How to get sponsors for your newsletter with cold email

How to find leads, structure outreach, write emails, and more

DEEP DIVE

How to get sponsors for your newsletter with cold email

The following is a guest post from Dan Berry, founder of Ad Sales as a Service.

Dan writes a fantastic newsletter on the topic and has worked with some of the largest newsletter-first media brands.

Dan will take over writing from here…

Howdy, fellow newsletter people. My name’s Dan, I’ve sold $4M+ worth of newsletter sponsorships at places like Finimize and The Daily Upside.

I write Revenews, a newsletter about newsletter ad sales, and run Ad Sales as a Service.

Today, we’re diving into actionable ad sales topics that’ll help newbies get started and veterans optimize.

How To Find Leads on Different Budgets 

From free to spending spree. The main places to find sponsorship leads can be whittled into 3 categories: similar newsletters, fundraising, and ad hoc.

Tracking Newsletters 

Free

Make a throwaway Gmail and subscribe to all the relevant newsletters. Another option is creating a ‘newsletter’ folder in your main Gmail, but having a completely separate email will be cleaner. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

You can then periodically sift through these and reach out to all relevant new brands.

This sounds manual, and it is, but I did this for 2+ years. But you can make it quite efficient!

Moderate Budget

Buy a data provider such as WhoSponsorsStuff or Open Rates.

This will save you time and help you discover more newsletters and leads.

When the investment makes sense, it will depend on your revenue, deal sizes, growth, and bank balance.

Spending Spree

Use multiple data providers, employ-for, or outsource the prospecting and outreach process. If you’re tech-savvy enough and think existing solutions are missing a trick, you can explore building your own scraping solution.

Be careful, though. You may end up investing excess time and money in a solution that isn’t as effective as the above-mentioned providers.

If you’re a growing multi-channel media company, explore Media Radar.

Recently Raised

Free

Subscribe to Strictly VC and Execsum to get daily funding deals in your inbox. Also, keep an eye on Tech Crunch and similar websites. 

Just because a company has raised $X million doesn’t mean they’ll sponsor your irrelevant audience. So try to stick to your qualification criteria.

It can be tempting to widen the net in the heat of the moment. Only reach out to brands that might want to advertise to your readers.

Not Free

Consider Investing in Apollo or Crunchbase.

Apollo is my favorite for data, but there are loads of options to choose from. When you’re buying a provider, examine what tiers allow exports and how many.

Crunchbase, for example, doesn’t allow exports on their first paid tier.

Ad Hoc

This means general internet research.

Let’s say you’re looking for B2B fin-techs. As a non-fictional example, there are countless blog posts on “The best 114 Fin-techs of 2024.”

CB Insights is a fantastic resource, check out CB Insights Fintech 100 as one example.

Build these into lead lists, either manually, scraping, outsourcing, or employing. 

In this scenario, a great scalable personalized cold approach could be: 

“Saw you in CB Insight’s Fintech 100, congrats!”...

Bonus - Social Media Ads

We all love (and hate) social media scrolling. Every time you see an ad for a company that might be a good fit, click and screenshot it.

Organize these screenshots/leads and timeblock to reach out to them.

You now have a nice angle of attack. Plus, your engagement will trick the social media algorithms into becoming your personal prospecting assistant.

Cheers Zuck.

Subject Lines

Now that you know where to look, you need to get their attention. The first and arguably most important element of outreach is the subject line.

I prefer a simple and honest approach here, which is refreshing and also the most effective.

  • 2 - 3 words, definitely under 5

  • A simple phrase that describes the topic and nature of the ensuing conversation. For example, if you’re a crypto newsletter reaching out to crypto companies, the subject ‘Crypto Newsletter’ will do well.

  • Keeping the line concise and relevant will also increase the likelihood of recipients opening it without initially thinking, ‘Here goes another cold email.’ Ideally you want the subject (and preview) to look ambiguously relevant and potentially confused with an internal email.

  • The ‘Crypto Newsletter’ example could feasibly be an internal email at a crypto company.

  • Keep It Capitalized

TLDR: Concise, Relevant & Honest.

Plenty of smart people advocate for including the prospect’s name in the subject line, something like “Dan, Quick Question?”.

While these do often have good open rates, I personally think they immediately scream ‘sales’ and set the wrong tone.

Partly because it’s just overused now. What works today won’t work as well in 6 months as everyone and their dog incorporates it into their sequences. 

Track opens, iterate, and optimize.

Also, be sure that you have a large enough sample size for data to be relevant, which is much harder in sales than marketing.

How to Structure Outreach

Manual v Automated

This isn’t 1994. No one is typing out emails from scratch each time.

It’s slow and ripe for errors. Conversely, automating too much of it risks sacrificing quality, having deliverability issues, and having lower-quality sales conversations.

Here’s an infographic that I’ve found useful but won’t win any artistic awards (although I’m open to nominations).

Sequencing

I like to send 4 emails, 3 or more days apart.

Most of the responses will inevitably come from your first email.

To help compose quality cold emails, try Lavender. It provides coaching on your email and information from the prospect’s LinkedIn.

Organization 

Outreach is time-consuming, but it’s the front line of ad sales.

When I was at Finimize as a Sales Manager (mainly focusing on closing), I got ahead by turning up to work at 7:30 am and time-blocking until 9 for outreach. 

I didn’t open my inbox until 9, grabbed a coffee, and played loud drum and bass to get me in the best flow.

Aggressive EDM is optional, but time-blocking early in the day is something I’d recommend to anyone juggling multiple functions.  

Bonus - Email Templates

After years of working with some of the biggest newsletters, I’ve distilled down a sequence outline that has historically driven 13% reply rates across various industries.

Check out the email templates here.

Been a pleasure.

Cheerio,

— Dan Berry

Matt’s Closing Thoughts

Big thanks to Dan for writing this guide!

If you found this useful, show Dan some love:

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