At ividence, we talk to a lot of email marketers who are interested in monetizing their email list. Even though they may be from different industries and at different stages in the process, their concerns are similar: ensuring that their subscribers feel (and are!) respected and maintaining the value of their overall email program.
Often, these list owners just want a guiding hand in getting started the right way. So we put together this step-by-step process to guide you through monetizing your email list in a way that is strategic for your company and respectful of your subscribers.
1. Decide if your list is ready to be monetized.
Ask yourself four questions:
- Do I have permission to send email ads to my list?
- Do my subscribers expect email ads? (Alternatively: Do I have a plan for setting my subscribers’ expectations properly?)
- Am I sending high value content?
- My list being a great asset, am I ready to make additional revenue if I can find a way to send the right ads to each of my members?
If you can answer yes to each of these, you’re ready to get started.
2. Determine how you’ll measure the program.
What do you want to accomplish? Generating revenue from your email list is the obvious goal, but you’ll want to watch other performance indicators as well.
- Revenue vs. Time Spent – Make sure that you’re getting a good return on the time spent by your team.
- Engagement & Disengagement Rates – As a baseline, look for unsubscribe and spam complaint rates within the range you see for your own emails.
- Being upfront with subscribers – This is non-negotiable. Make it clear to subscribers who emails are coming from, what their purpose is, and how they can opt out if they no longer wish to receive them.
- Control – Any strategy that reduces your control over what is sent to your list and how often is a no go.
3. Prepare your (test) list.
The mantra of the email marketer is test, test, test. So, if you have a large email list, you’ll want to test your email ad strategy on a smaller segment.
It may seem like you want to test on a less active segment of your list. That way you minimize any irritation from the most active records, right?
Actually, no. Inactive subscribers aren’t engaging with your content, so they’re less likely to remember your brand and more likely to hit the spam button when they receive an email ad from you, damaging your reputation.
Instead, you want to go with a segment of your list that is actively opening and clicking on your emails and recently subscribed. This will help make sure that the test population recognizes your brand and that the test list is clean.
Once you have enough data in, you can evaluate the success of the program.
If the program meets the goals you set for it, now’s the time to slowly move the rest of your list into testing.
If the program isn’t meeting your goals, work with your email ad provider or your sales and deliverability teams to fix any issues before moving forward.
What’s your experience with using email ads as part of your revenue generation strategy?