Email is such a normal part of the average person’s life that we tend to forget about its strategic value. As a missionary, you may be staying busy trying to keep up with the most cutting-edge methods of communication such as social media, SMS, and maybe even those QR code thingys. But among all these new options, classic email is sometimes forgotten. In my last post, I encouraged missionaries not to abandon snail mail. Today I want to shed light on the value of email, particularly as a tool for sending regular updates or e-newsletters.
To be honest, I didn’t realize just how important email was until I saw this infographic from the SmarterTools blog. The truth is, many more people use email than social media, and the ones that do use social media, still have to use email.
Unlike social media, email gives you the ability to stake a claim in someone inbox. For example, if you post a Facebook status, there is a good chance your post will be lost among the always shifting conglomeration of posts on your friends’ news feeds. You don’t have much control over whether Facebook chooses to highlight your post or not, though there are ways to improve results. Email on the other hand is static. As long as you get into the inbox (and not the spam folder), that message is staying there until the reader deletes or moves it. See the difference?
What’s your Strategy?
It’s more important than ever to make email count. Value the fact that supporters are entrusting you with precious, confidential information when they share their email address with you. Do some research and strategizing about how to use email correctly. If you don’t, you may find people unsubscribing from or simply ignoring your emails.
- Use email software such as Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, or even Mad Mimi. They are worth the minimal costs.
- Avoid attachments. Many times people don’t open them anyway. Email software (see #1) should eliminate any need for attachments.
- Don’t expect readers to feel connected with you because you send them an e-newsletter once in a while. One-on-one, personal communication is still critical, whether by email, phone, or otherwise.
Ways to fail at email newsletters:
- Use poor writing and grammar.
- Include too much information. Quick bullet-points or highlights are best.
- Use only text because you were too lazy to snap a photo.
- Send too frequently. (Depends on your audience, but more than once or twice a month could be overkill.)
- Attach large files or images that make the reader’s email download slowly. That’s just annoying. Don’t do that.
I hope these help you as you find the best ways to connect with your network of supporters!