should my organization start an email newsletter

The pros and cons to starting an e-newsletter

Email newsletters are nothing new: many organizations have used them effectively, and many others have found them a drain on their time and resources. You’re thinking of starting one for your organization, but you’re still on the fence: how do you know it’s worth the effort?

Start out by doing some research: What is the standard in your industry? Are they a popular and accepted way of keeping in touch, or could this be a potential nuisance to your intended audience? What do people in your industry usually include in their newsletters? Do you have content to match, or would your resources be better invested in blog content?

Answering these questions will get you most of the way there, but before your make a final decision one way or another, take time to consider these top pros and cons:

Benefits of an email newsletter

For the majority of organizations, committing to a regular email newsletter comes with significant advantages. While it should definitely not be something you do “just because,” here are our top reasons why we think it would be a good idea for your organization:

  1. It keeps you in touch with interested leads. People have limited attention. They may be interested volunteering or in joining your organization as a new member, but they’re probably too busy to remember to check up on you for updates. An e-newsletter will help you cultivate a relationship that keeps your organization in-sight and in-mind.
  2. It helps your members informed and engaged. Your newsletter, if done right, can be a valuable asset to your organization in its own right. You can use it not only to share information about upcoming events, but as an education tool for relevant articles or think-pieces.
  3. Use it to promote your social media channels and your blog. You can start a conversation in an email and have it direct to your social media channels. Similarly, you can broadcast your blog posts via your newsletter in order to boost your readership. And many people prefer reading blogs in their email, so it can be a win-win.
  4. Learn more about your audience. If you’re using an email marketing service like MailChimp or ConstantContact, it will come equipped with plenty of analytics to help you see who’s engaging with your content. This will provide you with key insights into what your readership is interested in and how you can better connect with them.

The downside to email newsletters

On the other hand, many organizations start an email newsletter without thinking about how it will incorporate with their brand strategy. They don’t leverage the social media opportunity it provides, they fail to create something of value to their readership, and they aggressively over-sell. Here are the main downsides you should question before starting your e-newsletter:

  1. Do you have valuable content? Like all your marketing efforts, put the reader first. They have entrusted you with their email: don’t abuse the privilege by spamming them with constant sales pitches or crowding their inbox with fluffy, boring, or useless content.
  2. Do you have the resources you need? You should have someone on your staff dedicated to maintaining your email newsletter. Make sure they have the time, information, and toolset needed to run your newsletter effectively.
  3. Can you be consistent? If you send a burst of emails all in one week and then nothing for over a month, you’re likely to confuse and alienate your readership. You don’t need to run your newsletter like clockwork, but you should operate under a reasonably consistent time table. Most importantly, deliver what you promised: if you say weekly, get it out weekly. If you say monthly, don’t start emailing every day.

So, do you need an email newsletter?

You decide!

No, seriously: you can build a great strategy for your organization with or without an email newsletter. If it’s just something you’re starting because it’s what everyone else does, your clients are likely to wind up with just another bland and uninspiring email sitting in their inbox. But, if you like the idea, have something to say, and are willing to devote the energy to doing it right, you can cultivate a valuable relationship with your readership that will be well worth the effort you put into it.

Published 06/16/16 by Laura Lynch