Monday, 7 December 2015

Newsletter Report

One of the larger projects I have been working on since I started at the Hull History Centre was to research and then produce a report on the potential of restarting an e-newsletter for the History Centre, the last one having been sent approximately 18 months ago. This is a difficult one but with my previous cohort Hannah’s similar look at bringing back the Facebook social media presence and the success of that venture then it is clearly something that is worthwhile investigating.

The benefits of an e-newsletter?
The benefits of an e-newsletter to the Hull History Centre are pretty clear, it’s yet another avenue for communication with the public. It is a form of contact that is not already being used, but is well established with other services. I reached the conclusion that although email is seen as a more professional point of contact for people it is also seen as a less intrusive one, I think that users may be far more willing to sign up for an e-newsletter and receive a regular email then they might be willing to follow our Facebook or Twitter with their personal accounts. It would also allow us a more dedicated way to inform the public about our regular events, which we do push on other social media but I think having a point of contact that gives a condensed overview of events and news would be a low effort way for interested parties to stay informed.

Some of the the Email Distribution Services
I was looking at.
Issues considered in my report
When looking at the usefulness of an e-newsletter it is also important to look at how exactly we would go about providing this service. 

We could just create the e-newsletter manually and then email it out to the subscriber list that we have using the ‘bcc’ function but this is not exactly ideal. In order to deal with both the construction and delivery of e-newsletters these days it is quite useful to use the support provided by Email Distribution Services. 

There are many different types of these available and they provide an easy way to put together e-newsletters, often allowing a drag and drop construction for images and text, as well as saving the subscriber list and handing the distribution to all the email addresses. They also give a nice and easy way for new users to sign up to the e-newsletter or unsubscribe without needing additional input from the newsletter team. Finally and most importantly of all they provide analytical information so that it becomes possible to measure the effectiveness of the e-newsletter, or at least how many subscribers are interested enough to open it!

An example of determining the reputation of a service

Research methodology
To figure out which Email Distribution Service would be best, and there are a lot available, I took a few that I thought would function well and them compared them to one another. 

I used a number of key features for this comparison which I had identified as being useful to the Hull History Centre these included: Cost, East of Use, Subscription and Unsubscription, Importing Data, Reputation, Template Options and Analytics. It was important that the e-newsletter is effective as possible without being too time consuming to put together.

Ultimately the determining if it would be any use to have such a service comes down to the people who are willing to subscribe. What do you think, is an e-newsletter something that would interest you? And if it is then feel free to tell us what it is you’d like to hear from us.

David Heelas
Transforming Archives Trainee

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