We have a special treat for you today!

In this episode, we have our very own Church Butler Host and Hero, Kenny Jahng, as he talks about tactical and practical tips in using Email Automation Sequences for your Church!

Tune in if you want to know these FIVE types of email sequences you should be running TODAY.

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Kenny Jahng here with the Lunch and Learn Podcast, excited for today’s show because I love when we get really nitty-gritty, practical, tactical, and that’s what I’m trying to do with today’s episode and with the Lunch and Learns in general. Don’t have a conversation partner today, but I am going to push my fun meter all the way up to the max. If you’re watching the video version, I’ve got a button it’s sponsored by .BIBLE, the .BIBLE project over at American Bible Society. Move the needle from medium to to high all the way out. We’re going to go full tilt on the fun meter today. I love nerding out about some of the stuff. One of the things in our Church Butler digital marketing signature system is the follow up machine at the very end, and that’s using email automation as your tip of the sword in terms of giving first time visitors and converting them into repeat attenders.

Most churches are using some sort of email marketing platforms and perhaps you’re using for your weekly newsletter or special event notices or maybe you send out emails periodically from your lead pastor. But one of the most powerful features that you’re already paying for, for most email marketing systems that you’re not using is a function called an email auto responder, and this is what we’re going to talk about today. We’re talking about pre programmed email sequences, and if you’re not taking advantage of this side of your email marketing platform, you’re missing out on a huge, huge, huge opportunity in my humble opinion, to help your ministry flourish. We want to use technology to scale personal relationships and so there’s many ways to do that. Some of them is for church growth, some for internal purposes. I wanted to share with you just five email automation processes that your church should have up and running and installed today.

If you don’t have these five things, you should take some notes and put them on your to-do list for this coming week and get this done. They’re all pretty easy to do and they’re all impactful and going to give you long term results in terms of cultivating your audiences, etc. So let’s just get right into it. The first thing for coaching clients and partners that I like to say is the first email automation sequences should have installed is your Happy Birthday sequences. Everybody likes being recognized on the birthday, right? And today in social media, it is the obligatory behavior to say happy birthday to somebody in your friend network when Facebook prompts you saying that, hey, it’s Kenny’s birthday today. Say happy birthday to them and then you have a whole slew of Facebook messages that clog up the person’s stream telling them how great they are, how important they are, etc.

It’s just trite and you know, to me inauthentic, right? Because Facebook’s prompting you to do it. You didn’t really remember their friend’s birthday, but it’s so ubiquitous and it’s lost its real social value in relationship. So, sending a personalized email on, or sometimes I even like to do it the day before someone’s birthday, something that will typically stand out. Now this is an easy process for email automation to take and manage. And it’s a process where anybody that gets put into your database with their email address, you’re asking for their birthday and then it triggers this sequence, you know, your job is simply to come up with a dozen or so different, unique creative, happy birthday messages that you can write. Some of them might be long and some may be short and sweet, but you want differentiation in your birthday messages so that year in, year out as the sequence rolls on, you’re not going to be sending the same exact message to somebody, right?

So you want to use technology to scale personalized relationships, and having that variation of messages and definitely what you would do and you want to mimic that behavior here. So you can also remember to use the functions, the functionality that’s available in most email merge and email marketing applications like inserting variables into the message. So you can do things like inserting the first name or inserting the location of where they live, where their state and you know one of the most powerful places to do it, in the subject line, right? You can put the person’s name in the subject line so they’ll open up Happy Birthday Kenny, Happy Birthday Mary. That’s the first place that you could probably use one of these variable functions. And again, pre=writing a bunch of different messages once allows you to set it and forget it.

You will avoid sending the same message multiple years in a row. You will avoid missing sending messages to people on your list, you get it done, you set it up, easy-peasy. So here’s you know, a great example, right? where you could have differentiation in the messages that you report something on video, put it up on YouTube or Vimeo, and then you embed that video into the email, and it might be a wacky rendition of happy birthday. You might be in a costume or a suit or something just really quirky that shows off your personality. But it’s something that someone will remember and note because it’s one message that will stand out during that day as they’re deluded, where there is a deluge of messages on Facebook and social media. So offering to take that person out to a cup of coffee is a great thing, especially if you’re talking from the pastor or connections coordinator or campus pastor or a life group leader, from a church point of view that’s great. If, again, another piece of automation that you should do for scheduling time with people is use the service. I personally use Time Trade. There’s other services like You Can Book Me or collins.ly that hooked into your calendar with appointments spots that are offered on a dynamic basis and just automate that whole process of setting up a time to meet with somebody. So again, this is another way to personalize that offer wishing them a happy birthday and say you’d like to take them out for breakfast or coffee or something and asking them to set up a time, here’s the link to do that, that’d be great.

Number two in the ideas for using email automation process in your church will be a First Time Visitor Welcome Series. If you have a connection card, you’re taking people’s information. If you have a clipboard or that first time visitor form, you’re collecting contact information on a regular basis. I know it. Most of the time a lot of these contact cards have overkill, you’re asking for their whole resume and their CIA, dossier on who their profiles. But one of the things that you are collecting hopefully is their email address. You want to minimize what you’re collecting, but whatever you collect, you should be using. So again here you can pre-write a series of emails that are geared toward developing that relationship. Remember it’s called social media with the word social in it for a reason. Developing that relationship between you and the church and the first time visitor. You can use it to help prepare information in the email sequence that educates them about the church and the resources and the ministries and the opportunities for them to get plugged in. You can invite them to future specific events because email sequences allow you to program date specific as well as time delay based scheduling. And then you have the ability to use the technology to basically scale your personal relationship in a way by sharing information about you and all these messages, but in each of those messages are periodically offering an open ended call to action for them to reply and respond so that you personally see those messages and can respond to them on an ad hoc basis. For some churches that we’ve worked with, we’ve actually produced, you’ll be surprised, a full year worth of follow up email sequence and contents to send that first time visitor to the church. You can see some samples on our website www.churchbutler.com/email automation, and it’s something that’s smart. You can set it, forget it, and make sure everyone that comes in the doors when you capture their information and put them into this email sequence and you treat them like VIP’s in building and nurturing that relationship.

Okay, number three on the list of email sequences that you should be installing into your system to this week is a First Time Giver Sequence. First time someone gives to your ministry is a big deal. They’ve made that choice consciously. It’s not frivolous and you need to appreciate and recognize that both on an immediate and long term basis, right? So the immediate basis is talking about not just the receipts, the tax deductible receipt that you’re going to give them, but giving them a personal thank you message so you can write a series of emails that helps basically increase the confidence for the decision they just made and cultivate them into from a one time giver into a recurring giver.

This is a chance to help set the culture of generosity with the people choose to give to your church. It’s a chance to put on display all the work that your church does, say outside the walls of your building, your outreach, your mercy and justice ministries, your missions work, things that you guys are doing to help renew the city that you live in. It’s a chance to recognize that your church or ministry would not be able to happen without the partnership and support of your donors, your high capacity givers of people you want to recognize and appreciate. Thank you notes and a sequence of emails that helps them understand where their money goes once they give and if it makes a difference at all is something that many organizations don’t do well and it’s an opportunity for you to have excellence and consistency by setting up a well-written first time giver email sequence.

Next we have as number four on the list is Topical Devotional Series. Now, if you have the time and energy to personal disciple, every person that comes through the doors of the church, I’m sure you would jump at that opportunity. That is what church is for, we want one-on-one relationships. However, that just is not practical to give that deep, deep one-on-one relationship to every single person that comes to the door many times. Now, a very small step to help that in using technology to scale the personal relationships is to curate a series of life serving, inspirational spiritual content such as a mini devotional series that sent out around a topic. Think about now the felt needs in your community, you can think about the common issues and topics that come up on a regular basis, and counselling and people who reach out to you in terms of pastoral aspect.

If you think about sub segments of your community population now, once you set up a devotional sequence, you have the ability to refer to it on an ongoing basis in the future. You can have a signup page on your website. It could actually also be a secret hidden internal page that you or one of your support team members can sign people up you know, on a manual basis, on an ongoing basis. But whatever the need and relevance there is that you have a devotional for whenever you meet someone that has a match in terms of that felt need, you can send people that way so that they get immersed with supportive content in this devotional series that will show that you understand where they are empathetically and giving them the actual, you know, spiritual support in terms of bible engagement. That’s something that you can do in terms of a devotional series.

Now this could be a series of written emails, It could be a series of audio messages, It could be a video series. But taking the time to invest in setting up a short, now we’re talking about short devotionals. Maybe it’s a five day devotional, maybe it’s a seven day devotional, maybe it’s a weekly devotional for two or three months on given topics and showing them the glory that God has a pathway out of darkness into the light for whatever real circumstance that they have. This is something that truly can be powerful and using email automation is a great way to do that.

Last one in our five different email automation sequences that you must have up and running for your church is a, what I call a Staff DNA Email Sequence. Now, whether you use this as you bring in all your new hires, all the new team members that get added to your staff now and in the future, or you can use it before all current members on your team go to the next milestone in their employment with you. You can make sure everybody else internally currently on the team gets exposed to it, so everyone is on the same page and has the same basically leadership DNA in terms of what your vision and outlook is for how ministry should be done from your church, your organization, your team. The Staff DNA Sequence, this can be critical in helping set, you can talk about vision, you can help shape culture. Again, it’s a way to consistently provide some training development about the ground rules, the basics, the culture, the little things that don’t make it to the staff meetings, but are important to discuss and disseminate and give examples of, so that everyone is empowered and have freedom because they have more definition and more confidence of what they understand the core DNA of the church should be. Being able to parse out the different pillars of the core DNA of the church is something that an email sequence, you know, automation can help provide.

And sharing, explaining each one in a separate email basically will free you up to focus on the relational one on one, things that pop up versus trying to get to those FAQ, those the foundational pillar content. You can focus your one-on-one time on unique things and focusing on the person versus just constantly try to deliver what the ground rules are for being a part of the staff or key volunteer or a committed member of the community.

So there you go, five must have email sequences that I think your church really needs to have set up and installed today, and if you don’t have it today, put it on the calendar, your to-do list for next week, but I hope this list helps kick start your brainstorming for how to start using the email automation function of the platform that you probably already use and pay for day in, day out.

Almost always, you’ve got to remember more communication, more transparency will help support a healthy team culture and atmosphere. And this is what I’m trying to get out, Email automation is one of your secret weapons in your back pocket that you can do to be consistent in sharing information with your different audiences across your community. Employing the consistency that automation provides, ensures that everyone’s on the same page, it ensures that no one gets left out and it again and ensures that there’s no gaps in dissemination of the core information out there. The obligatory question at the end that everyone asked me is, what’s your favorite email marketing platform? There used to be, there were really high-end expensive ones like HubSpot, Eloqua, Magenta, etc. But nowadays you know, I personally use Infusionsoft, which tends to be amongst the high-end set, but nowadays there’s a lot more accessible software packages out there, Active Campaign is one, Drip is another.

I think one of the most popular ones is Mailchimp, which is free for entry level. However, there are limitations, I’ll flag that I’m not 100% of Mailchimp fan. You get what you pay for, when you’re getting a free product and sometimes as you grow and if you’re committed to growth, you will run into some little bit of conundrums as you grow with Mailchimp versus some of the other email platforms out there. So, if you’re a smaller church or you’re starting at email for the first time, usually, we recommend Active Campaign or a service called Drip, that’s another one as a good starting point to check out if you have the funds available. Infusionsoft is a great answer as well. So, we’d love to hear what other email automation topics and uses you’ve seen work well in other churches or you might have installed already for your own church.

Do me a favor, leave a comment below or reach out to me on social media. Twitter’s the best way or our Facebook pages and even chiming in our Social Media for Churches with Church Butler, a Facebook group on Facebook. That’s a great way to extend the conversation here. Want to thank you so much for continuing to listen to our Podcast. I’m wondering if you could do us a favor and help us reach more church leaders out there with the resources and topics that we’re covering here on the Lunch and Learns. If you wouldn’t mind leaving a review on iTunes is one of the most impactful and powerful ways that you can help in getting this word out is to leave a review on iTunes of what you’re learning and what you get out of the Lunch and Learn Podcast. Another way is to just share it with a friend.

Remember, we’re on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, even on Alexa. You can ask Alexa to play the Church Butler Lunch and Learn Podcasts and Alexa should play the latest episode for you. We’re trying to learn, you know, how to get the word out by syndicating their account content further and further. The latest one we added this past month is Spotify. So no excuses, we’re trying to be anywhere and everywhere that you and your friends are, please help us get the word out. I’m Kenny Jahng, until next time here on the Church Butler Lunch and Learn Podcast, be social and remember, stay social.