Email marketing is a real unsung hero in the world of advertising – for as reliable as this communication channel is, it is often overshadowed by flashier counterparts. For affiliate marketers riding the wave of momentum in digital marketing, the potential of email marketing can no longer be ignored.
By working on targeted and well-crafted emails that include affiliate links, you can boost affiliate earnings while providing value and building trust and connection with your audience.
In this article, we’ll discuss what affiliate email marketing is and why an email is a great place for promoting products and services. Then we’ll walk you through some important steps for launching your own successful email campaign and offer you tips on how to utilize email marketing to your advantage.
Let’s get started!
What is affiliate email marketing?
Anyone involved in digital marketing might have come across the phrase ‘the money is in the list’. In the realm of affiliate marketing, this means that a large part of online revenue affiliates earn lurks in the list of their email subscribers. Email affiliate marketing is all about promoting a product or service you like, and the bigger the list the higher the chances you earn a considerable profit. But is this just as simple as that?
More accurately, the potential for higher profit relies on the trust and relationship you build with your audience. Affiliate email marketing ticks all these boxes as it involves thoughtfully crafting tailored messages that resonate well with each target segment. Unlike traditional affiliate marketing, where your audience comes across and clicks the affiliate links embedded in your website content, affiliate email marketing enables you to promote solutions through an email sequence.
Why use email for affiliate marketing?
Affiliate email marketing might seem less appealing compared to social media, YouTube, blogs, etc. Nevertheless, the latest email marketing statistics overturn this misleading first impression: Across home, work, and mobile, 99% of email users check their personal email every day. This makes emails one of the most effective ways to reach your audience.
Email isn’t old-fashioned. Let’s assume you run a business and have set up a newsletter on your official website. The aim is to provide customers and prospective ones a monthly round-up of blog posts, case studies regarding your solution, upcoming company events and webinars, or industry news. Then, you must have probably built an extensive email list stemming from your newsletter sign-up forms and so you can use this to make some money from an affiliate program.
These email lists put you in front of an audience you might not have had the chance to reach with other affiliate marketing efforts. This is because people on your contact list, who are already interested in your company’s solution, are very likely to also be keen on the affiliate program you promote – especially if it’s relevant to your company’s technological area.
Examples of affiliate programs to promote
Choosing the right affiliate program depends to a large extent on your niche. The best affiliate programs to promote and are likely to bring you the most sales are the ones that will resonate with your audience. Whether you run a business or own a blog, you are not looking for a needle in a haystack but have a pretty good idea of what your target audience looks like. Many tools could also help you easily find and compare many different affiliate programs in your niche.
For example, let’s assume you are a blogger specializing in business intelligence and data journalism. A number of your posts probably revolve around providing insightful content focused on how data integration and visualization help businesses and individuals handle overwhelming amounts of data.
If you came across the data integration tool – Coupler.io – and found it useful, chances are many of your readers will follow suit. With that in mind, you may be up for signing up for the Coupler.io affiliate program. The program awards you 50% recurring commissions for each paid subscriber to the service and 20% for each subscription renewal.
Your chances of generating a decent amount of income from this affiliate program are high. The audience of your blog matches to a high degree that of Coupler.io. The list could include business intelligence, finance businesses, data consultants who help customers manage their data, or engineers and scientists who need to analyze numerical data. Generally, small-scale business owners are among the most important beneficiaries of Coupler.io as they are often the ones that need to analyze their data without the help of a dedicated data analysis team.
How to do email affiliate marketing
At its core, affiliate marketing is about forging strong relationships with your audience and eventually gaining trust. Successful affiliates find products or services they are comfortable with promoting and that they truly believe in. And affiliate email marketing is no exception to this rule.
Knowing your audience helps you better identify the problems and challenges they might face. This is key to finding the most suitable solutions and creating compelling content for meaningful communication. You don’t want your emails to sound like you are just selling a solution. You rather want to sell a whole new way of thinking: how the product or service you promote creates value.
The easier you make it for your audience to trust you and find out how the solution addresses their needs, the more likely they will open your emails and click on the affiliate links.
With these in mind, the next things you should consider are the following:
Choose the right affiliate email marketing platform
Choose an email marketing tool that offers you everything you need to grow your email list and efficiently manage contacts. Also, use beautiful and customized templates to create professional-looking emails.
Make signup forms on your website visible.
To keep growing your email list, add smart email capture widgets and responsive pop-ups on your website. You can adjust the timing for pop-ups to determine what works best for your visitors.
Produce engaging content
Creating compelling content is key to retaining your subscribers’ interest and making them read your emails. Tailoring your content and viewing your email list or subscribers as a long-term asset and not simply as a means to make a quick buck will positively contribute to your email affiliate marketing efforts in the long term.
How to launch a successful affiliate email marketing campaign?
In this section, we will list the steps that should help you in launching an effective affiliate email marketing campaign. But before proceeding, you should always remember that you shouldn’t sound like a salesperson or a pitchman. You are not selling a product, you are suggesting a viable solution to an audience you know that could fit their needs.
An important thing to clarify beforehand is to check how your email provider treats affiliate links included in your emails. The good news is that email affiliate marketing is legit. However, you should be aware of the sending limits of each provider so that you can arrange your delivery time and adapt the number of emails sent daily accordingly. This way, your campaigns will be smoothly sent as planned, and your emails won’t be treated as spam.
MailChimp, for example, is fine with inserting affiliate links in your emails as long as your main message isn’t centered around the affiliate links, is in your voice, and is relevant to your contacts. Similarly, ActiveCampaign has set strict restrictions on the use of affiliate links: it doesn’t allow you to promote affiliate offers or send messages about affiliate marketing or send emails with the sole purpose of promoting another product.
Promoting blocklisted links could get you banned without warning. Other issues that can hurt your email deliverability are gathering emails through ambiguous means and not in a visible way.
Furthermore, descriptive link text with the full URL behind it is preferable to link shorteners: spammers often use the latter to mask malicious links that direct visitors to phishing websites. According to some chatters, Gmail is blocking or sending spam emails that contain famous email shorteners like bit.ly.
Profitable affiliate links
Most probably, you already have a niche market in mind, a space you know well. High-earning niches are an ideal place to start with. Among others, the list includes lifestyle and wellness, technology, finance, software, gaming, and eCommerce.
It is also preferable to find high-paying affiliate opportunities to earn more profits on fewer sales. These so-called high-ticket affiliate programs allow you to earn large payouts from a limited number of sales compared to low-paying programs. The latter might be easier to come by but are often unfulfilling and, importantly, shift the focus of the affiliate marketer from the product to the traffic.
Think about it: a high-ticket affiliate program from Coupler.io could earn you up to $500 on a single purchase, assuming that a user bought an annual Business subscription. On top of that, you’ll earn 20% off each subsequent purchase.
It could save you precious time and effort from promoting products that earn you, for example, $10 on each sale: this means that 50 people would have to buy the product or service you promote to make your marketing efforts worthwhile. Other examples of high-ticket products include electronic devices and jewelry.
Affiliate links relevant to your niche
Promoting solutions that fit your niche establishes your credibility and allows you to better connect with your audience. For example, if your blog revolves around travel, there is a reason people joined your email list in the first place – most likely they share the same enthusiasm for traveling. Promoting affiliate links that are not relevant to the ideas in your posts could frustrate your audience or, in the worst-case scenario, make them think that you are trying to promote anything to make a quick buck.
Evergreen affiliate links
The most profitable products are not tied to any particular season or period. They are also called evergreen products, meaning they are constantly available for purchase and will sell consistently in the future. Many evergreen products stem from the clothing, food, and health categories. Promoting products that don’t expire removes the need for updating your content in your email campaigns.
Include affiliate emails in your email sequence
There are two ways to add affiliate emails to your email sequence:
Add affiliate links in some emails of the sequence
If you already have an email series that is generating high click-through rates, you can subtly ingrain the affiliate links in the email copy. Some benefits of this approach include:
- The affiliate links won’t stand out but will naturally blend with the email content.
- The click-through rates will remain unaffected.
Add special affiliate emails to your regular email sequence
Incorporating new emails that include your affiliate link is an excellent way to take full advantage of your existing email sequence. This approach could positively reflect on your earnings as more attention is brought to your affiliate links.
For example, if you offer a certain tool or service through your website, users may be eager to join your mailing list to get more familiar with your offer. The first email will likely contain the top resources or tips on getting started. Next, you’ll share some more insights and valuable links for them to explore.
If an affiliate product is closely related to what you do, its presentation could be nicely incorporated into the following email from a sequence. You could show it as something readers can benefit from and describe how it enhanced your workflows. Such an intro shouldn’t sound too selling and could yield you some wonderful results each time such an email is sent.
Keep track of your email affiliate marketing campaigns
Metrics are an important aspect of your affiliate email marketing campaign because they enable you to make decisions based on sound data. Examples of important metrics include list growth rate, open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, bounce rate, overall return on investment, and unsubscribe rate.
Metrics offer an overall picture of how your campaign is performing – taking action without looking at them would be like shooting in the dark. Your operations could be successful, but it wouldn’t be an efficient way of running them.
How to build a successful affiliate marketing email funnel?
A successful email marketing funnel is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts as it outlines the steps you need to take to lead website visitors to the right path, namely, buy the promoted solution.
What is an email marketing funnel?
An email funnel represents your customer journey, namely how subscribers move from being aware of your brand to making a purchase and then becoming advocates of your brand. With this information at hand, you can expect your subscribers’ needs and send promotional and educational emails at the right time.
A typical email marketing funnel encompasses the following stages:
- Brand awareness
How to build your affiliate email marketing funnel
In this section, we list the most effective ways of keeping your affiliate email marketing funnel up and running.
How to get an email list for affiliate marketing?
Leads don’t just magically appear out of nowhere – you need to get their email addresses. An effective way of collecting them is through opt-in forms. These are email sign-up forms that allow visitors to opt-in to your email list and are presented in a variety of ways: pop-up forms on the homepage or product pages, dedicated landing pages, and built-in widgets across a website. Opt-in forms are great for newsletters to keep your subscribers engaged.
Lead-magnet landing pages are also a powerful way to attract leads. These magnets are in the form of a free resource like a course, free trial or webinar, ebook, etc., in exchange for a lead’s email address.
Keep your emails natural and engaging?
Affiliate email marketing is quite different from the traditional email approach. Either you add affiliate links in some emails of your sequence or you include affiliate emails in your email sequence, you should be writing your affiliate emails most naturally. Remember that what you’re selling is secondary to the customers’ needs. In other words, your thinking must shift from focusing on selling a product or service to addressing a real need or specific pain points.
When introducing any affiliate product or service, you should also share relevant information to nurture relationships. You could let your audience know how the solution has benefited you. Being familiar with what you promote is key to engaging more effectively with your audience and ultimately increasing your earnings.
Set up drip campaigns
Drip campaigns are automated sets of emails sent to your audience at a specific timing, based on their actions or changes in their status. They enable you to keep in touch with visitors in a targeted way.
For example, let’s say that a visitor has signed up for the first time on your newsletter. You can welcome them by sending them content that would interest them, like a list of blog posts and case studies or a welcome coupon they could use for a limited time. You can then follow up after a couple of days by delivering them the most popular posts.
Affiliate email marketing best practices
Let’s dive into the best practices to implement as an affiliate that will help you grow your traffic and sales using your mail list.
Segment your email list and be selective
Owning a long email list is not enough to ensure that you will have many new leads turning into customers. You need to categorize subscribers into different groups based on their submitted information and preferences. According to the product or service you are promoting, you can identify the email content that matches each segment so that subscribers won’t receive an email that promotes irrelevant stuff.
Use A/B testing
Testing your email titles can largely determine whether an email is opened or sent straight away to the trash. Ideally, you should create 2–3 subject lines to see which one is faring best in your subscribers’ inboxes. The winning variant will be maintained and used in the future.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the length of subject lines should be kept short, not exceeding 50–60 characters, so that they are visible on desktops and mobile devices. You may also want to avoid terms like ‘final’, ‘sale’, ‘gift’, ‘discount’, and ‘exclusive’ since they will make you sound like a salesperson, and importantly, your emails may end up in the spam folder.
Personalize emails and offer value
Personalizing your email campaigns is a proven way to increase your open and click-through rates and has a measurable impact on your earning potential. Also things like talking to them with their first name or avoiding ‘no-reply’ sender addresses will make your subscribers treat you more as a partner than a salesperson.
To build further trust and connection, talk about the benefits of the solution you promote over its features and use storytelling. Just put value first, and your subscribers will reward you with great affiliate commissions.
Affiliate email marketing – recap
Email marketing presents many opportunities for affiliates. It delivers the highest return on investment of all marketing channels – £42 back for every pound spent – and if done correctly, affiliates will be generously rewarded.
It’s time to give affiliate email marketing its moment in the spotlight. If you can successfully run campaigns that target customers according to where they are in the buyer’s journey, provide valuable content that sounds intimate and natural, then subscribers will eagerly read your emails and be more receptive to the solution you promote.Back to Blog