In Part 1, we covered the basics of getting started in email marketing: use an email service provider (ESP), get permission, be relevant, send regularly and have easy maintenance.
Now you’re ready to build your email marketing with a few best practices. Just like all of your outreach initiatives, you want email marketing to produce results such as driving new visitors in the door on Sundays or staying in touch with those who attend a retreat or class.
Here are four best practices for using email marketing as a measurable, targeted tool to stay connected with your congregation between Sundays.
- Segment by interest. Sharing all your goings-on in a weekly newsletter is a great start to email. Next, be sure to send special retreat invitations to those who attended the last retreat. Keep a separate signup list for your frequent volunteers so you can send them your volunteer opportunities more often than you may send to the rest of the group. Find ways to segment your community members and send targeted information to those groups that are most likely to respond.
- Keep your contact list up to date. About a quarter of your list will change their email addresses each year. Make it easy for your email subscribers to update their information by including a link in every email. Many ESPs call this a Preferences Center and automatically link to it in your email template for you. Also, at least once a year, reach out via postcard or phone call to people whose emails are no longer valid—those that “bounce”—to get their new email. Remove invalid addresses from your account so you’re not paying for them.
- Link to your website or blog. Don’t put all your content in your email. Keep the email short and easy to skim by teasing your content and then linking to the full article on your blog, the photo album on your Facebook page, or events on your website’s calendar.
- Track! The added benefit of linking to content from your email is that you can tell when someone clicks on it! Review your email reports to see which articles or events were most popular. Use that information to create more of your most popular content. If the Facebook photos got the most clicks, be sure you’re adding new photos to Facebook often and linking via the emails.
As you delve into these best practices, remember to always pay attention to the metrics in your report as well as the effect that your emails are having offline. If you’re seeing more clicks or, better yet, a more involved congregation, you know you’re doing something right!