For businesses looking to monetise their emails and newsletters, things can be a little daunting.
There’s always the fear that monetising emails and newsletters will scare away the readers you’ve worked so hard to sign up. That said, with the right monetisation process and strategy, this fear can be easily overcome while actually improving your personalised customer experience.
There are a ton of resources online around how various businesses have monetised their emails, but we’re going to break down 5 steps you can take to do this, regardless of your industry.
Let’s dive right in!
Emails that offer a simple set of (relevant) links can boost your website page views, which may help increase your web rankings, on-site advertising opportunities and subscriber conversions.
Many potential customers will sign up for a newsletter, before engaging with your brand. These can be a great opportunity to entice potential subscribers by offering a taste of the content they’ll receive once they sign up, subscribe, or buy.
Below is a great example of using links to promote traffic back to the website of the Daily Maverick, who use TouchBasePro for their emails, send only a few sentences to their audience, enticing them to click and read the full article. This audience then clicks on the article intro to read more on their website, because who wants to read an essay on email right?
Based on the reader’s subscription, they will either have unlimited articles to read or can only access those for unpaid readers (we’ll cover this shortly).
Many email newsletters or update emails are sustained through advertising, which increasingly takes the form of either visual advertising, native advertising, or sponsored content.
Arguably one of the most effective of the above is native advertising. Native adverts (and sometimes, sponsored content too) are designed to look like part of the sender of that email’s content, which helps ensure people read, or at least consider looking at this content. The size and design of this type of content range widely because its main aim is to “mimic” or blend in with other content within the email or newsletter.
The other more common email adverts include banners or even sponsored email themes. By now, everyone is familiar with banner ads, and though sometimes audiences are disengaged from this form of advertising, you can still create great impact using animated GIFS as banners, or making sure these visual adverts are relevant and appealing.
If you consistently provide quality content and information to your readers, they may be willing to pay for exclusive access. Promoting a premium site, paid package or premium subscription with exclusive content is one of the best ways to monetise your email list.
This is especially relevant to publishers, but regular businesses with an engaged email database and something to offer can also capitalise on this by sharing exclusive articles, help guides or content that only apply to VIP customers or premium subscribers.
Above is a great example from The Times, encouraging free readers to subscribe to receive exclusive content. This is referred to as “gated content” and should be used cautiously. It is generally encouraged when you have content that is valuable, when you hold an engaged audience and the resources to facilitate payment for such content, easily.
To explain as briefly as I can, being an affiliate is generally straightforward: your company gets paid commission on any sales you generate for a certain company through their content in your emails, or on your website. A popular example is, BuzzFeed which has been doing this for a few years now under a specially crafted newsletter. This newsletter is aimed at exclusively driving sales to partners like Amazon, Mac Cosmetics, and other retailers.
Affiliate links are often simple to implement, however, there is a danger in simply signing up with every affiliate you can. Your ability to select only those affiliates that share your values (just as with selling your advertising space), is crucial to the success of your affiliate marketing. If your content, values, and relevance don’t match the affiliate adverts, your plan can be doomed from the start.
It needs to be a major focus that you aim to work with niche brands that your audience will most likely purchase, as well as those that are established in the industry, which adds social proof to your email campaigns. Promoting makeup or jewellery to an audience of technology or gaming enthusiasts may not work very well. Dealing with questionable affiliate partners can be highly detrimental to you and your audience’s satisfaction. Find products and services that would be of use to your readers and place the links, content, and images strategically on your emails or blog.
There is no shame in asking for support! That is the reason crowdfunding has boomed in the past few years. Many services like Buy Me a Coffee, BackaBuddy, Patreon, Donorbox, Intertimes, and even PayPal let you set up a “digital tip jar” to earn some coin from your work. These earnings aren’t ever as great as selling advertising or affiliate spots but are a way to earn from loyal readers.
This is encouraged in smaller NPO mails and is often relied on by many non-profit entities, however, if you feel you are adding value to your audience and they have subscribed at no cost, it may be worth asking them to continue supporting the good news you share!
The key here is value and trust. Provided you have built trust with your subscribers and are adding value to their email experience with you, you will have loyal fans parting with their hard-earned money to support your business and email efforts.
There are many more ways you can turn your newsletters into cash, but this needs to be well-planned, tested and executed correctly within your organisation. Doing this the wrong way can cost you the eyes of the audience you’ve been working hard to build.
Our team of email experts advise many companies on monetising their emails. These include the Daily Maverick, Carfind, Girls & Boys Town, and many more! Get in touch with our team at email@example.com and receive expert advice in your email monetisation journey, today!