Type in "monetize blog" in Google. How many search results do you think you'll see?
Need a hint? Think BIG.
Over nineteen million pages will appear. NINETEEN MILLION!
It's obviously a popular and saturated topic. In this blog post, we're going to take a different slant and discuss how to monetize your newsletters. It's a subject worth exploring as a supplemental income stream to your site and it can be a motivating factor to start building an email list (something all marketers should be doing!).
1. Demand attention with your subject line
Protip: Spend as much time (or more) devising a subject line than writing your newsletter copy. It's the most critical component of a newsletter because it is what determines whether or not the reader will click on the email to continue reading. The best subject lines are concise, interesting and leave you wanting additional information. Mailchimp recently conducted a study where they analyzed the open rates for over 200 million emails. In it they found interesting statistics such as the words to avoid, the proper character length, how personalization affects open rate and they even compiled examples of good and bad subject lines to demonstrate best practices. Take a look at both articles.
2. Use a crisp and clean design
An obvious tip is to customize your newsletter to match the look and feel of your brand. A common misstep are too many graphics and not enough white space. Don't feel pressured to cram as much text and visuals into the newsletter as possible. The feeling your reader will have is comparable to walking into a messy room. Aim for simplicity, link to the respective articles you discuss and place your call to actions above the fold (more on this later).
3. Provide value with your content
Put yourself in your readers shoes and think about what they want to learn from you. What assets do you have to provide that they would find useful or helpful? Is there a breaking news story that's related to your field? Is there a current trend you can piggyback off? (Regator is a great resource for finding hot topics by the way). Do you have tips to share on a topic? Or can you write a comprehensive guide with tutorials on how to perform an action (much like this one). Quora is another great site to browse through questions people have on numerous topics. A lot of them would make informative blog posts or articles.
When you think in terms of what you could provide readers instead of what they could provide you - that's when you bring value into the equation. It's the same line of thinking to apply when you're promoting a white paper, eBook or guide. "What are the main takeaways I can share that my audience will find noteworthy and that will provide enough of a teaser to pique their interest in downloading it?" One approach is to discuss what you've learned from it. Your readers subscribe to you because they find you relatable. Your opinion and feedback is valuable to them and they want to hear what you think, whether it's stories or lessons learned.
4. Determine the placement of your ads and /or resources
The most worthwhile tip is to make the advertisment or resource blend into the newsletter using the same format as the other posts. That is, if the pictures are lined up to the right, the resource should be as well. If the articles are mentioned in paragraph form, so should the ad. Everything, down to the title, should mimic the rest of the copy. How-To Geek does this fairly well in his newsletter seen below:
One option is to start the newsletter with the most eye-catching article (that's related to the subject line) and add the resource in the same style right below. Resources in between posts also perform well as shown below:
Automatic placement of resources in newsletter is a feature of our RSS To Email tool. The key is to refrain from turning the newsletter into one big advertisement. Think of the content first, and only the promotional material that brings value and is related to the rest of the copy.
5. Write compelling and persuasive call to actions
Composing an intriguing call to action (CTA) is a science in itself. Too often, it is thrown around without care or thought. CTA's should answer the question, "what's in it for me?" It should be presented above the fold and once you've gained your readers interest. In a newsletter, common CTA's are "Read more", "Continue" and "Click here."
In monetizing newsletters with free resources, we recommend devising a sentence before the CTA explaining the benefits of what of an ad or product to motivate readers to act. For resources, test how "Download this free guide" as a call to action works for you. Hubspot has a great article on how to write call to action copy that gets visitors clicking as well as best practices. Give it a read. You can also view an assortment of Download buttons like the one seen below on this blog.
6. Determine the best frequency and day to send your newsletters
In this final and painless step, determine how often you'll be sending your newsletters and the day/time they will be sent. Be mindful not to send too many emails. Or if you want to send frequent mailings, provide the reader with information on what to expect and an easy way to unsubscribe.
When to schedule mailings is an important factor as well. Mondays and Fridays are the least ideal days. This is because everyone is catching up from the weekend on Mondays and they can't wait to leave on Fridays. Tuesdays to Thursdays are optimal. In terms of what time to schedule them for, aim for early mornings before people check their inbox or after lunch. Test both results and use the day and time that performs best.
Monetizing newsletters requires less time as monetizing a site and it can yield more revenue with the appropriate email list. Do you have other tips on how you maximize your newsletter revenue?