Tips for success: Selling email newsletters to advertisers

Dresslar said it follows the clean, easy-to-read format of the newsletter, and it performs well.

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As news organizations continue to grow email subscriber lists, more opportunities emerge to drive revenue through advertising and sponsorship in newsletters. Three industry leaders on email monetization shared advice on those opportunities in a virtual webinar as part of LMA’s recent Accelerate Local How-To Series.

Direct sponsorships for niche topics

Click2Houston, a television station owned by Graham Media Group in Houston, has had success with direct sponsorships for its niche newsletters, including the Houston Sports Daily email. The newsletter is sponsored by Xfinity and has an open rate of 30%.

Stephanie Slagle, vice president and chief innovation officer at Graham Media Group, said these types of sponsorships work well for advertisers because they know they are reaching a loyal audience that cares about the content.

“We’ve got large markets with rabid fans of not only our stations, but our teams,” she said.

Increase banner ad positions in longer email formats

For advertiser demand, one of the Chicago Reader’s most successful emails is a weekly newsletter with concert listings. The email doesn’t take a lot of staff time to compile, which is a plus for the Reader’s small team.

The list is small, but it has one of the highest open rates of all of the Reader’s newsletters. It has been so successful for advertisers that the team doubled the number of ad slots in the body of the email, said Amber Nettles, senior vice president of growth and strategy.

“It’s a good example of how you can find content that works within that idea of, ‘We don’t have to spend a lot of time on this,’” she said.

Making sure advertising is native to the email product

For The Texas Tribune, email newsletters aren’t an afterthought with advertisers — they are part of every corporate sponsorship package sold directly, said Emily Dresslar, director of the Tribune’s RevLab.

Advertising in newsletters has been so successful in part because the team works to make it look and feel a part of the newsletter content. Team members conducted research recently that confirmed that readers wanted an easy-to-read format, which led them to reevaluate everything in the layout from text to ad positions.

“There were positions in our newsletters that no one knew why they were there,” Dresslar said. “They had just been there for 10 years.”

An example of a newer advertiser placement is a sponsored message, formatted in text at the bottom of the newsletter.


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