The Best Email Automation for Your Vibrant Parish

September 26, 2018  •   LPi

 

Diversifying your parish communication in the digital space is essential for connecting with your parishioners and expanding your mission. One easy way to do this is through email marketing — sending automated, targeted emails with inspirational and informational content. In our last edition of Catholic Tech Talk, we looked at why email marketing is good for your church. Which one do you choose? We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular email marketing tools.

 

Mail Chimp

MailChimp offers a lot of features at a can’t-beat price. They offer all the basics you need — email templates, analytics reports, group segmentation, automation, the ability to build landing pages and forms, and multi-user access. For savvy communications directors, they offer a mobile app to manage emails right from your phone. However, MailChimp does require that subscribers opt-in twice. Once they initially subscribe, they will receive an email to confirm their subscription. This may require some additional education to ensure you don’t lose people accidentally.

  • Price: If you plan on sending one email per household, MailChimp offers a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers. For most robust features, the per-month fee varies based on your subscriber list.
  • Free Trial: The free plan has no stop date.
  • Discounts for Tax-Exempt Organizations: 15% off for being a non-profit and 10% if you enable two-factor authentication for your account.

 

Constant Contact

This email marketing tool offers the features you’d expect — email templates, analytics reports, group segmentation, automation, a mobile app, and the ability to build landing pages and forms. However, it only comes with one user log-in. Constant Contact also offers a marketing calendar, offering more control and visibility to your scheduling. The company offers phone support, making it easier to connect with a human being when you have issues.

  • Price: Churches will fall in the $20-$65 subscription range.
  • Free Trial: 60 days.
  • Discounts for Tax-Exempt Organizations: 20%-30% off if the subscription is pre-paid.

 

ActiveCampaign

This is a tool built for more aggressive marketers, but their price range is equally competitive. In addition to many features shared with the tools listed above — email templates, analytics, segmentation, and automation — ActiveCampaign offers more robust email campaigns. You can create automated sequences, where the recipient’s action triggers the next event. For example, you’re sending a donation email. If your recipient doesn’t open the email, you can automatically send a different reminder email at a later date. If they do click through to your donation page, you can trigger a follow-up email thanking them for their support. You can also add personalized content to emails, such as a recipient’s name.

  • Price: Churches will fall in the $9-$69 subscription range.
  • Free Trial: 14 days.
  • Discounts for Tax-Exempt Organizations: 20% off.

 

Benchmark

While Benchmark offers templates, its simple visual drag-and-drop editor makes adjusting emails incredibly simple. The free account still allows basic campaigns, list segmentation, and tracking through Google Analytics. If you do expand to a paid account, you have access to additional automation and multiple users.

  • Price: The free version of the service supports up to 2,000 contacts. For more features, churches will fall in the $14-$52 subscription range.
  • Free Trial: 30 days.
  • Discounts for Tax-Exempt Organizations: 25%.

 

The Verdict?

Every parish will have different communication needs. If your budget is strapped and you don’t mind the double opt-in, MailChimp might be the option for you. Benchmark offers more attractive email templates and a free account with similar parameters to MailChimp. Steep discounts from other providers — GetResponse is especially enticing — may make other tools a better fit. If your communications team has a background in marketing or wants email to be a crucial part of your communication strategy, ActiveCampaign offers the most robust features for the price. On the other hand, Aweber’s powerful and innovative apps might be what your parish is looking for. Constant Contact is the one tool that doesn’t seem to justify the price. If live phone support was its selling point, Aweber offers the same option at a much lower rate.

 The bottom line is to pick the email-marketing tool that’s right for your church’s needs.

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