In 1976, Queen Elizabeth II was the first head of state to send an email.
That was 46 years ago.
In that time, most businesses in the developed world have followed suit. As of 2021, the number of email users worldwide was 4.03 billion. In the United States, 90% of citizens aged 15-64 use email, and 84% of citizens 65+.
These numbers come with heavy implications for churches. In many ways, email is an important communication method often overlooked via several common excuses, for example: “Our congregation is too old/ young/ modern/ outdated,” ignores the fact that 90% Americans are using email as a primary form of digital activity. In fact, when workers in the United States are asked if they check personal emails during work hours — 92% confess that they do.
Most of your community has email addresses, and they check their email. But what can you do to get them to open parish communications? Try targeted email messaging.
What is targeted email messaging?
To understand targeted email messaging, it’s helpful to look at a sample scenario. Picture this:
There are two women in your congregation. You have the email address for one, Sarah, because she just moved to town and signed up for marriage prep with her fiancé. The second woman is Kathy, she has 4 kids and is the favorite field trip mom at your school.
You have three messages to email this week:
1. A message that forms for the children’s field trip need to be turned in
2. An invitation for a Young Adult Mass on Wednesday
3. An informational message about a Women’s Retreat next month.
If Sarah (our young new member) gets too many emails about school matters, she may stop opening your emails. And, if Kathy (our rockstar mom) gets too many emails about Young Adult events, she may stop opening your emails.
That’s where targeted email messaging enters.
Why does it work?
Targeted email messaging allows you to place each person into categories that they will find relevant and meaningful. Common categories or “audiences” or “segments” could center around ministries, ages, or other demographics. For instance, all members of the Youth Group could be placed in a category, or all members of your Knights of Columbus chapter, or all lectors. Of course, there are times when it’s necessary to email every member of your congregation for example, a power outage or a cancellation. But resisting the urge to email every member with every detail means that your messages will be regarded with more value in the long run.
How? Because then your members know that you’re speaking more directly to them. So, they trust you more, they respond more, they engage more.
How can you get started?
- Think about the messages that you’re already sending and ask yourself if the message matches the audience. Remember: people want information relevant to them and to their situation. The fire-hose method of communication is often ineffective, it’s better to send to fewer folks who are interested in the message than to many who may not be interested.
- Define your segments. Creating more personalized campaigns will result in more effective communications. Put Sarah on the “Young Adult” mailing list and Kathy on the “School Parents” one, for instance.
- Work with an Email Service Provider. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and other email systems allow you to manage your email addresses and audiences in a professional manner with friendly interfaces. LPi’s ePub Design works as an email service provider that seamlessly integrates your print bulletin content into digital content for email, social media, and more. Sending to segmented audiences for a successful targeted email strategy has never been easier than with ePub Design. We’re proud to offer this revolutionary solution to parishes.
- Provide relevant content. Most readers check their email nearly daily, so keep your content short, sweet, and to-the-point.
- Talk about benefits to your reader. Answer the question, “why am I getting this?” Subjects and headlines like, “Join us for the Women’s Retreat” or “Pancake Breakfast this Sunday” let the reader know what you’re trying to communicate.
- Have fun! A friendly tone is welcoming, caring, and personable, and says that your parish community is, too!
If you’re inspired to get started with targeted messaging but need some help in the email list department, check out Top 10 Ways to Encourage Parishioners to Share Their Email Address.