Email marketing is one of the most powerful methods of outreach for any organization, and even though the church isn’t necessarily a business per se, it still has a vital message that needs to get into the public. That’s why many churches are turning to email marketing to increase church newsletters subscribers: not only to save costs but also to extend the reach as wide as possible.
The problem that many churches run into, however, is how to find those subscribers. Many churches have either small or non-existent marketing budgets, and the ministers on staff are trained in other areas besides digital marketing. Besides hiring an independent e-mail marketing service to do it for you, what methods can local congregations employ to increase their reach for their church email marketing?
1. Ask For It
One of the simplest ways to increase newsletter subscribers for your e-mail list is also one of the most overlooked: simply asking for it. Whether that’s through a pop-up on your website or an announcement at the beginning or end of services, simply asking them to sign-up for your church newsletter can be a very effective tactic.
Because church websites don’t want to appear spammy, some people may struggle with where to actually put a slot on there for people to sign-up on. Some of the most effective locations are on a welcome page as you enter the website, or in a header near the top of the page. You don’t want to bombard the visitor with requests to sign-up, but you also don’t want to make it a secret either.
2. Give them a Reason to Sign-Up for your Church’s Newsletter
Some visitors may be under the impression that a church e-mail bulletin only has information that is relevant to actual members; therefore, visitors will benefit very little. Prove this is not the case by telling them (either verbally or on the page itself) what is involved with each bulletin: articles, links to free resources, devotionals, etc.
Another method is to let them control the type of information they will receive. Have multiple options on the page for them to sign-up on, whether for content or timing of email newsletters (daily, monthly, etc.). Allowing the person to customize their own subscription is a powerful and effective tool.
3. Incentive the Sign-Up for Your Church Email
As much as you would like to believe people will just magically sign-up for your church newsletter, in many cases, they’ll need an incentive. Something as simple as a free e-book or three-part devotional video series may be all the enticement they need to give you their e-mail address. One organization even recorded a 25% increase in newsletter sign-ups just by offering an incentive to do so. Depending on the reach of the church, an extra 25% can add up to a lot to increase church newsletters subscribers.
4. Make the E-mail Shareable on Social Media
When someone sees value in an e-mail, they are more likely to share it with friends or loved ones that they feel will also see the value. According to a Nielsen study, 84% of people trust the recommendations from people they know as their main form of advertising, more than any other medium in existence.
The simplest way to do this is to encourage your users to forward the e-mail or add a social media link at the bottom of the page. The key is to make it easy as possible for others to share it, or else they’ll give up before it gets sent.
5. Utilize Social Media
The good news is that nearly 85% of churches use Facebook as their primary online communications tool; the bad news is, most are vastly underutilizing their online presence. While most people are aware that you can use social media outlets (primarily Facebook) to share video sermons, inspirational status updates, and events, you should also use it to drive e-mail signups to your mailing list. Use paid advertising to launch a campaign on Facebook for lead generation (here’s a quick walk-through on how), or change the button at the top of the page to link directly to your mailing list sign-up form.
6. Eliminate as Many Barriers as Possible
While you’ll want to know as much as possible about your potential guests, the last thing you want to do is overload your guests with too many sign-up forms. While most sign-up form software will let you have as many as you want, the best rule of thumb is to keep it to, at most, three: name, e-mail address, and maybe a telephone number, although the first two are the most important. This will ensure that your potential visitors don’t get sign-up fatigue trying to navigate through your various forms and give up.
7. Nail the Subject Line
One of the best ways to increase newsletter subscribers is to make sure the subject line on your e-mails is catchy, which not only improves open rates but also shareability as well. Make sure they stay short, catchy, and to-the-point, or else all that time you’ve spent building your e-mail list will be for nothing.
8. Become an Authority
While most churches would argue that the ultimate authority is the Bible, you can position yourself as an industry leader by demonstrating valuable knowledge and resources on a particular subject, such as theology, church history, devotionals, and various sub-sections within each of those categories. If your writer is featured on other websites with a backlink to the church website, you’ll notice an uptick in views from that separate source which should help to increase subscribers as well.
9. Get It in Writing
While churches are migrating away from the practice of collecting offerings in a plate that’s passed around, there are still several other ways for you to collect hard copies of people’s e-mails. Place a signup form in the foyer for people to sign, ask them to fill out a visitor information card, hand them a business card with a sign-up offer on the back, or have an usher ask for them in person to every visitor that walks through the doors. Part of e-mail marketing is displaying a personal touch, and nothing says personal like paper.
10. Test, Test, and Test Again
With church email marketing, everything is a numbers game (Church email average open rate being 26.34% and average CTR being 3.28%) In order to increase subscribers, you’ll have to constantly be running split tests, changing subject lines, formats within the newsletter itself – all in an effort to increase church newsletter subscribers. Some of it may even be different according to what each group wants or doesn’t want, so make sure your list is segmented appropriately so you’ll be able to reach each group the right way.