Emails are, I think, still a very valid form of communication for any church or ministry. The question for us here at Hillsong Church isn’t “are emails still effective” but rather “are we using them effectively?”
There are so many ways to engage people using email, but I don’t think SHOUTING at them really works. SHOUTING can be the result of a last minute email that is more of a desperate plea, rather than informative, engaging or quality content. Repetitive information, highlighting things they already know or not considering the context of the reader could be considered SHOUTING. On the other hand, there are plenty of ways to value your reader and engage them through email. While they aren’t applicable to every single situation, it’s definitely worth considering these points before sending the email.
Context: Who is reading your email?
Something that we can often forget around here is who we are sending our material to. Too often, we try and craft our content for everyone, and use the same language regardless of who our audience actually is.
Short & Sweet: Can less be more?
It’s easy to get caught up in what you’re writing, but remember that people are busy. They might not have time to read a short story in an email, so you should do your best to communicate everything you need to in a small amount of words. If you can’t say what you want briefly, maybe you should consider changing the message. It might be too complicated.
Content: Where is the value?
It’s a good question to ask before an email goes out. Does this email contain valuable content for our readers to enjoy? ‘A picture tells a thousand words’, and this is true for all media too. Why explains how great a speaker is when you can give them a message and let them hear/see for themselves?
Take one of our latest Hillsong Conference 2013 emails (Click here to see the email). This went to all delegates of Hillsong Conference 2012, so we've tried to keep that in mind when crafting the content. It communicates our key message, the heart behind Hillsong Conference and the pre-registration extension, but also gives the reader something for their time; a highlight video from the past week and wallpapers for their computer. We've also encouraged the reader to take action at the end of the email by sharing a verse at the end of the email.
We want our readers to feel like their time is being valued. It’s something we want to work on, to stop SHOUTING at our readers and strike up a conversation. Speak TO our audience with valuable content, and not speak AT them. In this day and age, everyone is SHOUTING something at you, but how many people are stopping for a chat?