We’re A Church, Not a Business (Part II): E-newsletters

Our recent post on Google Analytics and church life drew quite a bit of interest. Today, we continue with that series by examining e-newsletter data.

As with Analytics, most e-newsletter platforms are built not for churches or nonprofits, but for e-mail marketers. Hence, a great deal of the data they make available is aimed at improving sales, growing market share, and understanding buying habits. Good and useful stuff, but not necessarily for churches. To that end, we recommend the following.

The nomenclature follows that offered by MailChimp. Most e-newsletter providers, however, use similar, if not the same, language.

Forwarded Opens Not Opens: In the world of marketing, opens matter. But in the world of church, not so much. Churches send relatively small numbers of e-newsletters, rendering this information less useful. But forwarded opens (people who open your e-newsletter, then forward it to another individual who then opens it) is an important number. If you’re getting few of these (or none), it may well mean that your congregation is inwardly focused, not thinking about those who might enjoy your community outside your walls. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless outreach is an important part of your message.

Click Map, Not Click Performance: OK, we’re stretching here a bit. Click performance, the numbers of folks who click links in your e-newsletter, matter a lot. Don’t ignore them. But it’s as important to pay attention to your click map. Why? It will tell you if people are reading ALL of your newsletter, or just parts of it. If you have consistently high click rates in one part of the newsletter, but not another, it may mean that people are looking for certain information. So don’t place critical information in a slot that doesn’t draw a lot of attention. (You might also consider mixing things up design-wise if this is the case. Readers looking in the same place week after week, and ignoring others, is bad news for your e-newsletter.)

Total Clicks, Not Unique Clicks: Marketers are consumed with “unique clicks” (i.e., how many individuals clicked a piece) and not total clicks, which count links clicked irrespective of who does the clicking. And for good reason. If the same person clicks the same link 8 times week after week, but never buys anything, you’re not having impact. But in churches, total clicks matter a lot. Members who come back time after time and open links repeatedly suggest that they are leaning on your e-newsletter as a primary source of information. And that, after all, is the name of the game.

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