Why Publishers Are Paying to Acquire Newsletter Subscribers

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a resurgence of newsletters. It seems that every content creator suddenly has dozens of newsletters, each driven on its own laser-focused topic (see: The New York Times’ Game of Thrones newsletter). Many storytellers have launched (and thrived) with newsletter-only or newsletter-first operations, like The Skimm, Morning Brew, and Axios, and paid newsletter offerings like The New Consumer and Air Mail. A New York Times reporter went so far as to say newsletters are the new social network.

So why all the hype?

Newsletters are a hugely valuable channel for publishers: they provide a direct connection to readers that has virtually no marginal costs. They’ve been shown to drive really strong engagement, which can be tracked at every step across all channels thanks to users’ email addresses.

The numbers we’ve seen about newsletter engagement sound almost too good to be true. Refinery29 says that newsletters drive 20% of site traffic. Vox Media reports that newsletter subscribers spend twice as much time on site. Wired says that newsletter subscribers are 7X more likely than other users to become paid subscribers. On top of that, The Times of London says paid subscribers who also receive newsletters are much less likely to let a subscription lapse.

If all of those benefits weren’t enough, newsletters also provide direct monetization options like sponsorships, direct sold ads, programmatic ads, house ads, data onboarding, affiliate links, and branded content. (Read more about email monetization here).

Clearly, newsletter subscribers can be a very valuable asset for content creators. While many publishers have trouble calculating the exact lifetime value of a subscriber, it isn’t hard to come to an estimate to help make the business case for investing in newsletters.  

One of the first steps to investing in a newsletter program is growing your newsletter database. We’ve seen many publishers start to pay to acquire high quality newsletter subscribers. In fact, one customer recently told us that they’re shifting marketing spend away from driving website visits and toward capturing emails instead. And as with many other publisher initiatives, this one gets a boost from the power of Facebook advertising.

We recently hosted a webinar to dive into the methods publishers are using to find engaged email subscribers on Facebook. For each method, we looked at the pros and cons to help publishers understand which would be best for their business.

Fill out the form below to watch the webinar and learn about the 3 most popular methods publishers are using to acquire new email subscribers: