Should you consider making an electronic newsletter?

The SHAPE project will publish its first newsletter in an electronic format in January. We are primarily doing this to make it easier to reach all of our stakeholders. But the upside is also a more efficient use of our limited communications resources. Maybe you too should consider going digital?


Why an electronic newsletter?

Communicating with your stakeholders is important no matter what business you are in, and most of us have some form of newsletter that we distribute according to an address- or email list. In the SHAPE project we have been doing this by creating well designed newsletters in a PDF format. Starting in January, we are changing to an electronic platform. We have little or no experience with this but would like to share some of our thoughts so far.

It is, at least if your volumes are small, free. It does not require advanced design or editing skills, and it saves distribution costs. Even so, many are reluctant to change from a traditional newsletter to one generated though a web-based solution like Aweber, Mailchimp or the hundreds of other suppliers of such services. It does indeed take some initial effort, but in our experience, the effort is very well worth it in the long run.


Building a stakeholder list

The most obvious advantage of creating an electronic newsletter is that it helps generate a list of your stakeholders. As your posts are distributed and shared, your audience will have the possibility to sign on which means that you little by little will build a database of your “customers”. This makes it easier to interact with your audience whether that is with all the members of the list, or with a select group. Most services also make it possible for you to monitor the interaction with your stakeholders: Do they actually read what you have sent them? What are they interested in and what do they skip? This will in time help you tailor your posts to your stakeholders needs.


Creating traffic to your website

The electronic newsletter also saves you time writing and editing your stories. You may of course decide to create stories specially for the newsletter, but in addition it is easy to link directly to stories already on your website. This of course has the added benefit of generating traffic to your site where your stakeholders may find a lot of other interesting material.


Fulfil the GDPR-requirements

The new Pan-European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes is clear how you should treat all data given you by your customers. All businesses/organizations have to comply with the GDPR-rules meaning that all your customers have to give their consent on how the data they have given you – names, email addresses, telephone numbers etc – should be used. Communicating through an electronic newsletter facilitates this. You can set up different alternatives, like if your stakeholders only want to subscribe to the newsletter or if they also want to receive invitations to events or promotional material, and give them the option of checking what they are interested in. All providers make it easy to delete all information if your stakeholders so wish.


Integrated communications

Stakeholder lists are not automatically generated, but the web-based solutions make it easier to grow you audience. Use your social media accounts to promote your newsletter and use active links in the newsletter to get your readers connected to your website. Doing that will help integrate all your communications efforts.


SHAPE is a three-year Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) project promoting the development of ecotourism initiatives. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.