Why your ministry needs an email marketing tool

In the online marketing world, there’s no better tool to grow a business than an email list.

Jeff Walker, the founder of Product Launch Formula, often tells people that he has no money set aside for his children’s education. People are surprised until he says, “I have something better. I have an email list.”

What makes an email list so powerful are:

1. It’s permission based marketing.

2. It enables you to communicate with people directly.

3. It allows you to build deeper relationships.

It’s the perfect business resource. A tool where people essentially say, “hey, send me emails, keep me informed and build a relationship with me.”

Email for ministry

Switching gears now. Email marketing is not just for businesses. As a Christian ministry, email “marketing” (a term that perfectly fits the Christian mission - unless you think the gospel is “unremarkable”?) can be a powerful tool too.

Here’s why. When you actively grow an email list you are quite literally building a tribe. A community. A support network. A group of people who are passionate about your ministry and mission and who will help you grow it.

As a ministry, an email list enables you to rally people to a cause. As a church it is the easiest way to stay in communication with your members. It’s also a great way to connect with people outside your community - whether they know the Lord, or are seeking to know Him.

When it’s time to launch something new, with an email list you can build a launch team. You can get the message out further than you could ever have imagined. You can find like-minded Christians share their ideas and build on them.

In the marketing world, there is nothing more powerful than an active email list.

To word it another way, as a ministry if you are not actively building an email list then you are quite literally “leaving money on the table” (as they say in the business world). You are leaving opportunities that God has given you on the table.

An email list can take you, and your ministry, further than you ever imagined.

Email marketing tool

But it’s not enough to use your Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, or your AOL account. You need to leverage an email marketing tool.

And here’s why.

An email marketing tool will enable you to put sign up forms on your website and on your social media sites like Facebook.

It will enable you to give people something in exchange for their email address (this is what’s called a “lead magnet”).

You’ll be able to track your emails to know who opened them, who clicked them, and how often. This information is helpful for a number of reasons, not least because you’ll be able to determine which of the people on your list are the most engaged.

But if all of this sounds complicated, worry not. It really isn’t (if you use the right tool). There are a number of them out there. I use MailChimp because it’s easy, intuitive, and (best of all) free up to two thousand subscribers. Another good tool is Aweber. I lot of my friends swear by it.

The point is if you’re serious about building the ministry God has given you, you really need to begin to build an email list the right way. You need to use an email marketing tool.

Tips when emailing people

Once you get past the technical aspects of setting up an email marketing tool and a flow to capture new subscribers to build your email list, you have to actually email people, and this is where a lot of leaders and ministries get hung up.

They complain the nobody on their list opens or engages with their emails. So here are five tips to help you build an active email list.

1. Be consistent and regular

As the old saying goes, 'if you’re not consistent, you’re nonexistent.' I know a lot of businesses and ministries who only email their followers once or twice a month, but they are afraid people will unsubscribe. Yet by giving into this fear they are entering the cycle of a self-fulfilled prophecy.

People forget that they subscribed to stuff all the time. If your not regular in your emails, people will forget they subscribed to you, and they’ll unsubscribe when you do suddenly show up in their inbox. You need to have confidence that when people subscribed to you, they actually want to receive your emails. So email them at least once a week (and it’s okay on occasion to do it more often).

2. Be personal

Make sure that every email includes the recipients name. Please do not start the email with “Hey all” or “Hey everyone”! When I get an email like that I want to look over my shoulder half expecting a crowd to be reading the email too.

Remember, though you are sending an email out to a group of people, from their perspective, it is a one to one exchange.

My friend Dale Callahan said to me, “Derek, a lot of people think email is just a communications tool. It’s more than that. It’s a relationship building tool.” Keep that in mind next time you send out an email.

3. Be vulnerable

Share stories in your emails, not just information. Open yourself up and begin each email with a story that makes you human. People are tired of computers. They don’t want a computer sending them information. They want a human, sharing with them an experience. So humanize yourself by sharing stories in your emails.

4. Tune into their WIIFM

Everybody is turned into What’s In It For Me. So make sure your emails come around and make it about the person you are emailing.

People want to connect with you on a personal level, but at the end of the day they are going to want to know how your story, your message, your mission, applies to them. How can they help you? How will they benefit? What’s in it for them? Often times the answer is, “if you take action in our mission, you’ll be helping us change our community.”

5. Get rid of generic subject lines

Generic subject lines will kill your emails before people even read them. Make sure you tap into people’s curiosity and use subject titles that will draw them into the email (then deliver on your subject title with the content of the email).

For example, instead of “Join us this Thursday for…” use something more like, “Guess what’s happening Thursday (it’ll blow your mind!)”

So, go out today and begin to have amazing impact by leveraging an email list. Rally the troops and grow the ministry God has entrusted you with.

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About the author

ChristianWeek Columnist

Derek is a Christian blogger at derekouellette.ca where he writes to help mission-minded believers use social media and the internet to advance God's Kingdom. He's also an author and founder of Gospel Sneeze Academy. Derek lives in Windsor, Ontario with his wife, toddler and one addition on the way.