The high cost of emailing invoices – it’s more than mailing them…

As Mark Twain said, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” – and so it is with the print industry.

The hysteria surrounding the imminent death of print is almost hysterical itself – particularly given the complete failure of the paperless office claims since the 1980’s. The death of paper is not on any horizon – print advertising in its various forms will continue to succeed.

Kellie Northwood, the Executive Director of the Catalogue Association in Australia, is very buoyant about the future of print. She commissioned Roy Morgan to research the industry. The results were quite revealing, though not surprising.

Industry Report

The Report shares case studies, international trends, innovative applications and more, to demonstrate how to use print successfully in any marketing mix. You can read the results here.

As she says in the report, “Heavy print users are more likely to be above average income earners, better educated and big spenders. While heavy catalogue and magazine readers are more likely to try new products.”

hipster reading paper
Even hipsters read newspapers

And quoting from examples, “With paper and print the complete spectrum of senses is explored. Who would have thought a supermarket could educate children how fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables smell and feel? A poster could enable abused children to report the crimes against them? Or a magazine cover turn red when placed in direct sunlight to promote skin-care?”

The research also confirmed something we knew intuitively, but now have the facts to prove. More people (59%) who receive an invoice or statement online via email, require a follow-up message to pay their account, than those who receive their accounts in the mail.

In fact, any savings gained by forcing people to get their accounts by email, are often wasted in the cost of chasing up these people to pay their bills on time. Plus there is the cash flow lag caused by late payments. Digital invoices can be a false economy – and often an even more expensive process than mailed invoices.

The alleged benefits of digital distribution – cheaper to email than to mail – are offset by the fact people are not as engaged with digital channels as they are with physical channels. This fact is scientifically proven. And supported by independent credible sources:


Here’s how my cousin – a very smart businessman – ensured his bills were paid ahead of time. He called all his debtors to determine the name of the person in charge of processing his accounts for payment.

Whenever he mailed an invoice, it was personally addressed to the accounts payable clerk. And inside every envelope, as well as an invoice, there was a $2 scratch lottery ticket.

$2 scratchie

The clerks loved receiving his invoices and they mostly paid them in 15 days, well before the due date. So his cash flow was sensational, which went a long way to increasing the value of his business when he sold it – which made him very happy.


So if you are rudely penalising your customers by fining them a couple of dollars to mail them their financial statements, you might want to think again. You could be improving the value of your business by mailing them a printed statement at no charge – like the whole world did before we went digital.

Just because you can do something (like emailing accounts) doesn’t always mean you should.

Gotta go – just heard the postie. There’s probably some Telstra bills – you know the ones. They fine you $2 for the privilege of being invoiced and fine you another $15 if you’re a day late paying. No wonder its profit is $Billions.

Telstra invoice
Telstra – a profit-centric customer-hating corporation

I obviously work in the wrong industry….


  1. Great post, as always, Malcolm. The other hidden cost of using email is the lost opportunity to mail a ride-along sales piece with the invoice or statement. Might not be so effective in B2B but in B2C there is an opportunity. The banks, among others, seem to be completely oblivious to this as they continually try to move customers on to electronic statements. But…perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised! Thanks again for the post…I’ve missed your incisive thoughts and observations over the last couple of months.

  2. Great article Malcolm.

    Although I have to say, in my experience over 35 years as a freelance copywriter, it makes no difference whether you post out invoices and statements or email them. You still have to chase the buggers.

    When I used to post invoices, I was constantly being told by the Accounts people that they hadn’t seen my invoices.

    Now I cc them in on every invoice, so that excuse no longer flies.

    It’s a constant battle however you do it.

  3. Thanks for sharing this article. This will definitely help me with my invoicing. Thanks for sharing this article. This is really helpful. I will surely return to this very helpful site.

  4. Thanks for sharing this article. I think emailing is good for invoicing too. I also think that it is a big help for business owner to communicate well with the customers.

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