“Build your email list.”
“Your email list is one of your most valuable assets.”
Raise your hand if you’ve heard that before. Everyone in the room? For years?
It’s no less true in 2021 than it has been for the last decade or so. In fact, it’s more true than ever.
As the advertising industry phases out third-party cookies with a target date of 2022 for a complete redesign in the way digital advertising auctions are run, everyone is looking for an answer to the question:
How can advertisers still reach their target audience on publishers’ sites?
Every player in the industry is looking for privacy-conscious ways to ID users (without holding a creepy amount of info on them!) and one leading option is user identity based on anonymized email addresses.
And you — as a publisher with a great relationship with your audience and awesome high-quality content — hold the keys to the kingdom for advertisers.
Email in 2021: three key elements that make YOUR email list wildly valuable
There are three critical pieces to making email work as one alternative to third-party cookies.
1. Publishers and advertisers need a streamlined (and privacy-centric) way to link email addresses to first-party cookies. Translation: we need to do the technical background magic necessary to run digital advertising in a new way, incorporating email identity.
2. Publishers need really efficient, convincing ways to convert their readers into email subscribers. More subscribers = higher-value audiences to advertisers.
3. Once you have the email subscriber on your list, you need to deliver great value so they stay happily subscribed. So your email strategy and engagement is incredibly important!
2020 was a foundational year for our efforts on the email-identity front, creating the framework for a much larger focus on email in 2021!
We’ve been building out an expert team so we can help publishers in all three of these areas, increasing your email effectiveness and driving traffic today AND building on the foundation for new ways to do advertising in the future.
1. AdThrive Email Identity
With AdThrive Email Identity, we’re investing in one of the highest-value paths the industry is exploring in the transition away from third-party cookies and cross-site tracking.
AdThrive Email Identity turns any email address typed into a form on your site (like a newsletter signup or comment form) into a secure and anonymous identity token that’s stored as a first-party cookie. It can never be reverse-engineered back into an email address.
Our ad code passes the first-party cookie along to our ad partners, who can serve better-personalized ads while respecting user privacy.
Since we first rolled out AdThrive Email Identity in 2020, we’ve added tons of new identity partners (companies that plug into this technology and connect it to advertising demand across the industry) and we’re constantly onboarding new partners.
Dig deeper: AdThrive/CafeMedia across the industry on identity
- Webinar with LiveRamp: The State of the Industry: How Publishers Are Monetizing Addressable Inventory
- Featured in AdWeek: CafeMedia Teams With ID5 to Help Solve the ‘Chicken-and-Egg Problem’ of Identity
- Chatting identity with Blockthrough: Identity is the top focus in 2021, according to these experts
The best part of AdThrive Email Identity is that you retain complete control over your mailing list. You’re not sharing the email addresses with ANYONE. You can stick with your preferred email subscription form, pop-ups, email service provider, etc.
It all works invisibly in the background so you get more value from the work you’re already doing with email! AdThrive publishers can turn on AdThrive Email Identity today right here.
2. Conversion & user experience
Now, while you can certainly just turn on AdThrive Email Identity and continue with your current email strategy with no changes at all, the most valuable next step is focusing on converting more of your readers into email subscribers.
With AdThrive Email Identity, visitors to your site who sign up for your mailing list and can be identified with a first-party cookie become much more valuable to advertisers when third-party cookies aren’t available.
Creating a great user experience when you’re asking someone to join your mailing list leads to maximum conversions. It’s the second step to making your email strategy work as hard as it can for your business — and there are some simple techniques that can help you improve both of these things!
Make your offer something irresistible
You have only seconds to capture your reader’s attention before they decide to move on! Keep your headline short and to the point, and your copy clear and concise.
Offer something unique to your brand that has extra value or provides a solution to a problem.
- Headline: It’s 5:00 — do you know what’s for dinner?
- Offer: Download my guide to 5 delicious recipes you can cook in 20 minutes or less!
Timing is everything
70% of visitors leave after the first page they land on, so timing is everything.
You don’t want to annoy your readers by showing your pop-up too soon, but you also want to capture their attention with a compelling offer before they leave!
Tip: look at the average amount of time your readers spend on your site and display the pop-up about 50-60% into their session.
For example, if your average time on page is 2 minutes and 30 seconds, test out showing your pop-up 1 minute and 15 seconds after someone lands on the page.
Increase conversions with context
Does your lead magnet (your mailing list value proposition) make sense for the content your reader is consuming when you ask them to subscribe?
Increase your email conversions with a special offer related to the content a visitor is consuming on your site.
Are they spending time on an article with a how-to guide on planting a vegetable garden? Offer them a guide to your top 10 easy-to-grow vegetable varieties that you should plant right now.
You can get even more targeted — if it’s March, offer a guide to spring plantings. If it’s September, offer a guide to fall plantings!
By personalizing your pop-up offer to the content they are interested in, your conversions will skyrocket!
Keep your offer on-brand
Pop-ups are an ad for your content — and a great way to showcase your unique style, personality, and creativity. It’s okay to be fun and playful (test and see if this works for your brand), and use your own voice when writing offers and headlines!
Test, test, and test some more!
The good news is that you can test ALL of these elements to land on the subscription options that convert the absolute best for your site and your audience!
Just one small change can bring big increases in your results. Test everything you can — images, offers, headlines. The more you test, the more you learn what captures your readers’ attention, and increases your email captures!
In fact, this is something we’re really focused on this year here at AdThrive. Knowing how valuable subscribed readers are, how can we help AdThrive publishers grow this number?
In 2021, we’re partnering with a major industry provider to test out just that. That’s all I can say for now, but stay tuned!
3. Email strategy & engagement
And finally, once you’ve convinced a site visitor to subscribe to your emails, you have a golden opportunity to deliver overwhelming value and turn them into a lifelong fan of your brand.
If you’re still sending RSS emails of your latest posts or sporadic newsletters to your entire mailing list (regardless of who they are, why they subscribed, or what they’re interested in), you’ve only just scraped the surface of what you can do with your email strategy to turn this into one of the most valuable channels for your business!
Make a strong first impression with your welcome series
A “welcome series” (the first batch of emails a new subscriber receives from you) is the first step in creating a personal connection to your reader.
If you offered a free download in exchange for joining your mailing list, start your series by including the deliverable and welcoming them to your family.
Make sure the first content you send your new email subscribers proves that signing up for your list was the best of decisions.
Create an ongoing communication strategy
Become a valuable source to your readers and communicate regularly. The more relatable content you provide, the more they’ll come back. Make them feel special and part of your inner circle.
Have a plan for what you’ll send your subscribers over the long haul to train them to always open your emails and to encourage them to click through to your site.
Segment and target your mailing list
In a hyper-personalized world, your readers expect targeted content. Segment your subscribers into lists or groups based on what you know about them, and send content that’s personalized to that group.
If you don’t know enough about your subscribers yet, just ask! There are lots of creative ways to ask for more information like birthday club offers and quizzes.
Invest in automation up front to save time down the line
This all sounds like it’s going to take A LOT of time, right? It doesn’t have to!
Once you have your overall email strategy plotted out, a good email service provider will give you the tools and educational resources to automate a lot of the work going forward.
With a little investment of time and energy up front, you can sit back and let your email software do the work for you, fine-tuning and making improvements over time versus spending a lot of time constantly creating new email content.
Email strategy and engagement is another area we’re super excited to focus on in 2021, bringing you expert input to help you make your email offering even stronger.
Email Kickstart with Matt Molen
To start, AdThrive publishers have the opportunity to work on their email strategy with Matt Molen of Email Crush in small mastermind groups with fellow professional publishers.
These Email Kickstart group consulting packages are normally $750, but we’re investing in your success by covering the entire cost, making the program free for AdThrive publishers.
Since we began offering Email Kickstart in 2020, the publishers who’ve applied Matt’s strategies have seen huge benefits:
- Growing their email list by leaps and bounds
- Sending skyrocketing amounts of email traffic back to their sites
- Setting up automations and manageable systems that make email easier than ever
Here’s what a few AdThrive publishers have to say about working with Matt on their email strategy:
How Email Kickstart works:
- 6 sessions: Meet with Matt and your mastermind group three times a week on Zoom. Each session is an hour, plus Matt will stick around after each call to answer individual questions and provide custom advice.
- Assignments: You’ll have manageable assignments to complete.
- Technology: While Matt’s strategies can be implemented on a variety of email platforms, he has special “how-to” instructions for using his strategies in ConvertKit. If you want to switch, Matt can help!
- Group accountability: Stay motivated, share ideas and questions, and stay accountable in the Email Kickstart private Facebook group.
As an added bonus you’ll also get free access to Matt’s self-guided course, Email on Autopilot, a $499 value!
Current AdThrive publishers can apply for a spot in an upcoming Email Kickstart mastermind right here. Spots fill up quickly, but once they do, we’ll keep a waiting list and reach out when the next opening becomes available!
We have so many more awesome things in the works to help AdThrive publishers grow their subscribers and leverage the value of first-party data.
Building the size and efficacy of your email list is a huge opportunity that will pay dividends far into the future — so start taking small steps to improve your strategy today and stay tuned for more exciting announcements to come!