Archives For email

Email is still the killer app for engagement.  

If you show up in someone inbox consistently (with permission), you are relevant.

If you’re writing emails to your list – newsletters, promotional notices, anything with a call to action, you really need to get a good handle on writing amazing subject lines.

Here’s 5 ways to think about copywriting your email subject lines so that people open them consistently and immediately when showing up in their inbox.


Do you have any other tips or insights on how to get your emails opened? Share your ideas below.

Building your email list should be one of your top strategic priorities for most projects or campaigns that you are running.  One the web, you want to create landing pages with squeeze page elements which basically force the user to either submit their info to continue one, or back out of the page.  And in order to entice the visitor and squeeze their contact info out of them, it is good practice to communicate the value of the trade.  Many times, this means offering something valuable on the other side of the form.

But how do you build you list offline when you are running an event or better yet, remote somewhere else where you may or may not have access to the internet?

Check out this cool iPad app that MailChimp offers so that you can set-up a kiosk-like setting or even pass around an iPad to get people signed-up for a email list.


Imagine how you can use this app — that doesn’t rely upon an internet connection — to collect contact info in a large group / event setting.

The app is easy to configure and use.  Clean design, just like the main email marketing service at

Mail Chimp iPad App

Imagine if you had an iPad available for first time visitors and offered them a chance to sign-up for your newsletter that comes with an autoresponder email series walking through some of your key staff, background/beliefs, snapshots of community life, links to videos of the top 3 sermon messages from the past year, etc.  Or a 30-day devotional written by your pastor or ministry leaders. Or  . . . .

Check out Chimadeedoo 2 for iPad

If you’re like most organizational leaders, a significant part of what you do on a daily basis is process emails. . . Responding to emails, initiating emails, filing, deleting and forward emails.  We all do it.

The problem with the clear majority (95%+!!!) of email is that when you sit down to process your email inbox, you are deciding to let other people’s agendas dictate how you spend your time IMHO.  So figuring out how to tame that inbox is one of the most strategic things you can do for your own work.

One of my colleagues is a master of killing that inbox every day.  So I asked Rich Birch, to share some of his best practices for dealing with email.  Take heed and you’ll find hours being freed up every week so that you can spend more time on things that are on *your* agenda, not others’.  Enjoy today’s post below.

Remember when email was fun? I do.
I was one of those kids with an email address in the 80s. It’s true. My parents got me a subscription to CompuServe because it had an online encyclopedia. I used to sell access to my friends . . .only $0.25 per printed page! (But that’s another story!) Back in those days it was magical to send emails to people all over the country.


Email isn’t fun anymore. In fact, for most people serving in a church, it’s a drag. It seems like an interruption to what God is calling you to do. Your behind on answering your emails and afraid that there is a message waiting from someone who is disappointed you haven’t got back to them . . . so for some weird reason we avoid dealing with our email . . . and the cycle continues.

Email Inbox Processing Best Practices

I need to confess . . . I kinda like email. It’s a great way to move information around . . . to prepare people for face to face meetings . . . to connect with a wide variety of people.

Here are 6 “not-so-obvious” email tips from what I’ve learned after almost 25 years of trying to figure out this email thing . . .

1. Email Is Not Your Job

Don’t mistake what you are called to do in your ministry with doing email. Email is just a tool. You are called to connect people to the church and build up leaders. Email simply aids the core function that you do. If you feel like all you do is email all day – talk with your supervisor and restructure your job. You are more valuable to the Kingdom than just answering email.

2. Schedule Your Time

Set aside time every day when you are going to process all of your emails. Don’t just keep scanning the list of emails . . . “checking email” is not dealing with emails. Sit down for an hour and respond, delegate, defer or even delete every email. When I’m at my email best – I’m up early in the morning and cranking through the email from the day before.

3. Don’t Use a Smart Phone

 I’ve had a Palm Pilot, BlackBerry, iOS devices and my beloved Android. These are all fun toys for filling in time when you have a few extra minutes during your day. They are terrible for processing email. All you ever do on a Smart Phone is read the headlines of emails . . . which gives you the false sense that you are actually dealing with your inbox. You’re not. Put the iPhone back in your pocket and go do your work . . . later sit down at a computer and do your email.

4. Filters Are Your Friends

Every email program has some sort of filter function built in. These filters will automatically process emails when they come into your inbox. I currently have over 40 filters running on my inbox. I have emails that I get every month that I need to forward to other people . . . my system automatically forwards those emails and I don’t ever see them in my inbox. I want to highlight emails from some people as urgent when they arrive . . . as soon as my email sees that certain people email me it flags them for me. I’ve heard that some people will even filter out those pesky forwards from parents who always send them their way . . . of course I’ve just heard about that and have never done that. 😉

5. Reply Sparingly

There is only one sure fire way to reduce the amount of email traffic coming into your inbox. Send less email. I’ve sent 28,000 emails since 2007 . . . in that same time I’ve received 55,000 emails. Every time I send an email I think to myself “I am going to receive two emails in return . . . is this email that important?”

6. Use Gmail

I’m biased. Gmail is the solution for email power users. This cloud based system mops up any client based solution by a long shot. Their SPAM killing is amazing. You get tones of free space. You can harness the power of Google’s search technology for your personal information world. The threaded conversations keep you up to date. The “labs” feature has all kinds of great hacks for making email more efficient. It’s free. If you are still using an old school “client” to process your email . . . where have you been for the last 5 years?
I’d love to hear your tips for dealing with the email reality that we all face in ministry. [Leave a comment below on how you deal with email!]

Rich Birch - KillerChurch.comRich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000 people in 12 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. Currently Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey.
Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution. He blogs at

It’s the end of the year, and I’m sure you are experiencing what I am experiencing in my email box.   I’m getting tons of them.  I’m spending way too much time figuring out which ones are important to read and which ones to ditch.  You know what I mean, right?

Usually the email goes something like this:

“Hi [FIRSTNAME HERE]! You’re such an important customer to us, and I, the CEO or leader of this organization, who has never ever communicated with you directly before until this moment, wanted to send you a personalized message of “Happy New Year” or “Merry Christmas” or plain old “Thanks For Being Our Customer.”  Sincerely yours, Big Wig.

That’s it?! Oh yes, some of these time sink emails come with fancy graphics.  Some send the basic message wrapped in a totally-too-long verbose message.  Some have the audacity to give you a clickable link to a video message that ends up being nothing more than  a waste of my time.  Just some silly Hallmark card without any purpose.

Why am I ranting about this all-too-popular tactic?  It’s because of a couple of important things.  While most of these examples of SPAM are coming from corporate and large nationwide organizations, the rules they violate are still in play for your church or ministry as well.  I hope you see what is wrong with these shallow end of year email blasts.  Because, when you send these types of emails, they trigger some really basic rules of engagement for email:

  • Sending a “personal” email to someone you don’t personally know, is not being authentic. It’s more often received as an annoyance because you just forced the person reading it to figure out who you are and why they are reading your email right now.  You really should know that personal greeting cards’ online equivalent are still meant for interpersonal relationships.  If you don’t have a direct relationship with the recipient, please don’t spam them with generic greetings or mass emailed thank you notes.  You’re trivializing personal relationship development when you treat your supporters and community like just a name on a list.
  • Emails without any valuable content or call-to-action weakens future responsiveness of your list. Each time you hit up your email list with a message, there should be something in it for the person receiving it or some kind of call-to-action that is aimed at a specific behavior from the reader.  The next time when you need them to actually pay attention to your email for a donation to your ministry or cause, the last thing they remember about you is that email-without-a-purpose which you sent them. How annoying. And what do you want them to do now?
  • Emails that only act as a megaphone functions shows that you aren’t really interested in them. No one likes self-centered people who just want to talk about what they want, or just keep talking about anything and everything without figuring out if it interests you, or . . . you get it, right?  Your need to share your greeting or gratitude is great.  But stopping right there isn’t enough. Here’s one lesson my kids brought home from school: “Show, don’t just tell.”  Why not show me how you are grateful?  What special downloadable or viewable content have you prepared for me?  What kind of interaction can I have with you because you are thankful?  If you’re so “Merry” or “Happy” this time of year, what are some examples of things I did (or fellow supporters did) this past year that contributed to your success?  How about using this time to lavish upon your supporters?
  • If you’re real purpose is to ask for a donation, making it an afterthought will let me think it the same way. If you have been monitoring your inbox and snailmail mailbox, you know that cause-related and ministry organizations use the end of year season to ask for financial support.  According to NetworkForGood, supporters are in the giving mode too with a whopping 22% of online donations being made in the last 2 days of December!  If you act casual or shy about your need, it must not be a critical need, right?  And with tons of other solicitations for my wallet, your ministry’s support requests are easy to push to the bottom of the list.  If you are going to ask for money, don’t be afraid to be upfront, clear about the need and why I should give now. It’s the least you can do to help me make an informed decision.

These are only some of the reasons why you should never send an anti-personal personalized email greeting to your list just because you can.  Am I missing anything?  Can you add to this list or give me some reasons why it’s ok to spam me like this? Show your vote of support or rebuttal in the comment section below.