Looking back, email hasn’t quite been the top choice as far as advertising goes. As such, email advertising presents a fresh new path to tread for publishers who deal with all sorts of problems. From fighting to keep up with new ad formats and technology, to their over-reliance on social media to expand audience reach, publishers are now discovering email advertising as a viable solution for their troubles.
The numbers are there: email has a 4X higher median ROI than social media or paid search. What makes email advertising appealing to many publishers is the fact it doesn’t eat into existing revenue streams and actually supports core business activities. It might not provide advertising revenue primarily but it sure does drive long-term value from the customer, as well as provide more interesting, dynamic, and relevant content that leads to higher engagement overall.
Unlike the web and other mediums, email advertising doesn’t suffer from the same ad fatigue levels. Still, that doesn’t mean you should go head-first – that’s not how it works. Here are some examples of how email advertising can be done the right way.
Balance out the ad and non-ad content
To make the most of your emails (in other words: monetize them), displaying an ad or two is always a good idea. Why? Because advertisers are just waiting to work with you, even if you don’t realize it quite yet.
As a publisher, you have a direct link to a specific audience. Your niche is the same as that of an advertiser who would love nothing more than to reach your audience. And the best thing about it is that you don’t have to cut off a sizeable piece of your email to accommodate a flashy ad that screams “look at me!”. You can place ads in an unobtrusive way that adds value rather than interrupting the user experience. In other words you can use native advertising for your email advertising efforts.
See how the ad seamlessly fits into the Kitch Daily’s newsletter above without being intrusive? The design works in everyone’s favor. You should tread lightly so that ad placement doesn’t affect content engagement negatively. In this regard, publishers have the option to partner with a platform that can help them find a perfect advertiser in order to create more value for subscribers which will eventually pay off.
This means customizing email advertising to fit all case uses: the type, number, and placement of ads. Maybe you like what native advertising brings to the table. Maybe you prefer to stick with the standard display sizes. The idea is to choose adverts that are as interesting and valuable as the content. We can’t tell you what the ideal ad to non-ad content ratio is because some publishers look to focus on the content and use email advertising as a supplement to it while others make advertising their primary goal. However, we can tell you this: test every aspect of your ads to specifically optimize for metrics that matter to you. Providing a suboptimal experience to your subscribers is a sure way to lose them.
Avoid being too spammy or direct
The subscriber is the most important asset a publisher has. Ads, regardless of their form and size, should always reflect what the subscriber is most interested in.
In that respect, publishers need to embrace platforms that are committed to the cost-per-click model where ads are displayed only when it has proven to have received clicks. It’s about being respectful of your subscribers. Advertising should revolve around the content and not the other way around. That means different adverts tailored for different newsletters and audience segments. An example below shows how ads can add value to The New Yorker provides suggestions and recommendations without forcing it:
Image credit: GetResponse
Let’s put it this way: content with more clicks allows a continuous flow of feedback on how content resonates with the audience. By measuring those all-important metrics like click-through rate, deliverability, and unsubscribe rate, you are making sure the ad content is firmly in line with the rest of the newsletter. Simply find advertisers that bring tangible value from those who randomly chase readers and maintain your reputation as a credible publisher.
Relevance is crucial in email advertising
As the often-quoted Spider-Man phrase says: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Your responsibility here is not as exciting as fighting crime but arguably equally important in its respective manner: to be relevant at all times. Fortunately, technology has advanced far enough for you to choose what type of ads and advertisers you want, as well as which categories make the most (or little) sense. Then, you can further filter by keywords, titles, and even images.
Email is innately cross-device: no matter what that device is, it works flawlessly. Hence, real-time factors such as the location, time of open, and the device itself play an important role in delivering the right ad to the right person at the right time. In terms of relevant content, individual users’ prior click behavior is at the center, leading to more revenue and success for publishers. The process is automated as an algorithm recommends content based on the click history and, thanks to machine learning, continuously learns and improves based on fresh clicks.
You might have noticed that the second image in this text is credited to GetResponse. See the ad on the upper right? That’s relevancy based on click history at its finest.
Additionally, different ads are shown each time a user views the email, making each impression count monetization-wise and tailored based on the user’s interest and intent. Therefore, instead of being a one-trick pony, ad content is constantly relevant and adding value.
Email advertising is a bonafide option for every publisher because ads are always relevant with the right platform. This is especially beneficial for content-oriented newsletters where ads seemingly blend in with content through native advertising.
With email, advertising it is specifically tailored to a unique user, allowing content to be equally specific to the recipient. In the world of online advertising, that’s as good as it gets.