Email and print newsletters are often part of a company’s marketing strategy. But they aren’t always the best solution for getting your message to customers or prospects to convince them to buy. Knowing the disadvantages is key to deciding if either one can help boost sales and inform readers about what you offer, or if they are a poor use of time, money and resources your company could put elsewhere.

Costs and Lead Times

An emailed newsletter costs little to send, while a printed newsletter is much more costly to develop and put in the hands of customers. For instance, a print version requires the use of a printer or printing service, mailing labels and postage. If you need design, layout or copywriting assistance, the costs increase substantially. Plus, email newsletters require little lead time to change or to add timely news. The same does not hold true for print newsletters. Once the newsletter is on the press, costs rise if you need to replace an article and start the printing process all over again.

Subscription Problems

An email newsletter needs to feature an unsubscribe link so readers can stop receiving it if they prefer. Unfortunately, while this is the ethical way to send an email newsletter, it becomes easy for subscribers to unsubscribe, a real disadvantage for your business. This means that even if the recipient is a good prospect for your products or services, you won’t be able to get in front of her via email. Plus, email spam filters may stop an email newsletter cold in its tracks, leaving the reader with no idea it even exists. If an individual moves and does not provide his updated address, print versions won’t work much better, as they won’t arrive or may get sent back without forwarding information.

Reluctance to Provide Address

While prospective buyers may be interested in your product or service, they need a strong incentive to convince them to give your business their mailing or email address. If you don’t provide a strong reason for a prospect to join your mailing list, you lose the opportunity to market to and turn him into a paying customer. The key is to provide an incentive, such as a freebie, a coupon or an article full of tips related to what your business sells. Then, the prospect feels more inclined to give you his address.

Target Market

Your target market may not read newsletters of any sort -- email or print -- so your efforts putting out a consistent piece is wasted if sent to an audience that doesn’t want your message. The key is to know your target market and how they prefer to get information on products and services. If you don’t know if your target market reads the email newsletter you send, email marketing programs such as those offered by Constant Contact and MailChimp, feature tracking reports so you can see who and how many people clicked on the links. Offering a coupon or a special offer good for a limited time is also an effective way to evaluate how many people are opening and reading a print newsletter.