Thursday, July 13, 2017

Six Content Landmines for Church Email Newsletters

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 the details. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Content from others without attribution or links. While it’s perfectly acceptable to repurpose content from other sites or authors (churches use content from ThomRainer.com all the time), use the content according to the host site’s terms of use. Here at ThomRainer.com we only ask for a link back to the original article. Most sites and blogs employ similar terms of use.
  6. Multiple fonts and colorsThis might be the biggest landmine that gets churches. 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.


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