Writing for print newsletters vs. online

Someone wrote to me privately and asked about the practicality of writing for print newsletters and then e-mailing copies. Personally, I believe writing for e-news should be approached differently, with the assumption that most readers will not read the all of the stories, and may not reach the end of any of them. Front load your most important information in the first paragraph in e-news… your readers may not make it past that first paragraph (especially since open rates are much higher than click rates).

Here is an interesting comparison for you — a pdf of a print newsletter and the online version of the same text. This is English Matters, the University of Washington English Department’s alumni news of which I was the editor for three years.

English Matters 2010 (pdf)

English Matters 2010 (online)

What do you think?


E-newsletters: a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

E-newsletters: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

As budgets are squeezed and people become more aware of our carbon footprint and ecological impact, nonprofits are turning more and more to converting all communications to online and email. Plus, online makes sense since it seems people are abandoning paper versions of most other forms of written communications (such as newspapers … and am I the only person left in Seattle who hasn’t purchased an e-reader?). E-newsletters: we love them!

https://i1.wp.com/www.marketo.com/_includes/wp/resources/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/email-marketing-campaign.jpgBut e-newsletters come with their own set of problems: a drastic reduction in the distribution list due to difficulties moving print subscribers over to e-news, difficulties collecting good email addresses, spam programs blocking delivery, formatting issues when considering all of the different browsers available, and very low open rates. E-newsletters: who needs them?

And then there is this interesting article about the poor ROIs of e-newsletters, promptly followed up with a swift rebuttal (from Ahern Communications, Ink)

Bottom line, though, is that the average metrics for nonprofit e-newsletters in 2011 were 13% open rate, 1.6% click-through rate, and 0.17% unsubscribe rate, according to the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study (as cited on FrogLoop). I have a hard time wrapping my brain around creating a content-rich, carefully researched, lovingly crafted communications gift to the world when only 13% of those who receive it will even open it. That hurts the hidden tortured writer in me.

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