For moeletterre and more folks, email is the preferred method of communication. You may already find that many of your members choose to receive their newsletters by e-mail when given that option. You are probably sending them the regular print edition in a PDF form.  This is not the best way to communicate your news.  PDFs are for print and are not the best way to view content online.

You are probably sending them the regular print edition in a PDF form.  This is not the best way to communicate your news.  PDFs are for print and are not the best way to view content online.

If a large number of your members are receiving their newsletter this way and if you do a lot of communication by email, it is time to consider an email marketing program like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.


Don’t be put off by the word “Marketing” – it’s just a communication tool!

What can you do with an Email Marketing Program?

  • Create attractive and easy to navigate newsletters that are more likely to be read
  • Include links to your website and other online sites you may wish to share
  • Include color photos and images
  • Embed videos
  • Share your newsletter on social media and increase your outreach
  • Send out weekly devotions that include links, images, and videos.
  • Set up different mailing lists so you can send to different groups in your congregation
  • Send out a weekly prayer concern list
  • Send reminders to committee members about meetings, or Sunday volunteers about the upcoming bible text and worship themes.
  • Send a follow-up welcome and thank you to visitors after worship
  • See who is opening and reading your emails, and clicking on the links
  • Schedule your emails so you can create them when it is convenient and send them on a consistent schedule
  • Make it easy for non-members to subscribe so you can increase your outreach

Tips for Using Email Marketing

 Develop a strategy.  What are your communication goals?  Who do you want to communicate with?  What is the best way to communicate?  How often will you email members and others?

Decide on an Email Marketing Company.  Constant Contact and Mail Chimp are the most common and are mostly likely free based on the number of people you will probably be sending mail to.  But there are others.  Ask your colleagues who use email marketing what company they use and what they like about it.  Google “Email Marketing” and read reviews.  Take some time to figure out what will work for you.2016-09-13-10-49-54

Most email marking programs have easy to use templates.  There is a little bit of a learning curve so schedule some time for training and practice for whoever will be creating the emails.

Gather together email lists.  You will start with a congregation list.  Most of these companies are very strict about not sending spam so you want to make sure people are willing to be on the list.  You can also create lists for volunteers, committees, and council, so you can send informational emails specific to each group.

Publicize your sign-up list on your website and social media so people can sign themselves up.  Encourage visitors to your church, website and Facebook page to sign up for your newsletter so they can know what is going on in your congregation.  Ask visitors for their email so you can send a follow-up thank you.

Decide on a schedule, whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly or monthly and keep to it, so people get used to hearing from you.

Keep articles brief and to the point.  Use bullet points.  Send readers to your website for more information.  Use photos and videos.

Most people read email on their mobile devices so make sure you email looks good on a phone or tablet.


Share your E-letters on Social Media!  Many programs will automatically publish on social media for you.

Add, do not replace!

I always advocate that when it comes to making changes, add, do not replace.  So as you begin to add digital forms of communication, do not replace what you have already been using.  If you have been mailing your newsletter, continue to do that.  Still, email is an important part of your Digital Ministry Strategy and an email marketing program will make your work much easier.





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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.


Digital Ministry


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