- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On June 22, 2015
- Digital magazines
Print isn’t dead, but it’s expensive, especially when compared to online alternatives. These days, businesses everywhere are cutting costs by going digital with their magazines and newsletters.
While there are some obvious benefits to such a move, it’s not all sunshine and roses on the other side, and there are a number of things your hospital needs to consider before taking the plunge.
One of the biggest benefits to a digital newsletter is that you can publish it as often as your hospital’s resources and capabilities allow. Print frequency is limited by the cost of designing and printing enough copies for your distribution list. Many hospitals only published print newsletters two or three times a year, but by going digital, you could reach out to your community as often as you like, whether it’s monthly, bi-monthly, or even weekly. As often as you can produce the content, you can publish it.
Before you can get around to publishing your digital newsletter, however, you’ll have to tackle the question of how exactly you’ll distribute it. There are several ways to do this, each with their own pros and cons.
Email is the most common way to distribute digital newsletters, but it’s only effective if you have a strong opt-in email list. You can’t buy lists of email addresses like you can lists of mailing addresses; doing so is the surest way to doom your messages to the spam folder—and it’s illegal, too.
If you haven’t already built an opt-in list, you’re not totally out of luck, but you’ll have to seriously adjust your expectations if you decide to go with email distribution anyway. There are numerous ways to grow your mailing list, and doing so has many benefits even if you’re not sending out a digital newsletter right away.
On your website
Giving visitors to your website the option to read your digital newsletter is a great call to action, but only a percentage of your overall traffic will follow the link. If you go this route, you should test your call to action to see what performs best.
Flipbook vs. website
Many digital newsletters are just formatted webpages, but if you’d like to reproduce the feel of a print magazine, there are a number of options at your disposal. A service like Issuu will let you upload a PDF as a flipbook for readers to browse, or you could go with Joomag to add all sorts of interactive features to your content, including video.
Whatever format you choose, make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Magazines have always been portable, and that’s as true as ever with smartphones and tablets. Mobile-friendly content isn’t just a recommendation anymore—it’s an imperative.
Another big reason why marketers love digital newsletters is because they’re an effective tool for reaching millennials. Young people still read magazines, both print and digital, and email is their preferred method of communication with brands. If you’re trying to communicate with the younger generation, a digital newsletter can be a highly effective part of your strategy.
While there are ways of tracking print media, like readership surveys and dedicated landing pages, it’s much easier to keep an eye on who’s reading digital content. With analytics tools, you can see exactly how many people read your digital newsletter, how much time they spend reading it, and even which portions are most popular, so you can tailor future content to best meet your audience’s wishes.
Once you start building up your own analytics data, you can compare it to industry standards to see how you’re doing. Email services like MailChimp send billions of emails every month and calculate average open and click through rates that can be used as benchmarks as you create or adjust your content and distribution plan.
Flexibility and segmentation
Another great thing about digital content is that it can be shared anywhere and formatted to fit any device. You can integrate video and other forms of content in addition to text articles so there’s truly something for everyone, no matter where they are. And no matter how you choose to distribute a digital newsletter, you can share its content to various social media channels with just a click.
Once your digital newsletter gets off the ground, you can take it up another notch by segmenting your mailing list and delivering content that’s even more tailored to each subscriber. Curating extra content takes more time, but it’s the absolute best way to give patients and prospective patients of all ages exactly the kind of information they care about reading.
In an ideal world, you’d be able to able to complement a print newsletter with a digital one to maximize your marketing reach. If your ability to publish print content has been constrained by budget or personnel cuts, however, a digital newsletter can perform just fine on its own and give you valuable insights into your community’s interests—provided your distribution method is adequate.