Newsletters have traditionally been short publication materials that provide updates and information to niche audiences and usually available through subscription. For businesses and other organizations, newsletters are both communication and marketing tools, providing information about their company and also advertising product releases and ventures. (Norfolk, 2006) For those in government, they usually contain updates on pertinent law and regulations, project and programs useful in the implementation of services and in communicating plans and results to the general public or their constituent populations.
Other organizations also use newsletters to cater to particular interests or issues, such as non-government organizations’ utilization of newletters to generate support for an advocacy or to lobby for particular causes and to influence public opinion. Rapid advancements in information and communication technologies (ICTS), however, have brought drastic changes in the way newsletters and other published materials are produced and consumed by readers.
While not necessarily changing the original objectives for which newsletters are produced, the creators of newsletters have undoubtedly benefitted from the expansion and growth of the internet and other forms of digital media. This includes the creation and distribution of newsletters in a faster and cheaper manner, as well as the potential of widening the readership base within internet users and consumers. The migration of the newsletter from printed material into electronic format has been beneficial for many sectors.
Apart from saving valuable resources that would have been spent on the production of printed materials, electronic newsletters or e-newsletters also reach more readers than their printed counterpart. It is therefore not surprising that e-newsletters have become important marketing and communication tools for organizations, especially businesses. Dan Heuvel and Devasagayam (undated) refer for instance to the migration of companies from traditional marketing strategies to web-centered strategies of marketing and even internal operations.
For companies hoping to take advantage of internet-enabled marketing strategies, for instance, e-newsletters provide an easier way of maintaining customer relationship and transforming potential leads into actual sales figures. Goodman (1999) notes how large Australian wineries have taken advantage of their connectivity to increase sales and to reduce costs by using e-mail to send newsletters, stocklists, and wine notes to both existing and prospective customers (Goodman 37).
Vlachos (undated) also notes how the European food and beverages industry has benefitted considerably from an enhanced customer relationship marketing assisted by the internet. Other organizations, from government to non-government organizations, likewise benefit from e-newsletters in the same manner that business organizations have taken advantage of it. Newsletters intended for public consumption can now be delivered in a timely manner, be sent to multiple readers as soon as the last word is finished, and be read simultaneously by people despite differences in time zone and distance.
Likewise, e-newsletters provide an easier way of managing feedback from readers and also gives its publishers the ability to know more about its consumers and their interests. (Norfolk 2006) The electronic format also makes newsletters easier to store, file, and retrieve from a database, which saves time and space for both publishers and readers. On the other hand, there are also disadvantages in abandoning the traditional published format of the newsletter.
These are rooted in the existing limitations of the internet and the inadequacy of the ICT infrastructure that supports web-based operations of both enterprise and government (Vlachos 36). For instance, e-newsletter production and distribution could be seriously hampered by disturbances in the digital infrastructure or be affected by viruses and other malicious codes.
Irresponsible and unwanted sending of newsletters or spamming recipients by some publishers also negatively affects the perception of internet users, as well as fears of insecurity by a user when he or she gives away his or her internet address to acquire newsletter subscription. E-newsletters, while being available to a global audience, also discriminate against those who are not connected to the internet or those who are unable of operating a computer.
The migration of the newsletter to the internet also does not address cultural barriers, although the knowledge that it will be read by people from all over the world may prompt its writers and publishers to give more weight to such problems prior to distribution via e-mail. While the new format spells convenience and accessibility to publishers, as well as minimized distribution problems, readers may be more apprehensive about accepting e-newsletters as the norm in contrast to the traditional printed newsletters they have been used to.
In the end, the digitization of the newsletter has both advantages and disadvantages for publishers and readers alike. These must be wieghed and considered carefully by those who wish to abandon the traditional production and publishing of newsletters and converting into the electronic and e-mail format. Such considerations must clearly be attuned not only to the novelty of using digital media but also to the interest of the readers and consumers of the newsletter. Works Cited: Dan Heuvel, D. V. & R. Devasagayam. (undated). Migrating toward a web-centered marketing strategy: experience from the capital goods marketplace.
Downloaded on 01/10/2008 from http://www. danavan. net/publications/pdf/migrating_toward. pdf. Goodman, Steve. (1999). The internet as a marketing tool. The Australian Grapegrower & Winemaker. Norfolk, M. E-mail marketing: Using the most of your opt-in email newsletter. 09/06/2006. Downloaded on 01/10/2008 from http://www. flyingsolo. com. au/p204586909_Making+the+most+of+your+opt-in+newsletters. html Vlachos, I. P. , undated. E-Business applications in the European food & beverages industry: managerial & economic implications. Downloaded on 01/10/2008 from http://www. ip. aua. gr/Studies/Vlachos_final. pdf.