How We Use an Automated Series Of Emails to Partner With New Parents

Mailchimp Automation

I don’t know about you, but we’re always looking for new and better ways to partner with parents. At our church, we have a 4-part strategy for partnering with parents and one of those components is communication. In terms of partnering with parents, communication looks like:

  • Keeping parents informed of what their children are learning so they can continue conversations at home.
  • Sharing ideas and resources parents can use to lead well at home.
  • Reminding parents of events and opportunities our church has for their family.

Part of our communication plan is a weekly email to parents that shares what their child learned and resources they can use at home (we use Orange curriculum). One way we were missing the mark was with new parents. When new families registered, they were added to our weekly email and received the same resources everyone else receives after each service.

The problem was, we weren’t informing them about the resources. We didn’t explain how it all works, or, how anything works for that matter. In order to help change that, we started an email sequence that every new family receives.

How We Use An Email Sequence to Partner with Parents

In the business world, this is referred to as email sequencing, email automation, or even email drip. It’s just a series of emails people receive when they subscribe to an email list. We use MailChimp for email communication with parents and MailChimp calls it Automation. We created 4 emails every new family will receive spread out over 2 weeks. Here’s what each one is about.

Email 1 – The Team, The Environments, Safety & Security

In the first email, we introduce the staff who lead preschool, elementary, and student ministry overall. We talk about those environments and how much we value safety in all our environments. We end by giving them a heads up about the remaining emails they’ll receive.

Email 2 – Large Group & Small Group

In the second email, we talk about what their children experience when they are in the environments designed for them each week. We explain the two primary components, large group and small group. We also link to pages on our website so we don’t have to include it in the email.

Email 3 – How We Partner With Parents

The third email is all about the various ways we partner with parents. We share the reason why that’s important and start off with the BEST partnership we have with parents (Small Group Leaders). After that, we include everything we make available to parents with links so they can read more.

Email 4 – Invitation to Meet

In the fourth email, our goal is to get a chance to meet them if we haven’t already. I simply refer to the emails they should have received, remind them about the Weekly Parent Update they’ll start receiving, and ask them if we could meet the next time they’re at church. We had to think through this to make sure it could actually work. We also had to get the wording just right so it made sense in every context.

Expectations and Results So Far

We set reasonable expectations heading into it. We didn’t expect 100% email open rates or 75% of new families emailing me back after that fourth email to meet. We’re getting about 50%-75% open rates (excellent by most standards) and about 20% of people communicate back with us in these emails. The other advantage is, they get to know us through the emails. So, even if they didn’t write back, they’re far more open to talking when they see us at church.

Bonus – Get Our Emails

Like most of our efforts toward partnering with parents, this is an experiment. It’s certainly better than nothing, so while we may change the approach, I don’t see us nixing the plan anytime soon. If you would like to try this at your church, you can get our emails and adjust them to fit your context. Just fill out the form below to get a zip file with:

  • PDF copies of the email series
  • HTML files of the email series
  • A PDF sample of our Weekly Parent Update email

At some point, I’d love to put together a video showing you how you can set this all up in MailChimp. Meanwhile, don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything I can do to help.

What is working or not working in your partnership with parents?

How to Reach More People Through Social Media

Last week I shared a simple social media strategy for your ministry. Many churches and businesses are doing a lot more with social media beyond what I shared in that post. Michael Hyatt is one of the most popular bloggers in the world and his entire business is based on his blog. He has said about a third of his traffic comes through Facebook. That doesn’t even count other social media sources that drive traffic to his site.

While there are many social media platforms we can use in ministry to connect with people, Facebook still has the greatest reach. It recently hit a huge milestone as well, announcing 1 billion users. The By The Numbers study I referenced in that previous post indicated most churches have their biggest following on Facebook, and that following is at least 2x greater than what they have on Twitter, which is also 2x greater than what they have on Instagram. It’s not even near that close for us.

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Boost Posts on Facebook to Reach More People

Facebook has made multiple changes over the years to make sure they’re profiting from organizations using their platform to reach people. You might have a 1,000 fans on Facebook, but because of how their algorithm works when you post you might only reach 10% (100) of your audience with that post. Facebook requires you to pay to “boost” the post for it to stick in people’s timelines. The upside is you can also have Facebook share that with friends of your fans or even target a specific group of people based on age, location, and more.

How We Had Our 3rd Highest Attendance

GFTROU_event_tileAs our church prepared to kick off a new series entitled God For the Rest of Us (based on Vince’s book), we paid to boost posts on Facebook and had our 3rd highest attendance of the year (including Easter). While it would be great if Facebook allowed all of that for free, fortunately it doesn’t cost much. We boost a post to push a new series in C3 Kids & C3 Students each month for about $5.

5 Links To Help You Reach More People Through Social Media

19 Social Media Tools For Churches from Pro Church Tools

The 3 Different Ways You Can Promote Through Facebook

18 of the Most Popular Social Media Posts for Churches

How a Church Reached 3x As Many People For Easter

Should You Have One Page or Pages For Multiple Ministries?

How have you leveraged social media to reach more people?

A Simple Social Media Strategy for Your Ministry

Social media can be a powerful communication tool for our ministries, but it can also seem too complex to manage. There are a lot of questions you might ask yourself about how to approach it.

What do we post?
How often should we post?
Which platforms should we use?
Should we post the same thing across all platforms?

How to Use The Top 3 Platforms

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here is a simple social media strategy you can use for your ministry. If you lead in student ministry, you’ll want to pay attention to platforms such as Vine and Snapchat. For everything else, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram still rule, with us old folks keeping Facebook as the clear favorite. Though, Pew Research last year indicated a high percentage of teens are still using Facebook.

Facebook PROMOTES

ftiIf you’re like us, you have a far greater reach on Facebook than anywhere else. Facebook also allows you to put in more content so it is the best platform for promoting things related to your ministry. You can promote upcoming events, resources for parents, new series, and more. In the next post I’ll write about how you can boost posts on Facebook to reach more people.

Twitter REMINDS

With the 140-character limit you won’t get a whole lot communicated through Twitter, but it is a great way to remind people of things you need them to know. The deadline for an event sign up, a note about services that Sunday, or a reminder for people to invite their friends.

Instagram CELEBRATES

Instagram is all about pictures, and pictures are a great way to celebrate what is happening in your ministry. Give people the chance to remember what they experienced or view what they wish they could have experienced had they been there.

Infographic on Social Media Use In Churches

See the infographic below for some more information about how churches are using social media and their websites. You can actually purchase the By The Numbers eBook with more detailed research at ChurchmagPress.com.

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6 Tips for Communicating Over Email

Email Communication Tips

Some people love email and others absolutely hate it. Like me, I’m sure you lean one way or the other and it’s probably influenced by how your church uses email. Our staff uses email regularly and we expect our staff and volunteer leaders to communicate with their teams weekly or bi-weekly, usually through email.

Email can be an effective communication tool when used well. Here are 6 tips I’ve found to be helpful when communicating with people over email.

Short Sentences and Short Paragraphs

Assume they want to read through your email quickly. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short to help keep your volunteers engaged. Your natural style may be to write long, run on sentences. Avoid that.

Use Special Headings, Like This One

If it is going to be longer, use special headings (larger font or built-in heading) in your email to break it up into logical sections. Yes, this could encourage readers to skip certain sections but it will encourage them to read what they really need.

Use an Editor and Triple Check

Over the years I’ve learned how important it is to write well if you want to be a leader. Communication is a huge part of leadership, and the fact is, not everyone does it well. Whether it’s typos, grammar mistakes, or something else that’s off, it can hurt your credibility as a leader. Everyone makes mistakes, but be sure to use an editor that will identify errors and triple check your emails before sending them out.

Assume It’s Read on a Phone

Most people will read your emails on their smartphones. Keep that in mind when writing. An email that’s long on a computer screen will seem like a book on a phone.

Make Action Items Stand Out

Highlight items you need your volunteers to do. Yes, this may lead them to only read those items, but the alternative could be them not reading it at all. Plus, once they skim to read the action items, they’ll often times have to go back to read the information needed to carry out those actions.

Use MailChimp for Mass Emails

MailChimp is a great mass email service that can add a lot to your mass emails. It can make them look more professional if you choose that route. You can also make it look just like your regular emails while personalizing each email with their name. I highly recommend MailChimp for any mass email campaigns.

What would you add?

15 Ways to Promote Your Church Event for a Better Turnout

Promote Church Event

If you serve on staff in children’s ministry or student ministry, you probably put on some important events each year. Hopefully you’re only doing events that really help people take steps in their journey, so you obviously want as many people to come as possible. See Tony’s post about Are Events Killing the Church for more on that topic.

For events we want to continue doing, we all know communicating and promotion go a long way toward helping people attend. In my opinion, there is no better promotion than word of mouth from establishing a history of excellent events.

However, you have to start somewhere, and you always have to promote with the first time attender in mind. Here are 15 ways you can promote your next event. Tip: you might want to save this to use as a checklist for each event you promote.

  1. Church Website – Every event that’s open to the church should be on your website 6-8 weeks out. If sign up is needed, include a way to sign up online if possible. You can do this through Google Forms if needed.
  2. Church Facebook Page – Schedule 2-4 posts on your church Facebook page and be sure to include a good image and a link to the web page about the event. Optionally, you can pay to “boost” the post to ensure it hits the most people.
  3. Church Blog – Write 2-3 blog posts about the event, but try to make them different from the website by including stories or something else designed to see it from a different perspective.
  4. Church Program – Be sure to include it in the church program/bulletin. It’s usually one of the top 3 ways people get information about events in your church.
  5. Printed Mailer – We use these for bigger events, but creating a custom mailer (postcard or 8.5×5.5 size) and sending it to people’s homes is a great way to bring attention to an event. We use Overnight Prints for a lot of our stuff.
  6. Invite Cards (Business Card Size) – Create business cards designed for people to hand out as invitations.
  7. Instagram – Put pictures on your church, ministry, or even personal Instagram account related to the event to build up excitement.
  8. Personal Facebook/Twitter Account – Post a couple updates on your personal Facebook or Twitter account to promote the event.
  9. Mass Email – Create a well-designed email in MailChimp and send it to anyone in the church database it applies to.
  10. Talk About It In Small Groups/Classes – This doesn’t work in every church, but see if your church’s small group leaders can intentionally mention it in their small group one week.
  11.  Interview Someone About It – You could do this live in service or via video, but interview someone close to the event about the event itself. Make it fun and informative.
  12.  Write Personal Notes – Have your children’s and student ministry small group leaders write personal notes on a card with information about the event, inviting them to it.
  13. Banner – Purchase a banner to display in the lobby or in your children/student environment. If this is an annual event, the investment is more than worth it. We use Group Imaging for most of our banners/displays.
  14. Create a Video – The video could include highlights of previous events. It could be a comical Top 10 Reasons to Attend. Or, it could be a simple voice-over style video with key information about the event. Videos are great because they can be used more than once in multiple settings. But, they’re hard to do well, so that’s why I list it near the bottom.
  15. Announcement From Stage – I saved this for last, as most of us probably need to use the stage less and less for event promotion. It is effective, but my approach is to create a promotion plan for each event that would work well without any mention of it in services.

What ways have you found to be the most effective at promoting events?

What ideas have you used that aren’t on this list? Comment below and share your thoughts.