How to Monetize your Email List with Ads
When we talk about email marketing, we typically consider it as:
- A way to collect leads and work your sales funnel
- A way to earn money with premium subscriptions
However, there’s also another thing you can do with your newsletters: monetize it with ads.
Today, in this post, we’re going to tell you how to successfully monetize your email list with ads and when you should do it.
Ways to monetize your email list (and things to avoid)
There are different ways to monetize your email list:
“Renting” your email list or writing sponsored emails
Although selling your list creates spam and is completely unacceptable, renting your email list might sound like a different story. Renting occurs when another brand pays you to send a message on their behalf to your subscriber base.
Nevertheless, it’s not a super recommended way to monetize your email list since you will still be sending unsolicited emails and risk creating spam.
Premium subscriptions are very similar to what Patreon and Substack, as well as other creator companies, offer. You give your readers special content in exchange for a premium subscription.
This is a super direct way to monetize your emails and it’s truly one of the best. However, we’ll talk below about why it might not be for you.
The more classic approach, though, is including ads in your emails. These ads can be banner ads, button or image ads, or even text ads.
Typically, the brand buying the ad crafts this content. But that doesn’t leave you with any control: you still can participate in decisions and choose what type of ad you want.
Let’s see which are the most popular types of ads:
- Native ads. The most recommended ads are native ads. These ads match the form and function of the platform it appears in, in this case, your newsletter.
- Sponsorship of a “Presented by [brand]”. Another type of popular ad is the “Presented by…” type. Here, the sponsor places its name alongside your brand, so readers can’t miss it when they open the email, regardless of their device size. This ad doesn’t focus so much on clicks but it rather seeks to influence the behavior of the reader down the road.
- Finally, there’s also banners, which are similar to the display ads you see all over the Internet. They are easy to create and insert. However, they are also the least desirable, since most readers don’t respond positively to them.
You can work directly with advertisers or use an ad network that will match you with the right advertisers for your audience.
Why you should use ads in your emails
Email marketing is usually the process of building an email list and sending newsletters with the ultimate goal of getting them interested in your products or services. It’s monetization in an indirect way because the act itself of sending emails won’t earn you any money.
Whereas this strategy is great for ecommerce stores that need to convince potential customers to buy their products, it’s not so useful for publishers or content creators in general.
Especially when they are just starting, they will probably not have a solid reader base that will be willing to give them money.
If this is where you stand, don’t worry. You don’t need to spend time and effort working for free until you gain an audience that will buy premium subscriptions. You can already start earning money with a small audience thanks to ads.
Moreover, collecting first-party data decreases your dependence on third-party cookies, which is always good news.
Tips on how to work with ads
When working with ads, it’s important they aren’t annoying. That’s why the ads in your emails need to be relevant for your audience. If they are, they won’t bother them, and maybe they will even receive some clicks.
Ads are useful regardless of the age of your audience. Both baby boomers and Gen Zers tend to click on them.
So basically, once you understand your audience, you should totally incorporate ads in your emails!
Here are some things to consider for that:
- Having a standard HTML template. Monetizing your emails should be quick and easy! Don’t start each time from scratch, but rather use a standard template.
- Responsive design. Your ads, as well as your email, should look good no matter which device your reader uses to open your newsletter.
- Keep optimizing. Don’t forget to keep testing your email campaigns to make sure they perform as well as possible. Use reports to see what’s working and adjust accordingly.
How to monetize your email list with ads
Finally, let’s talk about the ways in which you can monetize your email list with ads.
Using Google Ad Manager
If you have direct connections with advertisers, you can also use Google Ad Manager to serve native ads in your emails.
Maybe you’ve already used the Ad Manager for your website. In that case, you’re familiar with creating orders and line items for each ad transaction.
But you also need to build tags for your email HTML template, and that’s where things can get a bit complicated for those who never used GAM. Basically, you have to create the native ad, ad unit, order and line item, and later generate the tag for the ad unit and place it in your newsletter.
The process of using Google Ad Manager is way easier if you work with your development team.
Contact ad companies
A traditional way to monetize your email list with ads is networking with companies. However, this is a lot of work.
You have to explain the size of your list and see if that’s appealing to the advertiser, as well as negotiate contracts. Then you need to do all the reporting and communicate back to the partner how it performed and do an invoice.
Yep, it’s a lot.
Email monetization service providers
Some companies like Jeeng, GoldLasso and others help you monetize your emails when you don’t have direct connections with advertisers. These providers will bring the demand for your email ad inventory and help you with the technical implementations.
You, on the other hand, will need to meet their eligible criteria, which usually is a minimum number of emails opened and open-rate. They will do most of the groundwork and you’ll simply have to place the tags into your emails.
Typically, they work with algorithms that match relevant advertisements to each subscriber based on their known behavior and demographic data. That way, you deliver ads that are personalized to their interests and that drive action.
You can customize where ads appear and choose which ad sizes fit your site best.
Finally, an excellent way to monetize your email list is using beehiiv, a newsletter platform.
beehiiv is building an ad network for newsletters, so creators can build ads into their newsletters effortlessly. They want to take ad share and market share away from Facebook and Google!
We already mentioned in other posts that beehiiv lets you monetize your emails with premium subscriptions. However, for those who don’t offer premium subscriptions for whatever reason, they’ll also soon give you the chance to monetize via ads.
All the data that beehiiv collects is packaged and given to you, so you also have a better sense of who your audience is and shape content creation decisions accordingly.
Different ads get inserted into every newsletter that goes out to every individual person based on their profile.
Their ads are modern: they have images, GIFs and text that fit natively into the newsletter style.
beehiiv is growing fast. However, the more email writers join, the quicker they will start offering ad placement on your emails.
Monetizing your email list with ads can be done via multiple ways.
A classic and familiar tool for many is Google Ad Manager but it has its difficulties.
That’s why, beehiiv seems to be the best option, since it really simplifies the process for email writers.
They are still working on their ad network but it all points out it will soon be ready so I recommend staying updated. Moreover, they also have other ways to monetize your email, so while you wait for ads, you might as well start building your newsletter there.
Have you started monetizing your email list with ads?
How did you do it?
Tell us in the comments!