Digital doctor: the dos and don’ts of festive e-cards

IAM’s digital advice columnist, Cat Leaver, answers your questions

Dear Cat,
What’s the best way to keep in contact with our public during the festive period? Do people like to receive e-cards or are they just ditched in junk? If an e-card is appropriate, what’s the best way to go about creating one? And do the same rules apply to our clients as to our staff?
Yours, a regional theatre communications assistant.

E-cards, also known as electronic greetings cards, are still a popular choice for many organisations, both when looking to spread the festive spirit internally amongst employees and colleagues, and/or to reach out to wider business contacts. They offer an economic, speedy and environmentally friendly way to distribute your greetings to people far and wide, complete with organisational branding and zero postage fees. In fact, after years of taking steady Christmas e-card orders to our agency, I predict a fairly significant uplift this year in the volume of e-card orders we process following the recent rise in postage prices.

When looking to create and send an e-card, I suggest doing a search online to see what is available. There are plenty of free templates you can use to create your own e-card, however, these will have fairly stringent constraints and limited or even zero technical support, meaning you may struggle to achieve what you want.

If you decide to go with a more professional service and order your e-cards through a company, I’d recommend looking for a service that provides clear and upfront pricing, does not cap the number of recipients on your distribution list, and allows you to appropriately personalise your e-card. I also recommend a company that presents hosting options – that can provide hosting or send you the files so that you can host the e-card yourself – and has customer support to help you through the process.

An e-card’s messaging should reflect those you are speaking to, so you may require two different versions for patrons and staff/business contacts. Again this comes down to what you aim to achieve. If the e-card is simply saying ‘Festive Greetings’ from your organisation, then one version shall suffice, whilst if you wish to expand and say something along the lines of ‘Thanks for all your hard work, you’ve helped make 2013 a fantastic year for our theatre’ to your employees and ‘Thanks for your custom in 2013 and continuing to support us in bringing theatre to your city’ to clients, for example, you may wish to create two more personalised versions.