A new study by marketing platform LiveIntent shows that some publishers are seeing surges in revenue via online newsletters. The newsletter categories that have registered the highest bumps include shopping (103%), home and garden (55%) and business (31%).
“The data was aggregated from the performance of 2,500 publishers and brands that work with LiveIntent from early June,” according to a Mediapost report. “It was then compared to the period right before the nation went into quarantine.”
“Investing in a channel they own”
These increases are related to an uptick in email opens and ad engagement. Publisher newsletters in the shopping, home and garden, style and fashion saw over 20% increase in opens. They were followed by business categories which saw more than 15% increase.
Ad categories also reported significant increases in performance. Family and parenting lead with a 450% increase in CTR, while arts and entertainment showed a 58% growth and business – 51%.
When publishers embrace email and invest in it as a channel for consumption and monetize it, they are investing in a channel they own that performs with real people. That helps advertisers interested in solving the cross-device conundrum.Kerel Cooper, SVP, Global Marketing at LiveIntent
“One of the most important tools available to publishers”
The findings are in sync with that of other recent studies, including this year’s Reuters Institute Digital News Report. The study noted a sharp increase in the production of email newsletters in recent years, both by ‘legacy’ print and newer digital media publishers. It added that they are popular with avid news consumers (access news frequently throughout the day), as well as those who check news updates at set times everyday.
Email helps build habit and loyalty, the Reuters report states, and is often a “critical weapon in reducing churn.”
It (email) does remain one of the most important tools available to publishers for building habit and attracting the type of customers that can help with monetisation (subscription or advertising).Reuters Institute Digital News Report, 2020
In the Liveintent blog, author Nick Bolt references a 2019 study which found that 60% of the people in the US prefer email to communicate with brands. Another study showed that newsletters yield up to a $42 to $1 return on investment.
If your business model depends on ad revenue or paid-subscription signups, email is an optimal way to monetize your inventory while enticing new subscribers to your site.Nicholas Bolt, Product Marketing Manager at LiveIntent, Inc.
“Using an attractive, modern template that immerses readers in long-form content or drives their eyes to the highest-value calls to action, can amplify your results,” suggests Bolt. He shares the example of General Mills which saw a 26% increase in revenue when using template layouts with an above-the-fold ad slot.
$3M to $13M in a year
An inspiring example of newsletter success comes from Morning Brew, a daily newsletter designed for young business professionals. According to Digiday’s Kayleigh Barber, the publisher grew it’s online audience, as well as profits ($3M in 2018 to $13M in 2019), with the help of a single email newsletter. The number of daily newsletter subscribers increased by more than 1M during the same period.
Morning Brew had 1.8M subscribers in February 2020 and crossed the 2M mark in April.
It is 100% ad-funded, but all ads are in the form of native content created by the team, and not advertisers. While the daily newsletter makes up for lion’s share of the overall revenue (89%), the publisher is adding more offerings as it transitions into a full-fledged media company. These include the newsletters Retail Brew (100k subscribers), Emerging Tech Brew (160k), and The Turnout (60k), plus a podcast, Business Casual (nearly 3M downloads in seven months).
“On the audience side, we take a full-funnel approach to growth. We believe in the power of brand, we have a robust referral program, we leverage creative content partnerships, and we take a hyper-focused approach to subscriber acquisition,” Morning Brew COO, Austin Rief, told Publishers Daily.
He added, “From an advertising perspective, we are offering our partners custom, content-first experiences on-brand for Morning Brew that bring value to our subscribers and lead to real results for our brand and agency partners. This focus has largely created long-term relationships and partnerships with our clients vs. one-off deals.”
“Bridge to the future for publishers”
In the long run, the founders intend to move away from advertising and sponsorship. Alex Lieberman, CEO, Morning Brief, told Colin Morrison from Flashes and Flames that they are examining ways of “charging our consumers directly to own a relationship with them.”
According to Morrison, that “may imply the development of some kind of concierge membership service. The Morning Brew founders see themselves as curators and educators for ambitious professionals that are willing to pay to improve their lives.”
“But Morning Brew is not magic,” adds Morrison. “It is the product of a sparky team who know their audience: “We are our readers”. They (like others) have recognised the unique ability of low-tech, low-cost email newsletters to dictate the day and workflow of readers: “The new home page” – replacing the daily paper of their parents.
“Newspapers which use daily emails simply to promote their print and digital content may be missing the point.”
“Email has replaced newspapers and from a digital perspective, it is the new homepage. It’s a smart publishing strategy. Newsletters are key to continuing relationships with readers.”Kerel Cooper, SVP, Global Marketing, LiveIntent
“As the industry continues to grapple with the ramifications of the changing nature of third-party data, email represents an owned channel for each publisher with their audiences. It is a vault of first-party relationships in an era where first-party data will rule the day,” Cooper told Publishers Daily.
“A robust email offering may very well be the bridge to the future for publishers that will have to survive in a world where third-party solutions no longer are effective,” he concluded.