My 3 Favorite Email Marketing Tools

 

Whether you have a need to stay in touch with your current members or want to reach out to potential visitors, email is the easiest and most frequently used tool around.

While you can use Gmail or a similar email program, as your church grows or your outreach needs grow it can become a bit of a nightmare. And it also isn’t very sexy looking. While your message should be the main thing your receipients focus on – most will give more credibility to the better designed, attractive on.

The better option then, is to use an Email marketing app to send you email communications. While the paid services offer a great deal of power and control, the free options are nothing to overlook. They offer plenty of functionality for a ministry just starting off and on limited funds.

So, as long as your email list doesn’t include more than 2,000 subscribers or so, there are many free tools to send it. Here are my top three:

 

What to Look for in a Free Email Marketing App?

Full-featured email marketing apps—including MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, and more—go well beyond sending emails. They help you gather contacts with forms and landing pages, send emails automatically through RSS feeds and drip email schedules, and track results often with built-in CRM tools. All of that will be customizable for your brand, so your emails stand out from the crowd.

Free email marketing tools—including free versions of MailChimp and others are typically focused on the email message. You often can’t customize your theme—or at least, can’t remove the link to the email newsletter app. You’ll find fewer automation options or advanced marketing tools. And you won’t get unlimited lists, either—most free plans include around 2,000 subscribers.

What you get instead is a focused email experience, perfect for getting started with email marketing. When you first start an email newsletter, your primary focus isn’t on all the cool tools and features. You first need to build an audience and find what engages them. That’s a free email newsletter app’s focus. When your list grows, you can then upgrade to a paid plan and unlock the extra features.

So without wasting too much of your time – here are my 3 favorites:

1. Mailchimp

One of the most popular email newsletter apps thanks to its friendly monkey branding, MailChimp’s core email app has been around for ages and also allows a bit of customization. It includes a landing page builder, form tool, marketing automation, list segmentation, and even a/b testing in its free plan.

Its mobile apps are one of the best reasons to choose MailChimp. You can let people sign up for your lsit from the app, perhaps with a tablet or laptop in your visitor/connect center. And when an idea strikes while you’re out, you can write an email and send it to your entire list from your phone. It makes email marketing as easy as social.

MailChimp Free for: Sending up to 6 emails a month to 2,000 people

2. Mailerlite

Mailerlite’s email templates aren’t as rigid as most of the others. They look unique—but use the same header, signature, background colors, and content blocks. That makes them super easy to customize. Start out with any template—or a blank one—then tweak the header style, drag in the sections you want, and add content or fill in details in the sidebar on the right.

Your emails can include more than just text and images, too. There’s a countdown timer that dynamically shows the time remaining until your next service or activity. You can add sermon details, embed a video, pull in your most recent blog posts with a dynamically updating RSS block, and more. It’s a great way to make more interactive emails that aren’t just digital letters.

Mailerlite Free for: Sending unlimited emails a month to 1,000 people

3. VerticalResponse

While we are focusing on email in this post, it isn’t the only place to share your stories and ideas—you should also be sharing them on social media. VerticalResponse makes it easy for you to accomplish both.

With their free plan, you can share your latest emails via Twitter and Facebook at the same time the messages are arriving in your readers’ inboxes. This can help you grow both your audiences with a customizable landing page, then design emails easily with pre-made sections for image galleries, quote boxes, coupons, and more. You can also schedule emails and social messages to go out whenever you want.

VerticalResponse Free for: Sending up to 13 emails a month to 300 people