The Best Paid Acquisition Channels For Newsletters

Ranking all the paid growth channels

Welcome to Newsletter Operator!

In today’s edition:

  • The best paid acquisition channels for newsletters

  • A breakdown of how The Peak sold for $5M

  • And more!

Let’s dive in…

Deep Dive

Understanding Paid Growth Channels

When I worked at The Hustle, we tested 20+ paid growth channels to grow the newsletter to over 2.5M subscribers.

And since then, I’ve helped 35+ newsletters add 5M+ subscribers with paid acquisition.

I’ve tested Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, SparkLoop, Quora, co-reg, influencer, newsletter ads, display, affiliate, sponsored scholarships, LinkedIn, Google, Bing, and many more growth channels.

Here are the best ad platforms and paid channels newsletters/media companies should use to acquire subscribers:

1. Facebook and Instagram Ads (aka Meta Ads)

Rank: S Tier

How it works: Facebook is the #1 paid growth channel for newsletters — it has generated more return on ad spend (ROAS) for advertisers than any other source.

At GrowLetter, we use image, motion graphics, and UGC video ads to drive users to newsletter landing pages from feed, story, and reel ads.

Resources: Paid Acquisition Crash Course (exactly how we set up and manage FB ads for clients)

Newsletters that have used it successfully: MorningBrew, The Hustle, 1440 Meida, TLDR Newsletter, Contrarian Thinking, and so many more.

Pros: There are many pros — CPAs can be very low, subscriber quality is high, and it’s a scalable platform that can drive 100k+ subscribers per month.

Cons: For those with no media buying experience, it can be challenging to get FB ads to work. You need proper tracking setup, ad creative, and campaign setup and optimization. That’s why many companies use marketing agencies like GrowLetter to manage their ads.

Estimated subscriber cost and quality: $1-$3 CPA (cost per subscriber), 40%-55% open rate, 5%-15% CTR

2. Twitter/X ads

Rank: A Tier

How it works: With recent changes to the Twitter ad platform, Twitter ads have finally become a viable growth source for newsletters.

At GrowLetter, we use Twitter conversion ads in the news feed to drive users to newsletter landing pages.

Newsletters that have used it successfully: TLDR Newsletter, The Rundown, AI Tool Report, Chartr, Bulletpitch, and many more.

Pros: CPMs (cost per 1,000 impressions) are very low, around $1-$3 and CPC (cost per click) is also very low $0.10-$0.40

Also, many newsletters have found subscriber quality (open rate and CTR) from Twitter ads to be higher than FB ads.

Cons: Landing page conversion rate (CVR) is very low from Twitter ads. It’s likely because of the bot problem. Landing pages that have a 50% CVR from FB ads traffic may only have a 5% CVR from Twitter ads.

Estimated subscriber cost and quality: $1-$4 CPA (cost per subscriber), 45%-60% open rate, 5%-15% CTR

3. TikTok Ads

Rank: A Tier

How it works: We use TikTok conversion ads in the TikTok news feed to drive users to newsletter landing pages. The creative that works best is UGC and TikTok-style videos.

Newsletters that have used it successfully: MorningBrew, The Hustle, Milk Road, Contrarian Thinking, The GIST, and many more.

Pros: CPA and subscriber quality can be similar and sometimes better than FB ads.

Cons: Your ad creative needs to be great for TikTok ads to work. It’s a video-only platform so you need to make TikTok ads that look native. Ad creative also fatigues much faster on TikTok, making this a harder platform to scale than FB.

Estimated subscriber cost and quality: $2-$3 CPA (cost per subscriber), 40%-50% open rate, 5%-10% CTR

4.Beehiiv Boosts

Rank: B Tier

How it works: Boosts are the affiliate network for beehiiv newsletters. Set a fixed CPA and other newsletters on the platform and apply and get paid to recommend your newsletter. More details on how it works here.

Newsletters that have used it successfully: RagingBull, Daily Drop, The Yellowbrick Road, Milk Road, Exec Sum, and many more.

Pros: Easy to use, fixed CPA, only pay for active subscribers.

Cons: Low volume. The platform is ~6 months old so there’s not as many newsletters using Boosts compared to other networks.

Estimated subscriber cost and quality: $1-$2 CPA (cost per subscriber), 35%-50% open rate, 3%-6% CTR

5. Newsletter Ads

Rank: B Tier

How it works: Buying ads in other newsletters is probably the best way to get extremely high-quality subscribers. However, it’s a challenge. Newsletter ads can be expensive and difficult to scale.

Newsletters that have used it successfully: MorningBrew, The Hustle, 1440

Pros: Extremely high subscriber quality.

Cons: CPAs can be much higher and sometimes ad placements can flop and result in super high CPAs and few subscribers.

It’s also a challenge to test multiple newsletter ad placements - you need to coordinate sponsorships with 5-10 newsletters to do a true test.

However, tools like beehiiv Ad Network and SwapStack are making this easier.

Estimated subscriber cost and quality: $4-$7 CPA (cost per subscriber), 50%-65% open rate, 10%-25% CTR

6. SparkLoop Partner Program

Rank: B Tier

How it works: The SparkLoop partner program is an affiliate network for newsletters. List your newsletter and subscriber criteria. Then other users on the platform can send you subscribers and you only pay for results.

Newsletters that have used it successfully: Superhuman AI, Bay Area Times, Sweaty Startup, Average Joe, The Curiosity Chronicle, and many more.

Pros: Subscriber cost is low and there’s lots of volume available. Newsletters have added 50k+ subscribers month with SparkLoop.

Cons: Low subscriber quality. You’re getting subscribers from co-registration, meaning people sign up for a newsletter or lead magnet then “see” an ad for your newsletter.

The co-registration widget (Upscribe) is default “on” and users can opt in and subscribe to newsletters by accident.

This often results in subscibers with ok open rates and very low CTR.

Estimated subscriber cost and quality: $1-$2 CPA (cost per subscriber), 30%-40% open rate, 1%-2% CTR

7. LiveIntent

Rank: C Tier

How it works: LiveIntent is a platform for programmatic display ads in email. You can buy ads in that display across hundreds of email publications using one ad platform.

Newsletters that have used it successfully: 1440, The GIST, The Hustle

Pros: Great subscriber quality. Your ads show in other newsletters and email. It’s also automated and programmatic so you don’t need to buy ads in newsletters individually.

Cons: Subscriber cost can be high, the audience demo is older, and you’ll need a minimum ad spend of $10k to use the platform.

Estimated subscriber cost and quality: $3-$6 CPA (cost per subscriber), 45%-60% open rate, 5%-15% CTR

8. Google and Bing ads (SEM)

Rank: C Tier

How it works: Search ads can be a great source of higher cost and higher quality subscribers.

Bid on brand keywords, news, newsletter related keywords, and keywords of your competitors.

Newsletters that have used it successfully: MorningBrew, The Hustle, The Skimm, and more

Pros: High subscriber quality and intent. You’re getting subscribers searching for the terms and keywords you select in your targeting.

Cons: Higher subscriber cost and low volume. Search ad CPCs are high and not many people are searching for high intent terms like “best newsletters”.

Estimated subscriber cost and quality: $5-$7 CPA (cost per subscriber), 50%-60% open rate, 5%-15% CTR

9. Co-Reg

Rank: D Tier

How it works: Co-reg is when ads are placed after users “sign up” for a product, offer, coupon, giveaway, or newsletter.

Co-reg is sold on a cost per lead basis.

There are many brokers who offer co-reg advertising services and connect newsletters with hundreds of websites where they can buy co-reg leads.

Often these are very low-cost and low-quality leads that come from incentivized traffic (giveaways, prizes, coupons, and scholarships).

Pros: Very low CPAs and fixed CPAs.

Cons: Very low subscriber quality, high unsubscribe, and spam rates.

Estimated subscriber cost and quality: $0.20-$0.35 CPA (cost per subscriber), 25%-40% open rate, <1% CTR

The Best Links

📈 Growth

Why every newsletter writer should study Goop (link)

Learnings from growing a Crypto newsletter in a bear market (link)

How Smart Nonsense grew from 0 to 10,000 subscribers in 1 month (link)

💰 Monetization

A breakdown of how The Peak sold for $5M in 3 years (link)

How Houck’s newsletter grew from a side hustle to nearing $1M revenue (link)

📬 Engagement

Why you should stop valuing opens and clicks at the same rate (link)

👀 ICYMI

The fastest way to reach $10k per month with a newsletter (link)

📰 Newsletter News

Jay Clouse launches the Creator Science Investing Syndicate (link)

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