Email isn’t the newest marketing channel on the block, but when it comes to audience engagement and monetization, it still remains king. Ninety-three percent of publishing and media firms now use email marketing, with many looking for new ways to monetize email newsletters for an additional stream of revenue.
Email-first publishers like TheSkimm are generating as much as $75,000 per daily newsletter send, with a base of more than 1.5 million subscribers. But smaller independent publishers can maximize revenue, as well, using a mix of high and low-tech strategies.
Here are six steps that publishers who want to monetize email newsletters should take to get started.
Pick an email marketing service
The right email marketing service provider can make all the difference in a publisher’s quest to monetize email newsletters. MailChimp and Constant Contact are two of the most popular options, however there are hundreds of smaller service providers with similar features. One of the reasons why MailChimp has become so popular among online publishers is because the email service provider integrates with many other technology platforms, which makes it easier to place displays ads directly into emails.
Automate the process with RSS feeds
Publishers who are interested in selling display ads as a way to monetize email newsletters can use RSS feeds to pull their advertisers’ latest content—including blog posts, press releases, and product lists—into newsletters. Publishers will want to create ad zones within their newsletters to mark the positions where ads should be displayed. RSS feeds also make it possible for media companies to generate the content for their own newsletters in a seamless way. For example, MailChimp’s RSS-to-email feature will automatically send new articles to a publisher’s email subscribers. With an RSS feed, material is constantly updated, so the content generates more click-throughs, and publishers can demand higher rates from advertisers.
Use analytics to find the best times to send
Open rates and click-through rates are the lifeblood of an email marketer. Although the number of subscribers in a publisher’s database is important to advertisers, click-through rates paint a much more complete picture of the value of ads placed inside email newsletters. Email tracking and measurement tools like Google Analytics measure open rates and clicks inside emails against days of the week and time of day, allowing publishers to schedule email newsletters to go out at the precise times when they’re most likely to be opened.
Find an ad management platform
While some publishers prefer taking a DIY approach, many of those hoping to monetize emails newsletters will use an ad management platform like Broadstreet Ads. With Broadstreet, niche media organizations can manage newsletter advertising through a streamlined dashboard. Broadstreet offers a library of ad formats, providing opportunities for publishers to capitalize on their subscriber lists in a number of different ways. The company also offers a sponsored content tracker, which advertising clients can use to measure the value of their own campaigns.
Offer native advertising options
Email newsletters are an ideal place for native advertising, a type of paid media that often resembles a publication’s editorial content. A media company’s own subscriber list can be its best sales tool, as advertisers favor quality over quantity, with the ability to reach a targeted, loyal audience. Technology vendors like Gold Lasso provide email automation and monetization services for publishers, with native ads for email. In addition to the sponsored articles, which tend to be most common, these technology platforms enable publishers to offer content recommendation blocks and in-feed custom placements for advertisers.
Charge readers for premium newsletter content
Outside of display and native advertising, publishers are finding success monetizing email newsletters by asking for donations or charging for premium content. Publishers can offer paid subscriptions to email newsletters using WooCommerce’s free WordPress plugin. They can also use a service like Memberful, which collects membership fees for email newsletters. To monetize email newsletters in this way, publishers need to provide paying subscribers with valuable content that they can’t get for free elsewhere, like extended articles, exclusive educational modules, or even in-person meet ups.