3 Steps to a Weekly E-Bulletin
The sun has risen and you see the light of a weekly email to your people. In spite of your palpable excitement, you don’t know where to begin. Take heart! Follow these three easy steps and you will be sending out quality content to your church family every week.
1. Collect Email Addresses
Most churches have some kind of database holding all their members’ information. You can find birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, phone numbers, and hopefully a healthy amount of emails. With very little effort you are well on your way to having an email list.
If you’ve never prioritized emails for your database, or you just want to start out real strong, the solution is easy. Pass out an information card during your weekly services for people to fill out. Let people know that you are updating records and are planning to start a weekly email. Instruct people to fill them out and drop them in the offering plate or turn them in at your guest services table. Just like that, you will have a high percentage of your people’s email addresses.
Once you get your initial email list, keep email lists a priority. If your current information card doesn’t have an email field, reprint them and add the space. Have someone mention the weekly email during the announcements on a regular basis. Keep this out in front of people.
2. Choose a Service
You have your emails, now it is time to choose an email marketing service. An email marketing service is software that sends an email to many different people.
There are many email marketing solutions available and they all offer essentially the same thing: they send your email to every person on your list. Here are some things to look for:
- Does your current database already offer email marketing as an option?
Our church’s website builder, Squarespace, just started offering this service free to their customers. If we didn’t already have one, this would be worth looking into.
- If not free, does your church database sync with any email marketing solutions?
Our church uses Planning Center People, a free database which syncs flawlessly with the email marketing service Mailchimp. This syncing means that every person I add to our database is automatically added to our weekly email list. The lists are kept in sync with no added effort from the office. Not only does Mailchimp sync with our already created database, but it is a free service for small to midsize churches.
If your database neither offers an email solution nor talks with one, then google email marketing and pick a service that strikes your fancy. If you are a smaller church, the service should be free. Stay away from the ones that cost because we’re not trying to convert sales, just trying to connect with our folks. Those paid solutions are for big corporations that have email marketing down to a science or larger churches that rely on the added features.
3. Create a Template
Creating a template is vital to making your weekly email a help (and not a hindrance) to your staff. You have the email list. You have chosen an email marketing service and created an account. Now you need to pay someone to design you a template. That’s right, I said pay. Unless you have a good graphic designer on staff, you should outsource this part. The reason is simple: this email template is going to be used every week. Every single week, you will be filling this design with content. You want it to look nice. I paid a graphic designer $50 to create a template within our email marketing software. It has a clean, crisp design from top to bottom. This is the best graphic design money I have ever spent. Most designs are used for one event and then are never used again. But this template is is landing in people's inboxes every single week.
You will need to provide your designer with direction. You tell them the buckets, or areas, you wish to create and they make it look beautiful. Our weekly email has two main buckets— the first section highlights some upcoming events for the month. Below upcoming events is “A Word from Pastor.” In this section I write a little message saying hello to our people. Simple, sweet, heartfelt, but never more than 300 words. You could even put things that God is currently teaching you. There are no rules to the weekly.
A word of warning as you create this template. Whatever sections you include are the sections you need to fill. So keep it simple. Don’t write a novel. Don’t include a word from every department. Emails are meant to be bite sized, not whole meals. It takes 30 minutes at most for our email to be ready to go out every Tuesday. Once you build the system, it is just a matter of filling up the sections and sending it on its way.
Three steps. Get those emails. Choose a service. And pay someone to design you a beautiful template within your chosen service. Once you have ascended these three steps, you will be able to send a weekly email with very little effort.