Email Marketing

Tips for Selling Ads in an Email List

An email list can do more than drive traffic to a website. It can be a source of advertising revenue if it makes sense for your brand.

Factors to consider include:

  • List size. The number of engaged subscribers relative to your niche is critical for prospective advertisers.
  • Solid metrics and sending history. The most attractive lists have high open and click rates with few unsubscribes and abuse complaints.
  • Helpful content. Brands that offer helpful content to subscribers — not just products or services for sales — are attractive to advertisers.
  • Risk versus reward. Advertising could prompt unsubscribes and complaints. Knowing the annual sales value of a single email subscriber will help determine whether the ad revenue is greater than lost sales from unsubscribes.

Getting Started

Complementary brands are potential advertisers. For example, a merchant who sells camping gear could sell email ads to a recreational-vehicle rental company. The merchant’s subscribers would be a valuable audience for the rental company, which could pay the merchant to send a dedicated email or to insert a message in the merchant’s existing newsletter template.

Dedicated email example from Airbnb

A merchant who sells travel gear could consider selling a dedicated email to Airbnb, a complementary brand.

Enticing an advertiser often takes time. Moreover, an advertiser will likely discontinue the relationship if the results are low.

Email ad networks such as Atwave are a source of potential advertisers. The networks are similar to affiliate marketing platforms — both match publishers with advertisers.

Another source is programmatic middlemen-type services, such as LiveIntent. They provide a one-time tag to insert in your email template. They then dynamically insert the ads, eliminating the need to sell the space directly and to dialog with advertisers on copy, appearance, and similar.

Screenshot of a Sephora ad in a Patch email newsletter

LiveIntent dynamically inserted a Sephora into an email newsletter from Patch.

Paid Newsletters

Finally, if your site offers valuable, hard-to-find content, folks may pay for a subscription to an email newsletter. We’ve addressed this option in “How to Set Up a Paid Newsletter.”

Carolyn Nye
Carolyn Nye
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