Creating More Opportunities for Email Monetization

If you keep up with news in the digital publishing space, it’s likely that on any given day you’ll see a story about a major publisher: 1) launching a new newsletter, 2) finding success with a new newsletter, or 3) expressing hopes to soon launch a new newsletter.

Why are there so many stories about growing publisher newsletter programs—other than the fact that writing about newsletters is an absolute delight, that is?

For one, publishers are launching more newsletters, taking advantage of the additional revenue potential that comes with each additional newsletter product. Instead of chasing revenue from passing site visitors, email allows publishers to grow and monetize their direct audience. Creating more newsletters for that direct audience creates more opportunities for monetization, enabling publishers to drive even more value from their audience.

By adding additional newsletters to your newsletter program, you get:

  • Additional chances to engage your audience.
  • A way to deliver focused audiences for advertisers.
  • A testing ground for launching other products.
  • A channel to put your first-party data to use.

More newsletters mean more chances for engagement.

Vox’s newsletter editor has found that “newsletter readers spend significantly more time on-site” than visitors from elsewhere:

“I pulled the numbers last month and newsletter readers were spending about a minute fifty seconds [1:50] on the site, and about a page and a half, usually a little bit more. Whereas Facebook readers would spend 40 seconds on the site and weren’t even reading an entire page. They’re just zipping in and out, they’re clicking a link and then gone.”

When visitors from email spend more time onsite, consume more articles per session, and are more likely to subscribe to your paid products, earning more visits from newsletters pays off. Each newsletter a reader subscribes to gives you more opportunities to engage your email audience, so it’s in your interest to offer more than one newsletter.

This can be as simple as sorting out the content you already create into separate emails. By building your newsletter program around your onsite content categories, subscribers can self-select the content they receive. This gives your audience a degree of self-personalization while providing you with more opportunities to monetize that audience.

Offering additional newsletters also increases the chances that passing visitors will find one of your newsletters relevant to their interests, even if they only subscribe to one of those newsletters. If you’re a general sports publisher, and a reader arrives at your site to read a basketball article, that reader is probably more likely to respond to a basketball newsletter than one that covers sports in general. You can increase your odds of conversion by using calls-to-action in your email capture that correspond with the content they’re reading.

Vertical-based newsletters allow publishers to serve focused audiences to advertisers.

Newsletter-based publishers like Morning Brew are capitalizing on the success of their flagship newsletter by expanding their products to include additional newsletters that cover specific verticals. Not only is this a good way to drive more engagement, it also allows them to monetize that audience more effectively:

“It’s better to have multiple distinct products available than to try and build ‘one newsletter to rule them all’ because it’s easier to explain and sell their distinct audiences directly to advertisers…Millennial professionals interested in business and financial’ is sellable; an audience receiving a mix and mash of different content, less so.”

As laws like GDPR and a more generally privacy-focused climate create renewed interest in contextual advertising, vertical-based newsletters allow publishers to sell focused audiences to advertisers who can be sure are interested in what they have to offer. According to Digiday, Morning Brew generates “around $200,000 per week in advertising revenue,” and this can only be expected to grow as they branch out into verticals like technology and marketing.

It’s an approach that’s working for Inside as well. The publisher offers 50 newsletters on a range of niche topics, launching new email products as they gauge enough audience interest for the newsletter to be attractive to advertisers.

“These newsletters are for a super highly engaged audience that is there to consume info, trusts us, and has made these newsletters a part of their daily media diet,” [Inside president Austin Smith] said. “These ad units can work really well in these newsletters in a similar way to podcasts where we have this sophisticated audience that has tuned out programmatic and social ads, but a native ad appearing in a newsletter they trust…works well.”

Newsletter launches allow publishers to test the water for new products and audiences.

Newsletters can also play a large role in the creation (and monetization) of non-newsletter products.

Digital publishing’s most successful newsletters have outgrown the inbox, allowing their publishers to monetize these engaged audiences elsewhere. The Washington Post’s 202 newsletter has expanded into a podcast, event series, and even served as a launchpad for additional newsletters based around their 202 branding. Beyond the beltway, the Financial Times’ Due Diligence newsletter has proven so popular with readers that the Financial Times is hosting subscribers-only forums in London and New York.

Newsletters have also helps publishers gauge the feasibility of branching out into additional verticals, products, or markets. Politico’s short-term pop-up newslettersallowed them to drive email revenue while also gaining valuable insight into whether they could branch out and monetize internationally. It’s an approach that the New York Times has used as well, launching newsletters that cover UK politics as part of their experiments to grow their audience abroad.

With a direct email link to their readers, publishers can nurture these new audiences along the way, making it more likely that their new products will see some success. Worst case scenario, if the product doesn’t pan out, publishers have a way to reach their audience and connect them with other content.

First-party data connects audiences with more relevant newsletter content and advertising.

Finally, offering additional newsletters gives you a way to tap into the first-party data you’ve collected from your audience to better monetize them. With behavioral data in hand, you can identify readers who frequently engage with a particular type of content, then direct them to the email content most relevant to their interests.

For instance, you may have subscribers who receive a general “best-of” newsletter but typically consume articles in a particular vertical.  By enriching your email audience with first-party data from their onsite content consumption, you can target this user with calls-to-action that promote a newsletter with content specifically from that vertical.

You might even opt members of your list into your other newsletters proactively. This approach can be especially handy as you decide to launch new email products. Using your first-party data, you can send new newsletters to readers who have previously expressed interest in that type of content, allowing you to create newsletter products with a built-in audience.

Of course, this first-party data can also help you serve more relevant advertising, further increasing the value of your audience. By pinpointing the readers in your email audience who have engaged with a certain type of content, you can create highly-interested audience segments for advertisers and command high CPMs in return.

Adding more newsletters to your email program can be as easy as automation. To learn how to scale your email program with automation, grab the Automation Solution Guide for Publishers.

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