E-newsletters May Offer Enormous Benefits

Increasingly, community associations are making the transition from printed newsletters to e-newsletters. E-newsletters can save associations time and money. You can easily produce and send e-newsletters using your personal computer.

Besides cutting back on your postage budget, you avoid stuffing envelopes and buying paper. Additionally, you can let members know that by eliminating the need for paper you are helping to protect the environment.

Consider, too, that you gain unlimited use of color at no extra cost when publishing e-newsletters. On the other hand, few associations can justify the expense of publishing full-color printed newsletters. Although full-color html is the preferred method to display messages, you must have a plan for members who cannot (or prefer not to) receive this format. You should give members the option of receiving a text-only version of your e-newsletter instead.

E-newsletters also give you the opportunity to get information to readers in very timely fashion, whereas content sometimes is out of date before readers receive printed newsletters. Moreover, e-newsletters create an easy opportunity for members to respond immediately and to go directly to other resources available on the association’s Web site or other Internet destinations such as schools, government agencies and businesses offering special offers.

No matter how much you like the idea of e-newsletters, you have to be prepared to continue sending a printed version as well. Some people simply do not have access to a computer or use it infrequently. Or they may have an older computer with a slow modem that makes downloading e-newsletters slow and difficult and displays graphics/images poorly.

Still others prefer the printed version because they like to hold it in their hands and read it wherever they want. Some publishers contend that readers are more likely to scan content of e-newsletters while reading printed newsletters in-depth. In time, as people become more and more comfortable with e-newsletters, this objection to e-newsletters may fade.

You will face other challenges in managing your e-newsletter program over the long run. “Major obstacles include security, virsues, e-mail overload/inundation, and e-mail rejection because of automated spam blockers,” said Rich Finstein, CEO of CommPartners. “Of these, spam is the greatest challenge to the future of e-mail marketing, accounting for more than 50 percent of the messages your members receive.”

He advises publishers of e-newsletters to use tracking tools “that help you understand your members’ preferences so you can modify your campaigns accordingly” and to “employ an automated spam content checker to help ensure that your messages don’t get blocked.”

If you decide to try publishing an e-newsletter, remember that e-mail technology changes at a significant pace. Try to keep up with changing capabilities and usage patterns. Your members will appreciate your efforts to communicate with them more effectively.

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