choosing the right newsletter format

A newsletter can be a highly effective tool in maintaining contact with a large database of clients, service providers, or industry alliances. One of the most common issues we face however, is deciding which newsletter format is the most effective for our clients – hard copy or electronic? More often than not, the answer is not crystal clear. Here are a few tips from a strategy point of view to decide on the correct method for you.

Who will be reading it?
One general rule we follow is that if you have younger readers, electronic methods are most effective. Y-gen’s are much more responsive to electronic communications rather than physical, which somewhat explains the rise of the Web 2.0 phenomenon (see previous blog entries). The older generations appreciate a good read – something to sit in their lunch room or on their kitchen table at home while they’re enjoying a coffee and muffin. Electronic methods allow you to personalise the newsletter too – however modern digital print technology means this is now also possible in
printed formats.

What is the content?
If your newsletter is a method of communicating direct call-to-action issues (i.e. special deals, sales etc), an instant, time sensitive (electronic) method of communication is the most effective. If you are communicating an issue relative to a certain time or date – such as the launch of a new TV campaign – you can control the time of release with an electronic newsletter. One draw back of physical newsletters is that there is always a delay in distribution due to postage. However, if the content is news-driven, requires a little longer to read, and is longer than 3-4 short articles – physical newsletters always garner higher readership. Generally, if it takes more than 5-10 minutes to read, it won’t work on email.

How much information do you have in your database, and how big is it?
Obviously, if you don’t have an email database, an email newsletter isn’t possible. Also, with a database of 20-30 people, a simple email or mail-out does the same job. However, with 100+ clients, mass communication saves time, money, and effort. It also keeps people informed, reminds them you care, and shows them you’re pro-active, and growing.

Do you have a website, and how often do you update it?
If you have a website, electronic newsletters allow you to link directly with it, driving your readers to certain areas of interest. If you have a website that is simply information based (contact details, basic description of services) and is not updated on a regular basis, this feature is probably not very useful.

Here a few more tips…

• Make sure your content speaks to the database – don’t talk about things that are completely irrelevant.
• Anything is newsworthy – celebrate staff birthdays and events; new staff; staff leaving; business birthdays; Christmas parties; long term clients etc.
• Pictures, pictures and more pictures – the more pictures you have, the better (however keep them consistent and of a high quality).
• Test! Make sure you test your electronic newsletter in a number of email formats ( hotmail, outlook, gmail etc), and always send one to yourself.
• Don’t print your electronic newsletter – they look shocking.
• It’s okay to do both – just make sure they are consistent in appearance, and designed properly in both formats.

If all of this is a bit too much to take in – just call us! We can help with newsletters of all sizes and formats, and take all of the hassle out of
the process.