Counting the Ways to Love Sponsorships…

Marketing with email encompasses more than sending out completely self-contained promotional messages dedicated to your offer and your offer only. The discipline also includes “sponsorships,” text and banner ads embedded in category-specific emailed newsletters.

Can I share with you just how much I love these little ads? Let me count the ways…

First, they are incredibly cost-effective (for the most part, anyway). The CPM (cost-per-thousand) range runs between less than $20 to just under $200.

Second, they can be highly targeted, as category choices truly run the gamut. And newsletter subscribers that have opted in tend to make up a loyal and attentive audience since the content is so specific to their interests. Hence, the emails tend to garner a high level of readership.

Third, although the creative specifications and restrictions are usually quite limiting (you’ve often got as few as 25 words to get your message across), it IS possible to develop highly responsive ads within even the tightest parameters. Response rates (meaning click-throughs) can be as high as six percent or more, though the average runs closer to 0.5 to three percent. Considering the lower CPMs, even the lowest click-through rate can create an extremely profitable return on investment.

Best of all, the opportunities abound.

If you’re new to the sponsorship arena, you may want to explore the “big boys” first that is, the ad networks that represent large groups and conglomerates of online newsletter publishers.

These networks often offer excellent CPM rates. And they can make a marketer’s job easier because specs are typically set to one standard format across the network. Not to mention the fact that you can reach hundreds of thousands within your category with just one buy. (For those of you who, like me, have had to create and send a multitude of different versions of just ONE ad in order to meet the various size and format specs of different publishers… well, I don’t have to tell you how much of a timesaver having one contact point can be.)

Flycast launched its eDispatch network last year, and it has grown rapidly since. It includes over 200 emailed newsletters that publish within categories ranging from entertainment to technology to finance to news. Specific category buys start as low as $16 CPM, and even an $8 CPM is possible with a run-of-network buy. eDispatchs total number of unique email addresses was not available at the time of this writing; however, according to Flycast, the total number of monthly impressions can run well into the millions.

Advertising.com, formerly known as Teknosurf, recently purchased OakNet Publishing along with the right to represent over four million subscribers across 120-plus emailed newsletters. In addition, Advertising.com also offers sponsorships within its own proprietary email publications totaling over 1.5 million subscribers. It offers both CPM and CPC (cost-per-click) deals… with CPCs starting at $0.50. Targeting can be enhanced with Advertising.com’s demographic and psychographic data, plus marketers can even select specific newsletter titles.

PennMedia offers sponsorships within 400 newsletters totaling over 17 million subscribers. Eight categories are available, ranging from consumer guides to spirituality to sports. CPM starts at $18. Due to competitive issues, PennMedia will not disclose specific newsletter titles to advertisers.

And Topica announced last week that it just acquired International Data Group’s (IDG) TipWorld list, meaning that it has now added another 140 newsletters to its ever-growing database, which currently includes nearly ten million subscribers.

Over and above these opportunities which add up to a potential audience of well into the millions there are plenty of others offered by individual sites and publishers.

Lifeminders offers close to ten million unique names across a wide variety of highly targeted areas. Subscribers have opted in to receive emails that contain reminders of personal events (such as birthdays and anniversaries) or timely tips on subjects such as hot online shopping deals.

There’s also The Motley Fool, which offers several different newsletter sponsorships targeting investment aficionados. Its largest offering, Foolwatch, has close to a million subscribers.

Quicken.com (yes, the personal finance software) offers three newsletters (and sponsorships therein), the largest of which has over 1.5 million subscribers.

There are also plenty of shopping and affiliate-oriented sites that publish online bargain shopping-type newsletters. Sponsorship bookings within these are well-suited for e-commerce sites with special product offers. FreeClub has over 600,000 subscribers and should not be confused with either FreeShop (with 2.2 million subscribers) or ShopNow (with 270,000).

And all of the above doesn’t begin to account for the hundreds of smaller but up-and-coming pubs that can be true nuggets of gold. Find the more obscure ones by seeding yourself across a variety of the larger emailed newsletters that target your particular audience. Then take a look at the ads you see. You may just dig up a ton of new opportunities of your own.

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