Monetization: Six Ways to Make Money with Your Mailing List

Building a mailing list serves no purpose if it does not also further your company’s financial objectives. If you run a for-profit company, your ultimate goal is to generate new revenue and get more customers through your email marketing efforts.

This Module will teach you how to sell more of your company’s products and services through email marketing and how to generate additional revenue through email advertising networks and through affiliate marketing.

Sell Your Own Products

Most companies use their mailing lists to market their own products and services. If someone comes to your website and completes an opt-in form, they have already expressed interest in your content and are probably a potential customer for your company’s products and services. Send emails that educate and inform your subscribers about your products and services regularly. Don’t assume that your subscribers already know about what you have to offer, because not everyone pays equal attention to all of the emails you send, and new subscribers are being added to your mailing list regularly.

If you do have products or services that you can sell to your mailing list, you are probably better off promoting your own products than another company’s products, even those you would receive an affiliate commission for promoting. When you sell your own products and services, you get to keep 100% of the customer’s payment. When you are promoting someone else’s product, you may receive as little as 10% of the revenue generated by a sale.

If you don’t have any products or services that you can sell to your audience, consider making a course that teaches something to your subscribers or helps them achieve a specific goal. While the product creation and launch process is beyond the scope of this masterclass, read Online Business From Scratch (fromscratchbook.com), for advice on how to create and market your first product. You can also read Jeff Walker’s book, Launch, for additional guidance on the process of launching your first product.

Here are some strategies that you can use to generate sales for your company’s product or service.

Use Your Autoresponder Series

Sprinkle information about your company’s products and services in your autoresponder series. Subscribers are often most engaged with your mailing list soon after they first subscribe, so don’t wait more than a week or two before sending them sales and marketing material.

Run a Sale

Periodically, consider offering a time-limited discount on one of your company’s products or services to generate additional sales. Offer a 20- 30% discount on whatever you are promoting, but only make that discount available for a fixed period of time, such as three, five, or seven days. Send multiple emails during the sale that extol the features and benefits of your company’s products and services.

On the last day of the sale, send your subscribers an email reminding them of the deal and making it clear the sale is ending that night. By having a hard deadline for your sale, potential customers who are on the fence will be more likely to take action to avoid missing the sale.

Offer Special Bonuses

Another way to add urgency to the purchasing process is offering a special bonus to customers that purchase by a specific date. It can be another of your products or a small add-on product that you create to serve specifically as a bonus.

A special bonus campaign will operate very similar to a sale campaign, because subscribers will be getting something they wouldn’t otherwise normally receive and have to take action by a specific date and time.

Relaunch Existing Products

If you have a product that you launched more than a year ago, consider adding some new features and benefits and launching it to your mailing list as a “new and improved” version of your product. The new version of your product will provide a great excuse to execute an email marketing campaign as if you were launching a new product, and subscribers will take a second look at a product they might have otherwise ignored.

Make sure you give all of your existing customers a free upgrade to the new version to avoid any hard feelings. You can make a relaunch campaign more effective by offering a sale or a special bonus during the launch period to your subscribers.

Group Products Together

If your company offers complimentary products and services, consider creating a campaign where customers can buy two products at once for a single price. You should offer a slight discount for the combined product offering, and consider adding a bonus that’s only available to people who purchase both products in a package.

Create New Products

If your existing products and services aren’t getting the sales traction with your mailing list that they once were, you can always create a new product. When I was at USGolfTV, we regularly launched new premium video training courses so that we would have fresh products and content to promote to our audience. When you have a new product, you can create buzz with a pre-launch marketing campaign and generate a level of interest that you otherwise might not be able to when marketing an existing product.

At MarketBeat, we use our mailing list to sell subscription information services to our subscriber base. Specifically, we sell our premium daily newsletter called MarketBeat Daily Premium and a suite of investment research tools called MarketBeat All Access.

Through our daily newsletter, our autoresponder series, and broadcast emails that we send to our mailing list, we are able to generate more than $500,000 per year in recurring annual revenue from the subscription products we sell. We also regularly launch new products, relaunch existing products, and offer time-limited discounts and bonuses for customers that buy during campaigns.

Promote Third-Party Products and Services as an Affiliate

There are thousands of companies that will pay you commissions for any sales that you generate on their behalf, an arrangement known in the online business world as affiliate marketing. Promoting other companies’ products and services to your mailing list can be an extremely effective way to generate revenue if you can find one that is a great match for your audience.

Even if your company produces its own products and services, you should still consider promoting other companies. You can only talk about your products so much before your audience gets sick of hearing about them.

Finding Products to Promote

Finding products and services to promote as an affiliate is an incredibly straightforward process. There are several large advertising networks that focus exclusively on creating affiliate relationships between advertisers and publishers. These networks will handle any necessary paperwork, provide banners and other creative tools to use on your website, serve as an intermediary in the relationship, and make sure you get paid for your efforts.

Affiliate networks also make it very easy to find products and services to promote. They will list advertisers by category and show which advertisers other publishers are currently having the most success with.

Commission Junction (cj.com) is perhaps the largest affiliate advertising network with thousands of different advertisers available to promote. Keep in mind that you will have the most success promoting products closely related to the content that you write about. If you had a website about investing, you would primarily want to promote investing-related services like stock brokerages and stock research tools. You wouldn’t get good results promoting unrelated services like web hosting and domain name registration services.

Here is a list of some of the larger affiliate advertising networks:

  • Amazon Associates (affiliate-program.amazon.com) 
  • ClickBank (clickbank.com)
  • Commission Junction (cj.com)
  • eBay Partner Network (ebaypartnernetwork.com) 
  • Flex Offers (flexoffers.com)
  • Rakuten Marketing (rakutenmarketing.com/affiliate)
  • ShareASale (shareasale.com)
  • VigLink (viglink.com)

If you are overwhelmed by the sheer number of advertisers that list their products on affiliate networks, you can simplify the process by looking at what products and services your competitors and other similar websites are promoting. If several other websites are all promoting a specific advertiser and they have been for several months, there’s a good chance they are making good money promoting them.

To identify which network a particular advertiser is using, simply do a web search for the name of the advertiser followed by the word “affiliate program,” and the sign-up link will appear more often than not.

How Does an Affiliate Marketing Email Actually Work?

After you have found an advertiser that you want to promote and have signed up for their affiliate program through an advertising network, you will be given hyperlinks to use that will track any sales you generate. They may also provide an image tag that serves as a tracking pixel to include in your email.

You will write a sales and marketing email to your audience as you normally would for your company’s products and services. Then use the hyperlink they provided you as the hyperlink in your call-to-action so that sales are properly tracked. If they provided a tracking pixel, place it in your HTML at the bottom of your email, so the number of times the offer was viewed can be properly tracked by the affiliate program.

How Much Can I Make Through Affiliate Marketing?

With affiliate marketing, payments are made based on the actual sales that you generate. The amount of money you can make through affiliate marketing depends on a number of factors, including the size of your list, the relevance of the product or service to your list, and the effectiveness of the marketing copy that you use to write a product. If you have a small list and are ineffectively promoting a product that’s not relevant to your list, you probably won’t make anything through affiliate marketing.

If you have a larger list of highly-engaged subscribers who trust your recommendations and you can promote a product or service that’s very relevant to your audience, you can make tens of thousands of dollars per month. If you have a list of a few thousand subscribers, you will probably earn $100-$200 per month through affiliate marketing for the first several months. Your revenue will steadily increase over time as your list grows and as you identify products and services to promote that are a good match for your list.

What Best Practices Should I Follow as an Affiliate?

There are several best practices that you should follow when promoting products and services to your audience as an affiliate:

Be Transparent

You should always disclose to your subscribers if you are receiving a commission for promoting a product or service for honesty, transparency, and even legal reasons. In the United States, the FTC requires that you disclose any payment that you receive for endorsing a product or service. You can read the FTC’s endorsement guidelines at 1.usa.gov/1FRMynQ.

Promotion Equals Endorsement

If you are promoting a product as an affiliate, you are personally endorsing that product as something your subscribers should use. If you wouldn’t personally use a product or service, don’t promote it to your mailing list. Your subscribers will lose trust in you if you promote low- quality products and are only concerned with the affiliate commissions you generate.

Don’t Over-Promote One Product

You will see diminishing returns after you continue to promote the same product over time. Rotate the products and services that you promote to avoid overexposing any one advertiser to your mailing list.

Include a Bonus

To ensure a subscriber signs up for something through your affiliate link, create a bonus product that’s only available to those who sign up through your affiliate link. You can use one of your existing products or create an educational piece of content to serve as your bonus. Have subscribers forward you the welcome email or the receipt that they get from the advertiser in exchange for the bonus product you create.

Follow Program Rules

Each affiliate advertiser will have their own set of program rules. They may place limitations on the language that you use and the ways that you promote their product or service. Take the time to read the rules set by each advertiser to avoid having your relationship terminated through inadvertently breaking one of their program rules.

Pat Flynn (smartpassiveincome.com) is a great example of someone who does affiliate marketing properly through email, his website, and his podcast. He has established himself as an online business expert and recommends tools, products, and services to his audience that can help them build their online businesses. He states that he only promotes products that he can personally recommend and is generally transparent when he receives an affiliate commission for promoting something.

He has built such a large audience, and his affiliate marketing is so effective that the commissions he generates through his promotions have become far larger than the actual revenue he makes from his other online businesses. It’s not uncommon for Flynn to generate between $50,000 and $100,000 each month through his affiliate marketing efforts.

Rent Your Mailing List

If you have grown your mailing list to more than 25,000 subscribers, advertisers may be interested in paying you to send an email to your mailing list on their behalf on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis. If your mailing list is smaller than 25,000 subscribers, your list may not be large enough to attract the interest of advertisers yet. Let’s say you have a mailing list of 30,000 subscribers, and an advertiser agrees to pay $40.00 CPM to email your list. They would pay you a total of $1,200 to send an email promoting their product or service. Renting your list to advertisers can be very profitable if you have built a large mailing list.

Finding Advertisers to Rent Your List

The biggest challenge with renting out your list is finding advertisers. Unless you are already established as a reputable mailing list owner with advertisers in your industry or are working with a reputable advertising agency that sells dedicated emails, you may have trouble letting advertisers know your list exists and is worth renting. There are disreputable publishers that try to sell mailings to low-quality, stolen, or scrapped mailing lists, so to avoid trouble advertisers primarily want to work with larger publishers that have built a good reputation.

If you are just getting started renting out your mailing list, your best bet is to find an advertising agency that works with mailing lists in your industry. You will be able to get a lot more list rentals if you can get a reputable agency to endorse and promote your mailing list. While an agency may take a 30%-50% commission on anything they sell, a good agency will make you far more than they cost you. Their sales team will be able to get you in front of advertisers that normally wouldn’t talk to you and will even make deals on your behalf.

At MarketBeat, we currently work with a digital advertising agency out of Chicago called Investing Media Solutions. Investing Media Solutions sells newsletter sponsorships and dedicated emails through our mailing list to their advertisers in exchange for a percentage of each sale. They have been able to sell placements in our newsletter to advertisers that we could simply never make deals with directly, because they have existing relationships with some of the largest financial advertisers in the country.

Investing Media Solutions handles all of the sales and billing work. MarketBeat just has to place the ads and collect checks at the end of each month. We generate more than $1 million in additional revenue each year from the email ad placements that Investing Media Solutions sells on our behalf.

We have had a great experience working with a digital advertising agency and believe it’s definitely the way to go if you can find one of high quality and you don’t want to do ad sales yourself.

The other option is to virtually pound the pavement and try to find advertisers by approaching them directly. You can identify advertisers by looking for them on your competitors’ websites and mailing lists.

If you are running Google AdSense ads on your website, you can see which advertisers are frequently showing up on your website and can approach them directly. You will need to put together a media kit which will highlight the size and demographic nature of your audience and will contain a list of various types of advertisements an advertiser can purchase. Approaching advertisers directly can be a lot of work but may be an effective way to generate list rental deals if you are a natural seller.

The Process of Renting Your List

When you make an agreement with an advertiser to rent your mailing list, there are several steps involved. You and the advertiser will agree to send an email to a set number of subscribers at a specific date and time.

Several days before the email is scheduled to be sent, they will send you a copy of the email. You will then send a test email to the addresses they provide and will approve the message after they make sure everything looks right and the links are working properly. On the agreed upon day and time, you will send the email to your list.

A few days after the email has been sent, the advertiser will generally request performance information about the send, such as total sends, total deliveries, total opens, and total clicks. You should provide that information to them in a timely manner. At the end of the month, you or your advertising agency will invoice them, and they will mail you a check 30 days later.

Run Co-Registration Advertising Units

In the list-building module of this masterclass, we discussed co-registration advertising from the perspective of an advertiser. As a mailing list owner that collects organic opt-ins from your website, you can also generate revenue by running a co-registration advertising unit on the “thank you” page that subscribers see after signing up for your mailing list.

After the user signs up for your mailing list, they will be presented with a list of additional offers they can also choose to opt in to. If a new subscriber selects any of the offers listed, you’ll receive a small commission from the advertiser, and the subscriber’s name and email address will automatically be passed on to the advertiser.

Co-registration advertising units can be wildly profitable if you receive a sizable number of opt-ins each month. On a normal page of your website, a display advertisement from Google AdSense or another network might yield between $1.00 and $10.00 for every one thousand people that view the ad. A co-registration advertising unit can make anywhere from $250.00 to $1,250.00 for every thousand views on your “thank you” page. Users that have just opted into your mailing list are extremely likely to engage with an advertisement, because they have already demonstrated they are willing to take action by signing up for your mailing list.

The amount of money you make from co-registration advertising will vary depending on the niche of your mailing list and the number of people that sign up for your email list on your website every month. Advertising networks that offer co-registration ads will often provide an estimate of what they believe your website can make for every new subscriber. For lower-value and general-interest mailing lists, you might be able to make an average of $0.25 for every new subscriber that sees your co-registration advertising unit. For some specific niches, like finance and investing, publishers make between $0.50 and $1.25 for every subscriber that sees their co-registration advertising unit.

To calculate how much money a co-registration advertising unit could make your business in a given month, simply multiply the number of website opt-ins you get each month by the estimated amount of revenue you can make per view with your co-registration advertising unit.

While adding display ads to your website from a network like Google AdSense is a straightforward process, getting started with a company that offers co-registration advertising can be more involved. There are only a handful of advertising companies that offer co-registration advertising units, and you generally can’t sign up for them by filling out a form on a website like you can with some networks. 

Typically, you will need to contact a number of co-registration advertising companies and provide them information about your mailing list and the demographics of your subscribers. They will give you an estimate of what they think you can make per impression with your mailing list and will typically want you to sign a 12-month agreement to run their unit.

Placing ad code on your website for a co-registration unit is also a bit more involved than putting up a display ad, because you have to pass the subscriber’s information back to the network through your ad tag. You can find a list of co-registration advertising companies in the list-building module of this masterclass.

If you aren’t collecting many opt-ins per month and co-registration advertising companies aren’t interested in you, you can also monetize your “thank you” page with a display advertising unit from Google AdSense or another display advertising company. Your “thank you” page should be a relatively empty page with little more than a thank you message and the display ad centered on your page. While a “thank you” page with a display ad unit won’t perform quite as well as a co-registration advertising unit, you will find that the ad unit on your “thank you” page can earn ten to fifteen times more than display ads on other pages.

At MarketBeat, we work with four different co-registration advertising companies to run co-registration advertising units on our “thank you” pages. We also place co-registration ads on interstitial pages in front of special reports that we promote to our mailing list in order to generate additional ad revenue from these units. Through the networks we work with, we are able to generate more than $100,000 in revenue each month from the tens of thousands of monthly organic opt-ins that we attract.

Run Banner Ads in Your Newsletter

If you regularly publish a newsletter to your mailing list, there are advertising networks that will pay you to insert banner advertisements in your newsletter similar to those that might appear on your website. These ads are either sold on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) basis. With these advertising networks, you will be given an HTML snippet to include in your newsletter. They will then sell ad placements in your newsletter to their network.

Here are some advertising networks that work with newsletter banner ads:

Remember to keep a healthy balance between content and ads in your newsletter. The amount of educational and informative content should take up significantly more space than the ads. A good rule of thumb is to place an ad at the top of your newsletter and at the bottom of your newsletter, leaving the rest of the room for non-advertising content. If you have too many ads in your newsletter, subscribers will be less likely to engage with your content in the future.

At MarketBeat, we use a combination of text ads and banner ads in our daily newsletter. We work with an advertising network that sells text-based, cost-per-click advertisements in our newsletter to a number of different financial advertisers. The ads match the look and feel of the rest of our newsletter and are randomly rotated on a daily basis.

Drive Traffic to Your Website

If you have a website with a lot of content, chances are you are already running display advertisements from networks like Google AdSense, OpenX, Exponential, Taboola, and others. Whenever visitors come to your website and view and click on ads, you generate revenue—so the more visitors, the more money.

Consider using your newsletter and other emails that you send as a traffic generation strategy for your website. If you can send your subscribers back to your website over and over again, they will likely view and click on more ads than they would otherwise.

Wrap-Up

While there are only a handful of different ways to monetize your mailing list, there are dozens of variations and twists on the six methods listed in this module. There are any number of ways to promote your own products and promote other companies’ products as an affiliate to your list. Several co-registration advertising networks are available that you can run on your website, and a number of ways exist to generate revenue by including advertisements in your email content.

To get ideas for specific strategies to implement the six monetization methods listed in this module, learn from other mailing list owners that are already successfully monetizing their lists. Tim Bourquin, founder of AfterOffers.com, interviewed 42 different mailing list owners to see how they monetize their mailing lists in an epic blog post titled “42 Blogging Specialists Explain How to Monetize Email Newsletters and Turn Autoresponder Messages into Profit.”

Action Steps

  • Run a special bonus or sale campaign to promote your company’s products to your mailing list.
  • Find two or three products that you can promote to your mailing list as an affiliate.
  • Consider placing a co-registration advertising unit on your “thank you” page.
  • Try to identify an advertising network that can place banners in your newsletter and help you rent your mailing list.

Recommendation: The Best Email Marketing Tools

You must choose the right email marketing tool if you are really serious about email marketing. There are many autoresponders available, so comparing them can be quite challenging.

Many online marketers use ActiveCampaign as an autoresponder to build their campaigns.

My online business depends on ActiveCampaign, which I have used for many years.

ActiveCampaign was founded in 2003. Businesses can connect with customers with its affordable email and marketing automation software.

Today, it offers a powerful email marketing platform and CRM platform with a history of more than a decade, so business owners can easily control email marketing.

My ActiveCampaign review is very comprehensive. Before deciding to use it, you may want to read it.

WordPress users looking for a cheaper email marketing tool may want to consider Groundhogg. Using Groundhogg will be more technical. 

With Groundhogg, you can manage your CRM, Email, and Marketing Automation directly in the WordPress dashboard. You have complete control over everything.

When it comes to CRM and Email Marketing, most people are forced to use expensive SaaS platforms, so Groundhogg is here to change this. I recommend reading my Groundhogg review to determine if it is for you.

Along with a powerful email automation tool, I found a tool that allows you to send videos via email. With only one click, you can insert videos into your clients’ emails for massive traffic, conversions, and sales. This is not a GIF, but a video.

Email Videos Pro is said to increase engagement by over ten times and profitability by over ten times, according to the developers. Check out my Email Videos Pro review to see it is suitable for you.

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