“Out with the old, in with the new.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before as something that means replacing something old and clunky, like a ‘90s-era personal computer, with something new and shiny, like a sleek MacBook Pro.
But new doesn’t always mean better. Case in point: Email.
Email was one of the first forms of online communication – it existed way before blogs, social media, and other tools that are used by today’s marketers. But for many businesses, email marketing is still the most effective method of growing a brand that sticks.
According to HubSpot Research, email newsletters rank 2nd as the format most preferred by global audiences when receiving content from brands they like. It even outranked social media posts and blog articles by a pretty significant margin.
And if you think this only goes for B2B businesses, think again. Even teenagers who probably don’t miss a day without social media content, consider email a “fact of everyday life”.
But while they’re a great way to build your brand and nurture your relationship with your target audience, email newsletters are often underrated as a profit-generating tool.
Even though the ROI of email marketing may not be as clear-cut like other marketing platforms, the statistics above should be enough reason why you should consider optimizing your newsletters to maximize revenue.
Here are a few examples on how you can generate profit from your email newsletter:
There’s a reason so many marketers don’t even attempt to sell anything in their newsletters. Unlike social media, email is personal space. Sending newsletters to the wrong person at the wrong time may lead to the wrong conclusion and the loss of a potential customer.
Here’s the thing: you don’t necessarily sell anything when giving value in your newsletter, but you’re already making money indirectly from the results of your email marketing campaign. For instance, there’s no direct and immediate profit from each person who opens the email (you’re not sure whether they’ll be a customer or not).
But Paul Jarvis emphasizes that in order for you to make money from your mailing list, you need to have people that click on your links, and the way to do that is by building TRUST and providing value on a regular basis.
Once you build this trust with your target audience, then you will have earned their “permission” to offer them products and services that they might like. It will feel natural, not spammy.
Here are some ways you can make money from your email newsletter indirectly:
Promote your own brand
Receiving a sales email from a company without a solid brand doesn’t compel you to do anything. Imagine meeting a random stranger on the road who asks you to buy his homemade meals, which may be tasty, but do you really wanna take your chance?
That’s why using your email newsletter as a way to build awareness of your brand should be one of your priorities. It’s a long-term strategy that allows you to capitalize your brand later on.
Promoting your brand doesn’t have to mean promoting one of your products (which would make you money directly). Instead you can tell your brand’s story, or give potential customers a taste of what they can expect from you.
Who would you rather buy your meals from, the random stranger or Snap Kitchen? Source
Increase website traffic
If you’re just starting to build your brand, one of the best ways you can provide value to your audience is to create content that they will find useful, something that they can reference in the future and even share with their friends.
For example, a business that manufactures eco-friendly consumer products can create a resource post or “ultimate guide” for switching to a zero-waste lifestyle, then promote it through their email newsletter.
Here’s another example by survey software Typeform:
It might be the case that your customers are almost ready to make a purchase, but they decided to hold off. You can capitalize on this by customizing your newsletter to include a link to their abandoned cart which they can order right away.
This can be an indirect way to make money because: they can either click on the link and place the order, or they can scroll down to view the rest of your newsletter, which contains your content (value).
In this example, shopping app Dote uses a bit of wordplay
to “guilt” the reader into buying their shirt. Source
To make retargeting a part of an effective strategy, you’ll need to invest in a powerful email marketing software that allows you to set triggers, i.e., when a customer abandons a cart, and then send a personalized email to increase your chances of netting a sale.
Once you’ve established a connection and gained the trust of your readers, you’re ready to shift gears and apply more direct tactics to generating profit. Or what social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk calls the “right hook”–which is content that aims to sell.
Of course, you can only do this after giving a lot of “jab, jab, jab”, which is Gary’s metaphor for value that engages your audience. When you think you’ve already landed a few “jabs”, here are some ways you can use your email newsletter to directly generate profit:
Sell ad placements
When you have already cultivated a large volume of email subscribers you can start selling ad placements on your email newsletter.
Be cautious, though, as the success of this tactic relies heavily on the format of the ad. If it’s placed in your newsletter in a way that distracts* the user experience, then it makes your emails less effective as a means of engaging your audience.
One way to make ad placements more effective is to only pick brands that are relevant to your own. This way your emails stay on topic, and makes for more natural reading.
Offer a paid subscription
If you’re knowledgeable in your niche, you can capitalize on your expertise by offering paid subscriptions for your premium content.
This is an effective method if you’re already churning out free content that your audiences have come to associate with quality. You have a track record for producing great content, thus making your readers more likely to pay for even better stuff.
Death to Stock Photo promotes their paid membership
through a simple GIF and text call-to-action. Source
Include sponsored content
The Internet is a huge place, and there’s a good chance another business has a target market that overlaps with yours. In those cases, offering to include sponsored content is a great way to earn some dough, while also bringing added value to your audience. Win-win!
Of course, just like with ad placements, you have to make sure that the content you’re adding will be of interest to your audience. The more it blends naturally to your newsletter, the more likely it is that your readers will find it interesting.
Morning Brew, a newsletter that condenses the latest global news for investors into fun-sized bites, regularly includes sponsored content in their emails.
In the example below you’ll see that it’s clearly labelled as such, but it feels like a natural part of the newsletter as it is written with the same humor and personality as the rest of the email.
Example of a sponsored content from Morning Brew. Source
Promote affiliate links
If you have an active email list but don’t have your own product to promote (yet), you can still earn a few bucks by promoting affiliate products and services–just make sure to keep it relevant to your brand or niche for the sake of your target audience.
Email might be old, but it’s clear that newsletters continue to be a consistent choice for businesses who want to generate profit for their businesses.
Keep in mind that each of these tactics have different effectiveness rates depending on your niche, so try implementing 1-3 methods at first to see what works for your brand.
Kimberly Maceda is a Content Writer for ActiveTrail. ActiveTrail is a leading provider of professional-grade email marketing and automation software for growing businesses. She writes for some top online marketing sites and blogging advice on email marketing and marketing automation.