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Fresh ideas and resources to engage email readers

By Darby Jones

With so much online marketing buzz surrounding social media, email has received comparatively little attention lately. However, email continues to have many advantages and can be an exciting marketing tool when you apply new and creative ideas.

Here are some to get you started:

1. Tell a story. Instead of sending just one email to promote an event, tell a story with multiple emails. For example, if a speaker is coming to your church, tell the person’s story (without giving away the ending!) in four mini-chapters (each about 150 to 200 words) sent once a week for four consecutive weeks leading up to the appearance. This will build curiosity and anticipation. The same concept can apply to an annual event. Instead of dumping all information in one email, tell a story about the event from the perspective of a past attendee.

2. Use metaphors. People love a pleasant surprise, so send them something they don’t expect by using a metaphor for your message. Stick with simple, easily understood metaphors. Let’s say you want to promote a church rummage sale. Consider sending a series of sensational, campfire-tale-themed emails for promotion. Use fun images and headlines in appropriate fonts — such as “It Crawled out of the Closet!” or “Junk Monsters Take over Neighborhood Garages!” Of course, include basic information on how to participate.

3. Say “thank you.” When the event or campaign is over, follow with a thank-you email using the same theme. It’s a wonderful way both to say “thanks” and to make yet another connection with your audience and prepare them to be receptive to the next campaign.

4. Create a “brand.” As people sort through their email, you want to make sure your message catches their eyes. Always send your emails from the same address, and use a display name that clearly identifies your church. Use your church’s logo if you have one or create an identifiable email header. Stick to the same format, colors and fonts for each email.

5. Remember best practices. Although you’ll use new ideas, stick with best practices for coding, design, HTML, video and other fundamentals. Use attention-grabbing graphics and readable type, and stick with small, low-resolution images that load quickly and make it through filters. Free and low-cost clip art to go with almost any theme is available in a variety of resolutions and sizes at sites such asCreationSwapiStock and Also, check out our free and low-cost art and graphic design suggestions.