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You may already use a printed newsletter on a regular basis and be wondering if you should be saving the printing and postage costs by switching to an electronic newsletter. I’d like to tell you about the options and their pros and cons so you can determine for yourself what makes the most sense in your situation. I’ll also make a case for how these components all need to work together.

Method Advantages Disadvantages
Printed newsletter Arrives at the home

No hardware needed to read

Can be read away from the computer (in bed or bath)

Can be filed and shared with others


Expensive to print & mail

Isn’t as timely (can’t be updated as quickly or often)

Depending on budget may not include color photos

Not searchable

Website Can update frequently for little or no additional expense

Can include unlimited color images

Can cross reference

Not everyone uses the web.

Even those with web access don’t necessarily have a fast enough connection to spend a lot of time there.

The user must make the effort to go there, it doesn’t come to them.

It can’t be read away from the computer.

Emailed newsletter Can send frequently for no cost

Can include links to more info on your own website or on other websites. Can also be sent in html format so that it displays as web page inside mail reader.

Do you have email addresses for all your constituents?

What about those who don’t have email?

If it is text only, it might be considered boring (no images)



If you already have a printed newsletter the next step might be to use it to survey your constituents to determine their ability to access the web and email. Here are a few possible questions to include:

  • Do you have email? Please provide your address here:
  • How often to you access your email?
  • Is it setup for text only or can it receive images and HTML pages?
  • Do you have access to the Internet?
  • Do you have a dial-up account or a high-speed broadband account?
  • How often to you read material on the Internet vs reading printed pieces?

This approach allows you to collect email addresses and decide if an emailed newsletter would be read, as well as if it should be a text-only newsletter or if sending an HTML newsletter (formatted with images) would also work for your constituents.

Now that you’ve collected email addresses you can start sending an electronic newsletter. There are many ways you can send an electronic newsletter.

Basic Tickler This text-only approach includes a sentence or two about each article with a link to the article on your website. Good for busy readers so they can follow links and read selectively.
Self-contained Text This approach tells the reader everything within the email without needing to jump to links on a website. (Particularly good if you don’t have a website yet!) Can be read off-line.
Self-contained HTML Like the text only but is visually presented and includes graphic images. Readers must have their email program configured to read this format.
Attachment Send the completed newsletter as a Word document or an Acrobat PDF file. Readers must have either Word or the free Acrobat Reader.
Subscription Any of these approaches may be sent to your entire database or only to those who choose to get it by subscribing at your website.

In the best of all worlds you would continue to mail your printed newsletter on a consistent basis and use it to point readers to your website where they’ll find additional and expanded information related to the printed articles. This means your website will be updated at a minimum every time you publish a printed newsletter. Between newsletters use the Basic Tickler email (or another type of email) to keep constituents up to date on changing information, invite them to take an action and direct them to new items on your website.