Paid ads have turned into the bread and butter of marketing campaigns, especially as organic reach becomes more unattainable.
It’s almost impossible to avoid seeing paid advertising in today’s digital world. Whether you’re scrolling through your cell phone or driving, you’re bound to be faced with ads on social media, TV, billboards, paid display, radio, and more.
While that’s just a few advertising avenues you come across daily, you might be wondering how you can get your brand to stand out or add another revenue stream for your business.
Well, you might actually be sleeping on another viable advertising channel that you use daily: your email and newsletter campaigns.
Have you considered using your email channel for ads? With over 3.9 billion email users worldwide, it’s one of the most direct ways you can contact your subscribers and has the potential to turn into a massive ROI source for your brand.
If email ads haven’t crossed your mind, it’s essential to weigh your options, so you’re investing your advertising dollars into the right channel. Read on to discover what email ads are and how you can utilize them in a way that excites your audience.
What are email ads?
Email and newsletter ads are paid advertisements that are positioned throughout your email campaigns. While, technically, all emails are advertisements in themselves, email ads are “rented-out” spaces that allow other brands to place advertisements in your email campaigns. These ads allow you to generate extra revenue or form a mutually beneficial agreement with another brand.
How email ads appear in the inbox varies depending on the audience and goal, but they typically include:
• Display ads: Embedded ads that include a video, text, or static image that communicates a message through HTML code. These look similar to web display ads.
• Native ads: Immersive ads that are cohesive with the email design and content for a more seamless experience. Native ads could be only text or have a more simple design format.
• Sponsored emails or content: Brands also have the option to sponsor the email in exchange for an endorsement or to send out an email on behalf of a third-party sponsor.
What are the benefits of using email ads?
The significant benefit of email ads is the potential to bring in additional ROI for your business. If you have a sizable email subscriber list built out, other brands are going to find value in advertising to your audience. The more subscribers you have, the more value you present.
Compared to other digital channels, email marketing provides a direct and personalized connection with each of your subscribers. If you send an email, assuming you avoid the spam filter, it’ll appear in someone’s inbox and have a high chance of being opened. With an average open rate of 17.8% and a click-through rate of 2.6%, the email ad is likely to produce conversions for your partners as well.
What is the cost of email ads?
Email ads are priced by cost per impression (CPM), where you charge a price per thousand subscribers on the email list. For example, if you charge $30 CPM, you’ll be given $600 for an email ad that was sent to 20,000 subscribers. It’s important to note that this cost doesn’t account for email deliverability or bounces.
You can also charge the cost per lead (CPL). With CPL, you’re only paid when a subscriber converts into a customer. However, CPL is more prevalent within the B2B business space due to the sale’s incubation period and isn’t always as lucrative for B2C. Additionally, you can negotiate an affiliate deal if you believe your email is worth more than the fee. Affiliate deals typically involve both brands promoting each other long term.
If you’re thinking about selling ad space, it’s essential to consider the quality of your email list, email content, and what value you bring a potential advertiser. A good candidate for email ads includes:
• An engaged and loyal subscriber base
• Subscribers that are double opted in or use a preference center
• An email that receives a high open and click rate
• A clear niche and message
• Ideally more than 10,000 subscribers
How to successfully adopt email ads in your next campaign
Now that you know what email ads are, you need to consider if they’re right for your brand and how you can adopt a new advertising strategy. Whether you’re trying to bring in additional revenue or expand your audience, the right ad design can make all the difference in delivering a successful email campaign.
Before you lock a partnership down and fully jump into email ads, it’s essential to learn a few best practices to nail the design and copy.
Focus on the copy and design.
When it comes to designing an email ad or setting standards for affiliates, many people make the mistake of applying web ad design standards. However, email subscribers don’t typically focus on imagery as much as they do the text.
To fit with your email flow, it’s essential to focus on the copy instead of creating an elaborate design that will distract the subscriber. While you still need to pay attention to the color, font size, and placement, you want the ad to feel like it’s part of the email design instead of an advertisement. Within your EPS, experiment with different email newsletter templates to help figure out the proper balance.
Stay relevant with the message.
To create a user-friendly experience that your subscribers enjoy, you need to consider your audience’s likes and dislikes when it comes to content. Does your audience like reading helpful how-to tips or product updates? Coupons or featured benefits? Research past campaign’s successful open and click-through rates to get a better grasp on how you can serve your audience quality content.
You need to understand your audience’s pain points to serve relevant, personalized ads with your standard messaging. Even more, your ads should spark your subscriber’s interest enough to earn a click and a conversion for your partners. Bottom line: If your target audience is car mechanics, don’t serve an ad about kitchen appliances in your email.
Have you ever noticed the #sponsored or #ad in a social media affiliate ad on Instagram? Your email ads also need to be transparent and communicate that someone else is paying for the messaging. While many advertisers use the language “sponsored” within the email, it’s also recommended to create your ad differently from the rest of your content. Consider designing a different background color, label, or special icon, so your subscribers can easily understand what organic vs. paid content is.
In the ad below, Refinery29 states “advertisement” above each partner ad, so subscribers have a clear understanding of what content blocks are paid for.
Choose the right placement.
You don’t want to bulk up with your email with too many ads. Your subscribers have opted in to your email communications because they find value in your content and are loyal to your brand. If, all of a sudden, you start pushing salesy messaging from another business that they may not recognize, you’ll likely create confusion and distrust.
Instead, your email ads should be naturally embedded within your email. You’ll need to balance your advertising space with original content, so it feels like a seamless experience for your subscribers. If the ad is the first thing your subscribers read in your email, consider designing something less intrusive. Email ads, native or display, are typically bulky and should be used sparingly within your email design template.
Take a look at NYT’s display email ads throughout their weekly newsletter. The email ads are strategically placed at the top, middle, and end of the newsletter, so as not to take away from the long-form content subscribers look forward to.
Work with partners you believe in.
The wrong partners could undermine your credibility and make subscribers wary of your messaging. Even worse, if your subscribers purchase from your partner and the experience didn’t go well, your reputation could take a hit. As a general rule, only partner with brands you trust and those that provide value in their services or products that your subscribers will benefit from. Don’t just pick anyone who offers you a good deal; vet them out, understand their value proposition, and research their target audience. Your brand and subscribers will thank you for meeting their needs.
If you’re thinking about the next big advertising platform, you don’t have to look far. While email isn’t the hottest new trend in the marketing landscape, it’s the only platform that’s consistently performed well with all audiences and industry segments. With email, you can develop highly personalized messaging that’s delivered to the right subscribers at the right time.
Due to email’s success rate and conversion opportunities, it’s the perfect avenue for advertising. Email ads offer brands the possibility of converting thousands of engaged and targeted subscribers into loyal customers. When developing or vetting out email ads, consider the following:
• Develop the design and copy to feel natural within the email’s content
• Create relevant messaging for your target audience to take action
• Offer full transparency around what messaging is sponsored and what isn’t
• Place ads strategically alongside your content, so as not to derail from your value
• Work with partners that you trust and your subscribers will benefit from