A Checklist for Monetizing Your
Email Marketing List the Right Way
We talk with a lot of list owners who are interested in monetizing their email marketing lists but aren’t sure how. They understand their email list is a valuable asset, but they don’t know how to unlock that revenue stream without damaging the value of the list.
A lot of these publishers have very sophisticated retention email programs with great content and engaged subscribers. They just don’t know how to get started with email ads or they’ve had a bad experience in the past that generated a lot of complaints and deliverability headaches.
Since we discuss this often, we thought it would be helpful to share more information on the blog. I put together this handy checklist that explains what you should know before you monetize your email list.
How do I know if my email list is ready to be monetized?
Know the answers to these questions before you even start the process of generating revenue through stand-alone email ads:
- Do I have permission to send third-party emails to my subscribers?
- Do my subscribers know what to expect?
If your subscribers don’t expect to receive email ads from you, you can run into trouble even if you have permission to send. If you’ve never sent third-party offers in the past, consider a campaign to inform subscribers of what you’ll be sending.
- Do I send high value content to my list?
Remember that people subscribed in order to get value from your content, whether that’s information, entertainment, or coupons. Make sure that you’re delivering on that value before you monetize.
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you’re ready to go. If not and you’d still like to monetize your list, make sure you know your strategy for getting all of these answers to ‘yes’ before you move forward.
How should emails ads be sent?
When you’re ready to plan your strategy, make sure that you can answer ‘yes’ to the following questions:
- Will I retain control of the list?
Any strategy that involves handing your list over to an advertiser or not having visibility into (and control over) what is sent to your list should be a ‘no go’.
- Is there a way to tightly target the ads?
The days of batch and blast email campaigns are (or should be) over. Because the inbox is a highly personal space where people interact with friends, family, and brands that they trust, it’s critical that you only send relevant, welcome emails. Make sure you know how you’ll use targeting to minimize unwanted emails.
- Can subscribers easily opt out of both my list and the advertiser’s list?
Make this process as easy as possible to prevent any spam complaints.
- Do I have a plan in place for reporting results to my advertisers?
Advertisers expect to see how their ads performed in terms of opens, clicks, and conversions.
- Do I have a team in place that can handle this process from end to end?
Monetizing your list the right way means ensuring that you have the resources necessary to sell email ad space, send emails (and more importantly deliver them to the inbox), report results and handle billing. Some of these processes may be easy to fold into existing processes at your company. Others can be challenging and time-consuming. You can manage this process through a trusted vendor or in-house, but just make sure you know how you’ll manage it.
Takeaway: Stand-alone email ads can be a strong revenue stream for your business—one that also brings relevant and welcome content to your subscribers. However, there must be an underlying plan to maintain respect for your subscribers.