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E-Newsletter Not for You? Try Sponsorship

  |  August 7, 2002   |  Comments

If publishing your own e-newsletter sounds onerous, try piggybacking on someone else’s success.

It’s probably my fault. I’ve scared you off by detailing what’s involved. You’ve decided that publishing an e-newsletter sounds like too much of a headache.

This column is for you.

Ever noticed the Tiffany and Co. ad on page three of the New York Times? It runs virtually every day in the upper right-hand corner.

Sure, the high-end jewelry and design company understands the demographics of the Times’ readership (affluent, educated, etc.) and knows there’s an overlap with its customer base. But there’s more to it than that.

By associating itself with the Times brand, Tiffany enhances its own brand. And vice versa. It doesn’t hurt the Times to have a classy advertiser with a permanent spot on one of the most highly read pages in the paper.

So how does this apply to you? By allying your product or service with high-quality editorial content, you can enhance your brand and build your credibility. If you recall E-Newsletters 101, those are two of the primary objectives of publishing a lead-generating e-newsletter.

In case you think this article is a thinly veiled attempt to get you to purchase sponsorship advertising from ClickZ, it’s not. (Not that I would dissuade you.) My aim, instead, is to offer an outside-the-box approach to newsletter sponsorship.

Define Yourself by the Company You Keep

This is the most important point to keep in mind. If you’re not going to be a publisher yourself, you want to get in bed (so to speak) with the best publisher you can find -- and afford. (More on ad rates later.)

What do I mean by "best"? It depends on your objective. You should choose an e-newsletter with a tone and style with which you feel comfortable. Your product message doesn’t necessarily have to be exactly the same as the focus of the newsletter.

In fact, a clever and offbeat vehicle might be just the thing to sell your enterprisewide security firewall solution.

Finding the Right E-Pub to Sponsor

OK, so you’re starting to think outside the box. Where are you going to find an e-newsletter that’s a little different but still serious and substantive?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to research and find e-newsletters through the search engines. Many aren’t archived on the Web; they only exist as email.

As you embark on your search, ask several dozen colleagues what e-newsletters they read and recommend. Also, ask a dozen of your top customers. Then make a judgment about which pubs are credible and well written.

Some of them may not have advertisers. Don’t let that dissuade you from calling and suggesting that you become a sponsor.

Get Involved With the Editorial

Didn’t I just reassure you that you could wash your hands of this responsibility by becoming a sponsor? Stay with me on this one.

The most effective sponsorship advertising occurs when the sponsor’s offer and messaging resonate with the newsletter’s subscribers.

Think of your relationship with the publisher as a cooperative alliance. She wants you to be happy with the return on your sponsorship dollars just as much as you do. Ask a lot of questions. Find out what the triggers or pain points are for the newsletter readers. What articles get the best response?

Craft your copy and offer accordingly. If the readers like case studies, create one as your offer.

List Size Doesn’t Matter

If it’s a list of 3,000 of the top decision makers in your niche industry, you’re in luck. Bigger is not necessarily better.

Ask about the open rate if it’s an HTML newsletter. If the list is 40,000 and the open rate is in the single digits, run the other way.

So How Much Will This Cost Me?

If you’re suggesting a sponsorship slot to an e-pub that has never sold advertising before, you can expect to pay a lower rate.

Rates for text ad sponsorships in business-to-business (B2B) publications can range from a CPM of $75 up to $300 or $400 for a one-time insertion. Rates for consumer publications can be much lower.

If you’re the sole sponsor, suggest a trial of several issues. In other words, negotiate a sponsorship package.

As for results, set your expectations clearly. If your offer is to download a white paper, your success metric should be the number of downloads, not number of click-throughs to your landing page.

Beyond that, it’s up to your sales team to turn those clicks into customers.

Look at it this way: You may not save a lot of dough becoming the anchor sponsor of a high-quality pub rather than publishing your own e-newsletter month after month. But there’s a lot less wear and tear involved.

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Debbie Weil

Debbie Weil is publisher of WordBiz Report, which focuses on the business of words online. It was awarded The Newsletter on Newsletters' Gold Award for Online Subscription Newsletter. A former newspaper reporter with an MBA and corporate marketing experience, Debbie is an expert on B2B online content and marketing at both the strategic and creative levels. She was Web content marketing manager for Network Solutions (now part of Verisign) before launching WordBiz.com.

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