Email Ads: Definition, Examples, How to Start

Whether you're a newsletter creator or a brand looking to get featured, email ads can very profitable.

But what are they exactly? How do they work? And how do you start?

Let's find out.

What are email ads?

Email ads are the paid promotions, content or advertisements that sponsors ask newsletters to include in their issues. Sometimes the information is supplied by the sponsor but the creator writes the copy to fit the newsletter's style and tone of voice. At other times, the sponsor supplies a complete ad.

You've probably noticed that more and more independent creators include a small amount of email advertising in their newsletters. That's because email ads can be a win for all parties - sponsor, creator and readers.

So we've put together a few tips to help you get started.

How does everyone win with email ads?

The newsletter writer earns money

With a small but dedicated audience, ad income may be enough to cover the costs of writing and sending emails.

However, creators of popular newsletters with tens of thousands of subscribers can earn substantial monthly sums if their newsletter is part of the right brands' email campaigns. (By "right brand," I mean one that matches your values and wants to target their email campaigns to an audience precisely like yours.)

The sponsoring brand gets guaranteed exposure to its target audience

Advertisers don't have to guess if this is the right audience for their marketing campaigns. They can see information about the audience, subscriber numbers and likely open rates in a newsletter's media or advertising kit.

The kit may even include testimonials from other advertisers about their success rates. While the creator can't guarantee that every subscriber will open every email or read every ad, they usually have information about open rates and click-through rates over a substantial time.

Getting in front of their target audience can make email ads very cost-effective for a sponsor.

Woman advertising in email newsletters

The reader has access to products and promotional campaigns that may benefit them

Savvy newsletter creators carefully align with brands whose products and services will suit their audience's needs or wants. So, those email ads are more likely to be helpful, rather than annoying, to their readers.

I subscribe to a ton of digital newsletters, many of which include email advertising. I'm happy with that, so long as the ads include relevant content and don't disrupt my reading experience. And I often opt into newsletters or investigate the products advertised in my favorite publications.

Seven email advertising examples

Custom Display Ads

Custom display ads are like google display ads; they’re an image that can include text - like the one in this blog post. They're usually found in the top half of the newsletter, where readers can spot them immediately.

Display ads from O'Dwyer's newsletter

Sponsored content is integrated into the newsletter as an article, story, or feature. Its content and design align with the newsletter's style and tone even though it's promoting the advertiser's product, service, or brand.

ClickFunnels sponsored email content example
An excerpt of sponsored content from the Smart Passive Income 'Unstuck' newsletter

Native Ads

Native ads mimic the newsletter's overall look and feel. They match the visual style, format, and tone of the newsletter to provide a more integrated and less intrusive advertising experience. They are usually cheaper to run than sponsored content or display ads, and are placed further down the page. Readers must read more than half the email to see them.

Email native ad example
For The Interested ad copy looks and feels exactly like every other section in the newsletter.

Classified Ads

These email ads are short text-based ads inserted into the content in the bottom half of the email. They include links but no images.

Classified email ads example
Classifieds from the Earbuds Podcast Collective newsletter

These have a dedicated section within the newsletter and often highlight sponsored news, updates, or announcements from the advertiser. Having their own section allows the sponsors to put their spin on the content while leveraging the newsletter's credibility and reach.

Sponsored product or news briefs example
News Brief found in SEO for Journalism
  1. Advertisers can collaborate with newsletters to conduct surveys or polls targeted at their audience. This approach allows them to gather valuable insights while also gaining exposure and generating brand awareness.
  2. Sponsored Giveaways or Contests: This involves partnering with newsletters to run giveaways or contests exclusively for their subscribers. Advertisers offer prizes or rewards to participants, leveraging the newsletter's audience and engagement to promote their brand.
Email sponsored giveaway example
Freelancer Magazine partnered with the Atomicon event in 2023. Leading up to the event, several issues of The Dunker featured 'Atomicon' sponsored content including giveaways, links to buy tickets and competitions. 


Advertorials are advertisements designed to resemble editorial content. They are written in a similar style as the newsletter's articles and provide informative or educational content while promoting the advertiser's products or services. The idea is similar to inserting advertorials in magazines, newspapers and the segments you see on television sales channels.

How do I start email advertising?

Tips for creators

You put hours into writing or finding content for your email subscribers.


I mean, why do you write your newsletter? What are your goals?

Are you planning to:

  • Grow an audience or customers for your product or service?
  • Be recognized as an industry expert or thought leader?
  • Build trust and credibility?
  • Use it directly for income generation?

If you want to make money directly from email newsletters, email advertising is probably already on your mind. But sponsorships can also be a sign of respect from other brands and your peers. So there's certainly a place for them, even if monetizing your newsletter isn't your primary reason for writing it.

Newsletter writer

You want to find and engage subscribers, keep your audience's trust, and continue to provide valuable resources to keep your newsletter going from strength to strength. That may include partnering with brands and creators who match your audience, business, ideals and style.

How? Here are some do's and don'ts.


Claim your newsletter on Reletter.

Take the time to fill out our short 'claim your newsletter' form (it's free to get started.) We may already have you in our database, but claiming your newsletter ensures we have the most relevant and up-to-date details and links. Advertisers and sponsors search Reletter for newsletters that match their brands' target audience all the time. Ensure we have you listed so the perfect partner doesn't pass you by.

List your publication on newsletter marketplaces.

Reletter is not a marketplace; it's a comprehensive newsletter database (currently, we list Substack and LinkedIn publications.) Marketplaces are websites where creators can list their own newsletter as being open to potential advertisers and sponsors. (You can read more about the difference between Reletter and Marketplaces here.)

Make a webpage (aka landing page) dedicated to providing info and a media kit.

Take the hassle out of your potential sponsor's search by providing a link to one webpage with all the necessary details. All your listings should send enquirers to that page.

Email sponsorship webpage
The book-an-ad section in the Substack Newsletter 'WTF is SEO' is one example of a comprehensive sponsorship information webpage. 

Decide what ad campaigns will suit your newsletter.

Think carefully about the types of ads you want to run. For example, if you run a curated newsletter with short sentences leading to links, you may feel that a large, custom display ad would look out of place. In that case, native ads or classifieds might be better suited to your style.

On the other hand, a custom display ad or specific segments dedicated to sponsored content or news briefs won't be out of place in a deep-dive essay-style newsletter because subscribers are used to reading longer-form content in your emails.

Decide on a pricing structure.

Email ad pricing depends on the value you offer your advertisers. Factors include your subscriber numbers, open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates and audience demographics. (Check out our post on email newsletter advertising rates for more info.)

Liaise with the advertiser until you are both happy with the content.

Keep the lines of communication flowing so the ad content is appropriate and likely to resonate with your readers.


Don't accept any advertisers just because it's money in the bank.

Email advertising works best when ads are tailored to a target audience. So, advertise products and services that will genuinely help your email subscribers. Don't stretch customer loyalty by having too many irrelevant ads; you risk seeing your open rates plummet and unsubscribe rates soar.

Newsletter reader buying a product mentioned in an email ad

Don't sell yourself short.

New writers tend to undervalue their worth to advertisers, so do some research to decide on a pricing structure.

  • Compare your subscriber numbers, open rates and demographics to those of other newsletters in your niche and see what newsletters with similar numbers are charging.
  • Take your audience value into account. A highly niche audience of superfans is worth more to a brand that sells in that niche than a general audience is.
  • Understand why you want income from email ads and how much per issue you need. Then decide how many ads you'll take per issue and do the math to see how much to charge.

Don't overwhelm your newsletter content with too many ads.

Newsletters are one of the few places where people are not bombarded with ads. Placing a few well-chosen ads is more effective than risking annoying or frustrating readers by presenting issues with more ads than content.

Tips for advertisers

Newsletter ads are part of a marketing campaign to leverage a writer's existing email list. But to be truly effective, the newsletter's audience should match your brand's target audience or customer.


Use Reletter to find and contact newsletters that are in your niche. Reletter's Contacts include relevant links, including author contacts and social media, so you know exactly where to send emails or messages.

Intelligent Automation newsletter contacts

Know your goals.

Newsletter ads are most successful when they are designed to meet a specific goal. For example:

  • Gain leads
  • Attract new customers or subscribers
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Announce a new product to an interested audience

Negotiate if the price seems out of your budget.

While larger newsletters can afford to stick to a fixed price, newer or smaller newsletter owners may be open to negotiation if it leads to a good partnership with a business that can benefit their audience.

Create killer content.

Write compelling ad campaigns by highlighting a problem and showing how you'll solve it. Tug on readers' emotions and focus on the benefits of your product or service. In other words, don't list what it does, show the effects of the purchase/subscription etc.

Josh Spector email subject line examples
Check out this tweet by Josh Spector demonstrating draft and final newsletter ad headlines.

Include a call to action.

Ensure people can easily subscribe, buy or learn more straight from your ad. Avoid using generic CTAs like "click here" or "buy now." Instead, show potential customers what they'll get and what makes you the best.

Email ad call-to-action examples
Here's an example of how to make an ordinary call to action more compelling - courtesy of copywriting expert Ben Rose's newsletter "La Vie Ben Rose."

Test different newsletters and ad placements to see which is most effective for your marketing needs.

Experiment with advertising in different newsletters and test various ad placements within the email. Testing helps you assess the effectiveness of different channels and positions to optimize ad performance and improve future campaigns.

You can learn more about split testing and other tests from this helpful Semrush article.

Stick to the newsletter's ad guidelines

Many publications have a set buying process for email advertising and will show ad format guidelines in their advertising kits.

Example of ad guidelines for the Superhuman AI newsletter
Example of ad guidelines for the Superhuman AI newsletter


Don't rely solely on a single newsletter for your ad campaigns.

Instead, diversify by exploring multiple newsletters to reach more audiences in your niche or industry. Search Reletter to find Substack and LinkedIn newsletters in your niche, and click each link to investigate a particular newsletter in more detail.

Reletter newsletter search example
Reletter Search example

Learn more about how to use Reletter in this helpful blog post.

Don't overlook the importance of tracking and analyzing your ad performance.

Monitor metrics such as click-through rates, conversions, and return on investment. Analyzing the metrics lets you make data-driven decisions and helps refine your advertising strategy.

(We have some helpful information on ad pricing models here.)

Final thoughts

Reletter has extensive information on every newsletter in its database.

Advertisers: Email remains one of the most cost effective ways to reach someone else's audience.

Select a newsletter in your niche and learn all the essentials to decide whether to reach out. You'll find subscriber numbers, social and email contacts, reader engagement scores, links to past issues, and more to help you make informed decisions about spending your ad budget.

Creators: Get visible by claiming your newsletter today. Then, use Reletter to reach out to other writers in your niche. You can use our email templates and send emails straight from Reletter, or create your own to suggest cross-promotions or collaborations at the appropriate time.

Find your ideal partner on Reletter. Start our free trial today.

Lyn McNamee

Lyn McNamee

Writer at Reletter

Find, contact and get featured in email newsletters

Reletter gives you subscriber numbers, contacts, chart rankings and more across 1.2m+ newsletters.

Lyn McNamee

Lyn McNamee

Writer at Reletter

Find, contact and get
featured in email newsletters

Reletter gives you subscriber numbers, contacts, chart rankings and more across 1.2m+ newsletters.