Churches often come with long histories (sometimes 50 years!) of publishing print newsletters, which have been the center of publicizing events. That print newsletter mindset sometimes tries to carry over to the email newsletter, rendering it less effective.
Email newsletters cannot effectively be digital versions of print newsletters. Instead, they function better as a “vehicle for links” to more information, most often info on your website.
Recipients don’t really “read” emails, they scan them, usually only one or two “scrolls” down, so putting long blocks of text in an email means they won’t see much besides the first article or two. The “vehicle for links” strategy makes your newsletter more easily scanned, and the recipient can quickly see things that are relevant to them, and click to read more.
You may still publish a print newsletter, particularly if your congregation has a number of people who don’t access digital media, but if you hope to reach digital folks (which includes most people under age 50), then you will want to make sure that you don’t just put downloads of your print newsletter on your website. Only publishing your newsletter PDF on your website is making (attempting to make) your print newsletter the hub of information.
These PDF downloads are increasingly unlikely to be opened. If I am accessing my email on my phone, I may not want to try to “pinch and scroll” through your PDF that won’t resize itself to my small screen. And if your recipient doesn’t open your attachment when they first see your email, they are far less likely to open it later.
Also, while Google (and other search engines) CAN index your PDFs, they don’t like to—it confuses them. And even if search engines DO index your newsletter, when someone searches, it will only take them to the PDF download link, then they will have to scan through your entire PDF newsletter to find the one thing that they were looking for.
Conversely, think about how easy the user experience would be if the website had a post about the “Chocolate Festival” fundraiser that my friend has told me about, but I want to check the time. I’m likely to Google your church name and “chocolate festival”. That search is likely to take me directly the information I’m looking for, which makes it more likely that I actually attend—instead of giving up when I’m faced with a whole newsletter to wade through.