Here's how to make sure you're not wasting your time writing an email that won't even be opened!
When I think of email, I don't typically think of it being 'cutting edge', but year after year, it is still one the most engaging forms of digital communication. In fact, for 77% of people, it's their preferred method channel for promotional material . It's for this very reason that we as churches need to work hard to produce helpful emails for our people and make it easy for them to open and to read.
Here are a few tips to creating emails your people will actually want to read:
Have a purpose for the email
Start with the end in mind. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve by sending out this email.
Is it to get people to sign up for a particular event? Then focus the email around that event (and cut out everything else) and make sure you provide a link so they can register online for the event. If they can't register for the event online, don't promote it via email. You want people not just to be informed but for them to be able to act.
Is it to share an encouraging story? Limit the contents of that email to the story, thus keeping the focus on your purpose.
Think about your audience
Before you even start to prepare you email ask yourself 'Who needs to receive this?'. Sometimes people could be better served by not receiving an email.
For instance: There is no point in sending an email about an upcoming parents seminar if your church is 80% single. Better to send to that segment rather than the whole list.
Work hard on the subject line
The goal of the subject line is to get people to open the email. A subject line like "June Church Newsletter" doesn't inspire anyone to open. A good subject will leave the reader wanting more. For example:
Subject: I can't wait to see you on June 10
Someone will open the email to see what is happening on June 10.
If you are using an Email Marketing Platform, over time you will be able to see what types of subject lines work better than others. Additionally, these platforms allow you to experiment with 2 different subject lines and ensure that the bulk of your email list receive the email with the better performing subject line.
Writing subject lines is more of an art than a science. So experiment and evaluate. If your open rate for a particular email is higher than your average, chances are you have struck a chord with your subject line.
Make it personal
Send it from the Lead Pastor rather than "Your Church Name".
In fact, if the subject line is personalised (like the example above) you open rate increases 17% .
Write in such a way that feels like a friend is writing an email to another friend. However, you are still writing from a church so make sure that spelling and grammar is on point.
Keep it short
People receive a lot of email every single day. So keep things short and to the point.
If you are sharing a testimony type story, cut out unnecessary bloat (yes, it's ok to trim down the details of someone's story). If you have a tendency to repeat yourself using different stories/examples to make the same point, pick the best one. Don't try and include everything in the one email. In one of the weekly church-wide emails that I send out to my church (we send 2 per week) we send out one piece of family news, one event and a link to last week's talk.
If you are writing a longer form email I recommend no longer than 250 words and not having more than 2 sentences per paragraph.
Keep it simple
More than half of all emails are opened on a mobile device and it's increasing every year , so use a layout that works for mobiles first. This means using standard fonts and using black text (without backgrounds as much as possible). This also means minimal graphics.
Before sending the email out to the masses send a text email and read it on your mobile device. It its unreadable or requires you to zoom and scroll around to read it. Start again.
Send out the emails from the same person, on the same time, on the same day. Not only is this good for your routine in sending out purposeful emails but we have experienced an increase in open rates by doing so.
When we first started using an email marketing platform we were at 40% opens about 12 months later we are closer to 50%. Now there are a number of factors associated with it like getting better at subject lines.
If you are delivering quality content at a certain time each week people will wait on that email so they can read it. According to a whole bunch of studies done by the major email marketing platforms Tuesday at 10am is the best, followed by Thursday (if you send 2 emails each week) 
Use an Email Marketing Platform
One of the limitations of many of the Church Management Platforms is that there is no way to track the performance of your emails. They don't provide you with stats such as number of people that opened your email or how many people clicked on the links. These are essential stats to have and track so that you can continue to improve your email communications. After all, you are investing time into preparing these emails you want to at least know that they are being read and are helpful to your people.
Mailchimp is probably the best for churches as they provide a very generous number of free outbound emails each month. It also integrates with a number of Church Management Platforms.