This is part five in our Copy Matters series.
A few years ago, I had a position at a church where I was in charge of communications. As the church grew, I personally emailed about a hundred people each week. Most of these emails contained a request for an investment of time, so getting a “yes” was extremely important.
The people you communicate with have overflowing inboxes (when they even look at it), and your definition of “important” is not necessarily the same as theirs. So how will you get their attention—and earn their trust?
Write well. It’s not just for books anymore.
If the subject line of your email isn’t compelling, and informative, it may never get opened. If the first sentence isn’t interesting, the rest of your words will never be read. If the email is too long, they won’t open your next email.
Getting a “yes” with your writing is important—and it starts with someone reading your email.
This is a wonderful opportunity to become a better writer! Think about the emails, and letters, you hate to open—and have stopped opening. Long, random, with multiple topics and no clear call-to-action. Now, look at the last few emails you sent. Were they a work of art? Did you take time to refine them? Do your subject lines “cry wolf”? (Are all your volunteer requests urgent?)
Whether you write five or 500 words, the “do unto others” principle applies to email, too!
So how do we do this? We practice. And you get the rare chance to gauge the effectiveness of your writing by the results your emails produce or don’t produce. We can learn a lot about church communication from a good song.
Here are some basic elements to make your message sing:
- A fresh introduction. The subject line is your opening chord.
- Engaging tone and personality. The personal introduction is your first verse. Be personal, interesting, humorous… be yourself (and be brief).
- One main idea that sticks with you: the chorus.
- A clear purpose or call to action. Ask me to say “yes” to something, and make it simple. That’s your bridge.
Does a call for volunteers have to be drudgery? Be a better writer, and make your emails sing!