E-Newsletters: A Smart Choice Now

One of the best ways to spend your email marketing dollars right now is to place a sponsorship text ad in a targeted e-newsletter.

There is plenty of inventory, the CPM (cost per thousand) is much less than for a permission email list, and you can find some significant discounts.

For example, rates have been slashed by 35 percent for some of The Industry Standard’s e-newsletters. That’s quite a savings when you consider that the top insertion spot in the Daily News, which goes to more than 128,000 subscribers, is $10,500. (Rather than using CPM, some B2B publishers charge a flat insertion fee.)

At the other end of the spectrum, Dr. Ralph Wilson, publisher of the information-packed marketing site WilsonWeb, is selling a two-line ad for $150 in his e-newsletter Web Marketing Today, which goes to more than 100,000 subscribers. Rates for an eight-line text ad in the same e-newsletter start at $50 CPM for the top sponsorship position. That’s a one-time insertion fee of about $5,000.

ClickZ has recently reduced rates as well. For instance, a text ad for placement in both the EmailMarketer Executive Summary and in ClickZ Weekly costs $850. This works out to about a $47 CPM.

The bottom line is that a lot of e-newsletter ad space is going begging right now. You ought to be able to negotiate. For a list of publishers offering B2B-focused e-newsletters, see my recent column on acquiring names.

Now let’s get down to business. You’ve snagged a great deal on sponsorship ad placement. You’ve placed your insertion orders (top, middle, or bottom), and you’re ready to go.

Before you delegate the task of writing these eight lines of copy to a junior colleague — or set aside just a few minutes to write them yourself — think again.

This is a challenging copywriting assignment. I put it somewhere between penning a haiku and composing a sonnet.

OK, I’m exaggerating. But Internet marketing guru Larry Chase reports that he spent three weeks writing and rewriting a text ad that he ran recently in eMarketer’s eMail Marketing Weekly newsletter.

I’m going to use Larry’s ad to point out some best practices and to help you meet this copywriting challenge.

Here is his eight-line ad. I have omitted special formatting, such as centering or spacing:

For Frank Feedback on Your Site – Cut to the Chase…
Take the Larry Chase Check-Up by Phone.
3 taped hours in two sessions with Larry Chase,
publisher of popular Web Digest For Marketers newsletter
& author of Essential Business Tactics f/t Net.
Satisfaction Guaranteed
Visit http://wdfm.com/checkup.html
or mailto:ChaseCheckUp@wdfm.com for details.

A Headline That Grabs

Just as a successful email marketing message has a compelling subject heading, a text ad needs a headline to hook you. Chase said he chose this one — “For Frank Feedback” — because he is targeting a small-business audience looking for critical input on how they can improve their Web sites to close more sales, for example. (An all-caps style is not necessary.)

Context

Key to writing a click-friendly ad is understanding the mindset of both the total subscriber audience as well as your target readers within this group. You’ve got to craft a message whose tone and style are appropriate for both.

In this case, Larry probably figures that everyone who’s reading eMarketer’s newsletter is somewhat knowledgeable about email marketing. And a subset of these readers are savvy enough to know that email marketing is more successful when it resonates with the look and feel, as well as the content, of a Web site.

Specs

Most text ad specifications allow for eight lines of copy, each 60 to 65 characters wide. (Note: You get eight lines including spaces.) So there’s no room for elaborate technospeak. Be straightforward and succinct. Don’t worry too much about perfect grammar. With fewer lines of copy, you can also use white space effectively.

Include Specifics

Even in such a tight space, you should include enough specifics to explain your offer and establish your credibility. Larry does both by saying “3 taped hours in two sessions” and reminding us that he is a successful e-newsletter publisher as well as a book author.

It’s also important, he says, to reassure your readers; hence his phrase “Satisfaction Guaranteed.”

Say Just Enough

The point is that a sponsorship text ad is “an ad for an ad.” You don’t need to say much — only enough to prompt a click. As you recall, the objective in most B2B email marketing is not to make a sale but to get your prospect’s attention.

Larry calls his approach to ad copy a “consultative sell.” For a considered purchase, he says, “I think it’s an unrealistic expectation for a six- to eight-line ad to sell anybody on anything.”

Note the two-word kicker at the end: “for details.” It’s both a teaser and a heads-up that he will tell you lots more after you click or email him. (Offering two contact methods is a good idea.)

Landing Page

You knew I’d get to this. As with all email marketing, your landing page is crucial to the success of your campaign. Your copy has to flow seamlessly from your text ad to your site. Same voice, same message, but lots more information. You need to fill in all the gaps — and then some.

Larry has clearly spent a lot of time working on his landing page. It’s more than 700 words long, which is almost the length of a ClickZ column. This is where he educates his target audience about what he can do for them — all the while politely and gently trying to convert browsers into buyers.

Resources

Wilson includes useful information on how to write text ads on his ad-rates page. In addition, an article in MarketingSherpa’s MarketingtoWebMarketers e-newsletter offers some good tips.

Related reading

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