Tech Thursday – Mail Chimp

As a church, one of our biggest challenges/tasks is to provide our congregants with timely and useful information. Whether this information is for announcing upcoming events/activities or to enhance their spiritual lives, we need a reliable way to get it out on a regular basis.

The question in the past few years for churches has centered around printed bulletins. Do we or don’t we each week? My experience shows that we spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a year and many people hours to create and distribute these bulletins only to have them littering our sanctuaries, hallways, and floorboards of people’s cars. But, the information is still important and needs to be distributed in written form. Emails are fine, but if we send multiple emails a week to people for every event and activity, then we really are just adding to the volume of SPAM people deal with daily. Not to mention a plain email is, well, quite boring. eNewsletters can be expensive and time consuming to create from scratch and then there is the whole issue of managing the lists.

Swoop in MailChimp. MailChimp is an online solution for creating email campaigns/newsletters. Their interface is simple and easy to use, their features are powerful, and it has a great price: FREE! Of course, the free is somewhat limited, but it is still packed full of features and capabilities. There is also a good variety of paid plans available to suit many size organizations.

When we switched to MailChimp, we also stopped printing normal bulletins.  We do still provide a printed version of the eNews (we cleverly call ours “This Week” 🙂 ), but we do so in a very small amount each Sunday and it prints on normal paper, no expensive bulletins or template designs to purchase. This is only for the very few in our congregation who do not use email and for guests not yet on our emailing list.

We send only ONE email each week to our congregation. Everything is included in that email in a simple easy to read format using one of MailChimp’s many template designs. Each template is very customizable and it easy to create your own template including links to websites, blogs, etc that you need/want the people on your list having regular access to.

MailChimp easily imports names and addresses from an Excel file or any csv exported file from your database program. Of course, you can add individual names at any time. It also supports the ability to manage many lists and even choose a portion of one list to send an email.

MailChimp also manages the subscriptions of each email for you. This allows people to opt in or out of your mailing list without you having to manually manage each person on your list. This also keeps your organization compliant with federal laws regarding mass emails.

There are also mobile device apps available for managing your email campaigns on the go. Like all online solutions, you can send and manage your campaigns from any computer with an internet connection.

MailChimp also tracks the “success” of each sent campaign by tracking “opens” and click rates. It also gives a report on bad address names and emails that are “kicked back” by a server. This helps keep your list clean. Plus, MailChimp is fully able to integrate with Facebook and Twitter to assist in getting your information out to those you have targeted.

What are some things you have learned or experienced related to getting information out to those who need it?

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