Here at Web Publisher PRO, we often hear from digital publishers who are considering launching their own email newsletters. However, many of these publishers are nervous to take the plunge and unsure of how much they can expect to earn from email newsletters. We thought it was time to answer some of the biggest questions that digital publishers have before they embark on the process of launching email newsletters.
Broadly speaking, there are two issues that most commonly hold digital publishers back from creating weekly or monthly newsletters. One issue that’s common among publishers with subscription programs is an uncertainty about how much of their content should stay protected behind a paywall. The other issue has to do with how much effort is required before the publisher can expect to start seeing a payoff in the form of real profitability.
In this blog post, we hope to bring some clarity to these issues. We know that people are becoming more willing to pay for high-quality content online. If you are building a digital publication with a healthy base of engaged readers, and especially if many of your readers are already paying for digital subscriptions to your website, then it is definitely worth thinking about launching a weekly email newsletter.
Should publishers with paywalls launch email newsletters?
Will having an email newsletter that includes content that’s otherwise posted behind a paywall undercut your subscription sales efforts? That is a very real concern for many publishers as they look at the bottom line in how much they can expect to earn from email newsletters.
We can’t tell you which route to take or which monetization strategy to adopt, but we can tell you which options are out there:
One option for digital publishers with successful subscription programs is to (almost) exclusively send out paid-only content in their newsletters. That might mean you send an email newsletter out every weekday, but one of those emails each week is made available to non-paying email subscribers and the other emails are only send to paying subscribers.
Why send out any emails to non-paying subscribers in this paid-only model? It’s a fair question. Sending less frequent email newsletters to non-paying subscribers gives those readers a taste of what they are missing. If you prevent non-paying subscribers from receiving any newsletters whatsoever, they have no idea what they are missing out on. This tends to be a very successful approach for digital publishers who want to maximize the revenue they can earn from email newsletters.
The freemium model for email newsletters makes some content available to free subscribers, while holding back some content and making that content available only to paying subscribers. This sort of setup sweetens the deal with paying subscribers and makes them feel like they are getting valuable “extras” or “perks” for their memberships.
Unlike the paid-only model, publishers who go with the freemium model are usually sending the same emails to every subscriber, regardless of whether they have paid or non-paid subscriptions. However, many of the article links in those email newsletters send the reader to a login page where they must enter a username and password to continue reading the article. This is another example of a strategy that publishers are using to incentivize non-paying readers to subscribe by giving them a glimpse of the content they would have access to with a paid subscription.
Free for All
The final strategy we’ll talk about here is the free for all strategy. With this approach, the publisher is including complete articles in their email newsletters. The call-to-action (CTA) encouraging readers to subscribe typically comes in the form of a display ad placed at the top or bottom of the email.
Publishers who go this route are typically looking to generate revenue from display ads or sponsored content. With either of these approaches, the advertiser wants as many eyes on its ads as possible. Therefore, it makes sense to place unrestricted access on content, if this is how you plan to maximize the amount you can earn from email newsletters.
How much can I really earn from email newsletters?
Clearly, the amount that you can expect to earn from email newsletters will depend on the approach that you adopt. Some publishers find that it’s more profitable to use their email newsletters as a marketing tool designed to encourage people to sign up for paid website subscriptions. Other publishers have found that they can make more money by selling display advertising that runs directly in their email newsletters.
A few factors to consider as you look at how much you can earn from email newsletters:
- How much do subscriptions cost?
- How much can you charge potential advertisers?
- How large is your existing email database?
- What type of content do you publish?
Industry-wide, it’s not uncommon to see publishers converting between 5% and 15% of their social followers into email subscribers. As a general rule of thumb, the more engaged your followers are, the more likely they are to subscribe to your email newsletter. Although there are no guarantees that loyal followers will pay for subscriptions, you can comfortably expect that between 5% and 10% of people who sign up to receive your email newsletters will eventually convert to paying subscribers. To calculate your potential monthly revenue, just multiply that number by the amount you plan to charge.
With the recent uptick in newsletter subscription rates, some digital publishers are seeing revenue increases of 103% or more, just from email newsletters.
We know how rewarding it is to get paid for what you love, and creating an email newsletter can help you do just that. To learn more about how to increase newsletter sign ups with better forms, click here.