Holiday E-Cards: Good Green Sense or Impersonal Mass Mailing?

Tis the season to spread holiday goodwill – and show your customers and employees your appreciation for their business and hard work. Many companies give gifts or bonuses, but a simple, inexpensive way to send tidings of good cheer is to send a holiday greeting card. Now the question is – do you send a traditional paper card, or an e-card?

The environmental argument for sending e-cards is overwhelming. Eliminating the expense of buying paper cards and postage, print deadlines, and the labor involved in signing, addressing, and sending them is compelling all by itself. Factor in reducing the carbon footprint generated by not sending cards and the “greenness” of sending holiday e-cards can’t be refuted. It saves businesses time and money, which is important in today’s economy.

E-cards also allow businesses to easily customize different designs and messages to different audiences and track who views the card. Some e-card companies, like Care2, even allow senders to make donations when they send e-cards.

Print Cards
So – is there even an argument for print cards? It depends on what is more important to you – the environmental or emotional impact of your card. So much of business is done online that people’s email boxes are barraged with dozens of incoming emails each day. Your holiday e-card will be competing with other pressing business concerns. It could be perceived as either welcome change, or additional inbox clutter.  Add the mercenary aspect of tracking who views the card, and a holiday e-card can seem less jolly than calculating.

Most people know that email cards are inexpensive (or free) and take very little time to create, address and send. Sometimes being part of a quick mass mailing is not the message you want to send to employees that have worked hard for your business all year or clients who have thrown significant business your way. Unfortunately, thoughtful and personal are adjectives most people will not attach to an e-card. An email just isn’t the same as a physical card with a personal message and signatures from your staff or c-suite.

Recycled print cards can mitigate the environmental impact, but there is a still a significant difference between sending e-cards and print cards. Companies like Pleasantrees offer recycled cards that also plant three trees for every holiday card ordered, but even that most likely doesn’t make it an even race.

So – what is more important to your business this holiday? Did you send a personal, but environmentally inefficient print card, or a strategic, inexpensive, low environmental impact e-card? Let us know which way you went and why.

Happy Holidays!

Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit and a social media blog fellow at The Story of Stuff Project. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. She is a volunteer at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can reach her at and @anewell3p on Twitter.

4 responses

  1. This topic/debate has been open for some time and will likely remain so for a few more years.

    For e-cards, your points on cost savings, time savings, ‘greeness’, etc are absolutely correct. Additionally, your points on print cards are also correct.

    From our experience, we see a small portion of our clients send both print cards and e-cards to their clients. They will segment their client-base into tiers. Upper tier clients get the more expensive, more personal touch of a custom designed printed card, whereas lower tier clients get an e-card. This is typical for clients with a very large client base.

    One conception that often holds true is, if an e-card looks low-budget, it will likely be perceived as cheap and look like something that took no effort at all.

    We feel the holiday e-cards for businesses we provide are a premium product when compared to most of what’s out there for businesses. We work hard to stay away from ‘cheap-looking’.

    Now, one other note we can add to this is that we get a lot of client’s saying, “last year we did a print card, but now we want to move to an electronic one to go green”…replace ‘go green’ with ‘save money’, ‘promote and link to our facebook page’, ‘get this done earlier’, ‘update our e-mail list’, among other things.

    Hope this helps to add to your article, Andrea. Looking forward to hearing some of the other comments from readers!

    1. My husband and I have been selling B2B Print cards for 26 years and E-Cards for the past 10 years. We are a Graphic Design firm so our specialty is High end Custom E-Cards and Print Cards.

      I agree that cost certainly is a factor in favour of E-Cards,, however, many of my clients went back to print cards last year as they felt they are more likely to be opened when mailed much more so than an E-card link. In addition many also feel a print card is more personal. Lastly, with the E-cards, how they are sent out is very important. We have a new sending system, usually geared to our larger clients sending out 40,000 plus E-cards. Our new sending system allows you to upload your own message, photograph or signature right into the Ecard. It is also vital, like with our sending system, that you have good relationships with your ISP’s to ensure delivery.

      Serena Derian

      Vivid Graphics Ltd.

    2. “One conception that often holds true is, if an e-card looks low-budget, it will likely be perceived as cheap and look like something that took no effort at all.”

      We definitely agree with that. Those ecards are often found on the free ecard sites. Unfortunately, there are so many of them out there and may be a reason why so many people incorrectly associate ecards with cheap.

      After taking a look at Progressive’s and Vivid’s websites, they both look to be suited more to the budgets of medium and large businesses.

      Over the last few years, we’ve noticed that if you want to get a high-quality ecard and send it to just a handful of clients, the cost is typically too much.

      Our corporate holiday ecards website will be helping those smaller businesses with smaller groups of recipients obtain the higher quality ecards.

  2. Over the years I’ve ordered dozens of Holiday cards that were printed with less than expected quality. Last year my company in Pembroke Pines, FL printed some Holiday business cards with PCA Delta, and they were great. I’ve been printing with them ever since. If you need holiday cards printed go to I strongly recommend them.

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