It’s no surprise that finding the time to send email newsletters for your congregation is often a difficult task.
There’s a lot on your plate and you’re wearing many different hats, but when you have a plan in place it’s easier to stay productive and avoid the last-minute scramble.
Coming up with a better plan
Think about how you communicate with your members.
When the time comes to sit down and create an email, are you as prepared as you’d like to be? Do have a clear understanding of what you’re going to say?
Or are you doing most of the work last minute? Planning, brainstorming, designing, writing, creating, and sending emails in a single sitting without much preparation in the days, weeks, or months before getting to send.
Here’s how you can save time and be better prepared for your next mailing:
1) Choose a goal
Start with a clear focus for your email.
Do you want to provide your members with a general update on what’s happening in your community? Maybe you want to highlight a specific member of your congregation? Is there an annual event your members look forward to every year?
Pull out a calendar and start filling in the major milestones of the year. Simply writing down your focus ahead of time will help you stay organized.
2) Decide on a frequency
Once you’ve figured out what you some of the major things you’d like to communicate, think about how often you need to send emails to your members.
If you’ve typically sent monthly emails, think about moving to weekly or biweekly with just one or two items included. Your members will have an easier time reading your message all the way through if you send timely updates.
The most important thing is to pick a frequency you know you can stick to. Then, remind your members of how often they will be hearing from you. Setting that expectation helps them to look forward to your emails.
3) Establish clear send and review dates
When creating a schedule, it’s important to have clear deadlines for each step of the process.
Determine the best time and day to send — and stick to it. Then, work backwards to create deadlines for any other important steps.
For example, if you typically send your emails out Friday morning, have a drafted email ready Thursday morning for review.
4) Write it all down
Goal, check. Frequency, check. Deadlines, check.
Now it’s time to get all your work down on paper. Putting your plan down on paper becomes a resource you can refer back to each month to help you avoid any confusion moving forward.
You can do things the old fashion way, with a pen, paper, and a blank calendar or can start to organize your notes in a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet. Whichever you’re most comfortable with.
This also improves the likelihood of following through on your email marketing goals. Believe it or not, there have actually been studies that prove when someone writes down their goals rather than just thinking about them, they are more likely to follow through.
In one study at Dominican University in California, those who wrote down their goals and shared that information with a peer were 33% more successful in accomplishing them.
A few last pieces of advice:
Even with the best intentions, things come up and plans change. Here are a few tips to stay on track:
- Schedule your emails ahead of time: Once your email is finalized, schedule it to send at the right time. Learn how to schedule your emails ahead of time.
- Think seasonally: Even when you’re planning ahead of time, make sure your emails are timely. Do you have any holidays or events that will require special emails? Try to add these to your plan from the start.
- Start small: If planning for a whole year seems impossible, start with the next three months. The process gets easier each time as you start anticipating key dates and see what is working well.
Putting it all together
Goals, dates, holidays, seasons… I thought you said this was going to make things simpler?
While it may seem like a lot to consider initially, most of what will go into creating your email plan is something you already have: a strong understanding of your congregation and community.
Now, all you need to do is get it down on paper and begin to put your plan into action.
Chances are you’ll soon find yourself better prepared, less stressed, and with more time to spend on other aspects of your congregation.
This guest blog was provided by Miranda Paquet of Constant Contact. Amanda believes in the really big impact of really small businesses and is am constantly inspired by Constant Contact’s amazing customers and can’t get enough of their success stories! You can find her on Twitter @mirandapaquet.