I happen to be subscribed to a number of church email newsletters. Some because I helped set them up and have not removed myself from the list, some because in a weak moment I wanted to know how they communicated. Many times I am feeling pretty bored with the emails. They are always doing the same things and in the same way. I know what is in there before I even open up the email.
P90X is a popular workout program that you would have to be under a rock not to have heard of it. If you own a tv you must not have it turned on ever to not have seen one of their commercials. One of their cool marketing tricks or actual solid training technique (you decide there) is their design of training called “muscle confusion.” The idea is simple, do different stuff so that your muscles never get used to the work out and will burn more calories because they are never conditioned to do a certain set of exercises.
Well, the brain is a muscle, although different than your buttocks it is a muscle and gets trained. So I had this idea. What if churches did their email communications with the p90x model of muscle confusion in mind. If you send an email each week have a different type of presenting a message, different layout, and different writers. Once you set up a few layouts and themes you can repeat using them in some random pattern. So far, it has been a concept that apparently is foreign to the people I have suggested it to because it does not compute or seems like too much work.
Lack of variety in email marketing is a common dilemma for marketers. Businesses newer to email marketing or with fewer resources tend to gravitate first and only to promotional messaging, but there is plenty more you can and should communicate to your list.
They go on to list 1. email newsletter 2. personal & holiday greetings 3. follow ups 4. educational entertainment as emails to spice things up instead of a constant barrage of promotional emails.
So what could mixing it up p90x style look like for a church email program?
- Email Newsletter: You want to push all your information at people in the hopes that they are now informed so go ahead, get that over with.
- Ministry Story: Find some good ministry stories to share. A paragraph or two, not more than 500 words though. If you can’t find 500 words to share some cool story about the ministry happening in your church then you have worse problems than an email communication issue. You can switch it up from choir, to youth ministry, to missions, then to worship. Again if your ministry leaders cannot come up with 500 words to share a story about their ministry then they have more problems to be dealt with than email. This practice though is helping the people of your church have stories to tell about the church family they are a part of. So when someone asks them, “what does your church do?” they will actually have some stories to answer with.
- Images Only Reflection: Put out an email that is just photos of the congregation. Sure you can link those images to something else. Please no cheesy clipart or stock photography. Really nice cameras are owned by at least a few people in your church. Charge them with photographing the work of their church as part of their mission. People love to see good photos. People love to see good photos of themselves and the intrigue that they might be featured in an email. Open rates will be huge!!
- Challenging Devotion or Message: Have a message, again less than 500 words that gives a glimpse of the Kingdom of God and gives some actionable response/challenge to people. A get out and do kind of thing.
- Other email types to throw out there. Community Prayer email: Not your prayer chain, but a prayer you want everyone to pray for the month. Poetry devotion: plug in a single email a poem written by a congregation member. What is Out There: so often church emails just share the church things, share blog posts, news articles, that give glimpse to what others are doing
There you go. Gavin’s p90x Email marketing method. Give it a go and see what happens. Tell me I’m full of crap. Tell me it has revolutionized the culture of your church. Let me know it is a whole lot more fun than just blasting out the newsletter or bulletin in another form. If it doesn’t work in 90 days I’ll give you a full refund of the money you spent on this advice.
Oh, and if you want to use an enhanced email program, I suggest you do, then go with MailChimp for your free option. There are other pay options such as Aweber or Emma I’d suggest, Emma if you want someone to hold your hand & help design.