Parishes have so many things to invite people to. In addition to Mass and essential sacraments such as Reconciliation and Confirmation, there are festivals, hospitality events, and opening the doors to the community during public events. Communication is going out all the time, but how well is it working? Following are some ideas to consider when evaluating your parish communication strategies.
This year, your parish decided to test out an email campaign to get more people to sign up for online giving. Perhaps you spent hours setting up a mass email platform, writing the perfect subject and body copy, laying it out in an attract format. You updated parishioner email addresses, and then sent it out on a Thursday, which is what you heard was the best time of the week to send email. However, it’s been two weeks since the email went out, and the click-through rate is still something to be desired. Online giving is still at a lull — what went wrong?
There are a number of things that may have gone wrong with this particular campaign, and to find out what it was, you need to do a little digging. It could be a number of things: the subject line wasn’t compelling enough people to open the email; the content in the email signaled to email accounts that it could be spam, so most went in people’s junk folders; or maybe a broken link within the email is the culprit. Whatever the reason, it’s important to dig deep and try again until you get the response you’ve been striving for.
A good strategy for this would be conducting an A/B test for your next campaign to see if a different image, subject line, or body copy would fare better in getting people to click the link. Many automated email platforms have this feature, although some require a high number of recipients. Look into Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or Hubspot to see what’s best for your church.
Is your email as attractive as it could be? Consider using stock photography, or clip art to add color and life to what might be a “dry” communication. WeCreate, LPi’s digital art and content platform, is home to exclusive stock photography, church clip art, inspiring Catholic prayers, weekly Gospel reflections, and more to attract and engage your community.
“Word on the Street” Communication
In addition to outside communications, churches share announcements through the pulpit. Either before or after Mass — or sometimes as a homily topic if the subject is important enough — it’s a fast, easy, and free way to get the message out. But does it work?
Let’s say that the parish is holding its annual appeal fundraiser and is trying to up its attendance by 30%. A week before tickets go on sale, the announcements begin flowing: reminders to save the date before Mass, sharing the benefits of supporting the appeal during multiple homilies, and a reminder to fill out ticket forms after Mass, where ushers are waiting to hand them out. After a month of promotion, and just two weeks before the event is to take place, how can you tell if this type of communication had any affect? Simple — just look at how many tickets have been sold.
If seats are sold out, and parishioners are buzzing, it’s obvious that this type of communication was done well. If not, it’s time to figure out why. Is it because of the day of the week it’s held? Is childcare unavailable? Are tickets too expensive? Did the pastor not explain enough about why this fundraiser is so important to the life of the parish?
Print and In-Pew Communications
While trends are slowly starting to move to electronic communications for parish needs, print and in-pew letters and flyers are far from extinct. While it’s cheaper to send an email rather than a letter, people on the receiving end tend to ignore them more often than an actual print piece. Statistics show that direct mail — even when created and delivered through old school, offline processes — drives higher response rates.