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Today, I asked Steven Records, a fellow church communications practioner, and founder of ChurchGrowth.info about email messaging.  He says you don’t need to pay for any snazzy services.  You can get started with good ‘ol Microsoft Office if you want.  Let’s take a look.


Why Marketers love email lists

A recent survey by Econsultancy showed that 72% of marketing companies rate email as a good or excellent form of advertising. The reason for this is because it has such a great Return On Investment. In other words, the amount of time, infrastructure and resource it takes to do email marketing is well worth the return received through emailing.

When I was overseeing the communications for one of Hillsong’s national events, I had a conversion on my email marketing of 7-10%. That is a great return,especially for something that took only a few hours to write, format, and pull data from an existing email list.

Churches can leverage bulk emailing to promote events, blog content, changes in normal church schedules, gather surveys, request public reviews, perform follow ups, announce major news, and stay connected with a wide audience of people. Building an email list can be time consuming on the front end, but it is a lasting point of contact that requires little to no financial investment. In fact, when I first started doing email marketing, I only used Microsoft Office.

Here is how:

Building An Email List Using Microsoft Outlook

You will also hear people call email lists a “database,” but I think for people starting off, saying “email list” sounds less threatening. Open Microsoft Excel and fill out whatever fields you want to log across row one like this.

Image 1

Normally I do First Name, Last Name, Email, List, Gender, Age, Engagement, Country, State, and City. The “List” field is what channel you received their details from. “Engagement” is what information they would like to receive. You can add other demographics or remove irrelevant ones; it really depends on what events and content you have as an organization. Consider adding a column for area of interest and church involvement.

Adding Data and Getting Emails Addresses

Start adding any contacts you may have and manually filling out the demographics you know about the person within the correct columns. It is okay to have blank fields. Really all you need is an email address to send and email,
everything else personalizes your emails to a relevant audience, that, and consent, is what separates you from spammers.

You can gather contact information by simply asking people you know for it, creating a subscription form on your website, pulling contacts from Facebook using Yahoo’s export Facebook contacts function, mass texts asking for email addresses, and having a printed forum at church for people to fill out. The truth is data entry takes time, but it is worth the small investment.

Turn your data into a table You can organize your email list by turning it into a table. Select all of your entered data at once and then click on “Insert/Table”. This will turn your raw information into a table that you can organize and filter by clicking on the down pointing arrows at the top of each column. Now you have a workable email list that is ready for sending.

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Set Default Email In Outlook

Now open Microsoft Outlook. You need to set the email account you want to send your emails through as the default account. Microsoft Word automatically sends through your default email address on Outlook, so don’t forget to do this. Just go to “Preferences/Accounts” and then set the account you want as your
default.

Writing and Formatting

Write your email in Microsoft Word then format with a web safe font type. Your styling will be applied to your email. To add links, highlight your text to become a link and go to “Insert/Hyperlink” to add the URL.

Sending the Email

The next thing to do is what we call a Mail Merge. This is the process of sending out mass emails. Go to “Tools/Mail Merge Manager.” You will want to set “Document Type” to “Form Letters” by clicking “Create New”.

For “Recipients List,” under “Get List” click “Open Data Source” and select the Excel email list you created.

For “Insert Placeholders” you can drag a field name into your document to personalize your emails. For example, addressing the recipients by the “First

Name” in the email. Here is what an email could look like:

Image 3

For “Preview Results,” you can just make sure everything is displaying properly before you send the emails.

Finally send your email by clicking on the envelope icon under “Complete Merge”. Then set “To:” as “Email,” fill out the subject line, then set “Send As” to HTML and send it.
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Test Before Mass Sending

I recommend testing each email campaign before sending by using a list with only your personal email accounts before sending to everyone. This allows you to see exactly how the email will look on different accounts.

Hopefully this has been a helpful walk through. This method has personally helped me better manage relationships and grow events for churches. If you would like to follow more of my thoughts on church communications check
out Steven’s Church Marketing Website.

 

About Steven Records: Founder of ChurchGrowth.Info. Over the years Steven Records has had the privilege to do communications for some of the largest and most influential Christian events and organizations in the world. To connect with Steven follow him on Twitter and Google Plus.