these metrics to learn what your readers want most and, in turn, stay relevant and interesting.

Your homework: If you haven’t yet, start your email marketing list and create a free ESP account.

Read Part 2
Read Part 3

Ogun Holder
Rev Ogun Holder serves as the senior minister of Unity on The River in Amesbury, MA. He is the author of Rants to Revelations: Unabashedly Honest Reflections on Life, Spirituality, and the Meaning of God and co-host of the Pub Theology Live podcast.
Jessica Best
Digital Marketing Evangelist at emfluence
Jessica Best is digital marketing evangelist at emfluence, a digital marketing firm in Kansas City, Mo.

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