When it comes to email marketing for your parish or ministry, follow Jesus' example.
Um...what? Jesus didn't have email marketing as part of His ministry.
No, but we can still learn what He might have done with it if He had utilized it!
Serve Your Audience
The key to getting unsubscribes real quick? Send emails that serve your agenda, not your audience's.
You've seen them, right? Those emails that are simply a means to try to sell you on something: "Here's my latest blog posts!" "Here are my newest products!"
You can and should promote those things in your email marketing, BUT your emails also need to have value beyond promoting your ministry. If you're using your email marketing solely as a newsletter or product catalog, it's probably going to flop (note my one caveat to this below).
So how do you make emails that serve your audience's needs?
Offer exclusives. Whether it's a coupon code just for email subscribers, restock or sale notices, free downloads, etc., show your email community that you value them by offering exclusives that cannot be found on any of your other platforms. AND/OR
Be a resource. Use your email platform as a teaching tool! I often tell ministries that a lot of marketing involves an educational element - we have to teach our audiences about why what we do is important and THEN sell them on our product, service, or offering. Offer how tos, collect knowledgable articles or advice on a certain topic or theme, share inspiration or prayers, or provide a service in your emails that keeps people engaged.
CHURCHES + SCHOOLS
This is where newsletters work well. While it's great if you can also be a resource or offer exclusives here, email as an alternative to a print newsletter/bulletin is absolutely the way to go and is the kind of information people expect from your organization, BUT only for your internal audience, ie. registered parishioners or current parents. If you're trying to use email for marketing purposes, see above.
As Catholic marketers, we want to offer first and then ask. It goes back to our mission as Catholic marketers: It's not about serving ourselves, it's about serving others. And in serving others, God will provide for our ministries.
Work on Your Opener
You should spend as much (if not more) time on your subject line as you do on your body copy.
Wait...I should spend as much time on 6-8 words as I do the rest of my email?
Because if your subject line isn't catchy and speaking to your audience, then they won't open your email. And if they don't open your email...well, you just wasted all of that time you spent writing it.
So how would Jesus write a subject line?
Keep it short, but not too short. Jesus was known for His one-liners that packed a punch. The sweet spot for subject lines is between 5-9 words, depending on their length, but shorter isn't always better - I like to aim for as close to a full sentence as I can, normally about 7 words.
Jesus was always surprising people and captivating them with His teachings. Do the same with your email subject lines. Ditch the "May 2021 Newsletter" for something that actually clues them in on what to expect upon opening (maybe "Feeling cooped up? Here's 5 outdoor Catholic activities.")
Jesus spoke directly to His followers and called them by name. You can too! Most email marketing platforms will allow you to add name personalization, ie. "Inspiration for you today, NAME." It's not necessary to add, and may feel "off" for your brand, but it does apparently help to keep email inboxes from flagging it as spam. If you choose not to include their name, definitely still keep your subject line other-centric.
Need Help With This?
Could your email marketing use a Catholic boost? Contact us for email marketing assistance!