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Tips for Selling Ads in E-mail Newsletters, Part 2

  |  August 24, 2009   |  Comments

E-mail newsletter advertising is a different animal from selling ads for print publications. Four more tips to successfully selling ads.

In my last column, I talked about how advertising can generate an additional revenue stream for your e-mail newsletter. We also talked about three keys to success for selling ads in your e-mail newsletter:

  • Embrace accountability.

  • Put thought into the ad sizes you offer.

  • Don't segregate advertising from editorial.

Today I'll cover four more tips for effectively generating sales.

Advice on Offers and Creative

I know what you're thinking: it's not my job to tell the advertiser what to offer or how the ad should look. But the more you can do to help the ads in your newsletter be effective, the more likely you are to generate repeat business.

If you currently have ads in your e-mail newsletter, you have everything you need to put together recommendations on offer and creative for your advertisers. Just look at what's performed best over the past few months and identify trends:

  • Do your readers respond well to free offers and incentives?

  • Do ads that feature statistics add credibility and get higher click-through rates?

  • Are there similarities in how your best-performing ads look?

All this insight can help your future advertisers get a better return for the dollars they spend on placement in your publication.

Even if you don't have past history to go by, providing some general best practice advice can be helpful to your advertisers. Let them know that copy should be benefit-oriented and, as much as possible, targeted to your audience. Tell them that copy messages with elements of fear, uncertainly, and doubt (FUD) can work, when used with restraint.

Let advertisers know that a lead-generation message with a free incentive, rather than direct sales copy, will generate more clicks. It will also give them the opportunity to grow their own house e-mail list (assuming the people that click through opt in) and provide many future chances to sell to this group.

Finally, look at what works for others. Forrester Research recently reported that incorporating video into e-mail messages improves click-through rates by two to three times. Also from that report: 17 percent of marketers are planning to include video in their e-mail messages in the next 12 months.

You don't need fancy technology to leverage this trend; a simple screenshot of a video with an arrow over it can be a link to a Web page where the video launches. This is a very simple way for your advertisers to include video in e-mail (assuming they have video to offer) and increase their advertising's performance.

Encourage Testing

Testing is one of e-mail's key benefits. If your list is large enough, you can split it and offer advertisers the opportunity to test two different ads against each other. This way they'll get a read on which advertisement works best for them and use it in the future. This is another way to add value to your advertisers -- and help them continue to increase the ROI (define) from ads in your publication.

Promote Multichannel Advertising

If you have a print publication, a Web site, or both in addition to your e-mail newsletter, offer special advertising packages with placements in all or some of them. Putting a message in front of people multiple times in a short period makes sense; many people need to see an advertisement three to five times before they buy.

One mistake many print ad sales representatives make is to sell the e-mail newsletter advertisement as a freebie with a print placement. This devalues your e-mail advertising and will make it harder to get people to pay for it in the future. Be sure your sales representatives aren't doing this.

Adhere to the 60-40 Rule

An old rule about advertising in e-mail newsletters is to make sure your content is 60 percent or more editorial (non-promotional) and 40 percent or less advertising (promotional). This gives the reader a reason to open the e-mail but still allows you to generate your own sales or advertising revenue.

We've all seen e-mail newsletters that flaunt this rule. They promise valuable content but deliver a heavy-handed sales pitch. After a few issues, you stop reading. Don't make this mistake.

Done properly, you can generate a nice chunk of revenue selling advertising in your e-mail newsletter. Try out these keys to success and let me know how you do.

Until next time,

Jeanne

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanne Jennings

Jeanne Jennings is a 20 year veteran of the online/email marketing industry, having started her career with CompuServe in the late 1980s. As Vice President of Global Strategic Services for Alchemy Worx, Jennings helps organizations become more effective and more profitable online. Previously Jennings ran her own email marketing consultancy with a focus on strategy; clients included AARP, Hasbro, Scholastic, Verizon and Weight Watchers International. Want to learn more? Check out her blog.

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