Real Time Banter: Driving Revenue from Email Monetization During COVID-19

In the seventh Real Time Banter webinar, LiveIntent SVP of global marketing, Kerel Cooper, and VP of marketing, Nick Dujnic, speak with Jason Schulweis, head of brand partnerships at Morning Brew, about monetizing email newsletters during COVID-19.

Morning Brew is a media company that serves up a suite of email newsletters for the modern business leader. Their core offering, Daily Brew, is delivered to over 2 million people each day and generates a 42% open rate. This is complemented by other newsletters like Emerging Tech, Retail Brew, and Marketing Brew, and a podcast called Business Casual.

As Digiday reported, Morning Brew grew from $3 million to $13 million in one year – with just the power of the email newsletter. The startup also drives 95% of its revenue from email monetization.

Key insights from Jason Schulweis

Since the pandemic hit, Morning Brew has doubled down on its commitment to providing high-quality content to its audience every dy.

“We’ve continued to do what we normally do on a regular basis, but we feel the need and the responsibility to do more and to do better,” says Schulweis.

Early on, for example, Schulweis and his team recognized the importance of providing utility. So they created a Work from Home Guide in mid-March, and it quickly took off.

“We saw that there was a need to continue to report on very important business news, but there was also this other consumer need because everyone’s lives had changed. So what now? How do you work from home? How can you continue to learn and be the best version of yourself?”

That successful guide evolved into a new email newsletter: The Essentials, which is now delivered three times each work too over 100,000 subscribers. Morning Brew even scaled down its email acquisition strategy, and still saw an increase in subscribers during the pandemic.

“We’re blessed in that we have a lot of good insights based on what people click and read. It’s an absolutely amazing relationship where a lot of readers will reply and have a whole dialogue with our editors on a regular basis.”

Morning Brew also runs a private Facebook group of 15,000 subscribers who have referred at least three people.

“Their qualitative feedback really helps in terms of what we continue to do and what we do next.”

In addition to revamping its content, Morning Brew adjusted its monetization strategy due to COVID-19. During the webinar, 84% of 31 listeners polled said they’ve been doing the same in response to the global crisis.

“We were very honest our partners. We said, ‘We’re going to do absolutely everything that we can to help because we know that your supply chain was disrupted.’ But as a bootstrapped media startup, there was only so much that we could do on a regular basis. Having a lot of those conversations was tough. There were late nights, but I think we’re much stronger – not just Morning Brew but also our partners and relationships.”

Best practices for driving revenue from email monetization

  • Collect qualitative audience feedback to learn about your audience’s interests and behaviors.
  • Build unique content for different audience segments. “Across the different Morning Brew products and franchises, a lot of them speak to different kinds of content and audiences, both professional and from a psychographic perspective,” says Schulweis.
  • Sell advertisers on the power of direct-to-consumer media. As Schulweis says, “Email and podcasting as channels are very direct – those are native apps on your phone, and they’re effectively your homepages and interfaces for most of the day. That direct relationship is very easily translatable to a lot of the brands that we work with.”
  • Maintain a clean subscriber list. Morning Brew weeds out inactive users daily to ensure they’re only reaching loyal and engaged readers.

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