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.