No organization can serve everyone. And no organization has unlimited resources. As a result, organizations of all kinds try to focus their outreach and marketing efforts on the people they believe are most likely to respond. A private school might advertise on a local educational cable TV station. A church might purchase the names and addresses of all the people who have moved into their zip code in the last month and send them a welcome package. Businesses spend millions analyzing the demographics of their customer base so they can make the most of their advertising dollars.
But there is one demographic that is by far the most cost-effective to target.
If you lead a church, it’s the group of people most likely to show to an activity if invited. If you lead a school, it’s the families most likely to register their kids for the next school year. If you lead a business, is the people most likely to purchase your products of services. If you operate a website, it’s the people most likely to visit your website today.
Do you know the most successful demographic you could possibly target?
Your current people. Your customers, students, parishioners, website visitors.
Right now you may be saying, “Well, obviously” But is that reflected in the way you communicate? Is it reflected in your priorities? Is it reflected in they way you allocate your time, your staffing, and your funding?
Some churches spend a lot of time, effort, and money doing outreach – and rightly so, for Jesus told us, “’Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.” (Luke 14:23)
I hesitate to say this because churches are not all about numbers and growing attendance figures (at least they shouldn’t be), and this is going to sound rather crass and business-like, but try to bear with me and withhold judgment for just a moment while run some numbers by you…
- About 10% of the people attending an average church will leave during the next year. Some because they’re moving to a new city, some will die, but many will leave for another church or stop being a part of a church all together.
- About 15% of the people who visit a church “stick” and end up attending regularly.
What that means is that a church of 200 can expect 20 of those people to leave in the next year. Just to remain a church of 200, they need to add 20 new people, which means they need about 140 new people to visit the church just to stay at their current attendance.
Research shows, however, that it takes a lot more time, effort, and money to get 70 new people in the door than it would take to halve the number of people leaving to 5% or double the percentage of visitors who stick to 30%.
I am not by any means saying churches should cut their outreach budgets to focus on keeping members happy. The American church has become far too inward-focused and member-pleasing as it is. What I am saying is that there are small, inexpensive things churches can do to help close the “back door” – to help their members stay better connected, better informed, and simply feel more a part of what is going on at the church.
Perhaps the best, easiest, and least expensive thing a church can do to keep its members better connected is send out a weekly eNewsletter. A mid-week email can inform people of opportunities for fellowship or service, keep people informed about issues facing the church, and include a devotional or prayer requests. For those members who have been sporadic in their participation or disengaged, an eNewsletter could be what God uses to nudge them reengage and reconnect with Him and the church.
If you run a business, you are probably investing a substantial percentage of your revenue into marketing. You know how much time and money it takes to acquire just one new customer. If you’re like most business owners, you know you provide a great product or service. If only more people would take a chance on you… then they would see the value of what you offer.
That’s the biggest hurdle – that first purchase.
Once a customer makes that first purchase and gains first-hand experience with your product and service, you’ve established a certain level of trust with them. It becomes much easier to make those subsequent sales if you know how to maintain and build on that relationship.
Again, perhaps the best, easiest, and least expensive things a business can do to maintain and build on the relationships it has with its customers is a regular eNewsletter. This is especially true if you have an e-commerce website where a past customer is only an eNewsletter and a few clicks away from becoming your next customer. But even if you have an offline business with a simple brochure-like website, an eNewsletter can be key to recurring sales.
Last year when I was training to run a marathon, I stopped in a local shop that specializes in running gear to purchase a few things. While checking out, the clerk asked if I would like to get their eNewsletter. I figured, why not. Since then I’ve gotten their monthly newsletter, which includes information about local races, training groups, clearance items, and new running gear. I’ve been back once since then. And chances are that at some point in the future, I’m going see something I want in a future edition or when something wears out that store is going to be in the forefront of my mind when it comes to buying a replacement.
If you operate a ministry website, a blog, or do something else that does not have a physical location and your website is the primary place you engage people, an eNewsletter is absolutely critical.
We talk a lot at OurChurch.Com about the importance of search engine rankings for connecting new visitors to your website. There is a lot of work that goes into search engine optimization – keyword research, optimization individual pages, writing content, building links, analytics, and so on. Without some way to re-engage a visitor after they’ve left your site (like a newsletter), you’ve invested all of that effort for a one-time visit.
One of your highest priorities should be to get new visitors to sign-up for your eNewsletter (or subscribe to the RSS feed.) Even if only a small percentage of visitors sign-up, the recurring visitors from those people will cause traffic to your website to grow exponentially.
What about you?
Speaking from first-hand experience, I can tell you that the people who return to OurChurch.Com as a result of our announcements, blog notices, and newsletters is a huge part of our website traffic. Chances are you’re reading this blog because you received an email, so you know the value of an eNewsletter yourself.
So, what about you? Do you send out an eNewsletter that has helped to maintain and build the relationships in your organization? Are you the recipient of some newsletters that help you stay connected?
Next week, as we continue Newsletter Month, I’ll talk about the key ingredients to a successful eNewsletter.