Snail mail versus failed e-mail

My friend told me that she recently had an email from one of her newsletter recipients saying that she hadn’t heard from her lately and she thought she had stopped trading.

This was very worrying for my friend. How many other people hadn’t got their newsletters each month? OK, she wasn’t using an autoresponder, which would have made her life a bit more laborious, but the problem was that she was unaware that the emails hadn’t reached their destination.

One suggestion I gave her was to occasionally alternate with a paper newsletter, or even a newsletter postcard as explained in my previous post. It would help to maintain the interest from her subscribers, guarantee getting read and provide another focal point to her communications.

This leads to the question: can you rely on the internet for your communication? Especially nowadays with over-full in-boxes stuffed to the gills with spam and other missives. How do you know your e-newsletters are getting read and not swamped, forgotten or deleted? Sure, you may be able to track that they’ve been opened if you use an autoresponder, but that doesn’t mean they’ve even been scanned for interesting content yet alone properly scrutinised.

What used to happen back in the dark ages before email? Paper newsletters were used to impart news, tell stories and crow about your company. They were a media for advertising and articles. The news was both past, present and future. They were read without eye-strain. OK, you did rely on the Post Office and it cost to send them, but they were more likely to be read at the recipient’s leisure, more than once and passed around our friends and contacts. They were not as frequent, so were looked forward to the next issue. They were not deemed ‘a pain’ when they plopped onto our doormats.

The most important elements of a newsletter are: relevance, of interest to the reader, well designed for readability, legible, captivating and newsworthy, excellent copy, good spelling and grammar, striking pictures, grabbing headlines, and being well read. Can e-newsletters lay claim to all these qualities?

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3 thoughts on “Snail mail versus failed e-mail

  1. You might want to suggest your friend use an email marketing tool that measure open rates and click through rates. I know with very small lists, this might not make a difference, but with a large list, you would want to only send snail mail to those that didn’t show an open for a the last three email campaings, lets say, not the entire list.

    For many clients I recommend Constant Contact. It is a basic tool with attractive templates and acceptable reporting capabilities to help your friend understand how effective her email newsletters really are.

    Feedback loops are the key to evolving from print to email, and yes eventually RSS. To me your friend moved to emails and most likely saved some money, but never gained any other benefits associated with email marketing.

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  2. When e-newsletters were new and not that common, they were very effective. Now that everyone is overwhelmed with email, even when you want to receive that e-newsletter, it’s difficult to find time to read it.
    So what it comes down to is what you suggested, judicious use of a combination of media and not reliance on just one.

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