What’s the last parish email you sent out? Maybe the parish newsletter or an update about a summer family event.
Did you send it to everyone in your parish? Was it successful in getting people to attend? Did people open it? Click through to your event or link?
To write an email to parishioners is far more than just “writing an email.” It's an opportunity to speak face-to-face to your audience. Unlike social media or pulpit announcements or even bulletins, an email gets the undivided attention of someone.
We often write emails quickly, trying to cram in as much information as possible and without thinking of the end result. And while it may be unintentional, are we loving people well that way? Are we giving them what they need or what we need? The feeling of being “just another number in the crowd” is not what we want to communicate. By being a little more thoughtful in our email approach we can actually create a culture in our parish that makes people feel individually seen and known, and with a few tips, avoid adding more work onto your plate.
This intentionality is a big reason Tilma is built with email. Not only is it a practical part of managing parishes but the unity and insight of the tool unlocks opportunities for much more meaningful communication.
Here are some ways we can be more thoughtful in our emails.
1. Create a more focused list.
The best way to make someone feel seen is to speak to someone’s specific, unique needs. And the most effective way to do that is to narrow down your audience.
Have a men’s retreat coming up? Rather than sending it to everyone in your parish, hoping that the right people see it and the wrong people just pass it over, create a list of just the men in your parish.
You can even split out your emails between certain ages and life stages (in fact, Tilma has unlimited data fields that you can search and build lists from). Create a different message for the dads with young kids and the dads who are retired. Speak to why each of those individual groups need to come to your men’s retreat. Not only will your invitation be more effective but each of those men will feel seen and understood by you.
2. Write personalized subject lines.
A subject line makes or breaks whether someone opens your email and gets to the important information. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Put time into thinking about your specific audience’s day. What kind of emails are they getting through the day? When are they checking their email? What are things they are interested in? What are they trying to think through during the day? What would motivate them to open an email? What value are you bringing to them?
This subject line is like the opening line of a speech or the first impression when you meet someone. It will determine what they think of you and how they interact with you from then on out.
3. Talk about your reader vs. your event or opportunity.
Don’t assume your parishioners know what value your content is bringing them. They most likely don’t know what your events, ministries, articles, or workshops have to do with their life so it’s up to us to help show them.
Let’s go back to our men’s retreat example. Let’s say you’re crafting your invitation to the fathers in your parish.
“Your role as a father is one that can’t be taken lightly. But to do it well, you need to be fed and encouraged. Come be refreshed. Connect with God, the outdoors, and your community on a weekend in beautiful Whistler, B.C. Good food, speakers, and a time to reset.”
This message speaks to one of the biggest responsibilities on their plates (and on their minds). That same men’s retreat can be framed to speak to the young single men in your parish.
“Get a weekend away in Whistler, B.C. Hear from incredible speakers, connect with God, get outside, learn from others, and of course, eat great food. Registration closes next week so find a friend and sign-up now.”
Slight nuances in the message can make it feel all the more personal and more inviting. It communicates to parishioners that their parish and ministry leaders understand them.
4. Make it feel conversational.
You know when you get emails from a company or businesses that feel auto-generated? Like a robot wrote it rather than a person? While it may work for some organizations, a parish is not one of those! Parish life is supposed to feel like coming home to family. Let your voice and message reflect your heart for your people. Address them personally or use everyday, regular-joe language that feels like you’re sitting together having a cup of coffee.
5. Throw in a little extra value.
No one likes relationships that are one-sided. As a parish team, we can often assume that our parishioners are gaining a lot from their parish experience. But what about those who aren’t?
We wouldn’t ever speak to a family member, spouse, or friend by only asking them to do something we want, would we? Offer them encouragement, interesting articles, or free resources just because.
By offering parishioners great value, we remind them that we want to see them grow as disciples of Christ and not because we just want them to show up at our event. And with Tilma, it’s really easy to do this. Our email editor can pull in content built into your Tilma tools—like new events or ministry opportunities.
Have questions about how Tilma could help you? Let’s talk. You can also start a free-trial for Tilma here.