Email marketing is a reliable and cost-effective way to connect with your audience, distribute your content, and promote your affiliate offers.
- What is Email Marketing?
- How Does Email Marketing Work?
- How to Do Email Marketing in 6 Steps
- How to Build an Email List and Strategies to Get More Subscribers
- How to Send Affiliate Marketing Emails
- How to Set up an Email Autoresponder
- Choosing Email Marketing Software
- Best Email Marketing Tools for Affiliates
- Email Marketing Best Practices for Affiliate Marketers
Around 87% of marketers use email to distribute their content…
...And for every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect to generate an average of $42 in return.
Most people are addicted to email.
Wherever they are and whatever they are doing, people check their email inbox.
According to research by Adobe, millennials spend an average of 30 hours a week checking their email:
Email marketing enables you to reach people in a place where you know they will be every day - their email inbox.
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the process of setting up and using email marketing for your affiliate business.
- How to build an email list + strategies to get more subscribers
- How to send marketing emails and set up autoresponder campaigns
- The best email marketing software for affiliates
- Email marketing best practices for affiliate marketers
Before we dive in, let’s quickly go over the basics.
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is a tactic to promote your affiliate products and services to your audience through email.
You can use it to promote your latest affiliate products, educate and engage your audience, and forge a relationship with people interested in content and topics in your niche.
How Does Email Marketing Work?
Email marketing works by building trust and developing relationships with people that opt-in to receive your emails.
Once your subscribers trust you, they are more likely to listen to your recommendations and purchase your affiliate products.
Let’s break down the essential steps of an email marketing campaign.
How to Do Email Marketing in 6 Steps
Step 1: Know Your Audience
On average, people receive around 121 emails per day.
The only way to get your email opened and read is to make it super relevant.
To create emails your audience will want to read, you need to know who your audience is and what is important to them.
Step 2: Set Your Goals
Are you looking to promote a specific new affiliate product?
Do you want to boost registrations for a webinar?
Setting goals is vital for every email marketing campaign.
It helps you create your email copy, choose the type of email campaign to run, and how you measure your results and determine if your campaign was successful.
Step 3: Create a Way for People to Opt-In
Every successful email marketing campaign is built on a list of subscribers who have opted to receive relevant messages and content.
You need to provide a reason for people to opt-in and make it easy for people to join your email list.
List building takes time, but by offering value to your subscribers and treating your subscribers’ inboxes with respect, your email list will grow.
We’ll go into list building in more detail in the next section.
Step 4: Decide on the Type of Email Campaign
Email campaigns vary according to campaign goals.
Do you want to send out a regular newsletter?
Promote a new product?
You can set up multiple campaigns to target different segments of your email list and keep your emails super relevant to your subscribers.
Step 5: Decide on an Email Schedule
How often will you contact your list of subscribers?
You want to make it clear to your potential subscribers how often they can expect to hear from you before they sign up.
Once you set a schedule, stick to it.
Keep the promise you made with your audience and be consistent to build trust and stay in the thinking of your subscribers.
Step 6: Measure Your Campaign Results
To know if your campaign was successful, you need to measure your results.
What works for you will depend on your audience and your affiliate business.
You can test out different subject lines, CTAs, and email copy to make your campaign more potent and effective.
The only way to find out what works is to track and measure everything.
How to Build an Email List and Strategies to Get More Subscribers
List building relies on two essential components.
A lead magnet and an opt-in form.
These two elements work together to attract and convert website visitors into email subscribers.
A lead magnet is a free digital asset of value that attracts people to your opt-in form.
It usually comes in the format of a free resource or piece of content.
To access the free lead magnet, people need to give you their email address in exchange.
People aren’t willing to hand over their email address unless they receive something valuable, so your lead magnet needs to be high quality and useful to your audience.
An effective lead magnet is highly relevant and usually helps people achieve a goal or overcome a problem.
Lead magnets come in many formats, including:
Here’s an example of a lead magnet from the affiliate website Compare Accounting:
It’s important to make your lead magnet focused on a solution to your audience’s common problems or goals.
Offer actionable information that helps people find a solution.
In the example above, Compare Accounting offers a free report that helps people to choose the right accounting software for their business.
The report is available as a PDF download.
This highlights another important element of a lead magnet.
It needs to be easy for people to consume and access quickly.
People won’t be as eager to hand over their email address if they have to wait to receive the lead magnet.
They want instant gratification.
Your lead magnet should be in a digital format and easily accessible. Once people have signed up, they should immediately be able to consume the resource.
The purpose of your opt-in form is to convey the big benefit of your lead magnet.
It needs to convince your website visitors to subscribe to your email newsletters in exchange for getting the lead magnet.
The lead magnet attracts people to your opt-in form...
...Your opt-in form sells the lead magnet’s benefits and convinces people to commit and give you their email address.
Here’s an example opt-in form for a lead magnet from Thinking Slimmer:
An opt-in form should include:
A Compelling Headline
Your headline needs to attract the attention of the visitor and communicate the benefits of the lead magnet.
A Bulleted List Description
Use a short and concise bulleted list to give your visitors a quick overview of what they will receive and the benefits they will get by downloading your lead magnet.
You can boost conversions by including an image of your lead magnet.
While your lead magnet should be a digital download, you can create a mockup of a physical version to use for promotional purposes.
A Short and Simple Form
The more entry fields you include on your form, the more work you ask your visitors to do…
...And the less likely they are to convert.
Make it super easy for your visitors to opt-in by only asking for a first name and email address.
A Clear CTA
Make your CTA stand out from the rest of the page using a contrasting color and placing it in a position where it will be noticed.
Bonus Tip: Exit-intent Pop-Up
There is another tactic that’s effective at generating opt-ins to your email list.
An exit-intent pop-up.
When somebody clicks to leave your site, you can display an exit-intent pop-up that encourages them to opt-in to your email list.
Here’s an example from the affiliate website SPY:
Exit-intent pop-ups work well because they don’t interrupt the user experience of your website.
It’s not an annoying pop-up that stops people from engaging with your content.
The pop-up is only displayed when people click to leave your site.
This is the perfect time to ask people to opt-in to your email list.
When they have just finished reading your awesome content, you can ask them if they want to get more of your content sent directly to their inbox.
How to Send Affiliate Marketing Emails
Now you know how to build an email list, it’s time to send out your first email to your list of subscribers.
Creating an email campaign from scratch is a lot easier if you break the process down into manageable smaller steps.
Step 1: Define Your Goal
You’re not sending out emails just to clutter up the inboxes of your subscribers.
There should always be a purpose and a clear goal for your marketing email.
What is it you want people to do after they read your email?
Your goal should be a clearly defined action you want people to take.
That could be registering for a webinar, reading a blog post on your site, or purchasing one of your affiliate products.
A clear goal is also vital for how you measure the success or failure of your email.
Step 2: Create a Compelling Subject Line
Your subject line is an excellent place to start creating your email.
It plays a vital role in getting your email noticed and encouraging people to click open.
Subject lines are cut off if they are too long, so you don’t have many words to convey your message and convince people to open your email.
Keep your subject line shorter than 50 characters to ensure it is displayed in full.
This isn’t the time to try and be clever or overcomplicate things.
Get straight to the point of your email and try to highlight the value and benefit people will receive by reading the email.
It’s also a good idea to avoid “spammy” words and don’t use all-caps.
These tactics are outdated and can even get your email sent straight to your recipient’s spam folder.
Step 3: Write Your Email Copy
Once you have a clear goal and subject line, you can start to write the copy of your email.
Nobody wants to read a long-winded email, so keep it short and concise and get to the point in as few words as possible.
It’s also important to offer value.
If you bombard your subscriber with promotional emails, you’re going to burn through your list quickly and see your emails ignored.
We’ll cover how you can keep your subscribers engaged by balancing “value” and “promotional” email content in the next section.
Pay close attention to your email CTA.
Even if you’re only sending out an email to promote a blog post, your email should contain a strong CTA.
Like an opt-in form, make your CTA stand out with contrasting colors and make it larger and more prominent than your email’s text.
The recipient should be in no doubt what the next step is.
Step 4: Preview Your Email Before Sending
Before you send out your email to your list of subscribers, you should test how it will look in your subscribers’ inboxes.
You’d be surprised how different email providers change the appearance of an email.
Gmail and Outlook are both well known for distorting email layouts and headers.
Your email marketing software should provide a tool to help you preview how your email will look in for different email users:
Make sure your email looks great on all the major email provider inboxes before you press send.
Step 5: Set up Tracking and Measure Results
Tracking your emails is the easiest way to determine the success of your campaign and identify how you can improve and generate more conversions.
Your email marketing software analytics should show you the number of opens, clicks, forwards, and unsubscribes your email generated.
This is vital information for improving your emails and seeing what is effective with your audience.
How to Set up an Email Autoresponder
An autoresponder is a sequence of emails sent automatically when somebody opts-in to your email list or completes a specific trigger action.
For example, you can set up an automatic sequence of emails after somebody submits their email and downloads your lead magnet.
Autoresponders are great for building relationships with your subscribers and promoting your affiliate products.
To set up an autoresponder, you’ll need email marketing software with automation capabilities.
We’ll cover the best email marketing software for affiliates in the next section.
How to Use an Autoresponder
There are lots of ways you can use an autoresponder to benefit your affiliate business.
Here are four ideas to provide some inspiration:
1. Send New Subscribers a “Welcome” Email Sequence
When somebody opts-in to your email list, you can use an autoresponder to send out a “welcome” sequence of emails.
You can include a link so people can download your lead magnet, a thank you message, and a follow-up email promoting your best performing content.
If your lead magnet focuses on a particular problem or goal, you can send a sequence of emails with more informational content on the topic and introduce your affiliate product as a solution.
2. Promoting Your Affiliate Products
You can create an autoresponder sequence to promote a specific product you know your audience will be interested in.
Once a user has subscribed, you can send out a series of emails targeting a pain point and helping your audience to understand the problem.
You can then introduce your affiliate product as a solution and gradually make your emails more promotional.
If you have an arrangement with the merchant to offer a discount to your audience, you can use scarcity tactics by creating a time-limited offer and increasing the frequency of your promotional emails as the deadline for your offer gets closer.
3. Use Website Triggers to Send Relevant Content and Offers
Website triggers are small pieces of code that trigger an automatic email once a user completes an action.
This tactic works by linking a registered website visitor to their email address and sending out triggered emails based on how they interact with your website.
For example, if a user reads multiple reviews of a particular type of product, you could send out a triggered email that contains a buyer’s guide or “best of” list.
4. Create a Free Email Course as a Lead Magnet
An autoresponder can be a great way to deliver a free email course lead magnet to your subscribers.
You can create an opt-in form promising your visitors a free course with a new lesson delivered over so many days or weeks.
Once a visitor has signed up, you can use the autoresponder to deliver a sequence of emails with each containing a new lesson.
Creating Your Autoresponder Email Sequence
Once you have a goal for your autoresponder email campaign, it’s time to map out the sequence of emails you will send to your subscribers.
You need to decide how many days your campaign will run and how many emails you will send out.
There is no set in stone rule for how many emails you should send. It depends on your campaign goals and what your audience expects from you when they sign up.
Your email sequence should be as long as it needs to be to accomplish your goal.
A sequence promoting a specific product is going to be a lot shorter than a free email course.
You’ll also need to decide the time between each email.
For educational emails, you should leave enough time for the recipient to consume the content and be ready for the next email.
For a promotional blast email sequence, you will want to up the frequency to boost your conversions.
You’ll also need to decide a ratio for educational “value” emails and more promotional emails that directly “sell” your affiliate products.
If people are expecting educational content and you bombard them with promotional offers, your subscribers will quickly lose interest and unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam.
As a general rule, you should balance your email content by making the majority of your emails educational and sending occasional promotional emails.
Make an Outline for Your Email Sequence
The next step is to create an outline for your email sequence, covering the topic of each email...
...And the action you want readers to take after reading each email.
The action could be to follow you on social media, visit a specific page on your website, or purchase one of your affiliate products.
Here’s an example of a welcome sequence that delivers value before delivering more promotional emails to generate affiliate sales:
Email 1: A “Thanks for subscribing” email that contains a link to the downloadable lead magnet.
Email 2: An educational email that provides more information related to the topic of the lead magnet.
Discuss the pain point/common problem that subscribers want to overcome…
...And include a link to your most popular related blog post.
Email 3: The “value” email that offers lots of valuable information to help subscribers partially overcome the problem.
Introduce your affiliate product and discuss how it can help, but the focus should be on delivering value and building trust.
Email 4: Discuss your affiliate product in more detail and demonstrate how it can help.
You can include a link to a presale blog post on your site or direct users to the merchant’s presale pages.
Email 5: Now, it’s time to sell the product.
The previous emails should have warmed up your list, and they should be ready to convert with a bit of persuasion.
Highlight the benefits of the product and include a link to the merchant’s sales page.
Email 6: If your previous email generated conversions, you can target the subscribers that are yet to convert with a follow-up email.
You can include testimonials and social proof to boost the chances of conversion.
If you have a discount code for the product, you can use scarcity tactics and encourage people to make a purchase now to receive the discounted price.
An autoresponder is much more than a way to automate the process of sending emails to your list...
...It’s a super-effective way to nurture your subscribers until they are ready to convert on your offer and purchase your affiliate products.
Choosing Email Marketing Software
There are loads of options when it comes to email marketing software.
But some tools don’t provide the automation you need to set up an autoresponder…
...And some offer loads of advanced tools that are more suited to huge companies rather than affiliate marketers.
Here’s a checklist of features you need to consider when choosing email marketing software for your affiliate business:
Email Templates and Customization
You should choose an email marketing tool that offers a range of pre-designed responsive templates and customizable HTML.
This will help you to create attractive emails that look great on mobile devices…
... Around 75% of Gmail’s 900M users access their inbox using a mobile device.
Email Preview Tool
You want to create attractive emails quickly, but you also need a tool to preview how they will look to your subscribers.
A good email marketing tool will provide a mobile preview to show you how your email looks for subscribers using different email providers.
Segmentation and Targeting
Choose an email marketing tool that enables you to segment your email list to send different messages to different groups of subscribers.
You should be able to apply targeting attributes and segment your email list.
Email Tracking and Analysis
Being able to analyze the results of your email marketing campaign is vital.
A good email marketing tool should provide tracking tools and detailed reporting so you can see what works and what needs to be improved.
The majority of email marketing tools provide A/B testing tools to help you optimize your emails.
If you want to go a step further, you can choose a tool that offers multivariate testing.
This will allow you to test a number of variates to help you make more emails more impactful and boost conversions.
Email Automation Capabilities
Email automation is excellent for generating conversions and saving time.
It’s also an essential tool for setting up an autoresponder.
Best Email Marketing Tools for Affiliates
To help you choose an email marketing tool suitable for your needs, we’ve compiled a shortlist of the seven best email marketing tools for affiliate marketers.
AWeber is one of the most established email marketing tools.
It’s been around for nearly 20 years and was a pioneer of the email autoresponder.
It offers an easy to use drag and drop builder to create your emails and a wide range of pre-designed templates to choose from.
You can set up an automated email responder based on website triggers and access detailed reporting to measure your performance.
It also comes with an intuitive A/B testing tool and the ability to quickly create opt-in forms for your website.
There’s a 30-day free trial if you want to test out the software.
Pricing: From $19.00 per month
2. Constant Contact
Constant Contact is one of the largest email marketing providers in the world.
It’s intuitive and easy to use with lots of customization options.
You can choose from a wide range of templates, set up email automation and scheduling, and access detailed reporting to measure your campaigns’ success.
There’s a one month free trial for new customers…
...And a bunch of useful guides to help you make the most of the software.
Pricing: From $20.00 per month
ConvertKit makes email automation simple and easy to set up.
Its visual builder makes it super easy to create workflows and see exactly how your email sequences work and will be delivered to your subscribers.
You can use the built-in landing page editor to create opt-in forms for your website.
There’s also a bunch of attractive email templates to choose from, and detailed reporting to help you measure performance and optimize your campaigns.
Pricing: Free (premium plans from $29.00 per month)
SendInBlue offers a good free plan that is based on the number of emails sent, rather than the number of contacts.
With the free plan, you can segment your email list, send up to 300 emails per day, and choose from a range of customizable email templates.
If you want to access some of the more advanced features, like email automation, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium plan.
Pricing: Free (premium plans from $25.00 per month)
Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing tools.
It’s a beginner-friendly tool that makes it easy to set up an autoresponder, segment your email list, and create attractive emails.
There’s a free plan that lets you access most of the features and build a list of up to 2,000 subscribers.
However, if you want to use automation and set up an autoresponder, you’ll need to pay for a premium plan.
Paid plans are staggered according to the number of subscribers.
The bigger your list, the more it will cost per month.
Pricing: Free (premium plans from $9.99 per month)
GetResponse is an advanced email marketing tool that comes with a bunch of additional features, including a landing page editor and webinar tool.
You can create attractive emails using the intuitive drag and drop editor and responsive email templates.
It enables you to segment your email list, run A/B testing, and set up autoresponders.
There are also plenty of advanced tools like Perfect Timing, a feature that helps you determine the perfect time to send your emails for maximum open rates and engagement.
New customers can use a 30-day free trial to test the software.
Pricing: From $15.00 per month
Moosend is a beginner-friendly email automation tool.
It makes it easy to create personalized emails, create attractive, responsive emails, and automate your email marketing tasks.
There’s a drag and drop builder and plenty of responsive templates to help you create your marketing emails.
You can easily add images, text blocks, CTA buttons, and social icons to your emails.
It uses automation workflows to help you personalize your emails and set up autoresponders.
There’s a 30-day free trial for new customers.
Pricing: From $10.00 per month
Email Marketing Best Practices for Affiliate Marketers
1. Do Not Buy an Email List
It can be tempting to try and speed things up and get more eyes on your content and affiliate offers by purchasing an email list.
Don’t do it.
The people on a purchased list will not have heard of you before or agreed to receive your emails.
It’s unlikely they will be interested in your content or your offers.
There’s a good chance your emails will go unopened…
...Your emails could even be reported as spam, and your email address blacklisted.
2. Consider Using Solo Ads
You shouldn’t buy an email list, but there is a way you can pay to send emails to the inboxes of people that might be interested in your offers.
Solo ads help you to reach new audiences by paying to send an email to somebody else’s email list.
You can use a website like Udimi to find influencers with a list of subscribers interested in topics and products in your niche:
Once you find an influencer with an audience that is well suited to your niche, you can pay for the influencer to send your email to their list.
This is usually charged at a rate per-click fee.
Before you pay a fee to a solo ads provider, carefully assess their reputation and previous customer feedback.
There are some great solo ads providers out there, but there are also plenty of providers with low-quality lists that won’t send high-quality traffic to your site.
3. Analyze Your Competitor’s Email Marketing Strategy
You should always be keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing.
Competitor analysis is vital for SEO, social media, and email marketing.
Identify the top competitors in your niche and subscribe to their email list.
You can get inspiration for your emails and see what works by analyzing your competitors’ newsletters and autoresponders.
Many affiliates create a swipe file of emails and newsletters that can be adapted to promote affiliate offers.
You can also use keyword research tools and relevant forums and groups to find topics your audience is searching for and discussing online.
This is excellent information for informing your lead magnet and the topics you discuss in your newsletters.
From hyper-relevant product recommendations to recommended movies on Netflix, people expect things to be personalized…
...That includes their email inbox.
You can personalize your emails by including your recipient’s name at the start of the email and using their name in the subject line.
According to Campaign Monitor, personalized subject lines can boost open rates by up to 26%.
But personalization goes way beyond including your recipient’s name.
By creating multiple opt-in forms, sending out surveys, and using your website browsing history, you can segment your email list according to demographics and your subscribers’ interests.
This will help you create highly relevant emails and recommendations tailored to your subscribers’ needs and preferences.
5. Use One CTA for Each Email
Lot’s of your email recipients won’t read your email in full.
They will click open and scan your email without reading the copy line by line.
A single prominent CTA button makes it clear to anyone scanning your email what action they should do next.
You should place your CTA in an area where it will be seen and where it is easy to click.
If you include multiple CTAs, it can dilute your message and make it less likely your email recipients will convert.
6. Make Sure Your Emails Are Optimized for Mobile Users>
According to Super Office, 61% of emails were opened on mobile devices in 2018.
More and more people use their mobile devices to go online and check their email inboxes.
Your marketing emails need to be designed with these mobile users in mind.
If your email doesn’t display correctly on smaller screens or is hard to read, people will send it to the junk folder.
You can make your emails mobile-friendly by:
- Compressing and reducing the size of images
- Use short email subject lines
- Making sure CTAs can easily be clicked on mobile devices
- Use a large font size
- Choose a single-column email template design
If you choose a good email marketing tool, they should provide a range of responsive templates to help you create mobile-friendly emails.
7. Send Emails at the Right Time
You can boost the open rates and engagement of your emails by sending them at the right time.
The right time depends on your audience and their preferences, but there are plenty of studies that can help guide you when you’re sending out your first emails.
According to multiple studies compiled by CoSchedule, Tuesday is the best day of the week to send out marketing emails.
As for the best time of day, Campaign Monitor identifies 10 am as the time when most emails are opened.
However, the best time for you depends on your audience and where they are located.
You want to optimize your email send time according to the time zone for the majority of your subscribers.
If the majority of your list is from the U.S. west coast, you want to optimize your send times for those subscribers.
8. Be Consistent
Whichever time and day of the week you decide is best to send your emails, be consistent.
Send your emails at the same time each week.
You’ll find it easier to build an engaged email list that opens your emails if your subscribers know when to expect your email in their inbox.
If you promise a weekly newsletter when people sign up, make sure you deliver every week.
You can always send additional emails occasionally, but don’t go overboard and send daily emails if that’s not what your subscribers signed up for.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Clean Your List
One of the easiest ways to keep your open rate and engagement high is to periodically clean up your list and remove subscribers that don’t open your emails.
A low open rate can significantly impact the success of your email marketing campaigns.
Email providers often flag emails from accounts with a low open rate as spam.
If somebody hasn’t opened any of your emails for the last six months, they’re probably not interested in your content or offers.
You need to re-engage these subscribers or remove them from your list.
Once you have identified the subscribers who don’t engage with your emails, create a re-engagement campaign to try to get these subscribers interested in your content again.
If they still don’t open your emails, remove these users from your email list.
10. Test, Test, Test
If you are going to make your marketing emails more effective and generate more affiliate sales and conversions, you need data.
Your email marketing software should provide you with data on your open rates, clickthroughs, and other metrics to help you measure your performance.
This information is vital for identifying what works and what needs to be improved.
You can also create A/B tests to determine which elements of your emails and opt-in forms can be improved to grow your list and improve your email performance.
Email marketing is an important channel for affiliate marketers.
Using this guide, you can start growing a list of engaged subscribers and make more money from your affiliate promotion.
Not only can email marketing help you make more money from your affiliate offers, but it also makes your website more valuable should you choose to cash in and sell your site at a later date.
An affiliate site with an active email list is much more appealing to buyers than a site that relies solely on SEO for traffic and sales.