While e-newsletters can be excellent traffic drivers, their revenue-producing abilities continue to be iffy, according to a new study released today by Folio:, a trade magazine focusing on magazine publishers.
The study--conducted for Folio: by Clientize, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based market research company--found that 207 of the top 500 magazines as identified by Folio: distribute free e-newsletters through their Web sites. Of the 44 publishers who participated in the survey, nearly all described e-newsletters as an "excellent" or "good" way to deliver traffic to a Web site. But only 21 percent rated the e-newsletter as an excellent way to generate ancillary revenue. Another 46 percent called e-newsletters a good source of ancillary revenue, while 34 percent rated them as poor.
About a third of all respondents said they rent their e-mail databases, with about a third renting or sharing the list only with advertisers. Nearly 70 percent said they have an opt-in process, while 31 percent said they do not gather permission to send additional offers and information.
Nearly all respondents said they accept ads in their e-newsletters; 67 percent said they offer combined Web site and e-newsletter ad packages. Less than half said they offer a combined print and e-newsletter ad rate.
Finally, the study found about one-third of publishers reporting ad clickthrough rates of 5 percent or more for their e-newsletters, while 9 percent posted rates of 20 percent or more. Just less than half of the respondents reported ad clickthrough rates of 5 percent or less.