In an environment where 30-second sound bites are the norm and adult attention spans have been compared to that of a goldfish1, most of us are looking for ways to reach consumers. We want our audience to get to know us and to engage, whether that means to donate, purchase, or participate. And, we know we want more than 30 seconds to make our case.
With consumers being exposed to more than 4000 messages each day, how do you cut through the clutter?
Newsletters (or magazines) could be the answer! One study found that 80% of consumers always read print newsletters and magazines they receive from organizations they have a relationship with. So let’s talk newsletters*…
What’s in a newsletter?
No matter if a newsletter is print or digital, newsletters have a few advantages to other types of communications.
- Newsletters have multiple topics in 1 document
- Newsletters allow you space to make your case to customers, donors and/or participants
- Newsletters are regular publications, so your audience expects (1) multiple stories (2) making your case (3) on a regular basis!
- Your audience knows that newsletters require more attention, so they save it for when they have time to read and absorb the information.
In other words, newsletters differ from letters, postcards, promotions or ads. The recipient expects to learn from you and about you by reading it. It’s your chance to get a little of their time- to give more in-depth information so your audience can get to know you.
*While the focus of this article is newsletters, the same arguments hold for print magazines, which tend to have a similar purpose but are a longer publication.
How does print differ from email?
Most of us have traded in our printed newsletter for a digital version. Does that make sense?
Understanding how consumers perceive print and email is important in matching your communication goal with your method. In one study2, researchers found that consumers “associate mail and email with very different characteristics.” Here is how consumers described each:
|Email Characteristics||Mail Characteristics|
When to email
Considering consumer perceptions and preferences, email is best for communications that are short, easy to skim, and require a quick response.
So, when does it make sense to use email for communications? According to recent surveys:
- When you are sending information that is time-sensitive and easy to skim
- 62% preferred email for news and updates.3
- When you need a response
- 83% of consumers like email because it is easy to respond to.2
- 57% of consumers prefer email for follow-ups to messages.3
- When you are sending reminders or confirmations
- 42% prefer email for reminders.3
- When you want to introduce your audience to new products or opportunities
- 86% of respondents said they would like to receive promo emails at least monthly.4
- When you are acknowledging orders, sending shipping information, etc.
- 72% preferred communication with companies to happen through email.5
When to print/mail
Print is best when a document requires more interaction and consideration. Print is preferred for communications that take time to read and might be kept for future reference. Mail is considered more official and formal, giving mailed pieces more authority and importance than the same information sent through an email (think wedding invitations). Also, consumers report that mail feels more personal and makes them feel more valued.
When does it make sense to use print for communications? According to recent surveys:
- When the content is more in-depth.
- 80% prefer paper when reading more involved information.6
- When the content might not be read right away.
- 73% of US consumers said they prefer direct mail for brand communications because they can read it at their convenience.7
- When it’s important that your audience read more about you to establish a deeper relationship.
- 88% said that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper.6
- If you want your audience to keep your information around (versus throwing it away or deleting immediately)
- 83% of people said, “What I like about print is that I can keep it for future reference.”8
- If trust is important to the type of content you are providing.
- 82% of Americans surveyed said that when making a decision, they trust print ads the most.9
What format makes the most sense for your newsletter?
There is a time for print and a time for digital. Given the goal of a newsletter and the reading preferences of your audience, newsletters are a great candidate for print!
- If you want your newsletter to be read, a printed version is the way to go. A print newsletter can sit and wait until your recipient has time to read it.
- If you want to include more information in your newsletter, a print version is your best bet. An e-newsletter has limits on how many articles can be included before the recipient deletes it.
- If you want to include more in-depth information in your newsletter, a print version allows people to save it for when they have time to read and consider the content.
- If you want your newsletter to hang around awhile, a print version is more likely to do so. In fact, depending on the content, your newsletter might be kept as a resource and referred to many times in the future.
- If you want your newsletter to recruit new audiences, a print newsletter is a good option. Often, people share their newsletter with others if they find an article helpful.
Using BOTH Print and Email for your Newsletter
Ultimately, you will communicate with your audience most effectively if you use a combination of communication channels, using digital channels for more direct conversations/ time-sensitive updates and print for more in-depth content.
While a printed newsletter has many advantages, email can help your newsletter get even more mileage:
- Email to let people know their printed newsletter is in the mail
- Reinforce printed stories with social media posts and email updates
- Send individualized emails to your audience that ask them if they noticed an article that might help them specifically
If you have questions about printing your newsletter, contact the Badger Group at 920-563-5144. If you’d like to see a print newsletter in action, sign up for a free subscription to our print newsletter:
- Is Your Attention Span Shorter Than a Goldfish’s? February 2017.
- Royal Mail MarketReach, Mail and Digital Part 2, Quadrangle, 2014
- It’s all about Mail and Email: Working together to create greater 1 to 1 relationships with your customers. Royal Mail MarketReach study, May 2014. https://www.standoutuk.com/wp-content/uploads/RoyalMail_Mail_and_Email_Research_Report_May_2014.pdf
- Email Research Chart: How often customers want to receive promotional emails, February 2015.
- Marketing Research Chart: How do customers want to communicate? January 2015.
- Two Sides U.S. Survey: More Respondents Prefer Reading from Paper Than Screens, June 2015.
- 6 Direct Mail Stats that Can’t Be Ignored, September 2013.
- Appleton Coated’s research reveals five new I’s in ROI, June 2010.
- Marketing Chart: Which advertising channels consumers trust most and least when making purchases, January 2017.