These days, having a strong virtual presence is crucial for a modern Catholic parish. A good website and up-to-date social media accounts will be a boon to your evangelization efforts, but when it comes to maintaining relationships with existing parishioners, the ability to engage via email cannot be overstated.
Here are five simple ways to ensure you are optimizing your email open rate and keeping parishioners informed and connected.
Analyze Your Data
Use what data you have available through your digital marketing platforms to identify weak spots in your engagement and strategize improvement. Start by taking a look at your open rate (the number of emails opened compared to those sent), click rate (percentage of email readers who clicked a link in the email), and bounce rate (emails delivered vs. emails sent). Measure these against industry standards for faith-based organizations at Constant Contact. Is your open rate low? You may need more compelling subject lines. High bounce rate? Your email lists may need updating. A low click rate might indicate you need to target your content more carefully.
Pro Tip: If your church doesn’t have a digital marketing platform yet, it might be time. Check out our blog Why Your Parish Needs an Email Marketing Platform for more information.
Never Underestimate a Strong Subject Line
We all know the feeling of “inbox overwhelm.” Help your emails stand out from the crowd by switching up the subject line every week. Instead of something generic like “St. Edward Catholic Community Newsletter, Feb. 19-26,” choose a short nickname for the weekly news email and customize the subject line to reflect the liturgical season or to tease information offered within. “The Weekly Word @ St. Ed’s: Fr. John Says Goodbye, Lenten Mission Info and More!” will pique interest and garner a higher open rate.
Craft a Good Hook Paragraph
Once you’ve got them to open the email, keep their attention by hooking them with a short but compelling paragraph that will make the reader want to scroll down. Consider well-placed images or graphics (a little goes a long way) to break up blocks of text.
Avoid Text Blocks
Speaking of text blocks — avoid these! Nothing will lose the interest of a busy parishioner like a daunting, run-on paragraph about the revamped online giving system. Keep it short and sweet (just the facts, ma’am) and highlight keywords.
Don’t Get Lost in Translation
It seems obvious, but make sure you are providing information that can be easily understood by all the language groups at your parish. If there is a growing Hmong community in the neighborhood, for instance, engage the assistance of a volunteer who speaks the language.
Pro Tip: Your staff is already busy, so why not combine the work you already do for your bulletin into a top-notch email message? It’s time to check out LPi’s ePub Design.
If your parish is just getting started with email marketing, check out our blog “Top 10 Ways to Encourage Parishioners to Share Their Email Address” for some ideas to help build your email lists. And if your program is more robust you might be ready for “Tips for Targeted Email Messaging. ”