Electronic marketing tools such as websites and email newsletters have a lot of characteristics that make them popular and useful: lower cost, little environmental impact, speedy delivery and wide accessibility.
But they lack one important characteristic: permanence. They’re intangible and don’t exist except as viewed on a screen.
Take email newsletters. A printed newsletter will always have more impact than an electronic newsletter.
- Open Rate. The open rate for newsletters delivered by post is probably close to 100%; an electronic newsletter open rate of 25% is about as good as anyone can hope for. Even if your clients don’t read your newsletter, they will see it and your branding, and know you are thinking of them. By the way, consider the open rate for postcards! There’s nothing to open. Your message — for instance, It’s Not Too Late to start a 401K, Call Us Now! — will get read.
- Deletion Rate. Even if clients open your electronic newsletter, will they actually read much of it or will they get an urge to clear their inbox as soon as they can to get some work done?
- Pass-Along Rate. You can forward an e-newsletter to someone else but the permanence of a printed newsletter makes it much easier to hand to someone else.
- Bathroom Reading. What’s the bathroom factor for an electronic newsletter? Would someone rather take your print newsletter or an iPad with your e-newsletter on it to the throne?
- Credibility. When you give a presentation, your credibility is enhanced and a more lasting impression is created when you give your audience a leave-behind, like a newsletter, brochure or a presentation folder with hand-outs.
- Impact. When you want to make a strong impression, don’t you usually do it with print? Remember e-birthday cards? Would you rather get an e-birthday card or a printed birthday card from a loved one? A business system — business cards, letterhead, envelopes — is still an essential component of most communication tool boxes.
In some ways, print and electronic media remind me of the fable of the tortoise and hare. Fast, wily, and maybe a little too presumptuous of its superiority, the hare can still lose the race to the slow, steady, but reliable pace of the tortoise.
And now for a few words in defense of email newsletters, you might want to read this post: How a Print Newsletter is Different from an Email Newsletter.