Email Sponsorship Rates

In ADL-0005, Tiffany Welch said: “I am looking for information on what fee sites are charging advertisers for highly targeted email sponsorship.”

I’m glad that Tiffany raised the question of email marketing. While the buzz about email as the “next big thing” has already begun (how ironic), I don’t think we’re going to stop hearing about its effectiveness as a communications vehicle in the near future.

There are four ways to use email as a marketing tool:

1. Mail to your current customers and prospects. These are usually people who have “raised their hands” at your website by giving you their email address or by buying something.

Forrester Research released two reports in the last six months that have really highlighted the value of an effective email strategy for websites. (For Forrester junkies, the reports are “Driving Site Traffic” in April and “Opt-In E-mail Gets Personal” in March). Both of these reports are worth tracking down. Forrester suggests that the two best ways to drive traffic to your site are to start an affiliate program and to start emailing current customers and prospects.
They also found that 70% of sites rated email as either important or very important to their online initiatives.

2. Marketing to Opt-in email lists from third parties.
This entails “renting” names from a company that provides consumers with the option of receiving email. This is not spam because people have consciously decided to be on the list.

PostmasterDirect ( says that they get response rates “as high as 5 to 15%” and that they will email to their 100% opt-in list for “as little as 10 cents (US) a person”. That’s about a C$150 CPM if my calculator is working correctly.

3. Ads on newsletters. Most of us subscribe to a bunch of editorial or discussion email lists that provide regular news and opinions. Marketers can (obviously) buy ad space on these lists to reach their targeted audience.

As for ad rates on third-party lists (which I think is what Tiffany was looking for), the market doesn’t seem to be solidifying around newsletter ad rates or standards the way it has for banners. I’ve seen other lists discussing the potential for IAB-like standards for email ads, but my gut reaction is that this is wrong-headed. The overabundance of generic size banners in “standard” places on web pages is one reason for declining response rates. Putting the same kind of uniformity in place for email newsletters could kill the effectiveness of that medium as well.

4. Spam people. I can’t believe that some marketers still think this is an option, but I get email from people who should know better more often than I’d like to admit. I think the fundamental problem here is that the marketers don’t understand the medium and they genuinely think that THEIR message isn’t spam because it is a good/interesting/ relevant offer. Sorry folks, spam is in the eye of the beholder (a bad metaphor that one), and the fact that you think it is interesting doesn’t mean I want to get it.