Making the Most of Sponsorships

A while back, we explored the world of email sponsorships: the costs, the response rates, and the opportunities. Just to recap for those who don’t know, sponsorships are small text or banner ads that are embedded in emailed content. Response rates typically average less than that garnered by an email promo that is solely dedicated to one advertiser and one message; however, the cost is less as well.

Since the last time we explored sponsorships, the opportunities have increased dramatically – and new sponsorship lists are popping up every day. Some of the most obscure yet targeted online newsletter publishers and list owners have realized the excellent and steady revenue stream that sponsorship offerings can glean and are releasing new ones in droves. (Hint: Contact your favorite broker to help scout them out.)

Besides emailed newsletters, emailed discussion lists, forums, and the like present sponsorship opportunities. All offer a great way for marketers to get the word out to a highly targeted audience and at a fairly decent price, I might add.

So how do you make the most of these potential nuggets of gold? How do you capture the attention of an audience that is engaged in the surrounding content and is most likely not in search of something to buy, rent, sell, use, etc.?

Once again, it boils down to the offer and the message copy. And, of course, the quality of the list itself.

The list part is up to you and your broker, so let’s take a quick gander at the first two components.

The offer. Since we’re talking about a prospecting effort – and chances are good that many of the recipients are essentially strangers – a two-step offer will probably work best. That is, a lead-generation offer wherein your offer is built on something free, fabulous, and of high value to the list members. The goal is to then build up your own database for future email marketing.

What kinds of things can you promote to build these registrations? Offer ideas are limited only by your imagination, your budget, and your business model. In other words, remember your audience, and keep everything else in line.

Free web-based research reports (accessible only via password, of course – given to recipients after they register), newsletters, downloadable trial software, online seminars, sweepstakes entries – free ANYTHING – all can be part of this offer. Again, know thy audience and what is valuable to them.

The message. First, a word on format and specifications. Just because you have 8 lines at 70 characters per line available to you for a sponsorship does NOT mean that you need to craft copy to use it all up. On the contrary. Often (especially with sponsorships), less is more. Why? If you can get an effective message across in less words, that’s less time that the reader is distracted from what he or she is really interested in – the content of the newsletter, discussion list, etc. So catch his or her attention, but do it quickly. The less lines you use up, the more room you have for wide open spaces above and below your great message, which will also make it more aesthetically pleasing and, hence, will draw more positive attention to it.

As far as the copy goes, the mandate should be: Write tight. Remember that a sponsorship is actually more of a teaser message – after all, you can’t really compose a full-length promo that touts all of your benefits. You simply don’t have the room. So promote curiosity. If you are indeed promoting a lead-generation offer, highlight as many benefits of the offer as possible (but, again, highlight them – don’t hit readers over the head with them). And end with a strong, action-inducing close, such as “Get your FREE report valued at $99.95 NOW at…”

Last, avoid words that lengthen your copy while at the same time do absolutely nothing for it. For instance, don’t begin a sentence with “It” or “There is” or “There are”; any of these will weaken the momentum and will only serve to make your copy longer, which goes against the beauty and the grain of sponsorship advertising. Think of short, powerful action words like “discover” and “build” to start your message off on the right foot. Then hone your message from there.

Bottom line: Aim for an offer and a message that stand out amidst the rest of the content. Pique curiosity, make it short and sweet, and insert a final call to action that is hard to ignore.

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