There are many ways to monetize content. You can sell ads on your site, promote affiliate products, or use email monetization with programmatic native ads.

Of all those things, although we can see ads in more and more newsletters, monetizing emails with ads is still the strategy publishers tend to focus on the least.

And that’s not because email monetization is a fresh move.

There was a perception that email is “old school,” maybe past its heyday. And didn’t Mark Zuckerburg say “email is dead” like 10 years ago?

But recently email has taken its seat back at the table of core marketing strategies and as a core revenue stream for publishers.

Even millennials love email – 73% of millennials prefer for business communications to come through email.

And 59% of consumers say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions.

Consumers like the control they have over email as a messaging channel as well. It’s easy to unsubscribe, and many publishers offer their subscribers a way to choose how often they get their emails.

Email newsletters as a communication channel give us the option to subscribe and unsubscribe whenever we want.

Email newsletters give us the option to subscribe and unsubscribe whenever we want.

Email also doesn’t have the tracking issues so many advertisers struggle with now. For example, the changes from Apple’s iOS 14 have hit Facebook advertisers hard.

And once advertisers lose access to third-party cookies, they will have even less information to work with.

Email is exempt from all those problems.

So email is still very much alive in 2021 and is quietly becoming a major if not the major revenue stream for publishers and companies.

We’ve been seeing this for a while. Email advertising spend from U.S. advertisers has been climbing steadily for years since 2014, and exceeded 350 million dollars in 2019.

In this article, we’ll cover why email monetization is a must-have for publishers in 2021.

We’ll also give you the information you need to start thinking about how to monetize your email list.

Here are some of the key points we’ll cover:

What is Email Monetization?

Anytime you generate revenue from your email list, that’s email monetization.

So monetizing your email list would include:

  • Product or service sales made through your emails, including any affiliate sales.
  • Subscription revenue if you sell subscriptions to your email newsletter or your publication.
  • List rental income (if you rent your list).
  • Ad revenue income from selling ads in your email newsletter.

How Email Monetization Fits into an Overall Monetization Strategy for Publishers

Email newsletters deliver content. That’s their primary goal, and they’re very effective at it.

That’s why 79% of B2C companies and 87% of B2B companies used email to distribute their content in 2020.

They can distribute advertisers’ content, too.

If your primary business model is selling goods, you’re probably already using email messages to sell more of those goods.

On the other hand, if you’re selling services, you may be using your newsletter to educate your prospects about your services or to sell them directly.

For publishers, emails are a way to expand the reach of their content or to sell paid subscriptions.

But email newsletters can also be another medium for ads, exactly like publishers’ websites or print publications.

The Advantages of Programmatic Native Advertising in Email Newsletters

The biggest publishers already have a native ads program for their print publications or for their websites. Generally, these native ads are labeled as “sponsored content.”

Furthermore, these ads blend seamlessly into the editorial content.

As a publisher, you get paid to publish them, sure – but they are less jarring to readers than a random display ad.

All those things can be done with native ads in email newsletters, too.

Your email list monetization will get kicked up a notch again when you add in the power of programmatic advertising.

The AI-driven algorithms that serve up programmatic ads can match each reader’s individual interests. So different readers will see different ads based on their online behaviors and preferences.

That means more relevant, targeted ads for your subscribers and much less work for you. That time efficiency can be especially attractive for publishers who need to maintain the leanest staff they can.

Programmatic native ads let you put a piece of code into the template of your newsletter and then step back as the ad revenue rolls in. They are an ideal way to monetize an email list.

Programmatic native advertising also allows publishers to strengthen their lists. It gives them additional content, for starters, and that content complements the editorial content in the email.

Being able to add extra content can also give publishers the nudge they need to send out newsletters more often, which keep their subscribers engaged.

How to Set Up Email Newsletters for Optimal Ad Performance

With all those benefits to email newsletter monetization, and using native programmatic ads specifically, you may want to start planning how to add this revenue stream to your business.

This means it’s time to talk about yield optimization.

Yield optimization (also called yield management) is the balance between the price, availability, and demand for your newsletter ad inventory.

The goal of yield optimization is to sell all available ad inventory at the best profit for you.

Factors like how you price different ad placements and which advertisers you’ll work with can affect your newsletter’s yield optimization.

Most successful publishers carefully balance between editorial content and paid ads as they consider the yield optimization for their newsletters.

They want to earn money from their newsletters, but still want to put their subscribers first.

So they’ll use their campaigns’ analytics data to decide what the right number of ads for their subscribers is, and which ad placements work best.

For example, the top screen of any newsletter is usually viewed the most.

So most publishers allocate one large ad placement right at the top of their newsletters.

A publisher may also decide to work with only one advertiser at a time, so each issue of their newsletter has a certain level of exclusivity for the advertiser, thus allowing the publisher to charge a little bit more.

Or the publisher can choose to work with a programmatic email monetization platform, which, based on artificial intelligence, can select the right ad for the right audience. The latter would be the quicker and easier version for every publisher, working as a set-and-forget process.

The Last Step to Monetizing Your Email Newsletters

Once you’re sure that email monetization with programmatic native ads is a smart strategy for you, the last thing to do is to pick which email monetization platform to use.