Monday, June 2, 2014

The On-Line E-Newsletter: You Can’t Live Without It

A respected non-profit recently sent out an RFP for a firm to create a newsletter for the organization. Although we rarely respond to RFPs at New Harbor Group, we strongly believe that having a newsletter is a good thing. Every organization should have some way to tell its story and update its key audience on a regular basis.

But here’s the problem: This particular group asked for proposals for putting together a print newsletter. Bad idea. If you don’t have a newsletter, and you’re thinking about starting one, here’s why an on-line edition is absolutely the only way to go:
  • Why pay for printing and postage? Who does that anymore? It’s simply a waste of money.
  • Keep it fresh. The on-line version won’t get stale waiting for that “one last story” to be submitted, then getting printed and then sitting around in the bulk mail trays at the post office.
  • Get (really valuable) information. An on-line version will give you data about your audiences – who opened the e-mail announcing the latest edition, and who hit “delete”; what stories are popular, and which ones aren’t. With a print newsletter, recipients may read it, or they may toss it – you’ll never know.
  • And speaking of data, your advertisers will be thrilled to know how many people visited their website – and perhaps even hired them or bought their product because someone clicked on their ad in your e-newsletter.
  • Keep the conversation going with social media. With your on-line newsletter you can actually engage with your audiences, either in the comment section, or even better – with social media. Your on-line e-newsletter is a great way to drive your readers to your social media pages (and your website itself), communicating with your audiences and finding out what they’re really thinking about you.
  • Also - it’s “green”.
Amazingly, the main objection to an on-line newsletter is usually this: Somewhere out there exists a mythical, 90-year old person who doesn’t have e-mail or use the Internet. Needless to say, I’m dubious.  After all, we live in a world where 84% of Baby Boomers – who are now well into their 60s – say that the Internet is an essential, like bread and milk in a Rhode Island snowstorm. I’ve never met this person who isn’t on-line, or learned their name, but this person is the reason why people tell me they can’t possibly put their newsletter on-line.

Nevertheless, if you’re in print and thinking about the transition to an on-line e-news, I have a solution for the “90-Year-Old Person Who Doesn’t Use the Internet” problem which works like a charm. I’d be glad to share it.

Our client the Rhode Island Society of CPAs has a very successful on-line newsletter called “What Counts.”  Not only does the Society enjoy all the benefits of an on-line newsletter I described above, they also defray nearly the complete cost of the publication with advertising, which you can see at the bottom of this – and every - page when you click here.

And yes, we are prepared for that “person who is not on-line.”  If that person calls the Society they will print this version, and mail it to him or her. First class.

If you have an existing print newsletter, you need to be thinking about how to transition to an on-line edition as soon as possible. If you don’t already have a newsletter, and are preparing to start one, the only place you should be publishing is on-line.

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