By Jonathan Howe
Last week, I discussed 10 content suggestions for churches to use as starting points for creating weekly email newsletters. This week, we turn to content that might cause issues in your church email newsletter.
While these may be occasionally acceptable, email newsletters with several of these will likely see decreased engagement and effectiveness. So here are six content landmines you want to avoid in your email newsletter.
- Long articles. As I mentioned in last week’s post, it’s great to have an article from the pastor or a staff member in your email newsletter. But I also noted that this article needs to be brief. If someone opens an email newsletter and sees paragraph after paragraph of text, they are not likely to read the email. People tend to scan emails and look for bullets and headlines. Keep your articles as short as possible and use a variety of headlines and bulleted or numbered lists if possible.
- Lengthy prayer request lists. Speaking of lists, prayer lists are great content for email newsletters. But the landmine is long lists of request after request. It’s probably best not to include every single prayer request in your email newsletter for a variety of reasons, but the space they take up might be the most important reason.
- Overly specific events and details. When including event information, include the bare minimum with a link for more information. While you may think that including detail after detail after detail will be helpful, many readers will tune out the details, and you’re likely to find yourself frustrated that people aren’t paying attention to this information. Also, try to limit the events listed in the newsletter to those that are church-wide or involve large groups of people in the church.
- Detailed recaps of the previous week. It’s fine to list a few stats or details from the previous week, but you don’t want to go on and on about what is in the past. Try to keep your email newsletter focused on the future of the church and upcoming events.
- Multiple fonts and colors. This might be the biggest landmine for church newsletters. I’ve seen too many email newsletters that use multiple colors and fonts within the text of the newsletter. Try choosing a simple layout with one or two colors and one or two fonts and stick with them.
Again, I encourage you and your church to have an email newsletter. Just be smart in how you use it and what you include.
Have you found any of these in your church newsletter? What else would you add to this list?
Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources as well as the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.
I would also suggest that correct grammar is always needed.
Well, yes. Great point.
Make sure the edition available on your website and emailed out to people is for the same date. Neither should be older than the other.
Yes. Great points.
Great insight Jonathan.
Every one of these except for number 5 can be attributed to our church’s hard copy newsletter that is also emailed. Very few read it – via email or by picking up a hard copy at church. It’s too long and the design is, well, not good at all. This is something that was in place when I arrived as pastor. July is the final month of this newsletter.
I began dong a weekly update email through MailChimp that is short & simple and avoids the 6 content landmines you’ve mentioned. The open rate is phenomenal in comparison.
Speaking of fonts, is there any way that Comic Sans and Papyrus can be permanently done away with? 🙂 Churches love to use these way too much.
You’re speaking my love language on the fonts. I’m right there with you.
Bless you for this practical post!! I extend these same suggestions to my department when writing course syllabi each year. No need yo be drab. Be creative and seek it with a K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short Silly!)
Short is good.
Conciseness when is good as well when it comes to sermons.
Churches have a tendency to live in the 80’s & 90’s when it comes to design and format issues.
Same as on their websites. Most look like the early days of the net. Also, when you post the newsletter on your site, be careful with those formats/apps that make it seem like you’re reading a magazine. Those things don’t do well on phone screens. Sometimes one long page is better for phones that 4 little pages.
Along with too many fonts and colors I would add frames and boxes. If you put every note in a frame or box it makes the whole bulletin or newsletter look too busy. The occasional frame or box draws attention to a note. Sort of like using salt. A little can enhance the flavor, but too much will ruin it.
Love the analogy
Before using photos of children make sure to get permission from parents/guardian.
Yep. We’ve covered that a few times on here. Great point.
Always remember to keep our church newsletters K I S S . Keep it simple Sir.