For publishers looking to monetize email newsletters, things don’t always go according to plan.
In the online world, rarely does something stir up a private and personal feeling like an email and it seems many forget its power. With just a few changes, you can provide more value to your targeted audience and make money off them in the process.
So what’s the problem?
There’s always the issue that monetizing email newsletters will scare away readers you’ve worked so hard to sign up. The fear of losing the trust of your subscribers, arguably your most valuable assets, is something all publishers must shake off. With the right monetization solution and tactics, this fright can be easily overcome while actually increasing customer experience.
This post will show you different ways you can turn your email newsletters into a lean, mean monetization machine. Are you ready?
Sell your ad space/place ads
Ads in email newsletters can scare subscribers away and may seem counterintuitive. After all, online ads aren’t exactly fan favorites. So what’s the catch?
The “catch” is delivering ad content that resonates with your readers. Your email monetization strategy should always be a balance between your increased bottom line and user experience. That way, you keep your readers fully engaged while adding more to their normal experience.
Just as any website or mobile app out there, a newsletter can effectively display ad space. There are a couple of ways you can go on about this. Firstly, you can try to do it yourself and reach out to interested third parties to have their ads placed in your newsletter. This requires your full attention (sorting out through advertisers) and lots of resources in terms of scaling. A more efficient and easier way is to use a dedicated solution to do your bidding for you. That way, you can leverage existing technology to deliver increasingly relevant ad content across multiple platforms.
However, not all email advertising is the same and that’s where your decision to partner up with a reliable service pays dividends. With the right solution, you can effortlessly implement your email advertising for maximum revenue and ROI. The key to email monetization ads is native advertising. The more native and seamless they are, the more impact they’ll have. One could even argue that email newsletters are ideal for native ads as they can easily resemble editorial content. For publishers that prefer quality over quantity, the ability to engage a targeted audience is unmatched with native ads in newsletters, be it in the form of a sponsored article, content recommendation, custom in-feed placement, and else. Don’t overdo it though – you don’t want to lose subscribers. Test everything and try to be contextual.
Another benefit of email advertising is the perceived outlook of your audience. If providing personalized content your subscribers want to see (i.e. exclusive, relevant promotions or discounts), you can be seen as an authority. With the proper setup and content, email ads in newsletters make your subscribers feel important like they’re getting something just for them, an exclusive deal.
This leads us to…
Premium newsletter content
The idea here is to create a time-based (monthly, yearly, one time) fee model (kinda like a membership club) with content your audience would pay to access. However, this option isn’t for everyone. In other words: if you are confident you can offer your subscribers value that would entice them to shell out money for, it might be worth a go.
Outside of native advertising, charging for premium content is probably the most effective way of monetizing email newsletters. Take The New York Times, for example. Its subscription revenue surpassed $1 billion mark in 2017. The growth in digital subscriptions can be attributed to the publication’s penchant for loading free articles with multimedia such as documentaries, podcasts, and other interactive elements that frequently peak the interest of their audience.
The challenge is providing paying subscribers valuable content they can’t get elsewhere or for free: something in the vein of special or extended articles, exclusive videos, tips and advice, and so on. Offering a taste of the premium content through your newsletter is generally a good idea raise your paid subscribers numbers but be sure to have enough free content to establish your authority.
Monetize email newsletters with affiliate links
Being an affiliate is pretty straightforward: you get paid commissions on any sales you generate for a certain company. For instance, BuzzFeed has been doing it for a few years now under a specially crafted newsletter aimed at exclusively driving sales to partners like Amazon and other retailers.
Affiliate links are simple to implement but the entire thing hinges on one thing:
your ability to select only those affiliates that share your values (just as in selling your ad space).
It’s imperative to work with niche brands that your audience will most likely purchase, as well as those are established in the industry. Promoting fashion accessories to tech enthusiasts makes little sense and dealing with questionable affiliate partners can reflect negatively on your standing with your audience.
Let your readers sponsor you
One of the more unusual, yet probable ideas is getting your audience to sponsor you on a timely basis. Services like Patreon and Ko-Fi let their respective audience donate (retaining a small fee) and thus sponsor both the service and its user base. The concept is similar to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo crowdfunding platforms and relies solely on the generosity of the targeted audience.
Sell your own product/service
Creating and putting your own products and services on display is probably the easiest way to monetize email newsletters. It’s also easier said than done. You can go as far as to pitch your paid subscription service as discussed or simply craft an ebook (sort of like “greatest hits” type) or offer some content creation service. If you can develop something effective internally, why not sell it? Just be sure not to over pitch.
As a publisher, it’s your duty to make sure your message reaches the target audience. In order to effectively monetize your email newsletter, you need to remember something, your subscribers are there because they enjoy your content.
Ultimately, it’s all about the content and how you compliment it. Nobody wants to be battered with sales pitches, even if that does make sense to you. In the short terms, there might be something there, but you’ll be driving away your audience in the long run. Email monetization can be well worth your trouble, you just need to be smart about it. And now you know how.