In this digital marketing era, one cannot overstress the importance of an email list. Having a big email list puts you in the driver’s seat in the communication business. Your church is able to reach to more than just your members. This opens doors to better fundraising and better reach in your missions. The church is in a unique position to build and maintain a huge email list without spending a lot of money.
One of the biggest issues with an email database in the business world is that it degrades by a little over 20% per year. The degradation is mainly due to people changing emails, changing jobs or simply unsubscribing from your email lists.
Maintaining a healthy email list is extremely hard and expensive. Marketers have to constantly find ways to maintain their current lists and also ways to collect new emails addresses.
Fortunately for churches, things are a little different. People usually give personal and not business emails to the church. Even though people change emails, there’s a good chance that the people will self-update the church list with a new email address. In this article, I’ll show you how your church or nonprofit can build a huge email database of way over 2000 emails fast and cheap within a week.
Collecting Email Addresses
First of all, I want to re-emphasize the reason why your church needs an email list. The email list will help you build a strong online community and increase the number of donors. A study shows that online giving 60% of church givers are willing to give digitally. Therefore, your church needs to build and grow its online membership not just for giving but for your missions as well.
Since the church has a great starting point, we’re going to look at how you can get emails from your congregation and also from your community.
The biggest ingredient to email marketing is trust. The church thrives on trust and relationship and that makes collecting emails a very easy task. Unlike a business that spends a lot of money building trust and relationships with its customers, The church is a house of trust, faith, and relationship. One may also consider the fact that while a business doesn’t have to meet face to face with its customers, a church thrives on the physical gathering of its members.
We’re going to take advantage of the fact that the church is a place of gathering and trust. These two elements already put the church ahead of the business world. People come to church to build relationships and connections with fellow believers. This is the reason why when a church member is sick, everyone hears about it and they quickly organize to visit or even help when help is needed.
So, in order to collect 2000 emails in one week, we’re going to start with the church members. They’re several ways to collect emails from church members and in this article, we’re going to discuss three ways.
The community has so much respect for the church especially if your church is active in the community. This is the time you want to make sure that you have concrete programs that benefit the community. Having a strong community presence is not only beneficial to the community but the church as well.
A good friend of mine once gave me a secret to building any kind of relationship. He said a relationship is like a bank. You have to deposit money into your savings account for the rainy day. The same thing applies to the community relationship. Your church needs to be building this relationship be getting engaged in the community. This is like depositing little bits of trust that you can withdraw from when you need to promote an event or when running a campaign.
Now that we have the congregation and community out of the way, let’s get on with building the alternate email list.
The guestbook is very important and found in almost all churches. They get to record who’s visiting so they can follow up with them. So, I am not asking you to do something you’ve not been doing. All am asking is that you update your guestbook to the one that has email address field in it. This is an easy method because rushers to make sure that everyone coming into the church writes down their email.
Even though the guestbook is the easiest way to collect emails, it’s by no means the easiest to manage. The guestbook has so much room for error as shown below:
The first disadvantage is that some people have very bad handwriting and this could cause problems with transferring to your email hosting.
Asking people to write their email address may cause long lines at the door.
You’ll need a lot of time transferring the names and email addresses into your email hosting.
If you don’t have an email hosting account, you may have to create a spreadsheet for all your emails so that you can export when you’re ready.
Sign up Forms
Using signup forms to collect emails is the easiest method. This exercise when done right will instantly increase your email list significantly depending on how many members you have.
For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume your church has at least 500 members on paper. Of those 500, at least 400 attend church on a regular basis. So we’re going to work on collecting 400 emails in the first exercise.
You will need a website to host your signup form. It is possible to do this exercise without a website by using platforms such as MailChimp or similar. All you have to do is send a link. The only problem is that you do not have an email list yet.
Once you have a website and the signup form going, you will have to make sure to target a time when you have the most members present. For most churches, this is just before the sermon starts.
Making The Announcement
This is one of those times when you want everyone to pull out their cellphones. You then want to tell the members why you want them to signup using their emails. Make sure also that your web address is displayed on the projector or in the bulletin. You want to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Give elderly members some time to catch up. Once everyone is on the page, ask them to enter their name and email address.
For this exercise to be successful, you have to make sure that everyone has entered this information. If you have to, assign some people to help out. If done right this exercise should take no more than 10 minutes. You will also have to do this every week in order to collect new emails.
Growing Your Email List
Growing your email list means growing your online membership. Remember that the best online member is one who lives in your community. To start, we will take it that you have your first 400 emails. Now it’s time to grow your list. Even though it’s easier to just ask your members to invite people in their contact, you want to make sure that you have some kind of a bait. People love community events and so we’re going to talk about some community campaign you can use to attract people.
One of the many events you may do is a Community Fitness Campaign. People love anything to do with health and fitness. We all feel we could lose a little weight or just keep fit. For a more detailed Community Fitness Campaign please see the article here.
When done well, the fitness campaign will not only allow you to grow your email list but will also help you fund the event by utilizing affiliate products. In the article FITNESS CAMPAIGN, we go over how to organize and monetize your campaign.
Promotion The Campaign
Without a good promotion, your campaign will not be successful. Let’s take stock of what we have so far.
- 400 active Church members
- 400 emails
- Affiliate Program ( See Affiliate Programs for Churches)
- Email Automation ( See our recommended software)
- Website – If you don’t have a website, see how to create a website fast and cheap.
You will need all the above items before you start a campaign. Having 400 members and emails already put you at an advantage. In order to collect additional 1600 emails, every church member will have to invite at least 20 people. I say 20 because it is possible that you will end up with duplicates and am also taking into consideration the fact that not invitee will accept.
Before you send out your invitation you want to make sure that your church members have one voice. Now, this is the most difficult part because there’s just no way every member will present the campaign the same way. This is where the website comes in. First, you need a place where the community can register for the event. So we’re going to create a landing page for the event. It is very tempting to have too much information on the landing page but, remember the purpose of the campaign. This is not the place to get too religious.
To kick off the campaign you have to start off with a well-written invitation email. This email will be sent to your members and they will forward the emails to their friends and families. Remeber that relationship plays a very big role and you expect to have a very low rejection rate. So you want to take advantage of your members’ relationships. The email should be very simple and have just enough information someone needs to get interested. For example, you want to say things like you’re offering free enrollments to the first 100 signups. Then you also include information such as the prizes if you have any. Remember to also include a direct link to the landing page so people can click and register right away.
I know it’s tempting to do the old fashion flyers and posters but your goal is to collect emails, therefore flyers will no work because they’ll require people to type in the address. You want to make this as easy as possible.
It is not possible that every email sent out will be opened or that every person will signup. So let’s work with the email open rate standards and say 50% of the people will open the email and about 20% will actually signup.
The image above shows a signup rate of 20% which works out to be 1600 signups.
The real campaign starts with the first email signup. Just because someone signed up does not mean that they’re onboard. This is when Email Automation comes in. You can imagine how much work it’ll be for you to write personal emails to each and every person that signs up. The first email someone should get immediately is welcome and thank you email. You want to send acknowledgment right away and it’s ok at this point to give them more information about the campaign.
If you don’t have an email automation software yet, we do recommend Drip. You can signup for free right now and take it for a test drive. This software can seem complicated at first but they do have a very good help desk and Facebook community to help you along the way.