Why email is one of the most important things you can focus on in 2021

“Build your email list.” “Your email list is one of your most valuable assets.” Raise your hand if you’ve heard that before. Everyone in the room? For years? It’s no less true in 2021 than it has been for the...

By Brynne Delerson

“Build your email list.”

“Your email list is one of your most valuable assets.”

Raise your hand if you’ve heard that before. Everyone in the room? For years?

It’s no less true in 2021 than it has been for the last decade or so. In fact, it’s more true than ever.

As the advertising industry phases out third-party cookies with a target date of 2022 for a complete redesign in the way digital advertising auctions are run, everyone is looking for an answer to the question: 

How can advertisers still reach their target audience on publishers’ sites?

Every player in the industry is looking for privacy-conscious ways to ID users, and user identity based on anonymized email addresses is one leading option.

And publishers — especially those with great relationships with their audiences and high-quality content — hold the keys to the kingdom for advertisers.

Email in 2021: three key elements that make email wildly valuable

There are three critical pieces to making email work as an alternative to third-party cookies. 

1. Publishers and advertisers need a streamlined (and privacy-centric) way to link email addresses to first-party cookies. Translation: technical background magic is necessary to run digital advertising in a new way, based on email identity.

2. Publishers need really efficient, convincing ways to convert their readers into email subscribers. More subscribers = higher-value audiences to advertisers.

3. Once users havesubscribed to email newsletters or content, publishers need to deliver great value to retain them. Translation:email strategy and engagement is incredibly important!

2020 was a foundational year for CafeMedia’s efforts on the email-identity front, creating the framework for a much larger focus on email in 2021. 

We’ve been building out an expert team so we can help publishers in all three of these areas, increasing email effectiveness and driving traffic today AND building on the foundation for new ways to do advertising in the future. 

1. CafeMedia Email Identity

With CafeMedia Email Identity, we’re investing in one of the highest-value paths the industry is exploring in the transition away from third-party cookies and cross-site tracking.

CafeMedia Email Identity turns any email address typed into a form on a publisher’s site (like a newsletter signup or comment form) into a secure and anonymous identity token that’s stored as a first-party cookie. It can never be reverse-engineered back into an email address.

Our ad code passes the first-party cookie along to our ad partners, who can serve better-personalized ads while respecting user privacy. 

Since we first rolled out CafeMedia Email Identity in 2020, we’ve added tons of new identity partners (companies that plug into this technology and connect it to advertising demand across the industry) and we’re constantly onboarding new partners. 

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Dig deeper: CafeMedia across the industry on identity

The best part of CafeMedia Email Identity is that publishers retain complete control over their mailing lists. The email addresses are not shared with ANYONE. And publishers can continue to use theirpreferred email subscription form, pop-ups, email service provider, etc. 

It all works seamlessly, behind the scenes,  so publishers get more value from the work they’vealready done with email. CafeMedia publishers can turn on CafeMedia Email Identity today right here.

2. Conversion & user experience

While publishers can certainly just turn on CafeMedia Email Identity and continue their current email strategy with no changes at all, focusing on converting more readers into email subscribers is a valuable next step.

With CafeMedia Email Identity, visitors who register for a mailing list and become identifiable by first-party cookie become much more valuable to advertisers when third-party cookies aren’t available. 

Creating a great  user experience when asking someone to join a mailing list leads to maximum conversions. It’s the second step to making  email strategy work — and there are some simple techniques that can help.

Make the offer irresistible

Publishers have only seconds to capture a reader’s attention before they decide to move on. Keep the headline short and to the point, and the copy clear and concise.

Offer something unique and onr-brand that has extra value or provides a solution to a problem. 

For example:

  • Headline: It’s 5:00 — do you know what’s for dinner? 
  • Offer: Download my guide to 5 delicious recipes you can cook in 20 minutes or less!

Timing is everything

70% of visitors bounce after a single pageview, so timing is everything. 

Tip: look at the average amount of time readers spend on site and display the pop-up about 50-60% into their session. 

For example, if average time on page is 2 minutes and 30 seconds, test out showing a pop-up 1 minute and 15 seconds after someone lands on the page.

Increase conversions with context

Does the lead magnet (mailing list value proposition) make sense for the content a reader is consuming when asked to subscribe? 

Increase email conversions with a special offer related to the content a visitor is consuming on your site. 

Keep the offer on-brand

Make subscription pop-ups feel like a natural extension of the site experience. Use consistent fonts, colors (just make sure they’re accessible), and images so it’s authentic to brand and user experience. 

Pop-ups are essentially ads for content — and a great way to showcase unique perspectives and authentic points of view.

Test, test, and test some more

Testing ALL of these elements will lead to the subscription options that convert the absolute best for each site and audience.

Just one small change can bring big increases in results. Test everything — images, offers, headlines — to increase your email captures.

In fact, this is something we’re really focused on this year at CafeMedia. Knowing how valuable subscribed readers are, how can we help CafeMedia publishers grow this number?

In 2021, we’re partnering with a major industry provider to test out just that. That’s all we can say for now, but stay tuned! 

3. Email strategy & engagement

And finally, once publishers have convinced a site visitor to subscribe, there’s a golden opportunity to deliver overwhelming value and turn them into a lifelong fan of the brand. 

If you’re still sending RSS emails of your latest posts or sporadic newsletters to your entire mailing list (regardless of who they are, why they subscribed, or what they’re interested in), you’ve only just scraped the surface of what you can do with your email strategy to turn this into one of the most valuable channels for your business!

Make a strong first impression with the welcome series

A “welcome series” (the first batch of emails a new subscriber receives)  is the first step in creating a personal connection to the reader. 

Make sure the first content sent to new email subscribers proves that signing up was the rightdecision.

Create an ongoing communication strategy

Become a valuable source to readers and communicate regularly. The more relatable the content , the more users will come back. 

Have a plan for subscribers over the long haul to train them to always open emails and to encourage them to click through.

Segment and target the mailing list

In a hyper-personalized world, readers expect targeted content. Segment subscribers into lists or groups based on what’sknown about them, and send content that’s personalized to that group. 

Invest in automation up front to save time down the line

This all sounds like it’s going to take A LOT of time, right? It doesn’t have to! 

Once anr overall email strategy is plotted out, a good email service provider will provide the tools and educational resources to automate a lot of the work going forward.

With a little investment of time and energy up front, publishers can sit back and let email software do the work, fine-tuning and making improvements over time.

Email strategy and engagement is another area we’re super excited to focus on in 2021, bringing expert input to help our publishers make their email offerings even stronger.

We have so many things in the works to help CafeMedia publishers grow their subscribers and leverage the value of first-party data.

Building the size and efficacy of an email list is a huge opportunity that will pay dividends far into the future — we encourage all publishers to start taking small steps to improve their strategy today.tay tuned for more exciting announcements to come!