Do you run a small business? Have you heard about native email advertising but you don't know exactly what it is and are unsure how to start?
Look no further.
The ins and outs of effective advertising can be very confusing, especially if you're new to the game.
So, we've put together this helpful guide for small business owners and solopreneurs who'd like to test the waters by running one or more native ad campaigns.
Table of Contents
What are native email ads?
Native ads are paid advertisements written and formatted similarly to a newsletter's content. They give the audience a seamless reading experience rather than interrupting them with something boldly out of sync with the rest of the newsletter.
Many of these ads are short but enticing and optimize for high click-through rates. They'll elaborate on the message once you've moved to their website. Others include more detail and logos or images.
Native email ads aren't meant to deceive your audience into thinking they're part of the content. According to the Advertising Standards Code, you should clarify if the content is paid advertising.
Real life examples of native ad formats
Many email newsletters acknowledge their sponsors above the fold (near the top, showing before the reader scrolls down).
Others will place display ads (the major sponsor) towards the top and put native ads (where the ad spend is less) further down the page.
Metaversal clearly labels Kraken as the sponsor but keeps the look and feel of the ad format similar to the content by using the same font (in italics) and ending both the content introduction and the ad with yellow emojis.
Here's an ad with a longer copy. Alice Moon uses the same font throughout but bolds the paid advertising to differentiate it from the surrounding content. The ad also blends because the advertiser (copywriting firm) fits with the newsletter subject matter (paid vs. earned media.)
Josh Spector sends his audience his weekly 'For the Interested' newsletter plus a daily sentence, paragraph or thought.
His sponsor sentence blends into the email because the content and ad use the same font and a red, underlined link in each section. At the same time, Josh denotes the advertising content by starting it with "Today's email is brought to you by..."
Sponsored content can also look and feel like a creator's usual newsletter. That could be as simple as one paragraph within the newsletter, or the writer might dedicate the whole newsletter to one advertiser or partner.
For instance, at first glance, people on Michelle Schroeder-Gardner's email list wouldn't know that this is sponsored content and not one of the usual Making Sense of Cents newsletters until they get to the fourth paragraph.
Why run a native ad in an email newsletter?
Email newsletters are a cost-effective, targeted way for brands and businesses to reach their ideal audiences. One reason is that native email ads are often seen as less intrusive but more effective and trustworthy than social media ads.
Advertisers can reach their target audiences
Most people subscribe to particular publishers because they're interested in the editorial content.
For instance, one newsletter might focus on teaching. A reader opts in to learn skills and ideas for their work or a passion project. A different audience may wish to keep up with the latest trends in their industry and join a business-focused newsletter. Yet another group may subscribe because of the writer's deep dives into thought-provoking topics.
These are all ideal situations for a brand in that niche to place relevant advertising in the newsletter and improve brand awareness among interested consumers who are likely to engage with the brand.
Capitalize on the trust factor
Newsletter publishers build trust with their readers over time. They do this by:
- Telling relevant stories that connect with readers' emotions
- Promoting valuable products in their niche through reviews and brand interviews
- Giving wise advice
- Showing their journey through similar problems or situations to those readers are facing
- Proving their expertise
- Consistently building their brand identity through their newsletter, website and social media accounts
- Invent or report on innovative solutions within their industry
- Only advertising products and services relevant to their audience.
- Regularly delivering a quality newsletter into each reader's inbox.
Advertisers may benefit from that trust factor. Outbrain's Savanta Report states, "68% of consumers trust ads seen on editorial environments vs 55% for social media, with readers being more likely to trust content and recommendations."
Avoid ad blockers
Email providers only send email newsletters to subscribers. Those people have actively opted in to receive the newsletter and usually understand that there will be some form of advertising in the newsletter. Those ads could be the publisher's own product or service or from other advertisers.
Because email newsletters go straight into people's inboxes, they sidestep the ad blockers. Native ads may also be less likely to trigger banner ad blindness because they match the appearance of the rest of the content.
How to get started with native email ads
The first step is finding email newsletters that fit your brand and audience. Next, check subscriber numbers, audience engagement, and contact details.
Read a few issues to see whether the voice and tone will gel with your brand identity. Pitch the publisher to see if they're interested in working with you. Decide on your advertising goals and your native email ad format, then draft the ad. Some publishers will include the ad as you write it, while others may rewrite it to suit their style.
Find email newsletters
There are several ways to locate quality newsletters. Still, we think Reletter is the way to go when searching for Substack or LinkedIn publishers.
Ads are relatively rare on both Substack and LinkedIn. That means your native ad has the potential to stand out from the crowd. At the same time, you can promote new revenue possibilities to publishers who have never considered advertising before.
Reletter is a newsletter database with information on every available Substack and LinkedIn newsletter.
You can search the database by topic, titles, authors or issues to discover newsletters in your niche. Then click the links to find useful information about each newsletter, including audience details and recent issues.
Newsletter writers can sign up to get their newsletter listed on a marketplace. Their listing usually includes details about their reader demographics and numbers. Marketplaces can be a good place to find publishers who have already decided they want advertising revenue. However, writers do have to actively sign up, so not every newsletter will be included.
Browsing the web can bring up some newsletter possibilities, too. Use search terms like category + newsletters (e.g., "investment newsletters") or top + category + newsletters (e.g., "top investment advice newsletters.) Check out this article for more information. information.
Ask colleagues and friends for newsletter recommendations. Check out your own newsletter subscriptions and see who's advertising in them. Many newsletters run cross-promotion campaigns where you can find newsletters with similar audiences.
Also, check out the Substack Recommendations feature, where publishers post the names and links of Substack newsletters they enjoy, connect with and recommend.
Check their stats
Before approaching the publisher, you'll want to know something about the newsletter's audience.
Some newsletters have an information page or media kit for advertisers that explains relevant details like subscriber numbers, open rates and the cost of placing native ads or display ads with them.
You can read the information a publisher decides to put on their marketplace pitch to get an idea of their readers. Then, navigate to their website and find past issues to read.
Reletter has tons of information on each and every newsletter listing in the database.
Here, you see subscriber numbers, our estimate of monthly visits to the associated website and an Engagement Score. (We use the growth in reader's likes and comments over the past 180 days to create a score between 0-100.)
We include social media links, show where the newsletter sits in the Substack charts and estimate the possible cost of native advertising with that newsletter (based on subscriber numbers and typical CPM prices.)
Read the newsletter's latest issues directly on Reletter or easily connect to the original with one click.
Create a list of newsletters you'd like to advertise with and send each of them an email. Start with a basic pitch template (you'll find several winning templates on Reletter), then craft a unique pitch for each newsletter based on the information you've gained from your earlier research.
Get specific. Explain what you like about the newsletter (mention particular content) and why you think it would match well with your brand. For example:
- your two audiences have a lot in common
- you have similar missions or values
- your product could alleviate a common pain point for their readers
- your expertise is valuable to the publishers or their audiences
- your freebie offers real value to their readers
Draft your native ad content
Start with your advertising goals. What do you want to happen as a result of your ad campaign?
Are you aiming to promote a product? Increase sales revenue? Build brand awareness? Get people into your sales funnel? Build engagement for your own newsletter? Drive people to a specific web page (aka landing page) or your home page?
Consider the audience you're writing to once you're clear on your campaign goals. What sort of words do they use to describe problems in this space? What offers will appeal to them? Will they respond to short and snappy, or will they need a little more information to convince them to take action?
Think about the newsletter's look and voice. Native ads work because they blend in with the rest of the newsletter, so consider the tone before you start writing.
Check with the newsletter publisher. What guidance can they offer? What are their preferences? (As I mentioned, some publishers prefer to get the information from you and write the ad themselves. Others will publish the ad exactly as you write it.)
Write your native ad.
Remember to add a call to action.
Running native ads in newsletters is an excellent way to gain access to consumers in your niche.
Native email ads look and feel like the newsletter's content, so they don't disrupt the reading experience. They work particularly well when you can offer real value to the audience.
Fortunately, you can find, research and contact newsletters all on Reletter.