Clint Schaff, senior director of marketing and communications of JamsBio, a social community designed for users to share their lives through music, has found great success branding his site via targeted ads within e-newsletters.
His go-to resource these days is PASTE Magazine, an independently published entertainment magazine. Schaff says PASTE shares a complementary editorial vision with his site based on a focus on high-quality music, substance and songcraft, and lesser-known musical acts.
PASTE produces advertising-based weekly e-newsletters that include summaries of new releases, available downloads, and other current news to a list of over 100,000 opt-in subscribers. That's a ready-and-willing "captive" audience likely interested in what Schaff has to advertise.
"Newsletters offer a different dynamic than other traditional advertising mediums we've tested in the past," Schaff reports. "Subscribers have opted in: They're interested in the content, they want the information, and they want to hear about similar offers from advertising partners like us."
If a particular edition of the PASTE newsletter focuses on a certain genre, group, or musician, it's a golden opportunity for Schaff to insert a relevant JamsBio ad that serves as a call-to-action to drive viewers to its site for additional interaction.
For example, JamsBio registered particular success advertising in a recent newsletter focused on an upcoming Bruce Springsteen release. JamsBio created an animated call-to-action banner ad that urged readers to share their stories and recollections of Springsteen.
To date, its highest-performing ad has been around the reissue of Jimmie Hendrix's Electric Ladyland album. JamsBio created an ad that encouraged people to click through to enter for a chance to win a Gibson guitar; the click-through stats for that ad were the highest it has ever received.
"Our community of users is very music-literate, and that is a key ingredient to the success of advertising campaigns run by JamsBio," says Palmer Houchins, manager of marketing and new media for PASTE Media Group.
Houchins directly attributes PASTE's results to an integrated approach with its advertisers. "We can demonstrate the direct impact of a cost-effective email advertising campaign as opposed to other online methods," said Houchins.
What makes relationships like this one reap solid advertising ROI from email newsletters? They incorporate four key marketing tactics into their campaigns: relevancy, list quality, design, and tactical landing pages.
Four Key Components to Monetizing Your E-Newsletter
Engage advertisers that offer products and services complementary to your subscribers' interests. The PASTE-JamsBio relationship is a great example of how relevancy can sharply increase a campaign's ROI: For a newsletter with content focused on music lovers, it makes sense to target advertisers selling products or services within that vertical.
Your readers appreciate the targeted advertising, as it provides additional value to newsletter content in which they've already expressed interest—and your advertisers appreciate the targeted, captive audience as it translates to higher ROI for their offering.
2. List Quality
Scrub your contact list to remove subscribers who aren't opening. Advertisers are drawn to email marketing because they can immediately calculate ROI. A scrubbed list produces higher open, click-through, and conversion rates. Quick-and-easy ROI backed by proven statistics makes advertising in your publication look far more appealing.
Don't underestimate the value of enlisting a professional designer to assist you with the development of your layout and brand. Effective e-newsletter layouts can dramatically increase response rates.
For example, make sure you are using alt tags to display text when a recipient's email client blocks images. And don't forget the preview pane. Most email readers use a preview pane when reviewing your content. Put your most important content, including important links, within the preview pane viewing area.
Most importantly, work with a designer who understands the complexities of rendering email in several different email clients (e.g., Outlook Express).
4. Mobile Landing Pages
If you're marketing to a large list, make sure you are also optimizing your landing pages for viewing on a mobile device, like the iPhone or Blackberry. Mobile viewing has become an important campaign optimizing technique as "smart phones" grow in popularity.