How to Monetize Email Newsletters with the Advanced Ads Plugin

Illustration by Illustration by Illustration by Sènga la Rouge Illustration of people and ads walking into a computer

Adding advertisements to your email newsletters can help generate extra revenue for your business every time you send one out. Sounds great, right? Yet, not many businesses do it. 

So in this post, I want to show you just how easy it is to add trackable advertisements to your emails newsletters with MailPoet and the Advanced Ads plugins. Advanced Ads is a WordPress plugin that directly integrates with MailPoet to add advertisements via a shortcode in your newsletter content.

By the end of this step-by-step guide, you’ll be ready to monetize your newsletter in under 10 minutes.

Without further ado, let’s get started! 

Why offer display ads in your newsletter?

Advertising in your newsletter can earn you a decent income and help sustain your efforts to promote your content. 

For example, wpmail.me, one of our favorite newsletters in the WordPress space, is a weekly digest of news, gossip and product announcements with a list of 9,900 subscribers. They offer advertising slots up to $150.

An example of a sponsored newsletter from wpmail.me:

Another example of a newsletter that gets it right when coming to sponsoring is the Hacker News Digest. A clean and simple design makes it easy for the reader to see what they want without the ad being overly intrusive. 

Exactly how much money you can make depends entirely on the size of your list, your open rates, and how much you want to charge advertisers. Even a small list of 1,000 subscribers will prove valuable to an advertiser if your audience is hyper local or a niche. Audience engagement will also help to entice prospects: a 40% open rate is surely better 20%.

If you’ve never tried advertisements on your site or in your newsletter, I suggest you start by reaching out to businesses directly. Just make sure that the brands you contact will also bring value to your subscribers.

What is a newsletter advertising marketplace?

There are a range of newsletter ad networks that you can join that can help you connect with potential advertisers.

For smaller lists there’s a marketplace called Upstart. Upstart connects publishers with advertisers looking to advertise in niche newsletters targeted to specific audiences. 

Most newsletter marketplaces though are for larger lists including Paved, LiveIntent, and SyndicateAds. For those companies, you’ll need a list in excess of 25,000 subscribers and even that would be on the low side. 

Using the Advanced Ads plugin with MailPoet

There’s an easy way to add advertisements to your MailPoet newsletters: using the Advanced Ads plugin

Advanced Ads is a freemium advertising management plugin for WordPress that first launched in 2014. With 100,000+ active installs and over 700 5-star rating, it’s one of the most popular ways to create and implement ads within your WordPress posts, pages or, in this case, newsletters. 

Why use an ad plugin at all? After all, you could easily add images and links to your newsletters and track opens and clicks with MailPoet, including in Google Analytics, without an additional plugin. 

Well, the main reason is that using a plugin like Advanced Ads lets you manage ads across your site, not just in your emails. You manage ads from a central dashboard in your WordPress admin. The plugin will automatically display ads in your posts and pages using display conditions, making it quick and easy to start earning revenue. 

If you don’t want to use ads sitewide and only want to use ads in your newsletters, then using a specific ad plugin probably isn’t worth it. 

But if you want to better organise and track your ads, in this post, we’ll walk you through how to get everything set up from no ads to ads in your newsletter in under 10 minutes.

Getting started with the Advanced Ads plugin

Ad types

Out the box, Advanced Ads comes with a range of different ad types: 

  • Plain Text and Code – For ad code in HTML, PHP etc. 
  • Dummy Ad – A sample ad for quick testing. 
  • Rich Content – Uses a WYSIWYG editor to create a rich content ad. 
  • Image Ad – Upload and use an image as an ad. 
  • Ad Group – Inherit ad settings to multiple ads in a single group. 
  • AMP – Ads for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
  • Adsense – Support for Adsense ads. 
  • Flash – Ads in a flash format. 

The developer also has detailed documentation on how each ad type works.

Premium features

Advanced Ads has a pro version and then also additional add-ons. These are the main pro features you’d need to pay for. Although there are many more not mentioned here! 

  • AMP Ads (Responsive Ads add-on)
  • Test Placements against each other (Pro)
  • Pick any position for an ad in your site’s frontend (Pro)
  • Inject ads between posts on posts lists (Pro)
  • Background ads (Pro)
  • Track ad impressions and click (Tracking add-on)
  • Support for caching plugins (Pro)
  • Responsive Images (Responsive Ads add-on)
  • Read the full list here.  

Creating your first ad with Advanced Ads in 4 easy steps

Step 1: Select your ad type

In the ad wizard, your first step is to enter an ad title and select your ad type. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be selecting the “Image Ad.”

Note that only ad types that require no external scripts or HTML tags will work with MailPoet. Why? Because custom HTML is automatically stripped, including Javascript.

That means you can pick from the following ad types:

  • Plain text
  • Rich Content
  • Image Ad

The other ad types won’t work in your MailPoet newsletters. 

Once you’ve selected your ad type click “Next.”

Step 2: Setting up your ad

Depending on which ad type you selected, you’ll see different options in this step. If you’re following along and selected “Image Ad” you’ll be given the following option to select an image:

Click “select image” and pick an image from your media library or upload a new image. 

You’ll notice the size of the image is automatically set to the size of the image itself, but because this is going in a newsletter, you’ll want to ensure you set a smaller size to ensure it renders correctly. 

Out the box, you can’t set multiple image sizes so you may want to set the image to be no larger than 200px wide to ensure it displays properly on mobiles and tablets, as well as being Retina friendly. Alternatively, you could purchase the responsive image add-on from Advanced Ads to set multiple image sizes.  

For example, this is an image ad we’ve made in the past to advertise MailPoet in wpmail.me’s email newsletter:

Once you’ve set the image size, set the URL to where you want people to go when they click the image. 

Then click “Next.”

Step 3: Ad display conditions

On the last step, you can set various display conditions. 

The two options available are for display conditions and visitor conditions. The default for Advanced Ads is to show the ad to all visitors and on all pages for automatic ad placement. While these options are not pertinent to this tutorial, let’s take a quick look. 

Under “Display Conditions” click on “Hide the ad on some pages” and then you can select from an advanced range of conditions:

Conditions available are extensive and cover everything from archives, authors, post types, content age, tags, taxonomies, and more. 

Select the condition you want from the dropdown and then click the “Add” button and configure your display condition:

The “hide from visitors” option works much in the same way as the above with the exception that the conditions are different. Out the box, the free version of Advanced Ads lets you hide ads on specific devices (e.g. hiding the ad on mobiles and tablets) and also hide ads from logged-in users.

For the purpose of this tutorial, we won’t be setting any display conditions. So click “Next.”

Step 4: Ad created!

Congrats! Your ad has been created and saved. In this step, you’ll see the ad placement options. MailPoet uses special shortcodes with Advanced Ads, which are not displayed on this page. Just make a note of your ad ID to use later.

Adding your ad to your MailPoet newsletter

I’m going to assume you are already familiar with using MailPoet for the purpose of this tutorial. If you aren’t, don’t worry! We have a range of articles at helping you get started.

Now we have our ad, we need to add it in our newsletter, go to your wp-admin > MailPoet > Emails and either create a new newsletter or edit an existing newsletter.

In the MailPoet designer, drag and drop a text block to your newsletter where you want the ad to display:

Now, edit the text and use the custom MailPoet shortcodes for the ad placement. If it’s a singular ad (which, in this case it is), we’d use: [custom:ad:AD_ID], e.g. [custom:ad:7].

If we were using an ad group you’d use: [custom:ad_group:GROUP_ID], e.g. [custom:ad_group:345].

Add the shortcode to your newsletter like so: 

Don’t panic if you see text and not your full ad! Your ad won’t render in the designer itself. To see what the ad will actually look like, click on the “PREVIEW” dropdown and then click “View in browser.”

As long as everything is working correctly you’ll see the advert in place of the shortcode like so: 

Perfect! Our first ad created and added to our newsletter in under 10 minutes. And of course, you can create as many adverts as you want. There’s no limit to the number of ads you can create.  

Tracking advertising stats 

Chances are both yourself and your customer will want to track your newsletter’s performance and the ad performance. How can you do this in MailPoet?

First, you can track the stats of your newsletter in the wp-admin > MailPoet > Emails. Here, you’ll get an overview of open and click rates like so:

Click on the percentages and you’ll get a more detailed stats screen like this: 

Here you can track how many clicks an individual link received, which is perfect for tracking the overall engagement rate of your ads. 

Advanced Ads itself also provides comprehensive tracking functionality, which you’ll need to upgrade to access.

With the tracking add-on installed, go to wp-admin > Advanced Ads > Ads to see the impressions for each ad created:

Note: Impressions from ad displays in newsletters aren’t counted, as the code for tracking only runs on the site and not in your newsletters. You’ll have to use MailPoet’s own tracking instead. 

There’s also an option to see statistics for the past 30 days. Clicking this will show a graph of your ad performance with impressions being the blue line and clicks the orange line. 

Without the tracking add-on, Advanced Ads doesn’t offer any form of tracking for views or clicks. 

In my opinion, the tracking add-on is vital to making Advanced Ads useful — without it, you may as well just use an image block in your MailPoet newsletter and track using Google Analytics.

Lastly, you can also use Google Analytics to track your newsletter and tie it in directly with a campaign. This can also be used by your advertising partner whereby you’d enter their campaign ID rather than yours. We have a guide on how to use Google Analytics with MailPoet

Get started with ads in your MailPoet newsletters

Advanced Ads is a powerful ad management plugin that makes it quick and easy to create a multitude of different advertisements, helping you increase your revenue. Combined with the MailPoet newsletter designer, you can easily add ads to your newsletters in a matter of minutes.

At MailPoet we recommend Advanced Ads as it’s an easy way to advertise across your site and in your newsletters at the same time without having to create different ads or use different systems.

Have you been waiting for ad support to come to MailPoet? Perhaps you have your own method for adding ads to your newsletter? Let us know in the comments below.