The proven power of printed newsletters

Today’s internet provides an inexpensive way to reach and engage people one-on-one with timely, relevant and creative messages delivered directly to their inboxes. But the fact is that email is becoming a very crowded battleground. Yes, marketers and other companies (including commercial printers who can find the time and resources) still rely on email for one simple reason: it’s cost effective and it works. But it’s also important to remember the human side of communications – and why printed direct mail outperforms email time and time again.

For example, take a look at your inbox right now! How many messages are waiting for you? Most of us have dozens of unopened emails, and realize that more are on the way. How many will you open or never read? People don’t open all their emails for any number of reasons. However, they still sort through their printed mail. So if you’re designing something eye-catching and memorable, you have two excellent options – email and print. But which is better – and how much time and money do you want to invest? Most importantly, which one yields a better ROI?

The dominance of printed direct mail

Printed newsletters may have been temporarily abandoned in the past for the lower costs of social-media and email marketing. But today, business owners are revisiting this powerful and tangible marketing tool. Plus, with their more informative and entertaining style, newsletters can dominate when it comes to better engaging with current customers as well as potential clients.

At first glance, email newsletters seem like the easiest and most inexpensive option. You don’t need to print and mail them – only write and design them if you have the staff and the time. Still, with a simple mouse click, recipients can either bypass your email newsletter without even opening it, or worse, delete it. And, if you catch them at a very busy time, some might even opt out of receiving your emails altogether!

Your printed newsletter, on the other hand, will at least be touched and seen. According to several online searches, email newsletters can average click-through rates from .5% up to 1.6%. However, a printed direct-mail newsletter can generate a 3%, 4% or even 5% response rate. To give you another comparison, Mailchimp pegs the average click-through rate for all emails across all industries at 2.62%. But there are other important reasons why printed newsletters will continue to dominate.

First, because there’s no separate mailbox for “junk mail” (and your computer must guess what qualifies as “spam”), most of us must waste time sorting through all our emails to determine what’s important and what isn’t. Plus, how often have you discovered an important message that has been sent incorrectly to your “spam” folder? A digital newsletter, though very effective when opened and read by a targeted audience, may sometimes land in your spam folder and might never get seen, let alone read.

Second, statistics show that emails have a small “opening window” that begins to plummet after the first hour of sending. For example, how likely are you to go back and open an email you skipped over earlier? However, nearly everyone sorts through his or her printed mail at least weekly, if not daily. Plus, many people set aside printed mail that they deem important for future reference.

Third, several studies have concluded that because our brains associate text with the physical world, most people find the process of focusing while reading digital print extremely challenging. Give your prospects a printed newsletter that they can physically hold and interact with, and concentration is seldom an issue. Finally, a printed newsletter also symbolizes professionalism and a commitment to your clients that’s difficult to convey with e-newsletters on a computer screen.

The proven power of printed newslettersAt the end of the day, you need to balance the inexpensive nature of e-newsletters with the many advantages of printed ones – not the least of which is showcasing your shop’s creativity and exceptional print quality. So here’s a suggestion. Consider supplementing your printed newsletter with a follow-up email or two. But don’t over-do it by sending too many emails every week, to the point of being annoying.

If you feel you don’t have the time or the staff to create an engaging, helpful and fun monthly printed newsletter, we can help.


Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.