If you don’t have enough time or resources to grow your own newsletter the best alternative that you might think of is to piggyback on someone else’s resource.
Newsletters are still considered to be one of the most underrated marketing channels, therefore it won’t cost you a fortune to be featured in someone else’s newsletter.
The upsides of being featured in someone else’s newsletter: — You don’t have to wait months to reach the audience — You can target your message for a specific customers segment — It costs in general much less than Google Ads or commercials in a regular newsletter — If you’ve chosen the right publication with the right audience and high open rate you might get a very high conversion rate (up to 20%) and a reasonable traffic to your website — If newsletters issues are also added to the feed you’ll get a permanent backlink, which is good for SEO — If a newsletter creator is a good copywriter your commercial won’t even look like ad advertising. It will create an impression of a testimonial, or an influencer sharing their honest opinion about a product. In any case, the newsletter’s host reputation will be spread across your product and create an attribution bias (which is, again, a very positive outcome)
There are very few downsides of being featured in someone else’s newsletter: — The open rate stats, as well as click through rate that a newsletter owner would provide are important but hardly very relevant. The type of audience and customers segment is much more important for getting great results from this experience, however newsletters owners usually don’t possess thise data. — It almost always takes lots of experimenting and testing until you find a newsletter that works great for your product. — There’s no unified database on newsletters where you can go as a media buyer and find exactly what you need. Finding the right newsletter pretty often requires lots of manual research and cold outreach to newsletter owners via social media.
- Number of subscribers
- Open rate. Shows how many subscribers open the letters. Usually newsletters with a small number of subscribers have a better open rate — for instance, for a newsletter with 5K subscribers 5% open rate is good, while for a newsletter with 500 subscribers 5% open rate is too small, aim for 20% instead)
- Click-through-rate. Shows how many times readers click links inside a newsletter issue.
- Audience profile (!!!). You’re lucky if a newsletter creator has one. If they don't, your only option is a wild guess based on the content — who might be interested in reading this? However, this is probably the most important piece of data. Try to discuss it with the creator and get their opinion on the audience profile.
- Platform for distribution. It’s not your top priority but it’s good to know how exactly the newsletter is distributed. If a creator uses one of the mail delivery services (Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Substack, Sendgrid, etc.) the data they are providing you is most probably accurate. If it’s a self-hosted service you’d better ask around how they get their data or ask for a guest access to analytics tools they use.
- An email address or social handle of the newsletter’s creator to reach out.
- One of the best ways to find newsletters to be featured in is to start with the ones you already read. As a subscriber you’ll have great insight into the voice of the newsletter and who might be reading it. Don’t subscribe to any newsletters? Fear not, here’s a few more ways you can find them.
- Search Substack
- Substack has a search feature you can use to search for newsletters on any subject. Example: https://substack.com/discover/dogs
- Keep in mind that you may need to subscribe to the newsletter in order to get the author’s contact information and that many newsletters on substack require a paid subscription.
- You may also be able to find the author’s contact information by searching for their name on Twitter or LinkedIn. Speaking off..
- Twitter or LinkedIn
- Try searching for user profiles that include “newsletter” in their profile.
- Google should be an obvious solution. Many newsletters have great SEO Optimization and are easy to find on search engines.
- Types of features:
- Sponsored by
- Resource to understand how newsletters think about pricing https://swapstack.co/the-ultimate-newsletter-guide-how-to-set-up-paid-sponsorships-with brands/
- You should understand what kind of sponsorship you’re interested in before you approach the newsletter. If you aren’t sure, the newsletter writer should be happy to explain what’s included and what’s not, but knowing what you want helps you understand if you’re getting a good deal and what to expect from the partnership.
- Approaching a newsletter writer is simple. If you’re already a subscriber, you can often reply directly to any newsletter edition and ask about sponsorship opportunities. Otherwise check the newsletters website for a contact email.
Hi Drey, Love the Big Dog Newsletter and I’m interested in becoming a sponsor. I run DogsPlay, a service that helps dogs find playmates. We’ve helped over 100 dogs ruff it up this month. Can you send me details on pricing and what’s included in sponsorship? I’d also appreciate any stats you have on demographics, subscriber count, open rates, and click through rates. Looking forward to hearing from you! All the best, Alex
- The best ads feel like they could be part of the newsletter itself. You can achieve this by reading the last issue of the newsletter you want to publish and adjusting your message and voice to match.
- This is also why it’s so important to pick newsletters that fit your niche. No one reading a newsletter about Dogs wants to hear about your Crypto startup or vice versa!
- Your ad spot should be clear and concise. It can be very helpful to include some kind of discount or deal to encourage readers to click the link and sign up now. If the reader decides “I’ll look at this later”, that’s as good as never.
10 newsletter ads that converted and why
Creating a newsletter ad that converts is an art in itself. A great newsletter add should: — address specific needs and desires of this specific newsletter audience (you can’t be generic) — contain a compelling promise — provide a clear call to action Keep in mind that your design, copy and the results you will get after you run your ad campaign will depend on your goals and expectations. What behaviour do you want to prompt with your ad? — Get more traffic to the website — Generate sales — Get subscribers to your own newsletter Look at these examples of the newsletter ads and try to copy the aspects that proved to be efficient.
- BuzzFeed — get more traffic
This ad became one of the main source of the traffic to BuzzFeed website in 2018.
Why it worked? — Compelling copy — Great visual. Nothing fancy — can be done with the phone camera. Showcases the before and after state, offering a clear promise (learn with us and you’ll make it) — A click-bait — a badge saying “Win” but to find out what you can win you’ll have to click the ad and proceed to the website.
- Litmus — get leads
A little gif inserted in the newsletter can make a huge difference. It definitely grabs reader’s attention and then it’s up to you to make your product worth this 2 sec attention span. Why it worked? — Animation captured reader’s attention — Just like in the example above the visual is very clear and shows the states “before” and “after”, reminding of a quick product demo
— Grea copy. Good copy is always the one that contains questions the reader is prompted to answer in a positive way (”Ever wished...?” “Ever tried...?” “Have you thought...?”, etc.)
- Uncommon Goods — generate sales
Why it worked? — Very precise occasion and focus on the reader instead of focusing on the product. The unusual gifts shop build a special ad campaign for the Mother’s Day. It was not about just them (“we have unique gifts”), it was about the pain point that was important for the readers right now (”what do I buy for my Mom”). — FOMO effect — the company created a sense of urgency, prompting readers to go to the website and order gifts now. A value was added to the immediate action — and it worked wonders! — Great copy. Again, instead of saying “We have amazing gifts for your Mom” the company phrased it as a question that demanded a positive answer: “Don’t you think your Mon would have loved a faster delivery”? Well, yes. Who would say “No” to that?!
- Fuzzy — get leads
A tele-health service for pets achieved great results with ad campaign in Morning Brew newsletter.
Why it worked? — Great choice of a newsletter. Obviously, Morning brew is an amazing newsletter with a very vast audience. But also it has a very specific audience that fits the profile of Fuzzy’s “perfect customer”. — Layout that resembles other sections of the newsletter. Can you notice that Fuzzy is actually being advertised in the issue? Probably, not. The design of the ad 100% resembles the layout of the issue and a reader don’t get this negative vibe of being sold on something. — Conversational matching copy. The previous and the following section of the issue have the same conversation style and it again helps the ad blend into its environment. Sometimes, the best way to stand out is to blend into surroundings.
- Campaign Monitor — get subscribers
This email campaign building service provides a great example of an ad that converts. There’s nothing fancy, just one simple hook that always works
Why it worked? — Social proof is one of the strongest hooks that can be possibly used on your landing pages or within your ads. Numerous studies have shown that showcasing or even just mentioning others who use, like or would love to refer your product increases your chances for conversion up to 20%. — The ad is very simple, no distraction. Very doable call to action + clear promise + social proof.
- Gummicube — get traffic
Another great example of the idea that to stand out sometimes it makes sense to blend in. Especially, if you don’t have a strong authority in the field and piggybacking on the authority of the newsletter you’re being featured in. In this case it makes sense to make a link to your website look like an ordinary part of the content.
Why it worked? — Demand Curve is a very authoritative resource among startup founders (especially, VC backed). Being “curated” by a publication of this level boosts chances of getting traffic to the website much more than an ad copy that will stand out.
- Metalab — get traffic
Metalab’s sponsorship of Farnam Street newsletter issue turned out to be very efficient for the website traffic.
Why it worked? — Sometimes it makes sense to discuss with a newsletter an exact placement of your ad. For instance, in Farnam Street the “P.S” section is always saved to the “fun” link and many readers go directly to the bottom of the newsletter to see what’s in this issue. Haven an ad right before this “magnet link” increases chances of conversion.
- Rize — get sales
Sometimes you can’t decide how your ad would look like. This is the case, for instance, with Anne-Laure Le Cunff’s newsletter Maker Mind. She only offers small snippets of classifieds as a way to get featured in her publication. But you always can decide on the copy. For instance, in this issue the results for Rize were much better than for other services featured in the Brain Picks.
Why did it work? — It’s obvious! Rize offered a discount code while other didn’t. You can ask the newsletter creator what other sponsors are going to offer and craft your copy accordingly.
- Polymarket — get sign ups
Why did it work? — The platform offered a no-brainer deal — basically, suggested users to pay them if they sign up. What other “no-brainers” can be used to hook users you can read here.
- Technically — sign ups
The creator of this newsletter for tech professionals got amazing results by just publishing a guest post in Lenny Rachitsky’s newsletter.
Why did it work?
— Lenny’s authority. Obviously, Lenny Rachitsky is a famous name in startup community. Therefore, everything that is recommended or featured by Lenny is considered to be great. — Valuable content. Justin didn’t want sales — he wanted subscribers. And what can be better for gaining new subscribers than giving them a taste of the content you can provide?! It worked wonders, and after the publication Technically got +35% boost in sign ups.
— The link integrated into the content. Basically, throughout the article Justin explains how PMs can excel in understanding engineers and propel their careers further. The last but not the least advice is to subscribe for Technically — and if all the previous suggestions made sense, it was just natural to follow this tip.
Kavya Jahagirdar, co-founder and product Designer of Resumey.Pro ( a service that allows to create stunning resumes to stand out and get noticed by employers) explains that at the very beginning they were thinking of launching their own newsletter to support marketing efforts and grow Resumey.Pro faster. But then they figured out it was a huge burden on a small team — to come up with fresh inspiring content regularly. Therefore, they figured they would be better off by piggybacking on someone else’s access to a wide audience.
Kavya says that their go-to search resource for newsletters to be featured in is Twitter. Kavya is pretty active there (not on a daily basis but she tries to share her journey and has >300 followers). She engages a lot with the bootstrapped founders community and many people from there know her and her product. If they have a newsletter or a podcast they usually reach out with an offer to feature Resumey.Pro for a small fee or totally free.
Interacting with the wrong audience. Kavya believes she made a mistake by interacting actively within only one community on Twitter. Because she had lots of followers from the founders community, her product got a great head-start on Product Hunt (they got as far as #3 Product Of the Day) but very few sign ups. “Founders are not our target customers' ', — explains Kavya. She was carried away by the spirit of the community and by the fact that she was surrounded by like-minded people, founders like her. She did not have time left to interact with other communities where her product’s customers were likely to be found. As a result, most of the newsletters and podcast Resumey.Pro got featured in are targeting the wrong audience.
Doesn’t search media to be featured in actively Kavya says that they are planning to search more actively newsletters and podcasts to feature their product in. Sitting and waiting for hosts to reach out to is not the most efficient strategy.
However, though Kavya and her team did not search media resources to be featured in actively, and perhaps, did not always choose the right ones, they still achieved great outcomes with this marketing channel that resulted in dozens of sign ups and several purchases (Resumey.Pro is not a recurring service). By being featured in the newsletters they also got on the radar of traditional media — one of Spanish resources wrote an article on Resumey.Pro. And they still get hundreds of visitors to the website from this article.
Kavya’s framework to get featured in the newsletter (active mode):
- Find a newsletter you’d want to be featured in
- Follow the newsletter creator on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, IndieHachers, etc.)
- Intact with this person’s content (post meaningful comments, share, ask questions)
- In 2 weeks send a DM and ask if they would feature your product in their newsletter. By then, a creator already knows you, you don’t seem like a total stranger. It, for once, guarantees that they will open your DM. It also makes negotiations about the terms of featuring much more favourable.
Roberto Robles, a founder of KatLinks — a service that helps SaaS founders to deal with SEO hustle-free. As a third-time founder, Roberto is very active about marketing. He tries every channel available to grow his service — paid acquisition, events (launch on Product Hunt), lead magnets, content marketing. He has his own weekly newsletter where he shares SEO tips once a week.
In 2021 Roberto tried to get more users by being featured in another creator's newsletter. The results, however, were not exactly what he expected. He tried 3 newsletters, two paid, one free. Paid features in the newsletter with 18K and 2.6K subscribers respectively, brought Roberto 32 and 28 sessions (website visits) and a total 2 free trials. While a free feature in a newsletter with 9K subscribers ended in 114 website visits and 4 trials.
Roberto believes that stats newsletters offer are almost useless. A newsletter with 20K can yield about the same efficiency as a newsletter with 3K readers. What's more important is the profile of the audience. Very precise targeting can do the deal while a wide audience is almost never a good choice.
Roberto’s framework for finding a newsletter that fits is the following:
- Ask on Twitter what newsletter can be recommended for KatLinks (Roberto has >5000 followers, so his questions usually receives replies).
- Go to Product Hunt and search for newsletter-related resources there (paid databases or lists).
- Choose up to 10 newsletter and sign up to read a couple of issues and see the quality of the content first-hand.
- Contact creators and get stats.
- Discuss terms and conditions of the feature.
How-tos: If frameworks laid out in Resumey.Pro and KatLinks don’t work for you for some reasons, there are several other options to find a newsletter that would be a good fit for your product: 1. Use SparkToro as audience intelligence tool. Unfortunately, they don’t have a newsletter database but you can use this tool to find influencers your target customers are following (only paid for plan). If you download the list of influencers (you can filter them by location and min-max number of followers — you probably won’t need someone with 1-2M followers) you’ll see a remark if this influencer has a newsletter. Then you can use Roberto’s or Kavya’s methods to get featured. 2. Use BuzzSumo (paid plan) with the same logic. 3. Get access to our database of +300 newsletters and podcasts and find the ones that fit your product better and are more likely to bring more sign ups and/or paying customers.