Driving traffic to your website and then monetizing the traffic just keeps getting harder. But if you have a newsletter, you might be sitting on a revenue gold mine.
It seems like every tab I have open contains another article about how ad blockers will be the doom of quality content online. Sometimes it seems there are more doomsayers than there are viewable and relevant ads around.
Ad blockers have changed the way we think of website monetization. Fewer visible ads means that publishers need to maximize the revenue they make from every single ad impression. Ad optimization, which has been used mostly by advertisers, is gaining in popularity with publishers as well.
But enough about ad optimization. In this blog post, we’d like to talk about other monetization tactics than advertising for a change, just in case you’ve been neglecting to take full advantage of resources you’ve had all along.
One such resource is your newsletter that can (and might) be your main source of revenue. Don’t believe me? Read on.
The Value of your Mailing List
The loyal audience that entrusted you with their email addresses might not visit your website often enough, but everyone always remembers to check their email. I know I do. So that’s where you should be too, showing your followers relevant ads and content to maximize your revenues and provide them with excellent user experiences.
Think Email Monetization = Unsubscribes?
You wouldn’t be the first. I have to admit that it’s a likely side effect. But you can’t keep all your subscribers happy and engaged all the time. You’re running a business, and sometimes businesses need to make money. Besides, whether you notice or not, everybody’s doing it. 65% of B2B and 48% of B2C media companies rely on email banner ads and newsletter sponsorship for monetization.
These companies have realized that diversifying the revenue stream from their content is crucial, but you already know that. Email lists and newsletters are some of the most useful tools in your monetization tactics belt. And you shouldn’t ignore them.
You may already be monetizing your opt-in email list (smart thinking!). Or you could be scratching your head now, wondering why you haven’t yet. In either case, I have a few tips to get you ahead of the game.
22 Email Monetization Tips
Tip 1: Affiliate Links
Affiliate links and programs can bring in revenue but they need to be applied with care. Feel free to link to, for example, an Amazon product reviewed on your blog and include the affiliate link. Don’t overload the email with random affiliate links and tailor content around it.
Tip 2: Sponsored Content & Native Ads
Content advertising and native ads are all the Buzz in the Feed. That doesn’t mean that they will all make you money. Popular solutions have a way of attracting hangers-on. The more buzz a certain solution gets the more careful you need to be with its application. Be selective in your choice of partners and sponsors for your newsletters. As selective as you are when choosing them for your website.
Tip 3: Email List Rental / Selling
Selling or renting your opt-in subscriber list may be the fastest way to make a quick buck with a list of email addresses, but it’s not all great. By relinquishing control of your email database, you’re giving your competitors a chance to targets your audience with their content. And no one wants that. So again, if you choose to pursue this tactic, be very strategic with your next steps.
Tip 4: Commission-based Offers
Emailing your subscribers a special discount or coupon relevant to their interests is a double win. Your audience feels rewarded for their loyalty and attention, while you get commissions for every offer redeemed.
Tip 5: List Sharing (Co-Listing) is Caring
Your newsletter is an asset. Sometimes it’s worth sharing assets with the right people. For example, the mailing list of a gaming blog can be a great target for comic-book related content. And vice-versa. So by trading or sharing opt-in newsletter subscriber lists, both sides expand their audience. That being said, when subscribers opt-in to your mailing list they need to allow you to share their email address.
Tip 6: Link Smart
You don’t want to over-egg your newsletter pudding with too many links. Make sure to send your subscribers to web pages that generate the most revenue for you and nothing else. Too many links provide too many options and too many options mean not enough revenue.
Tip 7: Launch a Product or Service
The mailing list in your hands is the perfect audience for your new and exclusive product. Don’t have one? Create one! You can offer just about anything from consultation services to blog merchandise.
Tip 8: Promote Premium Content
If you don’t yet have a course, podcast or webinar to offer you premium subscribers – launch one. And what better place to promote your special new content than your newsletter?
Tip 9: Use Autoresponders
We’re not lazy, we’re efficient. That’s why we use autoresponders in email correspondence all the time, like when we’re on vacation. Autoresponders can be set to be sent out after someone performs a certain action. For example, an autoresponder can be sent out with a course offer to readers of a related blog post. Autoresponders are an incredibly efficient and productive tool that you should be using.
Tip 10: Banners and Display Ads
Ad networks and services, like LiveIntent, offer a variety of display ads for email lists. Like your website, your newsletter can have targeted banner ads. But that shouldn’t be your only source for email list monetization.
Tip 11: Dedicated Emails
My place or yours? A dedicated email is like list rental, but it leaves you in control of your email database. Of course, some subscribers might object to a “message from our sponsors”. That’s why you need to ensure the message is one relevant and interesting to them.
Tip 12: Where The Revenue Splits
Everything is negotiable. When opting to display ad network ads in your newsletters remember to first understand how the revenue scheme will be worked out. Some ad networks are performance-based meaning they pay for leads while other share in your revenue from the ads you display. Compare ad networks and service providers to see which give you the best return on your investment and leave your subscribers opening and clicking.
Tip 13: Email is Social
Using your opt-in mailing list to promote your social media presence seems obvious. But it can also be profitable. There are monetization options for audiences on social networks like YouTube and Instagram. Why not encourage your newsletter readers to follow you on those social networks?
Tip 14: Promote Events
If you’re the kind of person who likes to throw a huge party, you probably make sure to email all your friends. Your event can be an online chat or a launch party for a crowdfunding campaign. If you haven’t guessed yet, you can invite your opt-in subscribers.
Tip 15: Love Your Subscribers
Give back to your email subscribers by offering exclusive products or offers relevant and interesting to them. Be grateful for their attention in a way that creates money for you, and a superior experience for them.
Tip 16: Optimize for Mobile
In 2015, up to 70% of email opens happen on a mobile device. If you’re not mobile friendly you need to be, like yesterday. If you already are, then you know that cross-device compatibility is important. Make sure the monetization solutions you choose for your email list are mobile-compatible.
Tip 17: Paid Premium Subscription
If your content is of a high enough quality (and we both know it is) then you should be paid to create it. Turn a portion of your subscriber database into paying readers and offer them exclusive and worthwhile content for a modest price.
Tip 18: The Fwd Button
By creating a newsletter worth forwarding, you’re basically expanding your audience. Not only will this get you more subscribers, but also more clicks on the email content. Including ads.
Tip 19: Timing is Everything
Yeah, it’s an old cliche, but it’s true. Few people want to get an email at 3AM telling them about an interesting new product they just have to buy. Tweak the times you send out your newsletter, without waking up your audience at strange hours.
Tip 20: Keep That List Growing
The last thing you want to do is lose subscribers. Quite the opposite – you want more of them. That is why it’s important to keep a close eye on performance and analytics. It’s the best way to be sure your monetization efforts aren’t driving subscribers away.
Tip 21: Experiment and Optimize
This last tip is less of a tip and more of a general approach to online content monetization. Regardless of the platform you’re using, it’s all about finding what is right for your audience and profitable for you. Adjust your premium placement rates in your newsletter according to performance. Check different service providers and compare offers. Keep doing what works, and change what doesn’t.
Tip 22: New! Integrate video to capitalize on engagement
Video content provides great engagement metrics. Email provides high return on investment. Combine the two and you have a sure thing. According to Forrester, click-through rates increase by 200% to 300% and unsubscribers decreased by 75% when integrating videos into emails. Until recently, embedding videos into emails was a problem because of the large file sizes and bandwidth required. But that has all been resolved now, which gives you a chance to jump ahead of the curve and embed videos into your mailing list.
Monetizing Your Subscriber’s Inbox
The attention of your email subscribers is worth more money than it is making you right now. Just like your website, your newsletter is a platform where you connect with your audience and just like your website, a newsletter has monetization potential.
I’m not saying that you should turn your newsletter into the main source of revenue but diversification is key and it never hurts to have another source of income.
— AdNgin (@AdNgin1) October 12, 2015