Do we still love print news?

5 minute read

Quite possibly, but while the death of print is certainly exaggerated the advantages of digital news delivery continues to present a highly attractive alternative to traditional news formats.

Several years ago, while presenting my marketing plan to the management and sales team of a small but growing company, I was challenged on my proposal to replace a twice-yearly printed news magazine with a more regular email and online solution. The question was along the lines of “we’ve always had a printed newsletter, people like it, why change it now?”.

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So in case you ever need to do the same, here are the 10 reasons I gave to support my case.

1. Reduced cost and effort
Electronic delivery removes the substantial cost and effort of print production, the need for delivery stationery and (often international) postage. Content creation is still required of course, but hosting, production and delivery costs are substantially reduced (in my case switching to a digital solution resulted in a 100% increase in delivery with an overall cost reduction of 94%).

2. Accurate quantities with no waste
Email has no physical waste and, as a paperless solution, fits with many consumers’ ‘green’ philosophies. Distribution is easy to expand and contract as subscribers join or leave. There is no danger of underestimating supply or cost consequence of overestimating demand (historically 33% of our printed copies were never distributed).

3. Drives web traffic and enhances SEO
Email news directly drives web traffic creating regular spikes in online activity (I observed a 300-400% increase immediately following each electronic news delivery). Because the main content remains online indefinitely it also contributes to search engine optimisation and continues to attract and capture enquiries (over a two year period the online content of my news stories doubled my web footprint and tripled my searchable links).

4. Convenient and on-demand
In addition to the delivery itself, the online content is available on-demand 24/7 so it can be consumed by the audience whenever convenient for them. News content is increasingly consumed away from the office. With over 50% of emails being opened on mobile devices email is an efficient and mobile friendly strategy.

5. Permission and engagement
Email news delivery has a direct and instant opt-out functionality. As well as ensuring effective permission, this is a legal requirement of all direct communications. Electronic compliance is also much easier to apply and quality audit than an equivalent manual subscription processes.

6. Timely content
Unlike print content, which dates quickly, with email news can be edited up to the time of issue. The low production effort means that releases can be more frequent, so time critical content such as events and product releases have increased relevance and impact.

7. Flexible content
Email delivery with digitally hosted content also offers much more flexibility in terms of format, including interactive and multi-media content such as surveys, audio and video. This creates added interest for readers and value to partners and commercial advertisers.

8. Personalisation
Email delivery allows a direct level of personal address. In print this is either lost on the envelope or requires an expensive and time consuming covering letter. It also allows recipients to self-customise future content according to their own personal preferences – their location, specific interests, or relevant advertising only.

9. Tracking and intelligence
Since email mobilises customer data directly it provides a valuable ongoing method of verification and cleaning. Unused or incorrect addresses are directly visible and can be investigated or removed (my CRM data quality improved by 64% over two years of regular email delivery).You can also track which links are clicked so you know which sections are getting attention.

10. Compliments your communication strategy
News delivery is typically just one component in a general communications capability. Email can also be used to issue specific messages and content and can easily be linked into other aspects such as social programs. It is simple and convenient to share, either directly or via social networking sites and can significantly boost visibility and future subscription.

The reality of commercial businesses is that decisions are driven by cost, execution efficiency, market agility and performance improvement. Print has its place but switching from print to electronic news delivery directly impacts all of these objectives. Try it. I did, and like the many who now use email for their regular newsletters, we never returned to print.