Strategy

Email Marketing for Churches: A Beginner’s Guide Based on My Experience Working for a Church

Christi LeupoldRobert Brandl

By Christi & Robert

Church Email Marketing

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When you work in a church, like I do, it can feel counterintuitive to focus on or use terms like “marketing” and “advertising”.

Those terms are often associated with big corporations looking to increase their bottom line. But, what about a church? The main goal is to reach the lost, to meet people where they are on their faith journey – why would you ever even need to consider marketing efforts?

Focusing on strategies like email marketing allows the church to adapt to modern approaches, meeting people where they are in their faith journey. Just as the pandemic exposed technology gaps in churches, it's time to address the evolving needs of the congregation.

If you don’t know where to start – email marketing is a good first step. Even if you feel like a complete beginner, you can do this! By the end of this article I want you to feel confident and educated to begin sending marketing emails to your church community.

What are the Benefits of Email Marketing for Churches?

What I love about email marketing at my church is that, next to our website, it is a very powerful tool to connect with our congregation and community. It is a direct line of communication to share updates, events, inspirational messages, and more. When we are intentional and vulnerable with our content we can nurture relationships, encourage engagement, and spread our mission and values more effectively.

Sant Andrew united methodist church newsletter example

Still not convinced? Let’s take a deeper look at how email marketing enhances your church community:

  • Direct Communication: You can reach congregation members reliably and directly – and not just on a Sunday morning.
  • Personalization: You can tailor your content based on demographics or interests.
  • Event Promotion: Directly promote church events, services, or special programs that some congregants may not already be aware of.
  • Donation and Support: Make it easy for your community to support the church with direct links to give online or promote a special fundraiser for charitable causes.
  • Building Community: When you include personal messages, you engage your community further, beyond just brief interactions on a Sunday morning, which fosters a sense of community and belonging among members.

Criteria You Should Look for When Selecting an Email Marketing Service:

I am going to go ahead and assume that I have convinced you that you need to start sending marketing emails for your church. Congratulations! Great decision 🙂
Now you need to find the right software for your needs!

But where to start? It can be overwhelming with all the choices out there – so let’s make a checklist of what the software should include.

  1. Ease of Use: As a beginner, choosing a program that is user-friendly is essential. You don’t want to have to learn code to send an email that is beautiful and engaging. Look for drag-and-drop builders and customizable templates specifically for churches.
  2. Affordability: Many programs offer discounts to nonprofits. Make sure you reach out to the company prior to selecting a plan on their website to ensure you take full advantage of this offering.
  3. Forms/Landing Pages and Integration: By utilizing a program that has forms and landing pages will allow you to collect specific information from your community. Forms can be used for event registrations, volunteer sign-ups, or feedback on sermons or community programs. These tools are valuable to creating personalized communication, effective and specific mailing lists which help you tailor content to specific interests or demographics. What’s more is that integration with other church management or CRM systems streamlines administrative tasks, which is helpful in building a cohesive and efficient communication strategy that nurtures a stronger sense of community and connection among members.
  4. Automations/Autoresponders: These tools let churches create ready-to-go processes that send special emails when certain things happen or at set times. Like saying hi to new members, sending birthday messages, or checking in after folks sign up for events. Autoresponders keep communication smooth, help build relationships, and make sure the right info gets to people on time without needing constant oversight. With automation, churches can concentrate on real conversations and building stronger bonds with their community.
  5. Deliverability: You put so much work into crafting a meaningful and informative newsletter, only for it to get stuck in the junk mailbox of many recipients. Look for a platform with robust deliverability features like authentication tools that verify your emails and help avoid the spam folder. A software that provides analytics to monitor delivery rates and engagement metrics is a win too, allowing you to tweak strategies for better performance.
  6. Think of Your Specific Needs: No two people are alike and no two churches are alike. Each church has specific needs and congregants to serve. Other than the above features you want to look for – think about what YOU want from an email service! Start making a list of “in a dream world, my email service would [fill in the blank].” Make a list and then categorize by NEEDS and WANTS to help as you evaluate your options.

5 Top Email Marketing Services for Churches:

Now that you know what features to be on the lookout for, where do you start looking for the right church newsletter software for your specific needs? Here are my top recommendations for you to consider!

MailerLite

mailerlite

MailerLite is an intuitive and user-friendly email marketing platform designed to help you create, automate, and track email campaigns effortlessly.

Rating: 4.4

Pros:

  • User-Friendly Interface: MailerLite offers an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, making it simple for anyone in your church, regardless of technical expertise, to create and send newsletters.
  • Affordability: MailerLite is known for its cost-effectiveness, especially for smaller organizations like churches. The free plan allows sending to a maximum of 1000 subscribers, which is good for smaller congregations or those starting with a limited budget.
  • Email Templates: It provides a variety of customizable templates, making it convenient to create visually appealing newsletters without much design experience.
  • Automation Features: MailerLite offers automation tools that can be handy for churches, enabling the creation of automated workflows for welcoming new members, sending event reminders, or birthday greetings.
  • Analytics and Reporting: It provides detailed analytics to track open rates, click-through rates, and subscriber engagement, allowing you to understand how your newsletters are performing.
  • Deliverability: MailerLite often scores highly in our deliverability tests, which is crucial for ensuring that your emails reach your congregation's inboxes effectively.
  • Support and Resources: They offer customer support and educational resources like tutorials and guides, assisting users in making the most out of the platform.

Cons:

  • Limited Complexity: For organizations requiring highly intricate automation or advanced features, MailerLite might have limitations compared to more complex email marketing platforms.
  • Subscriber-Based Pricing: While it's cost-effective for smaller congregations, as your subscriber list grows, you might need to upgrade to a paid plan. This could potentially increase costs over time.
  • Integration Limitations: It might have fewer integrations with other software or platforms compared to some larger email marketing tools, which could be a concern if your church utilizes specific third-party tools.

> Read our full MailerLite Review

> Try MailerLite for free

GetResponse

GetResponse for nonprofits

GetResponse provides you with seamless communication, event coordination such as webinars, and community engagement – which enables you to efficiently connect and interact with your community.

Rating: 4.3

Pros:

  • Versatile Email Creation: It provides a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor with a wide range of customizable templates, making it easy to design visually appealing newsletters without needing extensive design skills.
  • Automation and Workflows: GetResponse offers robust automation features, allowing you to create complex workflows, automate event reminders, welcome new members, or send birthday greetings.
  • CRM Functionality: It includes Customer Relationship Management (CRM) features, enabling better management and segmentation of contacts, which can be beneficial for churches in personalizing communications.
  • Advanced Analytics: GetResponse offers detailed analytics and reporting tools, providing insights into subscriber behavior, open rates, click-through rates, and more, helping you refine your newsletter strategy.
  • Landing Page Builder: It includes a landing page builder, which can be useful if your church conducts events or campaigns that require specific web pages to capture registrations or donations.
  • Integration Capabilities: GetResponse integrates with various third-party tools and platforms, allowing for smoother connectivity with other church management software or tools your church might use.
  • Deliverability: Our test show mixed deliverability results but have had an upwards trend lately.
  • Support: GetResponse offers customer support through various channels, including live chat, email, and resources like webinars and guides.

Cons:

  • Pricing Structure: As your subscriber list grows, the cost might increase significantly, potentially becoming less cost-effective for larger church communities compared to other platforms.
  • Complexity for Basic Needs: For churches seeking simpler newsletter solutions without requiring advanced automation or CRM functionalities, GetResponse's extensive features might be more than necessary, leading to unnecessary complexity.
  • Integration Limitations: While it integrates with several third-party tools, it might not offer as wide a range of integrations compared to other email marketing platforms, potentially causing issues if your church relies heavily on specific software.

> Read our full GetResponse Review

> Try GetResponse for free

Brevo (formerly Sendinblue)

brevo home page

Brevo is a versatile email software equipped with intuitive tools to efficiently manage communication (including live chat), engage congregants, and coordinate events. It is user-friendly and can support you in fostering stronger connections and effective outreach within your community.

Rating: 4.15

Pros:

  • User-Friendly: Brevo provides a user-friendly interface, making it accessible for church staff with varying technical abilities to create and send newsletters efficiently.
  • Affordability: It offers a range of pricing plans, including a free tier for up to 300 emails daily with basic features suitable for smaller church communities. As your needs grow, there are scalable paid plans that remain cost-effective compared to some other email marketing tools.
  • Email Design and Templates: Brevo offers customizable templates and a drag-and-drop editor, allowing for easy creation of visually appealing newsletters without requiring extensive design skills.
  • Automation and Segmentation: Brevo includes automation features that can help in sending targeted and personalized emails, useful for welcoming new members, sending event reminders, or sharing specific messages tailored to different groups within the congregation.

Cons

  • May Not Support Larger Lists: The free plan has limitations on the number of emails sent per day, which could be restrictive for larger church congregations or those with extensive mailing lists.
  • Integration Options: Brevo integrates with various platforms, but some users might find the available integrations to be less extensive compared to larger email marketing tools, which could be a concern if your church relies heavily on specific third-party software.
  • Deliverability: this is probably the biggest downside for Brevo currently. Their deliverability rate has its ups and downs.
  • Analytics: It provides all the basic analytics tools to track open rates, click-through rates, and other engagement metrics. The only downside is that it requires the Business plan for the advanced reporting, which other platforms include in their standard plans.

> Read our full Brevo Review

> Try Brevo for free

Omnisend

Omnisend ecommerce

Omnisend is a powerful email software tailored for streamlined communication in ecommerce. Omnisend can assist you in nurturing meaningful connections and fostering active participation among congregants.

Rating: 4.1

Pros:

  • Multichannel Marketing: Omnisend provides capabilities beyond email, allowing you to manage multiple communication channels like SMS (text messages), push notifications, and more. This versatility can be valuable for reaching your congregation through various platforms.
  • Automation and Segmentation: It offers robust automation features, enabling you to set up automated workflows and targeted campaigns, making it easier to engage with members based on their preferences or behaviors.
  • E-commerce Integration: Omnisend is well-suited for churches managing online stores or donation platforms, as it integrates seamlessly with e-commerce systems.
  • Visual Email Builder: Omnisend provides an easy-to-use drag-and-drop email builder with customizable templates, simplifying the process of creating visually appealing newsletters without requiring extensive design skills.
  • Analytics and Reporting: Omnisend offers comprehensive analytics tools that provide insights into subscriber behavior, campaign performance, and conversion rates. This data can help refine your newsletter strategy and understand which communications resonate best with your congregation.

Cons:

  • Pricing for Advanced Features: While Omnisend has a free plan with basic functionalities, accessing more advanced features, such as automation workflows or advanced segmentation, might require a higher-tiered paid plan, which could increase costs as your church's needs grow.
  • Integration Limitations: While Omnisend integrates with several e-commerce platforms, its range of integrations with other church management software or specific tools might be more limited compared to other email marketing platforms, potentially causing issues if your church relies on specific third-party software.

> Read our full Omnisend Review

> Try Omnisend for free

MailChimp

mailchimp

Mailchimp provides you with tools for streamlined communication, event updates, and community engagement. Its user-friendly interface and customizable features help you as a church to effectively connect with your members and foster a sense of community.

Rating: 4

Pros:

  • User-Friendly: It provides a user-friendly platform with a simple drag-and-drop editor and customizable templates, allowing easy creation of visually appealing newsletters without needing extensive design skills.
  • Automation: Mailchimp offers robust automation features, allowing churches to set up automated workflows for welcoming new members, sending event reminders, or delivering personalized content based on subscriber behaviors.
  • Integration Capabilities: Mailchimp integrates with various third-party tools and platforms, enabling seamless connectivity with other church management software, event management tools, or e-commerce platforms your church might utilize.
  • Deliverability: Mailchimp focuses on deliverability, striving to ensure that newsletters land in recipients' inboxes. Additionally, it offers a range of customer support options, including guides, tutorials, and email support, aiding in troubleshooting and maximizing the use of the platform.

Cons:

  • Pricing Structure: As the subscriber list grows, the cost might increase significantly, making it less cost-effective for larger church communities compared to other platforms.
  • Limited Automation in Free Plan: The free plan has strict limitations on automation features, and churches might need to upgrade to a paid plan to access advanced automation functionalities.
  • Customization Limitations: Some users might find the customization options within templates somewhat limiting, especially for churches requiring highly customized designs or specific branding requirements.

> Read our full MailChimp Review

5 Simple Steps to Get Started with Church Email Marketing:

Choose an Email Marketing Software:

Choose from the above list or find another email marketing service here that works for you. Make sure to consult that list you make to ensure the software meets your specific needs.

Design Your First Email:

Once you've chosen your platform, create your first email! Peruse through the templates to find the right one for you – or – if you are feeling up to it, create it from scratch with the drag-and-drop editor. This article provides some great tips for how to create an email newsletter. Make sure the content is engaging, reflects your church's branding, and communicates your intended message clearly. You will want to include relevant content such as upcoming events, sermon highlights, or community news.

Upload Your List of Recipients:

Upload your congregation's email list into your chosen email marketing service. Ensure the list updated, but you don’t need to worry about having it segmented for this first email – this first message should be for everyone!

Test Before You Send:

Make sure you thoroughly review and test your email. Have someone be a second set of eyes to look for any errors and also make sure you view it on many devices – laptops, phones, etc. Then, go ahead and send your email!

Make sure you’ve set up email authentication, so your newsletter won’t go into the spam folder.

Ask for Feedback from Congregants:

Encourage feedback from your congregation regarding the email content, layout, or any improvements they'd like to see. Provide contact details or a feedback form within the email and welcome suggestions.

Conclusion

What I love about email marketing at my church is that it isn't just about sending messages—it's a way we can better connect and engage with our community.

When used consistently and effectively, church email campaigns have the potential to foster deeper connections, share meaningful stories, and keep everyone in the loop about church events and projects.

It's not just about emails; it's about forging lasting connections that elevate the entire church experience. I invite you to join me on this journey toward a more engaged and connected church community!

The authors

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Christi Leupold

Content writer

Hello, my name is Christi! After spending nearly 15 years working in the corporate landscape, I decided to branch out and really lean into my creative side as a writer, graphic designer, and creative strategist. I lend my skills to not only my church, St. Andrew’s, but also to many industries across the United States.

Robert Brandl

Founder and CEO

Hello! I'm Robert, an email marketing expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry. After honing my skills by serving major corporations working for an agency, I founded EmailTooltester as a passion project to help small and medium-sized businesses. My goal is to assist you in maximizing email marketing's potential.

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This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.

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