Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Okay, I admit I was skeptical about the need to use a "professional" email product.  After all, our church database was quite capable of sending email blasts to the congregation and we used them regularly.  But Kellie (the Rev. Kellie Anderson-Picallo, now on staff and bringing great ideas) insisted that I take a look, so I tried it out.  I wasn't sure that it would make all that much difference if our emails went from plain text to something that looks like this:

Yet after the first time I used it, I was impressed by two simple things: 1) the fact that it tells me the open rate (and I can also see who opened it, and who clicked on links within the email) and 2) I could see when the emails were opened.

What do you think the open rate is on your email?  The industry average for churches is about 27-28%.  Our first mailing did better: about 35%, though I suspect this varies greatly with how "tight" your list is.

We sent the email during business hours, and the largest group of opens happened right after we sent the email.  But I also noticed that there was a "bump" in emails being opened at 7 pm.  This makes sense; supper is over, you can finally start settling in for personal business.  And we know that emails that descend below the top of the inbox rarely get opened.  So I thought: what if we send the email at 7 pm?  MailChimp allows you to schedule sends.  So we scheduled the next one for 7 pm and our open rate jumped to 44% - which is approximately where ours have been ever since.

Is it valuable to you to have an extra 10-15% of your congregation open your emails?  Switch to a professional service.  Send in the early evening.  The scheduled send feature means you can set it up during business hours for arrival even when the office is closed.

Why did we use MailChimp over Constant Contact?  At our size (list under 500 names, fewer than 12,000 emails per month), MailChimp is absolutely free.  Their template-based email designs are easy to use.  Amazing, isn't it?  An idea, initiative, simple data analysis = more congregants reading email from the church.  It's that simple.