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the dos and don'ts of email communication

Today, there are 4 billion daily email users and that number is expected to jump to 4.6 billion by 2025. Furthermore, email remains the most effective digital communication tool we have at our disposal.

In fact, 4 out of 5 marketers said they'd rather give up social media than email marketing. 74% of Baby Boomers think email is the most personal channel to communicate with brands. And email is seeing a resurgence among Millennial and Gen Z bloggers and vloggers as another way of connecting with their audiences.

Still, so many churches and organizations misuse and abuse it. More often than not, they equate an email program to an email newsletter. They use the platform for sharing information and keeping in touch, failing to see its potential for real ministry and even outreach.

To get into all of this, you'll want to sign up for my one-time email communication crash course here. But for now, I thought it might help to share some of my email communication dos and don'ts.

Do set clear expectations.

Letting your members know how frequently the church will reach out to them via email makes your email campaigns more predictable. At the point of subscription, properly communicate about your program’s focus, content, and frequency.

It’s not that I never want you to be spontaneous in your email program—I do!—but there is a big difference between the church that emails 9 times per week with daily devotionals, ministry-specific newsletters, birth and death announcements, etc. and the church that sends a single email update once a month.

Don't make it complicated to unsubscribe.

This is key if you want to maintain an active and engaged audience. Use the word "unsubscribe" and make it prominent.

If people can't figure out how to quickly unsubscribe, they may mark your email as spam which affects the deliverability of your emails to your whole list moving forward!

P.S. Don't worry about the unsubscribes. If they don't want to hear from you, it's better that they leave your list so they don't affect your open rate. It's usually not a reflection of you but instead an indication that they weren't all that interested in the first place.

Do maximize your email subject lines.

Subject lines are SO important! Not only is the subject line your one chance to convince someone (who wasn't already going to) to open your email but if they don't open it it's the only thing you can communicate to them at all!

Many church marketers try increasing familiarity with their subscribers by keeping the subject line the same each day, week, or month that they send their newsletter. Honestly, it's a wasted opportunity. A better approach would be to try to have a different, creative, engaging subject line for each newsletter you send.

Don't forget to scrub your list.

In email marketing, bounce rate refers to the percentage of email addresses in your subscriber list that didn't receive your message because it was returned by a recipient mail server.

A hard bounce (as opposed to a soft bounce) is an email that has failed to deliver for permanent reasons, such as the recipient’s address is invalid either because the domain name is incorrect, isn’t real, or the recipient is unknown.

Regularly comb through your subscriber list and remove the hard bounces. Keeping them skews your analytics and affects your deliverability.

Do segment your list.

Instead of emailing everything to everyone, I want you to figure out who wants to know what. Build segmented lists accordingly and start targeting them with the kinds of emails they actually want.

Here are three quick steps to effective segmentation:

1. Set this up at the opt-in.

When people opt in to your email list, they should be able to select which emails they want to receive.

2. Sort your email lists.

Sort your email lists to create separate email groups for different sets of people.

3. Personalize your message.

Then you can personalize your messages which leads to increased engagement.

Don't assume you know best.

You don't necessarily know everything when it comes to your email audience. I want your approach to be intuitive and informed.

A/B testing, in the context of email, is the process of sending one variation of your campaign to a subset of your subscribers and a different variation to another subset of subscribers, with the ultimate goal of working out which variation of the campaign generates the best results.

Here are a few things to test:

  • Subject lines

  • Images vs. no images

  • Sender name

  • Days and times

  • Personalization

Alright, that's what I have for you for now. There is so much more I want to share with you about email communication though, which is why I've developed this one-time workshop. I hope you can join me!

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