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In the dynamic world of newsletters, sponsorships can be one way to generate revenue. Below, let’s dive into three popular formats for showcasing Sponsored Content in your newsletter.
As always, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. And what works for one newsletter, may not work for yours.
The goal is not to dictate a rigid format for displaying sponsored content in your newsletter, but rather to present you with real-world examples to spark inspiration. Consider this a guide, adaptable to your newsletter's unique style and objectives.
Side note: The terminology in the sponsorship realm can vary. Some may use "Main" sponsor, "Sponsor A", etc. Clarity is key. Help potential sponsors understand your offerings with clear descriptions and perhaps a visual or two to illustrate your concepts.
For this analysis, we'll use Primary, Secondary, and Text-only to categorize different sponsorship formats. As we delve deeper, we'll share visuals and examples to create a universal understanding throughout our exploration. Just a heads-up, these might not be the exact terms used by the newsletters themselves, but they'll help us stay on the same page during our exploration.
Primary sponsorships often occupy the prime spot in newsletters, prominently featured at the top of the email and above the fold. Though it’s location in the email may be a premium position, it doesn't mean you have to charge a premium price. Learn more about pricing sponsorships here.
Primary sponsors tend to have their logo featured at the top of the email, a spot generally considered premium since it’s one of the first things you may notice when you open the email.
This usually comprises of a logo placement in the header, followed by original content, and later, the sponsored content in the email.
Here are some examples to illustrate this approach:
Looking at the section of sponsored content for a Primary sponsor, they tend to take a similar format, and try to blend in with the newsletter’s layout and flow.
Visually, these ads maintain a cohesive appearance across different newsletters, besides the AppleTV ad featuring The Morning Show in The Messenger newsletter, which features the image at the bottom versus near the top of the section.
In the image below, the image furthest on the right features The Messenger. This layout differs from their other sections. However, with a smaller image and centered, it brings some uniqueness to the section and may draw attention to the sponsored content.
For example, Why We Buy did not feature a sponsor logo in the header. But, they mentioned the sponsored content right near the top the email:
The Daily Upside showcased the sponsor logo in the header with a welcoming blurb to commence the newsletter, but then got into the sponsored content just a few sentences later.
From our observations, the traditional approach seems quite prevalent.
However, Punchbowl News stood out to us with their approach, featuring Apollo, their sole sponsor, five times and in various formats throughout the newsletter.
This is nearly three times the mentions for a Primary sponsor that we see in many other newsletters. Maybe they’re testing out different formats and placements, or maybe this is where they’ve found success: one sponsor and various mentions. We’re unsure of the results, but an interesting approach!
Next on our sponsorship journey are Secondary sponsorships, often nestled in the lower third of the email.
While they typically echo the format of Primary sponsorships, their logo isn’t featured at the top of the email. As for imagery? That’s a toss-up. Sometimes there’s imagery, and other times it’s mostly text.
There hasn’t been as much of a “traditional” or “alternative” approach to Secondary sponsors. Sometimes they have an image, sometimes they don’t, it depends on the newsletter.
While Secondary sponsorships may not be front and center, they offer a unique space for advertisers and can be just as impactful with the right content and presentation.
While Text-only sponsorships could share a category with Secondary sponsorships, we believe they deserve their spotlight.
Why, you ask?
We think the idea of weaving sponsored content into the newsletters narrative with just a few well-chosen words is pretty unique. This differentiation has a certain understated appeal that warrants attention.
We created guardrails for Text-only sponsorships being:
These sponsorships are text-based, comprising 1-3 succinct sentences that blend naturally within the section they are placed. Though they might be priced lower, because there isn’t imagery or positioning later in the newsletter, their potential to seamlessly engage readers in a less intrusive manner and more organic interaction signals a value that cannot be overlooked.
We tend to see text-only sponsorships in Link Sections, and towards the bottom of the email.
Here are some examples to illustrate this approach:
Marketing Brew features a sponsor as their last bullet point or mention in the French Press section. This section states: “There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.”
In this example, Tagger sponsors this spot in the newsletter. It’s just two sentences, but in a section about “good” marketing tips. Being featured in a section known for “good” marketing tips may subtly nudge readers to perceive Tagger as a valuable tool in the marketing world.
Marketing Brew’s audience is likely predominantly marketing professionals, seeking informed insights. When Tagger is presented within this context, it subtly aligns its brand value with the curated quality of the French Press section. This positioning, while understated, can lead to enhanced brand credibility and perception.
Paying for this specific placement in a newsletter sent to likely marketing professionals may be more valuable then taking out a Primary sponsorship, or other sponsorship slots in newsletters due to the specific audience and specific section.
While we don't have the exact figures on the sponsorship costs or performance metrics in Marketing Brew, this certainly gives some thought starters regarding the unique value proposition these spots offer.
You can see there are a variety of ways to display sponsored content in your newsletter. Above is an example of a Morning Brew newsletter with three of the popular formats in one email.
Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It's about finding a balance and crafting strategies that resonate with your audience's preferences and your newsletter’s goals. This involves trying out formats, copy, placement, testing and measuring performance.
Monitor the performance of your sponsorship segments. Are they overshadowing your main content or leading to an increase in unsubscribes? It can be helpful to see the performance metrics with similar newsletters in your niche, or with similar audiences. Sometimes, an advertiser might shed light on some valuable insights as well.
Taking the first steps into the world of newsletter sponsorships? Ensure clarity in your offerings by using visuals. If you don't have sponsor visuals on hand, craft some with designated placeholder images to prevent any confusion. With terminologies varying across newsletters, maintaining clarity is essential to make sure you’re all on the same page. A "Main" sponsor in one newsletter might refer to a "Primary" sponsor in another. This goes into our next takeaway…
We are big fans of providing proofs or previews before the content goes live. This practice is appreciated by many advertisers as it ensures imagery is set, links are good and alignment with the voice and tone of your newsletter, allowing for necessary adjustments before it gets sent out to the world.
❓️ Here’s a question for you: As writers adapt content to match the newsletter's style, or to align with their own voice and tone, are we toeing a delicate editorial line? Could this practice potentially obscure the original essence of the content? We’re curious to know your thoughts! Email us.
💌 Thanks for joining the pack of newsletter enthusiasts! Keep on reading, writing and sharing your newsletters with the world.
Also want to shoutout folks that have been sharing their feedback with us. Thank you!
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