Diversify Your Revenue 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 September 2017 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.
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 products and 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, smart 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.
Rare made a push for multiple signups by incorporating email capture, preference centers, and newsletter cross-promotion into their email program. Their PostUp-built contextual capture widgets offered newsletters based on what content the reader was viewing, and each newsletter promoted other newsletters in their email arsenal. As a result, 52% of their email audience now receives more than one newsletter.
Publishers may be able to increase click-through rates with email newsletter personalization (as the Austin-American Statesman did), but having multiple touchpoints can increase overall engagement for each member of your audience. More email newsletters mean more ads displayed, more chances to sell e-commerce products, and more opportunities to show readers how fun you are so they come out to your events!
3) Nurture (and retain) paid subscribers with email.
Some publishers have hesitated to go behind the paywall, fearing a loss of ad revenue from readers who don’t want to pay for their content. While more people are paying for premium 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 an increased number of people who 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, and 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? Download our Monetization Solution Guide to learn how you can stop feeling the revenue squeeze and diversify publisher revenue through your email program.
Editor, PostUp PlayBook