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February 25, 2016 // 7:00 AM

From Email Metrics to Inbound Marketing: Taking Advertising Options to the Next Level

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Stairs.pngWhen it comes to email marketing, one of the biggest challenges that media companies face today is the ability to translate insight into action. The reason? When publishers deploy email campaigns, it’s usually to deliver some value to the advertising side of the business. There may be partners who are sponsoring newsletters, or marketing teams may be looking for added-value ways to drive more traffic to display ads.

But these systems are quickly losing their efficacy. The media industry is in flux, programmatic ad revenues are declining, and revenue teams are struggling to find new sources of profitability. They’re carving out new products for advertisers (i.e. native ads), launching creative monetization channels, and even building their own ecommerce platforms. They’re also repurposing their existing assets, like their in-house creative teams, into services-based revenue arms.

Within this context, email is a low-hanging area of opportunity that’s universally accessible to almost every media company. In addition to delivering content to and engaging audiences, this channel is an invaluable source of data that can be repurposed into new revenue initiatives. Email is one of the most direct ways for organizations to reach their audiences on a 1:1 basis, which means that it is a rich source of information for research and new product development.

3 steps to Translate Your Advertiser Data into Additional Sources of Value

1) Uncover Your Most Valuable Audiences

Connections are the currency of digital media today. Advertisers and audiences alike are looking for deeper, more positive interactions from their networks online. But it can be tough to differentiate a substantive connection from a superficial one when your success metrics are limited to pageviews, time on site, and bounce rates. That’s where email enters the picture.

Media companies can identify their most engaged audiences through their email subscriber lists. Who’s opening newsletters regularly? What content are these individuals reading? Are they clicking on ads?

The answers to these questions will give you the insights you need to generate more advertiser value. At a basic level, you can change your advertisers a premium for reaching your most engaged audiences. You can also develop and deploy custom campaigns that meet a very specific marketing goal. Because you’ll likely be marketing to the same engaged user base at multiple touch points, you’ll also create more predictability in terms of the ROI that you can expect to deliver to your advertisers.

It pays to identify—and market to—your most engaged audiences.

2) Create a Comprehensive Conversion Picture

Your email marketing data exists as part of an ecosystem with your social, mobile, and web analytics. When evaluating engagement with your newsletter, make sure that you look at the overall picture: how audiences are moving between channels and how these engagement patterns translate into results for advertisers.

This information can help your company create unique targeting and campaign concepts that stand apart from other media companies. One compelling example to model here is BuzzFeed. This publisher has created a unique UX that it uses to deliver custom native ad products. And because its model is so tailored to its content and audiences, the company is able to predict and replicate results. The company’s secret? It’s no secret at all—it’s data from its massive inventory of engaging content.

Think of your media experience as a puzzle. As important as email marketing data is, it’s only part of the overall picture. Know how everything fits together into one comprehensive conversion picture.

3) Focus on Optimizations

In addition to helping build new products and revenue streams, your email marketing data can also help you improve upon what’s already working. Use your email marketing data to study engagement on a granular level. What pieces of content are your audiences finding most helpful? How much time are they spending with it? On which social channels are your subscribers sharing your content, and how much traction is it getting?

Use this information to optimize the already-successful programs that you have in place for your advertiser programs. For instance, you could:

  • Use your newsletter data to recommend content topics for your advertisers’ native ad campaigns
  • Build additional targeted email lists
  • Add more granularity to your audience segments
  • Make improvements to your messaging
  • Trigger workflows

Share this optimization data with your advertisers, and they’ll be blown away. In a media world where the majority of publishers are still dependent on clicks and eyeballs, you’ll be well positioned to offer something different and of value.

Last But Not Least

If you’re not sure where to get started or how to fully utilize your email marketing data, talk to your advertisers. Ask what solutions and optimizations they’d like to see on the market. Take this information, and evaluate where your own email marketing data fits into the picture. After all, the industry is learning, growing, and evolving together.

free guide: why publishers need to think like marketers

Topics: Media

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