For a lot of reasons….. It’s time your church had an email newsletter. In fact, maybe it’s time your church got RID of its MAILED newsletter. Many have, –sending out one or two email newsletters a month, and placing print copies of the email newsletters on tables after worship for those who don’t have email or prefer something in print. (If I had the resources, I’d send both. Communicating is what churches do.)
Why it’s time:
Sending an old-fashioned bulk mail newsletter requires that someone spend hours collecting information, typing, editing and formatting it. Then it must be duplicated, folded, labeled, and SORTED for bulk postage purposes, -and taken to the post office. Whether you’re a large or small church, have volunteers or paid staff doing it, it’s a lot of effort. And in many churches, it means that timely information isn’t getting out on time, or as often as the church would like. Whereas an email newsletter only requires some basic formatting, then you press SEND.
Most printed newsletters end up in the trash. Most people don’t read them thoroughly, or they forget what’s in them too quickly and throw them out. Yes, they may read your email news with about the same care! …but you’re spending less, getting it to them in a timely way, and you can send follow-up reminders at no charge.
Email newsletters are received in a matter of minutes. Old-fashioned newsletters can take a week or more to create, and days to arrive in member homes. Bulk Mail is at the mercy of the postal system. And if your members are spread out across zipcodes it can take over a week in some cases for someone outside your church’s area to receive your newsletter.
Printed newsletters get sent once a month due to the effort, time and cost of sending them. Email newsletters can be sent as often as you need. Most email news services allow unlimited number of “sends” during each month’s subscription to their service. In most cases, the email newsletter rate is based on the size of your list, not the frequency.
5. The Cost
Email newsletter services, such as www.iContact.com or www.ConstantContact.com, charge by the size of your email address list. IF you have up to 500 email addresses on your list, it can cost as little as $10 per month total. I use www.emailbrain.com for my company. It has a slightly lower rate, but I pay for X number of sends per month. You can easily change to a different service should you need to. Many email newsletter services offer a 10 to 20% discount for non-profit organizations. Contrast that to the bulk postage rate you’re paying now of $40 per 200 pieces of mail a month, -not including copying costs or staff time.
A few years ago, one forward thinking church thought they’d get resistance to switching from a postal newsletter to email, so they did this bit of sales job: At the top of every email newsletter they printed this notice: “This month’s email newsletter savings was donated to ________ mission project. To date, our switch to an email newsletter has allowed us to give $X more for mission. Please forward a copy of this newsletter to your friends and family.” –Nobody complained.
After I first published this post, a pastor in a 300 member church told me this story. He ran a half page “ad” in their printed newsletter for two months which read, “We are thinking of switching to an email newsletter instead of a print newsletter. If you think this is a bad idea and would still like to receive a printed newsletter , call us now at….” He got two phonecalls in 2 months, one from someone who thought it was a great idea. When they switched, several people complained, but none of those people could remember seeing the “ad” in the newsletter. Several months later a member of the church passed away, and the pastor sent out funeral details in an email newsletter. He said it was one of the best attended funerals in recent memory, and there were non-members who attended because someone had forwarded the pastor’s email to them.
6. The Old Folks are Online
According to 2009 Pew Internet Research, 74% of people age 64 and older have an email address. Those who don’t have email addresses might appreciate your help to get them get one. Those who don’t have one or don’t want one can be sent a copy of the email newsletter in the mail.
7. Email Newsletters give you feedback
Most of the popular email newsletter services offer you tools to TRACK who’s reading their email newsletters, what links they’re clicking on in the newsletter (such as that link back to your church website mission page). No more GUESSING if they’re reading it. It’s sophisticated, and it’s included in your email subscription service.
8. Email Newsletters can drive people to your website
Church websites can be a wealth of information & community building, –if only you had an easy way to get people to go there. A LINK in your email news can do that.
Vertical Response email marketers offers free email newsletter services to non-profits up to 10,000 emails a month. And they have a great training website that walks you through everything. www.verticalresponse.com/non-profits/
You can also look at www.emailbrain.com, www.iContact.com, or www.ConstantContact.com for features, pricing and details. Each is a reputable company offering a discount to non-profits and a free trial so you can experiment with their tools and email to a select group.