Email Monetization

Just like pageviews on a website, email impressions can be monetized in a number of different ways. Though most sites that collect email addresses use them primarily for non-commercial purposes, it is possible to also introduce some revenue-generating activities as well.

Email monetization is attractive to many publishers because it typically represents an opportunity to generate purely incremental revenue. In other words, revenue opportunities related to email don’t require any audience growth and won’t cannibalize existing revenue streams.

Common Email Monetization

There are several ways to generate revenue from email addresses. These include:

  • Dedicated Emails: This strategy, also known as a list rental, involves sending an email created by a third party advertiser to your subscribers.
  • Co-registration: This process involves inviting visitors to opt-in to third party newsletters and memberships after they complete their registration to your email-based product.
  • Email Banner Ads: It is possible to insert banner ads directly into emails, typically through either a direct sale of a CPC-based network. Whenever subscribers click on an email in an ad, the publisher generates revenue.
  • “Indirect” Monetization: Many sites collecting email addresses are engaged in some form of indirect monetization. This general concept refers to using email to drive other revenue streams (for example, driving traffic to your site where display ads are served or emailing promotional offers for a paid membership).

Much like with standard display ads, the easiest way to begin monetizing email is to utilize a third party network that can fill inventory immediately. However, an ideal long term strategy involves selling directly to advertisers. With more and more advertisers are now looking for creative ways to reach potential clients, email advertising options may be appealing.

If you have a media kit, update it to highlight the opportunities available to advertisers to reach your audience through email as well.

While email can represent a major monetization opportunity, there can also be some substantial risks:

  • Banned by ESP: If your emails become more commercial in nature, you will likely see unsubscribe rates and spam complaints go up (even if you meet all requirements laid out). If these rates get too high, you could be kicked off your email provider’s platform.
  • Legal Requirements: Whenever you use email to communicate with your audience, there are potential legal issues that can arise. It’s important to ensure that you comply with laws surrounding email even if you aren’t making a penny off of it; failure to offer an “unsubscribe” option can end up costing you thousands in fines.
  • Loss of Subs: If you use email already to communicate with your audience, turning on monetization will likely cause some subscribers to opt-out of your product (some folks are really turned off by even the slightest scent of commercial activity).