With just a few improvements, churches can see an increase in the percentage of email communications that get open, read, and acted on. And when more of your attendees are reading your emails, it translates into more people getting involved, more prayers for emailed prayer requests, more visitors coming back for a second time, just to give a few examples.

I sat down and came up with some questions for Bill Newman of Servant PC Resources to see what he could recommend for churches to do to improve their email communications.

Sending the Right Message to the Right People

Amy: If there was one key area of improvement that churches could work on in their email communication, what would it be?

Bill: Many churches make the mistake of sending every email to everyone.  The problem with this approach is people stop reading your emails.  If I’m not a nursery worker, and you keep sending me emails about the nursery ministry, I’m going feel like you are spamming me. Then when you send me an email I need to read I might ignore it.

“Many churches make the mistake of sending every email to everyone.  The problem with this approach is people stop reading your emails.”

Email Groups and Templates

Amy: So how can the church worker avoid coming off as though they are spamming everyone who ever gave their email address to the church?

Bill: Churches should create groups and use those groups when emailing. If you want to send an email to the whole church to let them know there’s going to be a youth retreat, that’s great. But if you want to send three follow up emails that include information on what to bring, inviting friends, or getting permission slips signed, you can send them just to the email group for youth and their parents.

Also, churches should invite people to sign-up for mail/email campaigns to let them decide what emails they want to receive. Maybe there’s a woman in the church with no children, but she often picks up her nieces and nephews from youth functions. She can decide to receive the youth emails. With Servant Keeper, members can do this in their online profile.

Amy: What features are built into Servant Keeper to make emailing easier?

Bill: Groups Keeper allows churches to create targeted groups for their emails.  Think nursery workers, parents of teens, elders, men’s ministry, visitors, etc. Servant Keeper users can send quick “one-off” emails to a group or use merged email templates.

Email Groups

Create groups and only email the people who need to or choose to receive specific messages.

Bill: In addition, there’s email writer. Email Writer is a built-in email merge tool that allows churches to create email templates that have personalized information in the email.  So instead of saying “Dear Parent, our records indicate your child has allergies” the email can say “Dear John and Sally Smith our records indicate that Tommy’s allergies include peanuts, dairy, and strawberries”.  You can merge pretty much anything from their profile into the email from contact information to where they are at with their pledge. Once the template is created and proofed, it can be used over and over again in just seconds.

Merge Email Templates

Save email templates. Then quickly pull in personal information for each recipient to increase relevancy for each person.

Basic Email Campaigns

Amy: You’ve mentioned email campaigns. Can you give an example of an effective email campaign for a church?

Bill: Sure. Here’s a few examples of campaigns churches set up for emailing.

A Visitor’s Campaign: A “first visit email” template is sent to first-time visitors.

An Active Members and Regular Attendees Campaign: A monthly newsletter sent to active members and regular attendees.

A Youth Ministry Campaign: Weekly youth ministry update sent to parents of teenagers.

Amy: What are the benefits of using email campaigns over just sending an email from your regular email account?

Bill: Several benefits that I can think of off the top of my head are:

  • You can use your groups to send targeted email
  • Sending an email to a group in Servant Keeper takes just seconds.
  • When email campaigns are sent they can be tracked as touchpoints so you can always verify that certain people got the email.
  • You can set the reply email so that a secretary can send email on behalf of a busy pastor, but have the replies go directly to the pastor, or a general church email, etc. depending on the nature of the email.

Automated Email Campaigns with MailChimp and Servant Keeper

Amy: For the churches who want to take their campaigns a step further, and automate them, can you explain the MailChimp integration?

Bill: With MailChimp, which is free for most churches, you can create “drip campaigns” that automatically send emails at a given time.  A drip campaign is basically a series of timed emails that are triggered when someone is subscribed to that campaign. For example, you can create a visitor follow-up campaign that contains maybe four separate emails that go out on day 1, day 7, day 30 and day 60.  The nice thing about the integration in Servant Keeper is that when you identify a new visitor, you can subscribe them to your MailChimp Visitor Campaign right from within their Servant Keeper profile, and you know they will get those four emails.

Plus, through these campaigns, a church will be able to see who opened the email and clicked through inside Servant Keeper. This will help church staff to know how effective their communications are, who may need a follow-up call depending on the nature of the email, and whose emails may not be getting delivered because of a spam filter.

The original article appeared here.