Diversify Your Revenue with Email

diversify revenue streams with email

With the publishing business model under pressure, publishers are searching for ways to diversify their revenue streams. In an industry where audiences and algorithms shift with equal abandon, diversification is the only way to stay ahead.

But when publishers are looking ahead at an uncertain future, it’s worth it to look back at strategies that have worked. Publishing Executive’s Special Report on Technology Adoption Strategies in Publishing found that publishers ranked email as their top growth driver but their least important objective in technology investment.

It doesn’t seem to make sense, but that’s probably no surprise if you’ve been in the email industry for a while. You know that email gets the least attention but the most results, no matter what your goals are. So naturally, when it comes to diversifying revenue, email can help with that too! If publishers put a little more focus on their email programs, that is.

Whether you generate revenue through ads or subscription revenue or other ventures, here are 4 ways to get more of that revenue with your email program.

1) Grow your audience by growing your email list.

Email is a powerful thing. It’s your direct link to reach your readers indefinitely, it allows you to reach members of your audience individually without relying on algorithms, and it’s an effective way to build those ever-important audience relationships. That’s why email forms the core of successful audience development programs.

When connecting to your audience is more important than ever, the email list is your foot in the door to start building those relationships. The more people who see your email, the more opportunities you have to monetize, no matter where you make your money. After all, email newsletters don’t just generate clicks and ad revenue for publishers anymore. They also drive conversions for publishers who pay the bills by selling paid subscriptions or hosting events.

That’s why, despite the relative lack of attention from tech buyers in the Publishing Executive survey, email list growth is a critical first step towards a successful business model. By placing capture widgets in and around their content, publishers can grow their email lists quickly and organically.

These widgets don’t have to detract from the user experience to be effective. In fact, active capture strategies allow publishers to cater to users with contextual newsletter offerings without being intrusive. PostUp’s audience development experts have found that these dynamic capture widgets are 500% more effective than static email forms. With a renewed focus on email capture, you can grow your list of potential subscribers, buyers, or attendees — and in turn, sustain your diversified business model.

2) Maximize individual engagement with multiple signups.

While many publishers pour resources into high-tech strategies that promise powerful personalization, there’s a problem. Sure, this technology is shiny and cool, but it requires mounds of data for effective targeting. The truth is, publishers just don’t have sufficient data for the vast majority of their audience.

Instead, some publishers allow readers to self-personalize by selecting which emails they want to receive. Often, this results in individual readers receiving multiple newsletters, which is better than sending them just one highly-personalized piece of content. The more newsletters a reader volunteers to receive, the more chances you have to engage with them.

You can encourage subscribers to opt into additional newsletters with newsletter cross-promotion. You can drive more opt-ins by showing off your other newsletter products in your:

  • Welcome Emails. Take advantage of this highly-engaged audience by directing them towards additional newsletters at the point when they’re most interested in your content.
  • Preference Center. Preference centers let subscribers self-select the content they receive. If you’re lucky, they might elect to receive more than one newsletter.
  • Newsletter Modules. Create a module in your newsletter template to spotlight a newsletter with related content.
  • On-site Calls-to-Action. If a user visits your site from a certain newsletter, optimize the CTAs on that page to promote a different newsletter.

Publishers may be able to increase click-through rates for individual newsletters with email newsletter personalization, but having multiple touchpoints can increase overall engagement for each member of your audience. More email newsletters mean more clicks, ad impressions, and (for premium publishers) paid subscriptions from readers who keep brushing up against your metered paywall.

3) Nurture (and retain) paid subscribers with email.

Some publishers have hesitated to go behind a paywall, fearing a loss of ad revenue from readers who don’t want to pay for their content. Even while dynamic paywalls allow publishers to maximize ad revenue and more people are paying for digital content than ever, it’s still a valid concern. Fortunately, if you’ve got their email address, you’ve got an effective way to reach out to them once those readers are ready to start paying. After all, the same studies that show increased paid subscriptions also show that more people are open to paying for content in the future.

Email may serve up clicks and earn onsite ad revenue, but where it really shines is in its ability to nurture email subscribers into paid subscribers. The New York Times has found that readers are twice as likely to become paying customers if they subscribe to a newsletter first. That’s why email is so important to a paid subscription model. For instance, 12,000 ad-supported page views at $10 CPM is the same as a single subscriber paying $10 per month for your content. If email nurtures a few of those, you can put up the wall, and it will pay for itself.

As a Hearst director of audience development found, email also plays an invaluable role in subscriber retention. Reading the paper was once a part of most people’s morning routine, and many people have replaced this with reading the news digitally. Email newsletters do the best job of replicating the daily delivery of print online, keeping readers engaged and building the reading habits that renew their subscriptions.

4) Place ads in your email.

Email isn’t just a way to distribute content or drive conversions. With in-email ads, the inbox can be a direct source of revenue itself.

When ad revenue elsewhere is drying up, it’s a good idea to consider monetizing your newsletters. Onsite programmatic ads once provided an easy source of ad revenue for publishers, but when everyone rushed to get their piece of the programmatic pie, it became a victim of its own success. More publishers placed more and more ads, causing CPMs to fall and the use of ad blockers to rise.

Email ads avoid some of these problems. In-email advertising commands higher CPMs than the typical onsite programmatic ad, plus they largely exist outside the realm of ad blockers. This makes in-email ads a great way to supplement declining ad revenue, particularly if you use your first-party data to serve hypertargeted advertising to interested segments of your list.

Publishers can serve email ads in multiple ways, whether native advertising, sponsored mailings, or even in-email programmatic ads. Email is one of the preferred content delivery methods among the most engaged readers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it too.

Want to learn more about monetizing your email? Get the Email Audience Enrichment Solution Guide to learn how you can use your first-party data to maximize the value of your audience.

Editor, PostUp PlayBook