How to manage e-newsletter inventory with sanity

Email newsletters are a big hit amongst publishers. They generate big ad dollars and further engage audiences. While the term “win-win situation” is both trite and cringe-worthy, it is actually the perfect way to describe them. Results can be quantified for advertisers, and for once, publishers don’t have to worry about some algorithm on Facebook.

How Publishers Typically Sell E-Newsletter Inventory

Unlike web ads, which are generally sold on a CPM, cost-per-click, or cost per engagement basis, e-newsletter units generally have a fixed price. Yes, there are publishers, who serve newsletter ads dynamically, but we are not talking about any “Movable Ink” or complex personalization territory. We’re talking about a typical e-newsletter ad sale.

Since most publishers sell e-newsletter ads as static units (i.e. inventory won’t change when opening the template), they typically have prices based on the list size and average open rate. For example, if you have 100,000 subscribers on an e-newsletter list and your average open rate is 20%, you might charge $1,000 for an ad unit based on a CPM of $50.

Now generally speaking, list sizes and open rates do not change dramatically because opt-outs tend to balance out list growth. Nevertheless, smart advertisers will often ask you for metrics and even makegoods if the open-rate and list size drop significantly.

These metrics are generally pulled a week after the email deploys, and you can find your open and click metrics from your email platform (such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, CheetahMail, etc.), lead management platform (such as Mirabel’s Marketing Manager), or audience development platform (common amongst larger publishers).

Typical e-newsletter buys

Just like print buys, most advertisers buy a handful of them, and they may be part of a bigger package with print, digital ads, and or other products (which makes billing really FUN).

If the newsletter deploys daily, an advertiser might purchase a unit for a whole week. Or, the advertiser may pick specific deployment days, such as Tuesdays and Thursdays for “x” number of weeks or months.

The $1,000,000 Question: What is the easiest way to manage e-newsletter inventory in your publishing CRM?

Since most e-newsletters have a standard template with fixed positions, you probably have a fixed number of ads. If you over-sell email ads, it’s a great problem to have, so congrats. Most publishers would rather adjust their email template than use house ads for unsold inventory.

Therefore, think of each e-newsletter just like a magazine or stand-alone product. For example, let’s say you have a newsletter called “Local Recreation”. It can be entered like a magazine title with deployment dates as issue dates.

Other benefits of making e-newsletter products

Treating e-newsletters like traditional print will mean that all of your reports will work the same way. Let’s say you want to see inventory that’s available. Just pull a production run sheet the exact same way. Or maybe you want to spot advertisers that fell off the radar. Your issue-to-issue comparison report works with newsletters too!

Want to know what else will make your life great? When you treat e-newsletters like stand-alone print products, it’s easy to convert those ad orders into neat little invoices.

In other words, instead of seeing page sizes and issue dates, you’ll see digital units and deployment days. That is seriously the only change.

Perhaps, the only time you could possibly be annoyed is if your client forces you to break out line items for a bulk multimedia contract with equal payments.

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