June 13, 2011

Increase Revenue by Increasing the Length of Editorial E-newsletters

By Stephen Laliberte

A few weeks ago I attended the ABM Spring conference in Austin, TX.  The theme was marketing services, but the real buzz was online revenue.  Much to everyone’s relief, revenue from print advertising has stabilized and is rising by small percentages. Both revenue and demand for online continue to grow by double-digit percentages. 

In many of my conversations with publishers I discovered a common theme and question: How can I get more online inventory? When advertising demand increases in the print world, you simply print more pages. The print “Ad impressions” are a function of delivered circulation. Inventory is your circulation multiplied by the number of subscribers.  Circulation turns slowly and publishers make monthly decisions on the size of the book. Inventory is easy to manage.

The conventional wisdom regarding online inventory is that it's a function of web page views.  Most publishers and web masters believe this is largely influenced by bringing traffic to the site by SEO and PPC advertising—a common misconception.

For B2B brands that have a strong commitment to their branded e-newsletter, the largest source of webpage views comes from readers who originate from their e-newsletter.  The branded e-newsletter is the daily or weekly update that contains news, features, blog posts, and events. It is sent out on a regular schedule to a circulation of registered readers.

Your branded e-newsletter has all the same attributes of your print publication. It is sent on a regular basis to a circulation and you control the size. It also carries ads. The inventory of the ads in the e-newsletter is the circulation times the frequency times the number of ads.

Let’s do the math on a couple of examples. Imagine we have a daily e-newsletter that is sent to 100,000 recipients.  Assume the design of the e-newsletter has a featured article and several additional links. There is a top and a bottom banner ad (see figure at right).

The following are the calculations to derive the number of ad impressions.


Short E-newsletter
Circulation 100,000
Daily deliveries in one month 22
Number of ad spots 2
Total ad impressions in one month 4,400,000

Now consider a longer e-newsletter functioning similar to the architecture of a print publication.  In print, there is a standard rule for a healthy publication, which is 50% advertising to 50% editorial is a measure of good health.    So let’s consider a design that implements this same ad to editorial relationship that we would typically use in print.

As you can see, there are twice as many ads in this e-newsletter.  There is also a well at the bottom for sponsored links.  As you can imagine this impacts the math by doubling the monthly impressions.


Longer E-newsletter
Circulation 100,000
Daily deliveries in one month 22
Number of ad spots 4
Total ad impressions in one month 8,800,000

How does this help when advertisers are only thinking website impressions?

One tactic to immediately harvest these additional impressions is to bundle e-newsletter impressions with website impressions in a package.  This is also a very easy way to offer your advertisers very large impression numbers.

In a given month, you may only have 2 million impressions on your website.  But your e-newsletter can easily reach 8 or 10 million.  By creating ad bundles that include X impressions from the website and Y from the e-newsletter, you can increase the total size of your offering.

Advertisers will agree to this offer, however, they may fight for the top spot.  A method to manage this request is to designate how many top spots the advertiser will receive in a single month.  The premium package may receive ten, while the mid package receives seven and the low package receives three.  The rest of the placements are rotated throughout the e-newsletter.

Length Increases Web Page Views

The next advantage of a long e-newsletter is that it includes more links to the website.   More links to the website produces more clicks back to the website.  This will increase your average monthly website impressions.

Adding a White Paper and Web Seminar Section Will Increase Leads

Placing a lead generation section at the bottom of the e-newsletter will increase clicks to those pages and will increase the number of leads.  You can also inform your lead generation advertisers that you will promote the asset with hundreds of thousands of impressions.  Readers will quickly recognize that this ad section exists in every issue and will rely on using it when they are ready to sign up for their next level of product research or education.

This technique will reduce pressure on promotional mailings.  You will find that as this technique matures, you will use fewer and fewer individual promotional mailings to fill your lead generation quotas.  This will decrease the delivery erosion of your promotional lists.

In conclusion, making your regular e-newsletter longer may not take much additional effort.  If you add standard sections and include some of the same content on multiple issues you will not need to create that much new content.  This simple change will gain you more inventory and more website page views.